No, I’m not pregnant. But after undertaking and surviving the painstaking process of importing my Pontiac G6 to Canada, we are considering naming our firstborn—male or female—after Benoit, the man who made it all possible.
You might recall that I officially immigrated to Canada back in July. When I “landed” here, I brought some goods with me, which I had to report. The goods came in tax-free, because I previously owned them.
At the time, I did not plan on bringing my car with me. I had heard many a story about the import process, and I had no interest in importing a car that I didn’t plan to keep long-term. I had paid taxes on it when I originally purchased it, and I didn’t want to pay taxes on it again to bring it across the border.
I continued to drive, drive, drive the car, not thinking much about the fact that I was a permanent resident who probably should be holding an Ontario license and driving an Ontario-plated car. I was making a lot of trips stateside and holding a residence in both countries. No big deal, right?
Wrong. I was outed around midnight on a Saturday at the US/Canada border, following 20 hours of travel from Europe. While chatting with the border agent, he asked why I still had Ohio plates. I told him, and he asked me to pull over and speak with a customs agent inside.
Me: Oh boy.
Husband: You have got to be kidding me.
The customs agent must’ve noticed the giant bags under our eyes and took pity on us. She sent us on our way but not before telling me that I had to either sell the car in the states or import it. And I had to decide in a hurry.
So, Husband and I drove home, trying to decide what we were going to do with my car. Sell it stateside? Import it? I was starting a new job the following week, and I needed a vehicle. Preferably one that was legal.
Wondering if I could simply add my car to the original list of goods I had compiled when I landed, I called the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA). My list of goods had never officially been stamped. Could I add my car to the list and import it without paying a tax on it? The representative recommended that I visit the nearest customs office and speak with an agent.
“Whether you get to add your car to your list will depend entirely on the agent you get and the day they’re having,” said the representative. Of course it will, I thought. Commence Operation Pray. And enter Benoit, a French-Canadian customs agent working at the Hamilton Airport.
Husband and I drove down to Hamilton three Saturdays ago and presented my case to Benoit and another agent. Judging from their gestures and shared French language, adding my car to my paperwork wasn’t something they were supposed to do. However, my goods list was also unstamped, which wasn’t supposed to be either. After some thought, Benoit decided my papers were in order and agreed to add my car to the list. All I had to do was bring my car back to the airport, and he’d take care of it.
Husband and I were beside ourselves. I was importing my car to Canada, tax-free! Hallelujah! What a fabulous day!
We shot out of there in a hurry, drove home, jumped in my car and drove back to the airport. Benoit looked over my car briefly and finished up the paperwork. We paid a fee, and Benoit stamped dates and authoritative marks all over my forms. He told us we would be notified when the forms were processed and then we parted ways. I refrained from hugging him.
Two days later, I had an e-mail telling me that my forms were processed and I needed to take my car to a certified inspection agency. I did that two Saturdays ago. And, she passed! More paperwork was faxed off, and I received my Canadian Certificate (equivalent of a state title) in the mail last week. Hooray!
So, Monday, I scored my Ontario driver’s license. And, today, I acquired my Ontario registration and plates. Which means I’m officially legit. Too legit to quit.
Thank you, Benoit! And thank you, Lord! We are thrilled. Thrilled to have the car legal and thrilled to have conquered Mount Bureaucracy. Now, will our firstborn be thrilled with the name “Benoit”? Hard to say. But, Mommy’s car is here thanks, in part, to Benoit. And that means he wins naming rights.
Sorry, kiddo. Best hope someone in our lives causes something more amazing to happen between now and whenever you make an appearance. Good luck!