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smartdawg

Can CDNs living in the USA (work visa) keep their smarts?

33 posts in this topic

I've been searching the customs literature and haven't had much luck finding answers.

There's a possibility of me taking a new job in the USA. I want to take the smart with me (well aware of the warranty/servicing issues - please don't comment here about that) but want to keep it registered as a Canadian vehicle with Canadian insurance.

A doc I found on line (here) talks mostly about importing a vehicle for permanent use by an American. However, the following is stated:

-NONRESIDENTS may import a vehicle duty-free for personal use up to (1) one year if the vehicle is imported in conjunction with the owner?s arrival. Vehicles imported under this provision that do not conform to U.S. safety and emission standards must be exported within one year and may not be sold in the U.S. There is no exemption or extension of the export requirements.

The following vehicles need not conform to emission or safety requirements but may NOT be sold in the U.S. and may require EPA and DOT declarations:

-Those imported by nonresidents for personal use not exceeding one year. The vehicle must be exported at the end of that year ? there are no exceptions or extensions.

Exported after one year? I believe I'll be required to spend a few days in Canada each year as terms of my Visa but can I bring my car back to the states after one year (+ a visit back to Canada) and a possible renewel of my Visa (I don't know if it's a yearly renewal or how that works)?

I noticed on the Old Silly Site that Rich Helms had a similar issue but I believe his son wanted to register the car in North Carolina, something I can't do.

Any wise words? I LOATHE the idea of selling my smart.

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You should get in touch with the girl that mhawel (Mike) bought his from. She accepted a position in the states, which is why she had to sell hers. From what he told me, she went through just about every possible scenario trying to find a way to bring her car with her before she resorted to selling it. She cried. :(

-Iain

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I think that the 'gotcha' here is the term NONRESIDENT, as opposed to CITIZEN. I suspect that living and working in the US with a Visa, pretty much makes you a resident, even though you remain a Canadian citizen.

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That's what I was afraid of. It seems if I do take the job, I'll only get one more year out of her.

Maybe some rich American will give me piles of cash for it and decide to take on the EPA and DOT themselves (unsuccessfully no doubt).

:cry2:

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In my son's case, the car was actually in his wife's name. She was not a US citizen, my son is. She entered on a work visa while my son as a citizen (he is dual US/Canada).

The car couldn't enter at all. She transferred to car to me as a family transfer then they took it down as not theirs. There are limits on how long it can stay there (as in months)

I doubt you could take it down for a year, return for a few days then take it back for another year

Some snowbirds might have more info

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Thanks Rich. I figured since I wasn't a citizen, taking it into the country for the max stint (how ever long) would not be the hassle. I'm confused why she couldn't bring it in at all? She's Canadian with a green card, right? Based on the clip I posted above, it seems it is a 1-year max she should have been allowed. When it was refused, was it your son that tried to bring it into the country (non-owner, citizen) or was it your daughter-in-law (owner, green card Visa)? It seems odd that they could bring it in when it wasn't shown as belonging to either of them!

I just had a phone interview with the company trying to recruit me. It went VERY well! One more interview to go and it may be time to negotiate a contract! (is it possible to go off topic in your own thread?) :biglaugh:

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When you've got them on the hook, put a rider in the contract: they must provide you with a G&K converted US-legal smart as a signing bonus ;)

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Now you're talking!

In all honesty, I could see myself selling my smart to my maw in Victoria. She absolutely loves it. At least I could drive it on visits home.

Hmmm... maybe a new mini cooper S....or better yet a 2008 USA-certified smart...

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this is a quote...

7 News Legal Expert Howard Finkelstein: "International treaties overrule local law and according to the International Convention on Road Traffic Treaty of 1949, if you are a foreign driver with a foreign car, you can drive it in another country for up to a year if both countries signed that treaty. Britain and the us signed the treaty so Aldo can crank up the Smart Car."

from this thread...

www.clubsmartcar.com/index.php?showtopic=2643

maybe it pertains to your situation...

