People living or traveling through North America have many different options when it comes to buying an RV. There are many Canadian RV makers and many United States RV makers to choose from.
Are RVs cheaper in the U.S. or in Canada?
RVs are generally cheaper to buy in the United States than Canada. The actual purchase price of an RV is less expensive in the United States than in Canada and the amount of taxes one pays on the RV are also less in the United States than they are in Canada.
Here are some points to consider when trying to decide whether or not to buy an RV in Canada or the U.S.
While the U.S. dollar is currently stronger than the Canadian dollar, it still makes better financial sense to purchase an RV in the United States rather than in Canada.
This being said, if you’re looking to buy an RV that is only made in Canada, you might find that it is less expensive to purchase in Canada.
5 RV Types Compared: United States Vs. Canada
If you live in Canada, you may find the extra steps that you’ll need to take to import your RV into Canada might not be worth the additional cost savings. This is especially true if you’re purchasing an inexpensive RV.
The actual purchase price of an RV in the United States is usually dramatically less than the actual purchase price of the same RV when it is sold in Canada. This is true regardless of whether or not the RV is a motorhome or a towable camper. It’s also true regardless of whether the motorhome is a class A, class B, or class C motorhome.
Here are some examples to demonstrate this fact.
Fifth Wheel Camper – 2019 Keystone RV Montana 3120RL
This fifth wheel camper is 35′ long and weighs over 12,000 pounds. It has two large slide outs and one small slide out. You can sleep up to four people in this camper.
In Canada, expect to pay around $90,000.00 for this camper. In the United States, you can expect to pay around $60,000.00 for this camper. You’ll save $30,000.00 which is a 33% savings if you buy in the United States rather than in Canada.
Travel Trailer – 2019 Keystone RV Premier 19FBPR
This travel trailer is 24′ long and weighs 4,353 pounds. It sleeps four people and has one slide out.
Buy this camper in Canada and you’ll pay about $33,000.00 for it. Buy the same camper in the United States and you’ll only pay $25,000.00. This is a savings of $8,000.00.
Class C Motorhome – 2019 Thor Motor Coach Quantum RC25 Ford
This class C motorhome is 26’3″ long and is built on a large Ford E450 Chassis. It has one large slide out and can sleep up to four people. The engine is a 6.8 V-10 and it has a 4,000-watt gas generator.
Online prices in Canada for this RV are around $109,000.00. In the United States, you can expect to pay around $80,000.00. This means that buying in the United States will cost you at least $29,000.00 less.
Class B Motorhome – 2019 Pleasure-Way Plateau SLMB
This class B motorhome is 23 feet long and has a weight of 11,030 pounds. It runs off of diesel fuel and can sleep, two people.
In Canada, you’ll pay about $180,000.00 for this motorhome but only $160,000.00 in the United States. This gives you a $20,000.00 savings for buying in the U.S.
Class A Motorhome – 2019 Holiday Rambler Admiral – 28A RV
This class A motorhome is 28 feet long and has a large V10 Triton Engine. It has three slide outs and sleeps, four people.
In Canada, you can get this motorhome for $115,000.00 but in the U.S., you’ll only pay $90,000.00. This is a $25,000.00 difference.
One thought to keep in mind when buying an RV in the United States rather than Canada is that the United States currently has a stronger currency than Canada. As of today, the exchange rate is 1 to 1.32. This means that for every U.S. dollar you’ll need $1.32 in Canadian dollars.
Because of this, a more expensive RV in Canada may very well be less expensive to purchase after you’ve exchanged dollars.
For example, the Holiday Rambler was $115,000.00 in Canadian dollars. This would end up costing you about $87,000.00 U.S. dollars. In this case, after the exchange is made the total cost is less in Canada.
However, there are some other factors to consider when analyzing the cost of buying an RV in the U.S. versus buying one in Canada.
The United States has a complicated tax system. Every single one of the fifty states in the U.S. charges a different tax rate. Some cities also charge sales tax as well.
Buying an RV in a place like Delaware that does not have any state sales tax might cost you 6% less than buying in a state like Pennsylvania which has a sales tax of 6%. Buy an RV in the city of Philadelphia which is within Pennsylvania and you’ll end up paying 8% in taxes instead of 6% because of Philadelphia’s additional sales tax.
Even with all of these taxes, people still often pay less in taxes in the U.S. than in Canada. Different provinces in Canada charge different tax rates.
Ontario charges 8%, Prince Edward Island charges 10%, Quebec charges 9.975%, and Saskatchewan charges 6%.
In addition to this, you have to worry about the national sales tax which is another 5%.
Ability to Export
Another thought to keep in mind is where will the RV end up living permanently. If you end up having to pay additional taxes to send an RV from the United States to Canada or vice versa, will the savings be worth it?
Some provinces and all states will charge you a fee for transferring the RV into your home state. You may also end up having to pay to have additional inspections done to the RV as well.
What if you don’t want to keep your RV in Canada or the United States? Your home country may make it easier or harder to transfer property from one country to another. For example, for many years people from the United States were not allowed to trade with people from Cuba.
Ability to Import
You may also want to consider the impact your savings might have on the type of RV you’d like to buy. Some RV manufacturers will not ship to another state. Even if RVs are cheaper in one country doesn’t mean you’ll be able to get the RV you want to get.
Before deciding on what country you want to buy your RV in, you should first look to see if the country has the RV you want available for sale.
How do I import an RV to Canada?
To import an RV to Canada, you’ll need to pay Canada’s sales tax.
This is in addition to any taxes you may have paid in the United States. For example, if you purchased your RV in Pennsylvania and paid a tax of 6%, you’ll still need to pay another 8% when bringing it back to Ontario.
Additionally, you’ll need to show proof that you own the RV by showing the title and proof of sale.
How do I import an RV to the United States
A motorhome is considered a vehicle, so you’ll need to follow the U.S. Customs and Border Protection rules for importing a vehicle when importing a motorhome. The vehicle will need to meet EPA and DOT regulations. Links to these regulations can be found at https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/218/kw/import%20vehicle
A travel trailer RV must be imported by a registered importer and it must meet all U.S. vehicle safety standards. You can find more information on that at https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/415/kw/travel%20trailer
Is it hard to cross between Canada and the United States in an RV?
A border crossing between the United States and Canada in an RV is not very difficult. You’ll just need to have the proper identification such as your license and your passport.
Just keep in mind that border guards can and often will do a search of your trailer or motorhome and you’ll want to make sure you’re in compliance with all laws when they do. For example, some drugs are legal in some areas and are not legal in others. If you have drugs in your motorhome, (or medicine), you’ll want to make sure you have the legal ability to move it from country to country.
Sometimes certain foods cannot be taken across a border either. Items as simple as lemons might not be allowed over the border so try to have your fridge as empty as possible so you can avoid these issues.
Weapons could be another issue. While it might seem normal to travel with a firearm in the United States, this is not permitted in Canada. If you have any weapons, you’ll want to make sure you leave them at home before making any border crossings.
Saving money is great but sometimes it can be more difficult than you might think.
Before purchasing an RV outside of your home country, make sure you take into account all of the variables that may change based off of your decision to buy from another country.
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Morten is the founder of GoDownsize. He has filmed and interviewed people living in tiny houses and RVs since 2011. He grew up on the coast where his dad took him boating from a young age. He has completely rebuilt two RVs in which he travels with his family for months at the time. Read more about Morten here.