Friday, April 29, 2016

Importing and registering your car in California

I recently relocated from Vancouver to San Francisco, along with my cat Bowser, a uhaul container and my 2013 mini cooper.  I am writing this blog post to document the process for importing and registering my mini cooper.


For importing, visit the local US Customs and Border Protection office with your vehicle at
648 W Field Rd,
San Francisco,
CA 94128
Phone: (650) 989-2501

Here are the documents to bring with you:

1. Letter of Compliance 

You will have to obtain a letter of compliance from the car dealer where you purchase the vehicle from. It briefly outlines that the vehicle met with US emission and safety standards.  

2. VIN number

3. Passport

4. Driver license

You will fill out the Form 7501 there which will be needed for your vehicle registration below.


For registering, visit the local DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). I highly recommend making an appointment before visit as the average walk-in wait line is more than 2 hours. You can make an appointment here.

Here are the documents to bring with you:

1. Proof of Ownership 

DMV originally asked for the Registration Certificate, I actually never had one (US only?). They accepted my ICBC insurance document which clearly documented that I am the owner of the vehicle. 

2. Smog Test Report

Smog test is available at most gas stations. Make sure they issue you a Vehicle Inspection Report at the end. 

3. I-94

If you are on a working visa, please bring your I-94 with you

4. Form 7501

This is the paper for the CBP office about the import

5. Passport

Good luck with the move!