Aarrgh! Importing TDI from Canada to U.S.

ken.fresno-tdi

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2006
Location
Fresno, CA
TDI
95 Eurovan EVC camper with 98 AHU engine (VeganVan02); 01 Jetta ALH engine and parts - waiting for transplant into 97 Eurovan (VeganVan03);05 BEW Beetle
I'm in a circle with seemingly no end in trying to import a Canadian 2000 Jetta TDI into the U.S. If anyone could give me clues which way is out I would sincerely appreciate it. The story:
I bought the car sight unseen at an auction in the Bay area. It wasn't until I had the car that I noticed it was registered in Canada (the one good side was that I thought it had 169,000 miles - turned out to be 105,000 :) when I switched the kms to miles). My guess is that the car was driven over by the owner, who then had a small accident and he walked away from it (which is why it was in the auction).
What I've done:
1. Tried to register it at the DMV. They inspected the car, checked everything off, and said all that I needed was certificate from U.S. customs saying that the car was legally brought into the U.S.
2. U.S. Customs (Oakland) said that before they could give me the certificate I needed a letter from V.W. of A. saying the car met all U.S. emissions and safety specs. The car has a sticker saying the TDI engine meets U.S. speces, but the label on the driver's door says it meets Canadian specs (doesn't mention U.S.)
3. V.W. of A. (surprisingly friendly!) said, after a week's wait, that they couldn't give me the letter (no reason given why); I needed to have the car brought to a registered importer to get a sticker saying it was legal for sale in the U.S.
3. Registered importer (Autostadt in Sacramento) said I shouldn't need his $700 service, all I needed was a Customs Broker to pay the import duty.
4. Customs Broker (SooHoo in L.A.) said they could not help me without a letter from V.W. of A. saying the car met all safety and emissions standards.
5. Aaargh!
What exactly do I need? I think CA DMV just wants a letter from Customs saying I've paid the duty for the car, since they signed off on their inspection of the vehicle. But Customs seems to be saying that I can't pay the duty unless I prove it meets US safety/emissions standards...
6. I'm really frustrated with the run around!
Thanks for the help
Ken
 

mrGutWrench

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Aug 29, 2002
Location
Carrboro, NC
TDI
'03 Jetta Wagon, 5-speed, 563K Miles (July '23)
__. Yupp, you gotta problem. The Feds don't like these - they cost them money that they'd rather spend on politically popular programs. But the law says that they have to let you bring the car in ... but it doesn't say that they can't make it so hard for you that you'll take the car back to Canada and sell it for what you can get for it.

__. Cut your losses now - take the car to Canada and sell it for what you can get for it.
 

compu_85

Gadget Guy
Joined
Sep 29, 2003
Location
La Conner, WA
TDI
... None :S
Others here have been able to get that letter.. I don't know why you can't get it now.

You can switch the odometer to miles with vag-com FWIW.

-Jason
 

ken.fresno-tdi

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2006
Location
Fresno, CA
TDI
95 Eurovan EVC camper with 98 AHU engine (VeganVan02); 01 Jetta ALH engine and parts - waiting for transplant into 97 Eurovan (VeganVan03);05 BEW Beetle
I got through back with V.W. of A. They said the reason that they can't send me the letter was that I needed to send them the registration with my name on it. I explained that that is exactly what I am trying to get! I have the title, but it has the insurance co. name on it because it was declared a 'total' (even though the damage was very light). Round and round and round. 1 hour with V.W. of A. They were nice about it, but definitely were not going to bend any rules for me.
 

dieseldorf

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Oct 11, 2000
Location
MA
TDI
ex- 1996 wagon, ex-2000 Jetta
Ken, you must get that letter of certification from VWoA.

The rules are very straightforward on this transaction. I assume you haven't read them yet.
 

Powder Hound

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Oct 25, 1999
Location
Under a Bridge, Crestview, FL, USA
TDI
'00 Golf 4dr White 5sp, '02 Jettachero 5sp, Wife's '03 NB Platinum Gray auto(!)
Sounds like you need to register and tag it in Canada, then get the letter from VW, then bring it in.

