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How much is it to import a car from Japan

Updated on September 30, 2013

It is difficult to say exactly how much it costs to import cars from Japan into a western country however this guide will give you a very goods idea on the pricing and implications.

To start off, Japanese cars have an extremely low value after 5 years. This doesn't mean that they are free because the garages will want to make a bit of cash from the the old cars however the costs are ridiculously cheap one you go past the 5 years mark. The reason is, the road tax goes up so much after 5 years nobody wants to keep their cars. In many cases people just give them away because they don't want to pay for the expensive disposal charges. I have seen cars 6-7 years old looking spotless with low mileage going for USD 1,000. And Japanese really do look after their cars, and on top off that, the garages also touch up the body work so they look perfect.

There are many Japanese who simply either give their cars away or dump then in secret locations near the port because they can't get rid of their cars. These are the cars that you should be trying to import from Japan. Many South-East and South Asian are getting their hands into this business.

The Shipping Costs

Do not bother with all the paper work yourself, there are many English speaking car exporters in Japan who will do all the paperwork for you such as De-registration, customs clearance and shipping the the port of the destination country. If you can do the De-registration process yourself this will save you time and money.

There are two main methods of sending a car:

  1. Ro-ro (Roll on Roll off) is when the car is simply rolled onto a support stand similar to trucking in the street. The car is exposed during the whole journey over seas therefore this is the cheaper option USD 1,000 could get you the full service
  2. Inside a container - This is the preferred method as the car is completely protected by the container, during the course of the shipment, around USD 1,750 could get you this service.

If importing from Japan to the US, you will also need to consider any import duties and tax on the US side.

The above costs will normally include the De-registration and car pick up to the port. If in the Tokyo Area, then most likely Yokohama or Tokyo Port.

What are the legal requirements

In order to export a car from Japan. It must have had a Japanese owner or at least an owner residing or recently left Japan in order to get the car through customs tax free.

When clearing customs (arrival country) A good idea is to contact a moving company to get all the paper work handled. Of course it would be a lot cheaper if you contact a customs broker directly.

What cars do I export from Japan

The best cars to export are some of the 7-8 seater people carriers which are very popular in Japan. Many of the cars are beautifully and professionally customized by local companies such as Mugen (Honda). People spend literally 1000's of dollars (actually yen) in customizing these cars however, they have very little value when sold, therefore after 5 years, they will always have a low re-sale value.

Good cars to export are:

  • Honda Stepwgn
  • Nissan El Grande
  • Toyota Alphard
  • Toyota Estima
  • Nissan Serena

And other similar models.


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    • Hezekiah profile image

      Hezekiah 5 years ago from Japan

      you need to let me know the type and year of car first.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Thanks Hezehia: Too much messing around for me.


    • profile image

      Franklyn 5 years ago

      I want to know what the cost of purchase and exportation will be, sending a car from Japan to Ecuador!

    • Hezekiah profile image

      Hezekiah 5 years ago from Japan

      Thanks, I am originally from the UK myself. And Japan drives on the same (left) hand side. A 6 years old car in Japan (almost perfect condition) would be still fetch a very high value in the UK, wheres it would probably be 1/4 of the original prices here in Japan. Shipping to the UK is not so expensive. The only thing to think about would be the Tax (still 15%?) on the value on the UK side.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Very interesting. I wonder if you can go and buy a car in Japan and drive it home? In my case, Britain. Would make a fun trip and you end up with a nice cheap car. As this is Rip-Off-Britain, however, I am sure duty and taxes would make it prohibitive.