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Tesla motors did effectively block the importation of used model S into Canada

I learned today that Tesla motors did ask the Transport Canada to remove from the admissible vehicle list of the Canadian Registrar of Imported Vehicles the Model S. The model S was in this list since june 2014.

This creates an effective administrative barrier against the possibility to import in Canada a used Model S originally purchased in the States.

As the US and Canada has tightly coupled economies, and movements between the borders are quite common, blocking the importation of the model S is not a good news for any owner.

The RIV website does not indicate any more the model S as an admissible car, and has the following Notes were I cut and paste their text:
Note-1: Please contact the manufacturer prior to importation to determine the exact nature and cost of modifications required. Possible modifications may include: daytime running lamps configuration, electronic immobilization system [EIS], metric odometer and speedometer configuration.

Note-2: Tesla Motors has informed Transport Canada that Tesla service centers are currently not in a position to support the substantial modifications required to bring U.S. Model S vehicles into compliance with Canadian requirements. Contact the manufacturer for further details.

Note-2 is disturbing: Tesla service centers cannot support the modifications required to bring US model S into compliance. Does also that means that they could not offer a proper warranty support?

Note-1 indicates that the modifications required would be the DRL (software), EIS (software), metric odometer (software or owner configuration).

Note-2 terminates with "Contact the manufacturer for further details."
Could Tesla provide further details, to help their customers understand what is this matter about?


I am asking my contact if this is true as shown on the tc,gc website. I have been perusing an import of my Florida car since April, and so far no luck. Very disappointed they have not been honest with me from the start!

The Model S WAS on the admissible importation list from the RIV from the month of june 2014.
Tesla Motors did ask Transport Canada to remove it.

It is effectively disappointing, to say the least.


That's great, because an American purchased MS would never pass the strict emissions standards of Canada. And switching the speedometer over to metric is impossible!!!

Too funny!

I think it has more to do with Canadian MS's will get jealous of the U.S. MS that has been SC'ed and get quite upset.

Yah no SC'ed vehicles, we only allow virgins into Canada since we are all virgins up here so far whether we like it or not!

For heavens sake, switching to kilometers is a software update no?

@ vgarbutt - it's called sarcasm :)

I'd imagine it has a lot more to do with the incompatibility of cellular carrier capability between US and Canadian cars.

There is also a gov't mandated vehicle mobilizer on our Canadian cars.
Not sure how easy that would be to add.
I for one have no problem that a US car can't be imported.
I seriously doubt there is much of a price difference although availability would be better in the states.

Ok, so what everyone is saying is that the specs are different for Canadian cars? I can see a difference between a US car and say the UK or Germany, but Canada?

Does anyone know what the differences are?

Bumper standards?

@vgarbutt: sarcasm, not even software update. You can choose it in settings.

I can only imagine this may have something to do with daytime running lights (I think they are optional in US) and cellular carrier plans / hardware. Everything else I thought of can be handled in software updates or may be a business issue.

Hey - Tesla is being considerate. MS cars in the US are used to the luxury of Superchargers. If they come to Canada they will be lost and feel deprived!

Seriously though is it correct that the US cars do not have:

1) Daytime running lights (I thought this was required in some of the states)
2) EIS
3) What else?

Also since the price difference between the US and Canada is negligible what is Tesla fearing since unlike some other cars - where there is a huge price difference between the two countries, there is no real incentive to import the cars into Canada.

Cellular phone are not the issue since the 3G connectivity works in seamlessly in cars that are driven between the two countries.

@Teslatoronto, I drive with my DRLs on constantly, here in CA.

Thanks NKYTA.

I guess this will remain one of Tesla's mysteries.

Or may be Tesla manufactures better quality cars for the Canadian market. :)

What if I move to Canada with my US Tesla?

That's exactly the point I wanted to make. Since there seem to be no other reason why anyone would want to import the car from the US (no price difference, no major changes - unlike other cars, etc.) why this? Only Tesla's can answer this.

What is the difference between a MS being imported into Canada and driving to Canada with a US spec car, which is what we plan on doing once the route is lined with SCs.

@jordanrichard, this is about importing and registering a Tesla in Canada. There is no restriction on an American driving into Canada on vacation or business as long as you plan to take it back int the USA. However if you are a Canadian Resident you can't even do that even if you intend to return it to the USA. That is my issue (I am Canadian and own a Tesla in Florida) and it's not getting resolved!

So as a Canadian, you can not drive your U.S. spec Tesla from FL to Canada, but I can.....?

Has anyone asked the government in Canada as why that is? I don't see how a company can tell a government not to allow a "version" of their product into their country.

I can see Tesla saying that they won't honor a warranty, not that I would agree with it, but that would be a less evasive way to discourage the importation of US spec cars.

