Buying a salvage aircraft and crossing the border with it.

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David H

Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2019
Messages
18
All, an update on my planned trip from Canada to the USA with an incomplete aircraft.
1. towing an incomplete aircraft from Northern Quebec to Northern NY gets a lot of stares
2. trying to cross into the USA at a little used border crossing had us redirected to the larger crossing where "Supervisors" work
3. three hours waiting to finally get a supervisor to look at my bill of sale in French and English
4. questions included: Where was it built? Was it ever registered in Canada? If assembled from the parts you have is it complete? How much did you pay for it? (in $CA and in $US)
Finally with simple answers to the above were able to cross the border at no cost.
 

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Aviacs

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Joined
Oct 21, 2019
Messages
244
Hello everyone, I came upon this old thread and I am hoping someone has some up to date information. I plan on buying a "70% complete project" in Canada and bringing it into the USA. Once the border opens back up. It has no "N" number as it was never complete. I do not plan on completing this project - it just happens to have the parts I need to complete my project. Does anyone have any tips and suggestions on passing through USA customs? Anything I should do in advance of the trip?
A couple years ago i bought a flying experimental in Canada. First trip, despite prepping with them a week ahead of time and coordinating on the day, my local credit union screwed up the money transter, but the seller allowed me to get a start on moving it, taking the wings and extra parts back across the border in the cradles i had brought for the purpose. The inspector on the NY side of the border was so excited that they were real airplane wings, i thought he was going to ask for my autograph on the way out. He would alternate between trying to be official, and then getting beside himself asking questions about airplanes and building them. There was no duty on the used parts.

CU finally got its act together & paid the seller. A month or so later when the snow was mostly melted and it was easier to move the fuselage anyway, i went back. There was a different attendant, and he was convinced i was trying to pull something over on him. He required a bill of sale. He had me park to the side (picture) while he called around to other crossings to get advice. Finally he came out and demanded :"is this something you build yourself?" I said yes, it is an experimental, people built them from plans, etc. He got all relieved and said "sir, you are free to go, we don't have anything to do with planes like that."

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My understanding is that real airplanes have real duties on them, and the paperwork (bill of sale) needs to somewhat match official perceptions of value.
 

Riggerrob

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Joined
Sep 9, 2014
Messages
2,144
Location
Canada
Border guards can be odd at times.
One Sunday I was skydiving at Schweighofen, Germany, but took a short-cut home through France. When I arrived at a small border-crossing, the lone French guard asked me a few questions, then asked to look in my car trunk. He only wanted to look at my parachute. Turns out that he had been a paratrooper during his military service. He was bored and just wanted to reminisce about old times. After chatting for a few minutes, he cheerily waved me through.
 

Jim Chuk

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2013
Messages
152
Location
Chisholm Mn USA
I hauled a partly completed Christavia from Canada into northern Mn about 4 years ago. It turned out to be no real problem once it was all said and done. No duties charged or anything. The plane did not have Canadian registration, as it had never been completed or flown. I think that helped. It was considered a collection of parts I believe. JImChuk
 

LittleBird

Active Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2009
Messages
37
Location
Harrisonville, MO. USA
Several years ago I bought a kit airplane that wasn't started so it looked like a pile of raw material except for the few fiberglass parts. I went to Canada without a passport, bought the airplane, and drove home. The border going into Canada required a background check and they treated us like royalty. Gave us some little Canadian flags and said have fun!! Coming back home an attractive attendant chewed my arse and said don't ever try this stunt again without a passport. She didn't give a darn about the airplane story! This is the short version, but would I do it again?? Probably!
 

David H

Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2019
Messages
18
LittleBird, We did it this past month with our Enhanced Driver's Licenses and Arrive Canada receipts. Getting into Canada was easy. Getting back into the USA with our EDL's were also easy - it was the "What is that on the trailer?" part that made the junior Border Agents nervous. No one opened the plastic or looked into the covered truck bed - they were more interested in if I planned to attempt to fly the (what I have now discovered to be) over 40 year old wooden parts. When asked I replied: "Would you get into a glued together wooden boat that has been unpainted and sitting in a barn for over 20 years?" Fortunately none of the agents were aviators.
 
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