In another thread
I started I described how I was looking at either being a bus locally in BC, or import from the US. I ended up following the import way because of the lack of suitable buses in BC. Below are the detailed steps that I followed from looking for one, to having it insured with ICBC
1) Finding a bus
I phoned several of the bus reselling companies I linked in other thread. All the prices I got back felt extremely high. I created a saved search
on the Public Surplus website for WA to alert me on new buses. After a few weeks a bus popped up in Snohomish that fit all the criteria. The website allows you to ask questions to get some more detail.
After checking the RIV
website to make sure the bus was OK for import
I decided to bid. This is obviously risky without having seen the bus.
2) Paying for the bus
I ended up winning the auction. As soon as that happens the auction website send you an email that lists the final price and some other detail. This includes two critical pieces of information. A payment deadline of 5 days, and a limit on credit card payments of $4000. My payment was $17 over that limit.
The only way to pay is by wire transfer, and after some careful reading, it specifically said that no INTERNATIONAL wire transfers would be allow. After talking to the support people at Public Processing, LLC they indicated I would have to find somebody in the US to pay for me. Fortunately I had a US based colleague who was able to do that.
At day 5 (with the wire on it's way) I got a reminder email that said I would loose the bus if no payment was received. After phoning support again, this new agent was able to tell me that they DO accept International wire transfers
Anyway, payment was received and the seller (the Snohomish School district) was notified of this
3) Working with a broker
Since I had never imported anything from the US, I decided to use a broker to help with the paperwork. I picked Davidson and Sons
and have been very happy with their service. They helped me work with the seller to get all the required document ready. The paperwork and questions they asked me:
1) Original title (district actually lost original title, they got a replacement one and that worked), signed by the seller
2) The designed capacity (there is plate in the bus that shows that)
3) Bill of sale (there was a typo in the auction info for the year. That was actually copied to the bill of sale. They were able to change that. Just make sure all details are correct)
4) Statement of Compliance label (also a plate/sticker in the bus)
5) Recall clearance documentation. You can't import your bus if there is outstanding recalls. My bus manufacture (International/Navistar) turned that letter around in less then a day.
At this point the broker sends the paperwork over to the US customs people. They will provide an EEI/ITN that needs to be presented at the US border. You can only bring the bus THREE days after that document has been issued!
4) Picking it up
Because the US border only processes exports on weekdays, I took a day of on Monday to drive the bus across. We actually drove up on Saturday so that I could pick up a "Washington State Trip Permit", you can get these at any licensing office
. Cost was ~45 USD. I could probably have done this on Monday, but I did not want to take the risk of delays. We spend some time exploring Snohomish and surrounding area. My wife drove back on Sunday.
The above insurance covers the trip from Snohomish to the border. Once across the BC border you need a "Binder of Temporary Insurance". Any Autoplan broker should be able to do this. Prepare for spending some time at the broker because most don't do this very often. Took a bunch of calls. Cost was CAD 63 for three days,2M liability.
Actual pickup was uneventful and I was on my way in my brand new bus. It was incredibly windy and rainy, so it wasn't the most relaxing drive ever
5) Crossing the border
The border crossing is in two stages. Exporting it fromt he US and importing it in BC. I was crossing at the Blaine truck crossing and made a time consuming booboo. I stopped at what I thought was the US border, but learned I had made it to the Canadian border already! Big oops, since I need to export first. Looking at the maps, I should have stopped in a small parking lot
and walked to the US customs from there. Fortunately the Canada custom people were super friendly and had a customs car, route me back to the US side. Where the US Customs guys was a lot less friendly and cost me a lot of time. After he was satisfied I could go into the US customs to complete the export process. Lots of waiting around, but the actual process was simple enough. Present paperwork, they check VIN and get an export stamp.
Back to the Canadian border, I had a package waiting at my sub broker. The Canada customs people directed me into the yard where I could park the bus. Pickup my paperwork from the broker (a Form 1) and had that processed. Went pretty quick and I was on my way! I did not pay duties there, this turned out to be a cause of delay later. The broker handles the payment. It's probably better to do that direct at the border. You need a payment receipt later
There is two inspections that need to happen. The federal RIV inspection that can only be done by Canadian Tires and only after they have received a case number. You create this online with the information from the Form 1 and make a payment (CAD 325). Once the payment and Form 1 are processed, you can go to a Canadian Tire for the inspection. RIV provides a list
of what they will check. I used my vinyl cutter to make french language emergency exit instructions. Day time running and km'h on the odo were fine already. The RIV inspection took 10 minutes (CT in North Van was worthless, Burnaby was great). You pay another $35 to CT, but I think that is actually just a tire recycling fee you would normally have paid if you purchased the tires in BC. The RIV fee paid earlier is also for inspection.
The big safety inspection needs to be done by a CVSE licensed facility. I used White's Automotive in North Vancouver and was super happy with them. I did have an expensive repair since the S-cam rotation test was a fail. I was just over the legal limit. Needed new brake drums. But having good brakes sounds smart on something this heavy
7) Registration and insurance
The fun bit. With both the CVSE and RIV inspection done, I was ready to get it regfistered in BC (and insured). This took many hours and many phone calls from the broker to ICBC. You get different answers every time. I was hoping to license it straight as an Motor Home, something I was told by one agent that it could be done by the broker. But, and that is more in line with what I can find online, the agent we ended up speaking with during the actual process knew that certain changes had to be made. So that was a no go. Complication was that because by GVW was over 10,000kg, was no way to insure the bus for pleasure use. But, since there was less then 10 seats, it could be registered as a van. That took me out of the commercial category and thus much lower cost.
In the end ICBC/broker needed to see proof of payment (Form B3), a weight slip and the actual bus. There is very few weight station left, but the District of North Van garbage dump has one where you can just get a weight slip ($15). My CVSE inspection station said they have had some issues where they would not actually issue this ticket, I might have gotten lucky.
It's now properly licensed in BC!!
I will do my conversion and then change to Motor Home classification
Since there was no good summary of the process that I found, I thought this might be helpful!