VW won't do it for a late model car (i.e. within the warranty period) because they don't want to mess with cross-border warranty liability for a new car. I looked into this before I bought my car and found this to be the case. It was a process of looking at the evidence since VW would not admit the truth of what they were doing to me.

If you provided the bill of sale as well as the old title, would that constitute the proof VWoA's pinheads recognize?
 

MikeS_18

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Feb 18, 2005
Location
Bow, NH
TDI
'03 Jetta Wagon, '13 Passat SE, '64 Ford Econoline
ken.fresno-tdi said:
I got through back with V.W. of A. They said the reason that they can't send me the letter was that I needed to send them the registration with my name on it. I explained that that is exactly what I am trying to get! I have the title, but it has the insurance co. name on it because it was declared a 'total' (even though the damage was very light). Round and round and round. 1 hour with V.W. of A. They were nice about it, but definitely were not going to bend any rules for me.
I assume that you have asked for a supervisor, and then his/her supervisor, etc. Eventually, you get to someone who knows how to do this and will give you a straight answer even if it is "it can't be done." The underlings simply have their rules and don't know how to get around them. But if you are nice and say "I am sure you are doing everything that you are authorized to, but I think I need to speak with your supervisor" then they don't get upset.
 

ken.fresno-tdi

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2006
Location
Fresno, CA
TDI
95 Eurovan EVC camper with 98 AHU engine (VeganVan02); 01 Jetta ALH engine and parts - waiting for transplant into 97 Eurovan (VeganVan03);05 BEW Beetle
I got lucky. The local customs office at the airport in Fresno told me to bring the car in and they would 'inspect' it. They *never* inspect cars, since this is 200 miles from a port and they only get one international flight, from Mexico. I was the only one at the office the entire hour I was there. The woman filled out a few forms, glanced at the EPA sticker (which was said it was valid for the US) and the door jam sticker (which was only Canada DOT certified). She made a phone call to ask about whether Canada DOT approval means its also approved for the US, then signed me away with a form that said the car was legally in the U.S. I didn't pay any duty. I took the car to the DMV, completed the registration, and got the plates. Yahoo! Thank God there was a way around V.W. of A.
Ken
 

mrGutWrench

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Aug 29, 2002
Location
Carrboro, NC
TDI
'03 Jetta Wagon, 5-speed, 563K Miles (July '23)
__. Good work. The way that you did it is the only way that had any chance of succeeding. You got lucky (I spent 15 years handling this kind of stuff and you can't expect much help from the Feds).
 

Dorado

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 24, 2001
Location
Pittsburgh, PA
TDI
New Beetle TDI, 2002, Cool White
Great story, thanks for posting! In a way, the circular nature of the paperwork meant that it was meaningless.:D
 

ken.fresno-tdi

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2006
Location
Fresno, CA
TDI
95 Eurovan EVC camper with 98 AHU engine (VeganVan02); 01 Jetta ALH engine and parts - waiting for transplant into 97 Eurovan (VeganVan03);05 BEW Beetle
The irony of it all was that, in the end, it was very 'simple.' A few forms from Customs and it was a done deal. But to get to this point took about 6 hours of phone calls. Both VW of A and Customs must know that these Jettas (and many other late model cars, especially diesels) are identical for both markets. Why do they make it so difficult to bring across borders? In the era of 'globalization' / NAFTA, and all all that, one would think that there would be a simpler way to do this. The bureacracies are stuck in a 25 year old paradigm.
 

Powder Hound

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Oct 25, 1999
Location
Under a Bridge, Crestview, FL, USA
TDI
'00 Golf 4dr White 5sp, '02 Jettachero 5sp, Wife's '03 NB Platinum Gray auto(!)
My personal opinion is that VWoA is paranoid of possible warranty liabilities. I can see no other reason, since the cars are, as you say, identical in every way that matters. This is why I would figure that if the car were old enough, then VWoA might cooperate.
 

mrGutWrench

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Aug 29, 2002
Location
Carrboro, NC
TDI
'03 Jetta Wagon, 5-speed, 563K Miles (July '23)
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