Welcome to Canada (or how to get a car out of a container)

TL;DR: Scroll down.

After an uneventful flight to Halifax but a rather lengthy chat with the immigration officer I was finally in Canada! I am not sure why I always get the extra treatment at the border, is this a sign of things to come? Let’s hope not! Anyway, they let me in!
On the same flight were Stefan and Thomas from¬†www.einmalrundum.ch. Luckily for me they rented a car and offered me a ride to my Airbnb in Halifax. There’s a bus (#320) from the Airport ($3.5) but it takes ages and a cab is around $70.
I spent the whole Sunday walking around Halifax, I logged 30’000 steps on my Garmin ūüėÄ In the evening I went to dinner with the guys from Einmal Rundum at the Rock Bottom Brew Pub. Great burger,¬†good self made beer!

On Monday I wanted to try to get my car from the port. The ship arrived with 12hours delay Sunday night at the port. Unfortunately all the only information I got from the shipping company on how to get my car out of the port was a phone number of a shipping agent in Ontario. On Monday afternoon I finally reached them and asked what I should do. They sent me to the CBSA[1] with the Bill of Landing, according to them, that’s all I need. Turns out, that wasn’t quite correct, I also needed a Notification of Delivery, which the agent should give to you. So back to step one, calling the agent. 30 Minutes later I had the required notification, all I needed was a place to print it. For some reason the libraries except the central library are closed on Monday. To top this, there’s an old and a new central library in Halifax. One is abandoned and one isn’t. You can guess which one I tried. By the time I found a place to print (Staples) the notification the business hours (8am – 4pm) of the CBSA office were over.

On Tuesday morning exactly at eight I was¬†in¬†the CBSA office. A few minutes later I was already¬†outside. But not with the¬†stamps¬†I needed. The “Foreign Soil Examination” hasn’t been completed yet. However, they gave me a phone number [1] to call to check the state of the container. The officer told me there’s a good change that the check will be completed by lunchtime.
At 11:30 the checks hasn’t been completed yet. I tried again at 2pm and indeed, the examination was done! At that moment I was at the Halifax Waterfront, so I jumped into the next bus to try my luck at the CBSA office again. Third time’s the charm, right?
And indeed, I had all the papers I needed and I got the stamps I wanted by 3pm. The bus #9 leaves close to the customs office and stops close to the Port. However, it seems like it goes only every 30 minutes thus I was at the port only by 3:45pm.
The people at the port were extremely friendly and helpful but I was too late. The union workers leave at 4:30 and to unload my Landy they need movers and blockers and whatnots and that takes more time then was left. Lesson learned: Call the port [2] before going there.

Wednesday morning I took a cab to the port and finally could get the Landy. Usually people ship RoRo so this was kinda special for them because containers are shipped further on a semi or train and not opened at this port.

Total costs shipping from Switzerland (Embraport) to Halifax Ceres Terminal:
Shipping: ~3200CHF
Foreign Soil Examination: 159CAD
Administration Fee: 100CAD
Container Unloading: 325CAD (in cash at the port!)
Several bus tickets and Skype calls: ~10CAD

Still a good deal I think. If you look for a company that will ship your car in a container for Zurich and you don’t mind figuring out some of the destination handling (if its not Halifax) I can recommend to ship with Optimo Logistics.


1) Call your Agent to get the Notification of Deliver
2) Call the CSBA office to see if your container has been released
3) Go to the CBSA office with the Notification of Delivery and get the necessary stamps
4) Call the port and tell them that you have a vehicle in a container that you would like to release
5) Go to the port at the agreed time and get your car

3139 Oxford Street
Halifax NS  B3L 0B6
+1 (902) 426-2072
Bus #1, #80, #81
6708 Bayne St
Halifax NS B3K 0A8
+1 (902) 453-459
Bus #9 (careful, the last ~200m to the port have no sidewalk!)

2 Replies to “Welcome to Canada (or how to get a car out of a container)”

  1. Hello,

    I am planning to ship my ’97 discovery from iceland to halifax, and I am struggling with the insurance. Could you let me know where you were able to obtain insurance?

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