Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Importing US 2013 Audi A6 to Canada

Just a note for anyone planning to import an Audi A6 from USA to Canada.


  • Summary
    • It can be done without terrible trouble
    • It costs money and takes some paperwork.  Keep a folder to put ALL the paperwork in.  It cost me about $3200 Cdn total to get Canadian plates.
  • We brought our 2013 Audi A6 from USA to Canada, we bought it in 2012 and it had about 35,000 miles
  • You have to get a recall clearance letter, call Audi USA about a week in advance and they will get Audi Canada to send you the letter
  • You have to inform the US border crossing you plan to use of your export of the car at least 2 business days in advance.  I hired a customs broker, Borderbuddy, to do this for me for about $100.
    • Note that US border crossings only allow you to export cars on working weekdays between 8 and 4pm with no exceptions.  I made it with 5 minutes to spare.
    • The customs broker had already filed the paperwork with the US border station.
    • They stamp your original US title
  • The Canadian border is different, they are open 24/7/365 for imports, and you will see why.
  • The Canadian CBSA border service wants their paperwork and their money
    • If you are moving to Canada, put the car on the import form for all your furniture and you will get a $10,000 exemption on the tax and duty.  The car does not have to cross the border at the same time, it just has to be listed as "goods to follow".
    • The CBSA will fill out a "Form 1" when you cross with the car.
    • They will charge you their part of the HST (Hated Sales Tax), duty, and excise tax on the value of the car.  If your car is not NAFTA compliant, like the A6, you will pay a lot of duty.  I paid about $2700 Cdn total for everything.
    • They take all major credit cards.
    • They recruit only from the minority of unfriendly Canadians
  • Once you have your Form 1, your recall letter, and your title, you go online to the Registrar of Imported vehicles, link.
    • You sign up for an account and input details of your vehicle
    • You have to either upload, fax, or scan and email your title, recall letter, and form 1 to them
    • They charge you about $200
    • After a few days, they send you back another set of forms, print these out
  • You then go to an inspection center, the RIV has a list, it is usually a Canadian Tire.
  • The Audi A6 does not need any modifications to pass the inspection as it has daytime running lights, you can set the odometer to kilometers, it has a proper alarm system, etc.  There is no need to go to an Audi dealer.
  • The inspection center checks your car, then does an Ontario safety inspection.  This usually costs about $150.  You get more paperwork back.
  • Get your Canadian car insurance set up.
  • Go to a Service Ontario office with ALL your paperwork including the Canadian insurance papers.  They will check the paperwork, charge you about $150, and give you Ontario plates and registration.
  • You are done.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Differences Between Canada and the USA #4

I now have a better perspective on the differences between Canada and the USA. These variations are not dramatic, but they are interesting. In an effort to discourage anyone still reading this blog, I will write a series of posts about these contrasts.

Car Wash

In the US, there are car washes everywhere:
  1. Do it yourself - a bay with pressure washer and vacuum cleaner, $5-10
  2. Drive through - usually part of a gas station, $5-10.
  3. Full service - lots of these, usually has a good drive through wash process followed by personal window washing, vacuum, tire cleaning.  Usually costs 20 to $40.
Canadians seem to view car washes as an expensive unneeded extravagance.  There are some drive through washes at gas stations in the suburbs, but not many.  Full service car washes are few and far between and charge at least $50 for interior and exterior service.  They know this is a lot of money for a car wash so they usually call it "detailing".


Golf

In the US, there are plenty of golf courses ranging from low cost converted cow pastures to hand manicured world famous $300 a round facilities.  A few things are common:
  • Lots of power carts.  Walking is not common unless it is a short course.
  • Lots of balls in the bushes.  People don't worry much if they lose a ball.
  • Mid to high range courses always have a beverage cart driven by a good looking young lady in Daisy Duke shorts and a tight low cut T shirt.
In Canada, there are plenty of golf courses ranging from low cost converted cow pastures to very nice resort facilities (nothing really famous).  A few things are common:
  • Not many power carts at courses that charge less than $75 a round.  Canadians want to save money and get some exercise.
  • Almost no balls in the bushes.  Canadians consider a great round of golf to be one where you end up with more balls than when you started because you scoured the bushes between shots.
  • Only high range courses always have a beverage cart driven by a good looking young lady in Daisy Duke shorts and a tight low cut T shirt.  Less expensive courses will sell you some cans of beer before your round and you can carry them with you.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Differences Between Canada and the USA #3

I now have a better perspective on the differences between Canada and the USA. These variations are not dramatic, but they are interesting. In an effort to discourage anyone still reading this blog, I will write a series of posts about these contrasts.

Cargo Shorts

Women hate cargo shorts on men.  In their view, these shorts with lots of useful pockets were out of style before the last ice age.  However, most men love them.

In the USA, men know that women hate cargo shorts so they only wear them when they are out with their buddies and try to stick to stylish versions accessorized with a nice shirt and sandals.

Canadian men love cargo shorts, especially when accessorized with dark colored socks and old dark colored walking shoes.  Most cargo shorts worn in Canada were bought before the last ice age and were last washed and pressed when Columbus discovered America.  It is important to stuff the pockets with anything that might be needed before winter sets in.  Cargo shorts are definitely OK to wear to the office almost any day except when your boss from the USA is visiting.


Guns

In the USA guns are considered almost an integral part of society, written in the constitution by God himself, and necessary for self defense, recreation, and keeping the government in line.  Gun owners would sooner give up their kids than lose the right to buy as many guns as they want whenever they want.  Smart Americans always assume that someone is armed and do not get into arguments with someone unless they are armed themselves.