@jordanrichard, that's right! It's the Canadian gov. rules that insist I import the car when I cross the border because I am Canadian and driving a foreign made car across the border. The only justification I can come up with is it stops people sneaking cars across the border then falsifying paper to get it registered without paying sales tax or getting them upgraded to Canadian Spec.

In my case I just want to drive home (from Florida) for a few weeks then back down for a few weeks then fly home for the summer. Not allowed!! Could have bought a Canadian version registered in Canada then drive to Florida register there put on Florida Plates and then back to canada would be OK???? Of course who would have guessed that!


The added qualifier is being a Canadian resident. The expectation is that a Canadian resident would bring their car into Canada and register it here, which would include bringing it up to Canadian spec and paying Canadian sales tax and any applicable duty. A Canadian with US residency would of course be exempt.

As for why Canada has a Registrar of Imported Vehicles and its ridiculous requirements one can blame the triumvirate of the Unions, the Big Three and the car dealers who do not want to compete in any way with US dealers. The RIV is strictly a protectionist measure.

As for Tesla voiding a North American warranty for people crossing the border with their vehicles, it would be problematic for Tesla and most likely illegal. German car manufacturers have tried this route in the past and were sued and they lost.

For Tesla to effectively ban individual importation of its vehicles into Canada by not allowing it to be placed on the RIV admissibility list but going to the trouble of qualifying its car for Canada’s Pre-clearance list so it can import it itself with minimal bother is really troubling. To my knowledge no other car manufacturer has attempted this since it is a restrictive trade practice which violates NAFTA and I am confidant will be reversed with penalty by Court order at some future date when some pissed of owner with deep pockets is stranded at the US/CAN border with his Tesla. It has happened before and the car manufacturers with their assorted restrictive trade practice have lost every time.

Finally it is also troubling in that Elon has claimed that Tesla is different from all the other car manufacturers and is pro-consumer. Why then engage in restrictive trade practices that punish the consumer? This is a sensitive issue for many Canadians in that car manufacturers have used restrictive trade practices to try to keep much cheaper (at times) US vehicles out of the Canadian market. Price discrimination is not an issue as they are equivalently priced, but Tesla must realize there are millions of Canadians that live south of the border and if they return to Canada any time in the future (or until this policy is reversed by Court order) must leave their Tesla behind.

@Andrzej1, thanks for taking the time to add your comments. I am one of the frustrated and annoyed Tesla Owners with cars on both sides of the border. I am going to persue my concerns with Tesla and fortunately have the time and resources to push for fairness in this matter. I can't believe there are any significant upgrades necessary to bring it into compliance so the SC resource excuse is not credible!


You're welcome!

I too find it incredulous that the USA Tesla Model S has insurmountable issues with the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS) rules. Has Tesla or Transport Canada told you which specific regulation(s) is/are being violated?

CMVSS rules were considerably more onerous in the past and made personal importation prohibitively expensive in some cases. However after innumerable complaints, CMVSS rules have come more in line with US rules and it it really rare for them to actually make the car totally inadmissible. Many car manufacturers have zero issues with them. Why can't Tesla?

I am sure if enough people complain, the rule making the vehicle non-compliant can be exempted or amended as it has in the past to facilitate individual importation ie. crash bumpers, provided of course that Tesla cooperates in the matter.

I wish you the best of luck! I am confidant that with your determination in this matter you will be victorious in the end!

@Andrzej1, there are only two items I have been told about but nothing official. The seat belt latch must have a red insert where the buckle is locked in, and the fob security protocol needs changes. These were whisper comments so who knows how valid they are. The running lights up here are just the led headlight brows so can't see a problem with that either. And the mileage/kilometer setting is user defined right on the main screen. The 3G connections work for all the American Teslas traveling up here! What is left is the safest car in the world that is already being imported into Canada by the Manufacturer.

There has to be some quirky thing no one expects if there is any valid reason for their action.

Thanks for your support!

I just did import a roadster and although the changes were expensive, they were all possible (for some reason they changed a lot of hardware).
I'm sure it would be even easier for the MS as most changes will only be software.

They basically are the following:
- daylights (does exist in the US)
- electronic immobilization system with keyfob (specific to Canada)
- odometer & speedometer in Km
- SIM card change from a US to a Canadian mobile operator
- homelink module is specific to Canada!!!
- bilingual stickers all over the place :-)

No fenders or crash test required!

Really no good reason to block imports to Canada.

Available 'used' Tesla's are so rare in Canada that not having access to the US market is really restrictive!

What about the converse? Does a US Citizen, with a home in Canada, have to 'import' a car purchased in Canada, to the US?

@ Red Sage,

My partner just had this issue. He has a Canadian purchased Chevy pickup truck. In order to register and license the truck here in Arizona, he had to go through the importation process.

All cars have a km. option already, n'est ce pas?

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