How to Import a Trailer into the U.S.

How to Import a Trailer into the U.S.

Breeze Customs Blog


railers are popular, and it’s not difficult to understand why. These detachable mobile vehicles provide owners with an adventurous travel opportunity across campsites and national parks. Apart from being used to transport other vehicles, trailers are a comfortable housing option when traveling cross country or visiting a new location with limited accommodation. It is also a cheaper option for many young individuals who are hoping to make the best out of their travels. In fact, many Americans live in trailers, with a reported 4 million mobile homes registered in the U.S. in 2018. For those reasons, importing a trailer from Canada to the U.S. to cater to travel and accommodation needs sounds tempting.

Importing a trailer into the U.S. can be tricky – especially if you’re not familiar with the import requirements. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about importing a trailer from Canada into the United States. Whether you’re importing a travel trailer, boat trailer, car trailer, or even a horse trailer, we’ll cover the important things you need to know, so you can rest assured that your trailer will cross the border without any issues.

What are the different types of trailers I can import from Canada?

Trailers are versatile vehicles, and naturally, come in different types and for different uses. Personal-use trailers, which can be purchased used or new, are enclosed vehicles without an engine or steering wheel. They are attached to a vehicle with an engine and easily towed to any location. Trailers can be decoupled from the engine vehicle and set up at a specific location or stored for later use. Here are some types of popular trailers:

Travel Trailers

Used as portable homes, travel trailers provide owners with all the comforts of home within the confines of the trailer. Kitchens, toilets, showers, and bedrooms are sometimes built-in models, though some owners prefer to install them themselves. These trailers can easily be designed to accommodate different needs and styles.

Boat Trailers

Boat trailers are exactly what they sound like, a trailer designed to home boats and keep them safe while they’re being transported. Some trailers are even designed with cradles that protect the boat from going sideways during loading and unloading.

Car Trailers

Similar to boat trailers, car trailers are designed to safely transport cars from one destination to the next. Suitable for luxury or antique cars, these trailers are perfect for transporting vehicles with minimal possible damage.

Toy Trailers

One of the most popular trailers, toy trailers are designed to transport mini diggers, golf carts, motorcycles, and mini tractors. These trailers come in many models to better suit the vehicle being loaded and transported in them.

Horse Trailers

As the name would suggest, horse trailers are dedicated to the transport of horses. These trailers are the most affordable type and usually come with windows and openings for fresh air, stall dividers, and saddle racks. Some horse trailers even come with living quarters.

What is the duty rate on imported trailers?

There is usually no import duty on a personal use trailer. However, if you are assessed duty, expect a maximum rate of 2.5% on the value of your trailer. You should write your bill of sale accordingly.

Trailers and their parts are duty free when imported from countries that have normal trade relations with the United States.

Do I need to import a trailer through a Registered Importer?

Yes, trailers have to be imported through Registered Importers (or an individual who has a contract with an RI). An exception is made if you possess a U.S. certification label stating that the trailer meets U.S. vehicle safety standards.

The registered importer (RI) will file an entry with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and submit the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Form HS-7.

CBP will then give the RI the entry summary document CBP Form 7501 Entry Summary, which is needed to register the trailer.

Do I need a CBP bond to import a trailer?

A trailer that is being imported for personal use and has a label stating it meets U.S. Vehicle Safety Standards will not require a CBP bond. Nonetheless, the CBP Officer may require a CBP bond if the trailer does not meet U.S. standards and/or is being imported for resale. You can acquire a bond through one of the surety companies listed on the Bureau of the Fiscal Service website.

What are the documents needed to import a trailer?

To import a trailer, you will need to gather the necessary paperwork and forms below:

  • An EPA form 3520-1
  • A DOT form HS-7
  • A U.S. Customs Proforma Invoice
  • The carrier’s Bill of Lading (BoL)
  • A Bill of Sale showing VIN
  • Foreign Registration
  • A copy of the Vehicle Registration
  • A Letter of Recall and Conformity from the Manufacturer (if applicable)

Are state requirements the same for imported trailers?

The requirements to import and register a trailer may differ from state to another. For example, there are some states, such as New Jersey, New York, and Illinois, where authorities require a border-stamped Entry Summary CBP Form 7501. Tennessee requires that the trailer’s VIN be stamped into the trailer, either on the tongue or the frame. You can check with your customs broker if there are any state-specific requirements before importing a trailer from Canada and registering it.

The 25-year rule

Similar to motor vehicles, a trailer needs an EPA sticker and a US Department of Transportation (DOT) sticker if it is less than 25 years old. If the trailer is older than 25 years old, a DOT sticker is usually not required.

If the trailer is newer than 25 years and without a US DOT sticker, you can:

  • Acquire an OEM Compliance Letter – this is a letter from the trailer manufacturer stating that it met the US DOT safety guidelines and complies with current US EPA regulations
  • Make any safety modifications to the trailer to bring it into compliance.

U.S. version trailers VS Canadian version trailers

A U.S. version vehicle is originally manufactured for sale within the United States. These vehicles, including trailers, can be imported without the approval of EPA or a Customs bond as long as they have not been modified or altered.

If a vehicle has been modified in any way, EPA requires a CBP bond upon importation to guarantee that repair and restoration are completed. The bond amount is usually set at the current market value of the vehicle. The importer then must bring the vehicle into compliance with EPA requirements within 120 days.

Canadian version vehicles and trailers that were manufactured to be sold in the Canadian market do not require CBP bonds – as long as they are identical to U.S. versions. The vehicles should meet one of the following conditions:

  • 2002 and newer models: The importer provides a letter from the U.S. representative of the manufacturer that states the vehicle was manufactured to meet all U.S. emission requirements at the manufacturing date
  • 1988-2001 models: The vehicle should be on the EPA list of Canadian models identical to U.S. version vehicles.

A customs broker can help you identify if your Canadian trailer was manufactured to meet U.S. safety standards and if it’s on the EPA list.


Now that you have all the information you need, it’s time to get started on importing your trailer from Canada to the U.S. By following our guide, you can ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible and avoid any potential headaches down the road.

How Breeze Customs can help you import your vehicle

At Breeze Customs, we help hundreds of importers bring their vehicles into the United States every year without any hassle. From checking your trailer’s admissibility to preparing and filing your documentation, we’ll take the work off your shoulders. Book a meeting with one of our Breeze Customs Concierges and we’ll take it from there.