Canadians view guns as useful for hunting or target shooting, but not much else. Canadians expect protection from the police, not by having a gun. The only places where you need a gun "to defend yourself" are places like Churchill Manitoba where polar bears regularly get into town.  Carrying a handgun outside the home is considered crazy and is a felony unless you have a rare permit from the police.  Canadians are not afraid of government tyranny as Canadian politicians are generally wimps and more interested in a good pension than raw power.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Differences Between Canada and the USA #2

I now have a better perspective on the differences between Canada and the USA. These variations are not dramatic, but they are interesting. In an effort to discourage anyone still reading this blog, I will write a series of posts about these contrasts.

The Post Office

In the USA, the post office is a political football.  Republicans point to it as a money-losing government boondoggle with nasty unions.  However, all congressmen (Republican and Democrat) want all post offices to stay open, stamps to be cheap, special services to be offered (passport anyone?), and door to door mail delivery everywhere 6 days a week.  Letter volume is dropping in spite of these handouts, parcel volume is increasing due to Internet shopping.

In Canada, the post office has to break even.  Therefore, most post offices are run by private companies, stamps are expensive, no more door to door delivery and only 5 days a week.  Letter volume is dropping dramatically, parcel volume is increasing due to Internet shopping.

Recycling


Recycling in the USA is considered a necessary evil if you care about the world your children inherit.  If you don't have kids or don't care about them, forget recycling because its a pain in the behind.  Outside of the home, recycling is never done.

In Canada, recycling is a universal religious activity practiced by everyone.  There are public recycling stations everywhere, you must separate your recycling into 4 different types, and you would never admit to anyone that you do not believe in recycling.

Christian Religion

In USA, religion is almost universal.  There are big churches everywhere, and you would never say in polite company that you do not believe in God.  You are expected to be able to characterize your Church, e.g. "Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America".  If your church is not satisfactory, there is probably one you will like better within a mile or two.

Religion in the Canada is considered an interesting but little practiced historical custom.  If you don't have kids or don't care about them, you probably don't go to Church often if at all. Many church buildings are shared by 4 different branches of Christianity. Churches are few and far between, many of the older ones have been converted into condominiums or community centers (Americans, I kid you not!).


Friday, August 19, 2016

Differences Between Canada and the USA #1

I now have a better perspective on the differences between Canada and the USA.  These variations are not dramatic, but they are interesting.  In an effort to discourage anyone still reading this blog, I will write a series of posts about these contrasts.

Customer Service

In the USA, the customer is always right and must be treated with utmost respect even when demanding something that is not allowed.  For example, you bought a set of storage shelves, but they did not fit, you bring them back in a green plastic garbage bag with pieces missing without a receipt and jump the return line - no problem, cheerful refund.

In Canada, everyone has to follow the rules, even if they are unwritten.  If you break the rules, you will be denied the service you desire.  You did not bring the item back in "resellable condition with original receipt" - no refund for you!

Border Patrol

In the USA, the border patrol is most interested in who you are and are you a threat (terrorist, criminal..).  They really don't care if you are bringing back $15K of items you bought, as long as you declare them.  The duty is not worth collecting in most cases. 

In Canada, the goal of the border people is to get the taxes and duty you owe to pay for government services including the border patrol.  Don't try to smuggle those $50 flowered board shorts back from Plattsburgh, the border patrol wants the 12% HST and 8% excise tax.

Grocery Store

The US grocery store stocks about 40,000 different items.  If you want low calorie gluten free sugar free Parmesan Ranch dressing in the family size, they have it.

In Canada, the average store stocks 20,000 items, and a lot of them are no-name money-saving items.  Parmesan Ranch salad dressing any kind any size, forget about it.  How about some no-name French dressing for $0.99?

Tattoos and Army Boots on Young Women

Tattoos and boots are probably pretty common in New York City and other "urban" cities.  I never saw them in Northern Virginia.

In Canada, your 14 year old daughter will be bugging you because 10 of her friends have florescent pink army boots, pierced tongues, and tattoos on their arms, legs, and unmentionables.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Why Low Inflation Is Better than Return (Just a Bit)

There are lots of complaints about the low return from stocks, bonds, and saving due to the intervention of central banks.  Central banks have driven interest rates down to negative levels in some areas, and this drives down the return on all other financial assets.

The return on a balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds is likely between 3 and 5%, which seems very low to most folks.

But inflation is also at low levels, 1-2% in the USA, and similar or lower rates elsewhere.

Should we care more about inflation or low rates?  At first glance, it should not matter.  If inflation is 3% and you are getting 6% return that should be the same as inflation at 1% and a 4% return.  Funnily enough, low inflation is slightly more beneficial than higher return by my calculations.

The formula for adjusting a return for inflation is:

Inflation-Adjusted Return

So let's look at some combinations of return and inflation:

inflationrate of returnDifference RoR & Iadjusted rate of return
3.00%4.00%1.00%0.97%
4.00%5.00%1.00%0.96%
2.00%4.00%2.00%1.96%
3.00%5.00%2.00%1.94%
4.00%6.00%2.00%1.92%
1.00%4.00%3.00%2.97%
2.00%5.00%3.00%2.94%
3.00%6.00%3.00%2.91%

For the same difference between return and inflation (third column), a lower inflation gives you slightly more return.  The combination of 4% and 1% (yellow) is slightly better than 6% and 3% (green).

This may be obvious to most people, but it was a bit of a revelation to me.  We should be a little thankful for low inflation in a time of low returns.