Part 2: Making the Deal (Only Follow if Buying From a Dealer)
1. Identify prospective dealers and e-mail their Internet Sales Managers. State what you want to buy, that you need temporary tags, and that you will not pay state tax (because you will be registering the vehicle in Canada). Also state you will make a deposit by credit card and wire the full amount before picking up the car. Be fully open about your intentions – some will say they can’t sell without charging state tax (and offer to let you choose the state if you can provide an address), while others will accommodate you.
Dealers of Toyota/Lexus and a few other brands that are willing to sell BRAND NEW VEHICLES to Canadians can take some hard work to find (they are perfectly willing to sell you anything that's been even slightly used, however!! - see here for example). It's easier to find dealers willing to sell brand new if they are not located near a US/Canada border point. If you have a friend or relative in the US, you may want to try one of these ideas (as out-of-state vehicle purchases for them will most likely be tax-free) - especially if you're having trouble finding a dealer willing to sell brand new to you:
2. Negotiate price/package with chosen dealer (usually starts by e-mail and ends by phone). For new vehicle prices in the US, check: http://townhall-talk.edmunds.com/WebX/.ef17997/
3. Pay deposit by credit card. Get VIN Number. Get bank info for wire transfer of payment (bank, branch, a/c, FAST #; dealer accounting dept. usually has this info, and sales manager likely won’t). Some dealers may want to fax you the Buyer’s Order, for you to sign and fax back; others are happy with your credit card deposit ($500 should be sufficient). Watch the exchange rate (it can vary by 0.5% during the day) and service fee (0.5-2.5%); my credit card charges 2.5% above the official exchange rate while my Investment account only charges 1% (for $25K or more); the best I’ve seen on the Internet is 0.5% (the person had access to the exchange service used by his firm).
Allow a few business days for the wire transfer to arrive (it won’t be instantaneous!).