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New Regulations (Finally) Allow Cross-Border Car Rentals from U.S.

By SHANNON KELLY

Photo: Rebecca Brown

As of June 1 this year, Canadians will be able to rent a vehicle in the U.S. and drive it over the border to Canada thanks to a change to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (which previously threatened Canadians attempting to transport a U.S.-owned rental across the border with seizure of the vehicle).

Taxes on such trips will not apply for Canadians who have been out of the Canada for at least 48 hours. Rentals must be returned to the U.S. within 30 days.

The new regulation could save Canadians money. A traveller on a joint Seattle–Vancouver trip, for example, could shop in both destinations for the cheapest car rental—and fly into a U.S. airport, benefitting from (usually) lower-priced U.S. airfares. (Not that we’re recommending you take your tourism dollars out of Canada. We’re just sayin’.) It could also encourage Canadian rental companies that currently charge customers for crossing the border to eliminate those fees if U.S. rental companies don’t reciprocate.

On the other hand, Canada could see some tourism growth. Canadians on U.S. trips may make jaunts over the border (from, say, Montana’s Glacier National Park to Alberta’s just-as-gorgeous but less-visited Waterton National Park) that they otherwise would not have done.

The law allows for one-way rentals so long as the vehicle is returned to the U.S. (presumably by the rental company) within the 30-day period. But there’s no news yet on whether rental companies that operate in both countries will allow drop-offs from south of the border.