10 Tips for a Cross Border Move

People in Victoria (or other Canadian cities) may find themselves considering a move from Canada to the United States. Primarily Canadians move to the US either because of a job transfer for an employer that is part of an American entity or a job offer from a US employer. A few individuals may be moving to attend a US university or as the fiancée of a US citizen going to get married. Regardless of the reason moving to the US requires a lot of planning and extensive documentation to obtain the appropriate visa and to prove everything is in order.

One myth that is not to be believed is that if a Canadian buys property in the US that they are entitled to move to the US and live there permanently. This is not true unless they go through the entire immigration process and obtain the necessary visa. Canadians can be part-time residents but must adhere to regulations. At the present time Canadian citizens can stay a maximum of 182 days while Canadian landed immigrants can remain the US for 90 days. In no instance are they permitted to work during this time frame.

You can own or lease a “snowbird property” that you will live in for part of the year. One cautionary note for Canadians crossing the border who own or lease property in the US.  It is important that you prove to US border officials that you still own, lease or rent property in Canada. If they think you have broken ties with Canada, you may be refused entry. 

As most people know, there is a lot of changes going on in the US as it relates to immigration matters especially if you are not yet a Canadian citizen. This is one reason why you or the company transferring or hiring you should hire an immigration lawyer. Choose one who is totally up to date with any new regulations regarding work visas and other immigration matters. There are various types of work visas available, so it is important to know which one is the most appropriate and to follow all steps without exception. One website that has some useful information is www.grasmick.com. However, this should not be used in place of one on one counselling. Also, tax issues are very complex for anyone accepting a job in the US so it is essential to have proper advice from a knowledgeable tax attorney or accounting professional who works with people moving cross border.

Obtaining credit or a mortgage in the US is another area where you need advice. A lot of US financial institutions do not accept Canadian credit reports. Discuss this with your bank or accountant well in advance of the move. Several Canadian banks have a US arm that may be easier to deal with than US firms only.  

Since this is a moving industry blog, the rest of this posting will be related to tips about the physical move and the documentation required. Using a company like Premiere will make the process easier. We have the experience needed as we move hundreds of families cross border each year. Our van operators are knowledgeable about the process, so here are some important tips to keep in mind when moving cross border from Canada to the United States:

The “Declaration for Free Entry of Unaccompanied Articles” also known as a”3299 form” is the main document needed in order to move your personal effects to the United States without paying duty.

Goods must have been owned and used for one year prior to importation.
If you are importing any new items duty will be applied if applicable.
Step by step instructions for completing form are available at Customs and Border Protection or help.cbp.gov. Put completing a 3299 into search.  
Automobiles being imported into the US must meet US safety and emission standards.
A HS7 and an EPA3520 must be completed for each auto.
Complete information on how to import a vehicle is available at help.cbp.gov using the search option.
If you are obtaining a TN, H1B or L work visa these will be issued to you at the border. They generally cannot be issued in advance. Once issued you are required to enter the US. Once you enter you will also be given an I94 for your passport.
 Make sure you have made arrangements with your moving company to get copies of these documents scanned and sent to them for printing.
Your moving company will require copies of the following documents before proceeding to the border with your personal household goods. It’s always to keep some copies for yourself:

  • 2 copies of your completed 3299 form
  • 1 copy of each page of the passport for the main imposter and each accompanying family member
  • 1 copy of birth certificate for importer and all family members
  • 1 copy of your I 94 form
  • 1 copy of your approved work visa
  • 1 copy of your employer’s letter confirming job offer
  • 2 copies of completed HS7 and EPA 3520 forms for each automobile
  • Original plus one copy of proof of ownership for each vehicle being shipped
  • Original plus one copy of proof of insurance for each vehicle

Here are some additional notes that relate to importing a car. It is best not to try to import a leased vehicle but if you do, you must also give the mover the original of a letter from the financial institution that has the lien the car stating that they are permitting you to export it to the US. The letter must include contact information for the person who issued the letter.

Secondly, US Border officials are supposed to give the moving company a copy of the HS7 and EPA forms, however, this rarely occurs since they don’t have time to inspect the vehicle. This means that you will be required to go to your closest US customs office near destination to finalize the importation of your car. This must be done before you can title or plate it. Make sure you take the car and your copies of these forms with you as a physical inspection will be done.

For more assistance planning your cross-border move contact Premiere Van Lines in Victoria at 250-544-1420 or your local office Premiere Van Lines at 1-877-671-6683. 

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