importing cars to USA from japan

Importing Cars To USA From Japan : Step By Step Guide

Importing cars to USA from Japan can seem to be a pretty daunting task and there is a lot of information to take in. depending on the product of your interest, can be a perfect example and hard considering the language is different. This prompts you to look for someone to do it for you but will cost extra money. This is the reason as to why we have come up with a guide that will direct you on everything you need to know about Importing cars to USA from Japan.

In this guide, our main aim is to focus on the process of importation starting from looking for a car, choosing the right one, and ensuring it is in good running condition. The final part is to bring the car into the USA.

Why Importing cars to USA from Japan

You may be already aware of the benefits attached to Importing cars to USA from Japan, but we are going to discuss them even more broadly anyway in this guide. The Japanese cars are usually transported across the globe while they are new.

As a result, it might be hard and even harder to get an example that is good as they age. For instance Mazda RX-7FD model in the current days has become a classic car and in some places like Australia and New Zealand have been maintained poorly.

You can always find various cars often at excellent prices considering that Japan is a home for incredible cars. You have a wider range of vehicles to select from when importing a car. This is much beneficial especially when you are looking for a specific model. At the time of launch, japan also received a model of different types that were not available in other markets.

Japan With Plenty Of Cars

Every car from japan undergoes an initial inspection when the car is first sold in Japan. The inspection is done during the time of registration which is then good for three years. Regardless of the age, the vehicles must pass through another inspection after every two years. The inspections are great and they are known as shaken in japan, however the inspection is very expensive in such a way that people sell their car before they can pass through the second interview. These inspections are done after five years.

As a result of these inspections being expensive, the old cars are taken off the Japanese road. This courses enormous availability of second-hand cars but with no local population to buy them. Because these vehicles can no longer be used in japan, they set a massive and sophisticated Japanese export industry that sends back cars over the world. Most of the buyers of used cars from Japan are from countries with relaxed importation laws like European nations.

Want To Know More About Shaken?

This is a biennial safety inspection of the vehicle required by the law to drive the vehicle on the public roads in Japan. The quote attached to this inspection can sometimes go up to 200,000 yen but usually are 70 to 80,000 yen. The reason why they sell their cars before this inspection is because it’s much expensive. This cost is always broken into the following different sections:

  • The vehicle weight tax
  • Compulsory insurance
  • Processing fee
  • The repair cost to pass the test
  • Anything else that indicates that its imposed by the garage or mechanic.

Moreover, the shaken inspection also tests whether the vehicle has been illegally modified. The illegal cars that are modified are considered unsafe therefore having a red sticker which declares the car not fit to be on the road.

Used Cars In Japan

Modified vehicles, considered illegal for road use, are also faced by another Japanese type of shaken known as kohin. The kohin is even more expensive. It can cost up to 200,000 yen plus especially for the vehicles that are highly modified.

This great ability to get pretty much the modified car made road legal creates challenges for buyers and importers in japan. The modified cars may be faced by shaken in Japan therefore not comply with rules in another country. Over his many years in the industry, Tim has experienced such cases.

As a result, when the customer gets the vehicle they discover that it does not meet the country’s road rules and it is very expensive to bring back to the road-legal standard. This is the reason as to why it is very common to see these new cars being sold for repairs. The buyer will opt to follow that option trying to recover some of their losses. It is very important having an auction house buyer with high skills to handle a large capacity general export company when buying specialist cars to ensure vehicles are checked correctly.

Buying A Car From Japan

It may seem or sound to be a nightmare importing a car from japan. As a matter of fact, the process is not actually hard. The easiest and common route is to find an importer locally or an industry that allows the buyers to gain direct access to Japanese houses responsible for auctions of cars. After the access, you can work hard in hard with them to get a suitable vehicle for you.

Once you have gone through the above process the rest becomes straightforward and very easy. Decide the payment of your willing and the company importing your car will confirm the bid for you. If your payment wins the bid, the company will own the car and pay for it.

After they have owned the car, they will go ahead and invoice you the bid amount as well as additional charges including the shipping fee and insurance. The industry will as well add the processing fee of their own. The company will then export and ship the car for you once you have paid them.

How Long To Import Cars From Japan?

Importing a car from Japan depending on where you are located in the world, shipping will take anywhere from a month or two. The company will go ahead and send you all the information regarding your import to your broker as you get closer to the delivery date. The Company responsible for all this is the company that you worked with to be precise.

This may also prompt you to pay an additional fee and taxes for importing to your country. The brokers also never work for free; they will need some payment. The broker can make the process easier by telling you all they need if it is a good broker.

By following this, probably you will get a package in your mail having the extras. This will include the owner manual, any extra keys, and much more. This will be along with hard copies of the paperwork purchase.

