Importers of vehicles into Canada should be aware that various amendments made previously to update the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and its associated regulations will be coming into force effective January 1, 2019. These changes were made to, among other things, reduce trade barriers applicable to used vehicles imported from Mexico, and vehicles imported from the United States and Mexico for parts.
The amendment to the legislation was necessitated in order to fulfill a provision in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) whereby Canada committed to eliminating restrictions on the importation of used vehicles from Mexico.
Used Vehicles From Mexico
The proposed amendment that was published in the Canada Gazette Part 1, Vol.152 addresses the above-noted NAFTA obligation by permitting the importation of prescribed used vehicles from Mexico into Canada that do not comply with the vehicle requirements referred to in sections 5 and 6 of the Act, on the condition that they meet certain regulatory requirements and, before they are registered under the laws of a province, that they are brought into conformity with other specific Canadian safety regulatory requirements and certified by the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (i.e. the vehicles must satisfy these requirements before they are registered and used).
Importation for Parts
A new subsection 7(2.1) was created under the amended Act that will allow, under certain conditions, vehicles from the U.S. or Mexico to be imported and to be dismantled for their components. Such vehicles cannot be registered under the laws of a province or territory.
Paragraph 7(1)(a) of the Act that deals with temporary importation was also amended. Currently, the Act only permits the temporary importation of vehicles and equipment into Canada that do not conform to sections 5 and 6 of the Act for the purposes of exhibition, demonstration, evaluation or testing. Once it is in force, the new paragraph 7(1)(a) would permit the temporary importation of vehicles and equipment into Canada for purposes set out in the Regulations, but still only if the vehicle or equipment will be used for one of the prescribed purposes (subject to approval, the vehicle may also be donated).
Exclusion of Slow-Moving Vehicles
Changes to the Act and its regulations will also align Canada with U.S. standards by adding a minimum speed for vehicles to exclude slow-moving vehicles, such as power-assisted bicycles, scooters and electric or low-speed all-terrain vehicles designed to have a maximum attainable speed of less than 32 km/h. The government notes that while such vehicles will no longer be federally regulated, the provinces and territories are still free to decide whether to permit the use of the subject vehicles in their jurisdictions.
Inclusion of Certain Motorcycles
This amendment also proposes to expand the restricted-use motorcycle definition to include four wheeled off-road utility vehicles. Currently, these vehicles are not regulated and their inclusion in the legislation’s regulatory scope will ensure that, among other things, they would be included within the industry’s defect and recall regime.
A regulatory update that Transport Canada says would “provide the most configuration flexibility and will minimize the financial impact on tire manufacturers” allows for official recognition of both the existing Canadian tire identification number (TIN) configurations as well as the 13-character TIN codes that were subsequently introduced by the U.S. in 2015.