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Thanks sponge. It seems to agree with the 1-year max quote I dug up from the customs people.

@Duck - it seems odd that mhawel's seller didn't keep it for a year before selling. Then again, she may have wanted to maximize resale knowing she'll have to sell it after a year. I'm afraid I'm not that smart! I like it too much.

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or return the smart to canada when the one year mark approaches, and either give the car to your mom and get a new one, or trade it in for a new one and bring the new car down for another year and repeat as often as nessassary.

you probably want to ask the customs people that if your car is returned before the one year period, how long does it have to stay in canada before it can return. maybe the car just has to touch a country that isn't the united states. if that was the case, i'd take a trip to mexico for a week.

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my question for you is, which state do you intend on moving to?

second thing... when I lived in Texas, I recall seeing cars with Mexican Registration, both Mex only models and Mex/US models, and the owners would tell me that they would go back to Mexico for a few days each year, over the holidays, for a weekend, etc, and this would cover them. They'd do new paperwork at the border each time.

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I would be in New York city. A friend of mine who worked in the states on a TN visa (for temporary work) was required to spend a few days in Canada every year near the end of the validity period to renew the visa. Because of this renewal, he could then bring his truck back to the USA without DOT/EPA issues since it was a new visa.

I would be on a sponsored H1B work visa which is valid for 3 years with a possible extension to 6. There are advantages for me to take an H1B over a TN (spousal employment, less ongoing redtape) but I suppose a TN would be an option (I'm not yet married and my gf has the option to get her own H1B through a pharmaceutical company). However, if a TN in any way jeopardized my employability, the car's got to go.

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I wouldn't risk it in NYC. Not due to the federal regulations, but NYPD. They ticketed me for Florida plates on my second day there as a tourist. I don't want to know what they'll do over Ontario plates over the course of months or even years. However, for NYC, the smart is the perfect car... if not, sell it in CDN, and buy a Scion xA in the states :D

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If you are California bound - the car will have to either comply with the California smog rules or the EPA rules and pay a penalty. The smart doesn't meet the EPA standards ('cause it is not imported there) so it might be a real fun time with.

Be real careful about the TN work visa thing - my brother works down in San Mateo - has had a lot of grief going back down with the current nationalistic fever.

PM me and I will put you in touch with him - he has been down there quite a while so knows the system. Also watch the offer of a green card from an employer - it basically makes you their's - and the labour standards down there are basically don't kill the employee and everything else is okay. :biglaugh:

Cheers,

Cameron

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This is 'semi-related' to your situation. I have just returned from working in Chicago for two years on an H1B (before I purchased my Smart). The vehicle that I was driving down there was inspected at the border (officer looked for relevant stamps and stickers on my vehicle). I received documentation that allowed me to register it once in the U.S. I had 90 days to register it and 30 days to transfer to an American insurance carrier. I believe that I also had a limited time to get my Illinois license (complete with written test). All things to consider if you will be a resident down there.

On a completely un-Smart-related note, before you go I would also stake out a good accountant on the Canadian side. You will have to do both US and Canadian taxes (tax treaties are in place so you will not be double-dinged). If your company is paying moving expenses (including shipping your Smart down there), temporary living expenses, furniture storage while looking for permanent housing, etc. be sure to negotiate into your contract that your company will pay the taxes on these expenses (I believe that this is called a 'Gross-up'). In Illinois, at least, all moving related payments are regarded as income and thereby taxable. My moving, temporary living expenses, etc. come tax time added up to over 13,000 US and I did not have much moved down there. If my company had not covered this I would obviously be stuck with a considerable tax bill. My two cents worth (1.5 cents U.S.) Good luck.

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@speedie

Thanks for the offer and the advice. If I find things get too confusing I'll take you up on your offer to contact your bro. I'd like to avoid the TN thing as it seems more of a hassle than anything else. I've been doing some reading on the H1B visa should I quit or change employers.

This was helpful:

As long as the alien continues to provide H-1B services for a U.S. employer, most changes will not mean that an alien is out of status. An alien may change H-1B employers without affecting status, but the new H-1B employer must file a new Form I-129 petition for the alien before he or she begins working for the new employer. The merger or sale of an H-1B employer?s business will not affect the alien?s status in many instances. However, if the change means that the alien is working in a capacity other than the specialty occupation for which they petitioned, it is a status violation.

@True North

Your advice on an accountant is well taken. I hadn't heard of the 'gross-up' issue but will check to see if it's in any employment contract I sign (moving expenses are provided). I also plan on having my lawyer review it first so if it's not there, it will be once I'm finished with it!

The more I look into this the more it seems I can't take my smart down at all (not even for 1 year) since I believe I'll be categorized as a RESIDENT and thus my car must conform to EPA/DOT guidelines. I'm still trying to get the definative answer on this though.

:steamed:

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Kirk... there's a lot of misunderstanding and misinfo going on. CHECK CHECK CHECK first.

The key is to have the knowledge and paperwork before crossing... don't just ask at the border because they use a "better safe than sorry" stance.

As you may have known, I was seriously considering selling my smart to an American so I could buy the special spring edition smart... so I looked a lot of this stuff up. Technically:

1) Yes, you can take it with you for a year. You would be a non-resident unless you were applying for (and granted) residency - you'd know it if that's what you were doing because its not an insignificant process. (my bro's in the process)

2) Yes, you can leave for a few days SO LONG AS YOU ARE A CANADIAN RETAINING YOUR RESIDENCY IN CANADA ever six months (not a year) and be allowed to re-enter on a new permit. Why six months? Because that is Canada's understanding with the US of what defines you as maintaining a "permanaent residence" in Canada.

3) Yes, you could drive it in California - or any other state that the smart doesn't meet EPA regs. Why? Because you aren't registering it in California... its a Canadian car plated in Canada... legally entered the states and bound by Canada's registration requirements. That is stated rather clearly on the same webpage you found the 1 year entry thing.

However... its like the barefooted driving discussion on another page where I proved it is perfectly legal to drive barefoot in all provinces and all 50 US states - yet people still (rarely) get tickets because even the police don't know everything and believe the same urban myths and harbour the same misconceptions as the rest of us... point? Do the research for them. Have proof because you might get someone that *thinks* s/he knows what's what. At the border, cite the sections of the gov't website that states you are allowed to bring it in for a year (do the same after you leave and come back). When you get pulled over by NY's finest... have the paperwork that shows you are allowed to have it in the US. Etc etc.

About the 6-month vs 1-year thing... I am not 100% sure on that. The person I got that from a) may have been mistaken and B) may have been talking about the other way around (bringing a car into Canada).

Do your own research! I think you are on the right track.

- Steven

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about point 1) above... I was just looking at the Immigration site again and I guess you could be going for residency (sponsored by employer)... is that what you want? More than just for your smart there are other implications (good and back) to that. You may want to be brought in as a "temporary worker" or, if your position doesn't fit the bill for that, "temporary business purpose" visa.

- Steven

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Thx s_mack - I just found your two responses above.

Regarding 1), I came to the same conclusion that as a work-sponsored H1B Visa holder (Green Carder), I would be considered a resident. As such, no smart for me. As for the non-smart related good and bad points re resident-status, you're right about that. As a single example, should I get fired (shah, right!) or quit, I do have options but yes it does involve me finding a new employer asap that's willing to sponsor me.

The whole H1B process from my understanding will take up to 6 months to complete and is a literal mountain of paperwork.

All in all, if I get this job it will require me to deal face to face with multiple clients and the need for a car with more than 1 passenger seat seems obvious. If things do progress, ya'll will be seeing a big garage sale posted for my list of aftermarket stuff in my sig! :glum:

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My balls are like the one on the left - except they're not vented in the back and are brushed.

I like them better when they're brushed.

:oh:

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Posted Image

Mmmm...Looks like spare parts for the head section of a race of mini robots. Someone better check into this.

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