After your car has arrived at the port and ready for pickup, you will need to book the appointment to go for it. However, every port across the world is different. In some ports, they may deliver the car right to your address location or send the car to an importer cross to your location. This kind of importation is completely roll-on /roll of the system. The car is drivable, battery connected and fuel in the tank.

Additional Information

Finding a car through the importer is the most common route and a convenient way for importing a car from japan. There is other information that you should be conversant with. This information will help you to get the right car and protect yourself from being ripped off. One of the best and infallible methods of getting a car from japan is to get access to the auction houses. But still you can check on the internet and have a look for yourself.

There are so many sites that sell and export cars from japan across the globe. You can always search for your vehicle that is ideal depending on price, make, type as well as the condition. The access to the auction house is a great place to look. However, it’s always good to err on the side of caution. Be careful to check out the company and the website to ensure they are safe to put them in use. Follow keenly the reviews and comments from another user that dealt with the company before.

NOTE: The best vehicle exporters with the highest quality vehicles are dealer network only. What does that mean? The general public completely has no access to them and the cars available on the websites are always of lower quality. The better if you find a professional buyer with a connection to the dealer network or having their own systems in place in japan.

Shipping customs, buying fees, export prep, and much more can be cheaper with professional buyers as they have bargaining power. It can also end up being cheaper using these buyers than purchasing for yourself. However, importing a car through a professional buyer reduces the risk associated with importing a car.

Japanese Used Cars

Originally, goonet dealers were targeted at domestic buyers but now has open up. Contrary to selling of cars at auction, the goonet dealers vehicles are not graded or they never display the vehicle. Hence there is no requirement to display the crash history. When these cars are going through the inspections by the dealers, they are found with corrosions that are heavy and serious faults as well as hidden accident damages. Though it will depend on the market, there is no guarantee to the consumer as cars are imported.

When these cars are going through the inspections by the dealers, they are found with corrosions that are heavy and serious faults as well as hidden accident damages. Though it will depend on the market, there is no guarantee to the consumer as cars are imported.

If you are intending to buy a car from japan through these dealers or Goonet it is highly recommended to get a highly trained inspector that is trusted to have your vehicle or vehicles checked first. The sellers have nothing to worry about starting from compliance, reliability, or customer satisfaction as you will likely buy just one car from them.

A point to note, many of these websites do not give an inspection or even an auction check but they provide a few low-quality images of the desired vehicle. Moreover, if you find some of the parts hidden is because they want not the consumer to have further inspections on the car’s history.

Japanese Used Cars Grading

The major problem with importing a vehicle is you visit and have a look at it first. You are not able to view its condition and maybe there is something that needs to be done on it. Unless you are in Japan in one way or the other.

Almost all the exporters or auction houses will own their vehicles the same way. The difference between these exporters is how they look after their vehicles and the information they provide you. For instance information about the condition, crash service history, or even crash information.

The Japanese houses are equipped with a well thought out grading system that will keep you informed with information of the condition of the vehicle. They will issue you with what is known as an auction check sheet that provides you with almost all the info that you need to know about the vehicle.

Typically, the check sheet will be in Japanese though the company itself should be able to provide the translated sheet on request. If they won’t provide you with a translated copy then you should proceed with caution. You should be able to detect that assigned, that shows maybe they are hiding something about the car. Another option you can turn to is to find someone who can translate the Japanese language for you.

Auction Check Sheet

The check sheet holds a lot of information about the vehicle. However, you should concentrate on vehicle grade. These car grades are provided by assessors of the auction houses which should showcase the general condition of the car. However, you should not purchase the car on the basis of its condition as you may be walking into trouble.

The car or vehicle can be graded differently in each grade so you need to be very careful. For instance, the car can be labelled as grade 4 maybe somewhere near grade 4.5 in quality or, can be 3.5. Utilize the grading system to narrow down the number of cars that you would like to bid on. Once you have decided on which looks good, use the auction check sheet, car map to make a full decision.

Many of the domestic buyers in another twist, they pick up cars that are on grade 3.5 at one auction house and then ship the vehicle to another auction house, where they are given a higher grade. Usually grade 4.5 or higher than that. They then sell the car for a higher profit. These vehicles will be delivered to unlucky consumers who will then be disappointed with the condition of the car upon the time of delivery.

In some cases, the cars may be labelled as R or Grade R which means accident damage. This car will then be sold as grade 4 to another auction. May then be picked by an inspector after it arrives in the country of destination. The inspector will then flag it for repair certification. The car is even considered to write off if the buyer is more unlucky. This will cost him thousands of dollars to bring it back to roadworthy condition.

To avoid the above , it is recommended to go with a professional team of buyers who are able to check the condition of the vehicle and the history as well. Even if these buyers are rare and expensive, they will save you from a lot of problems associated with shipping. They will also work hard in hard times to ensure you get the right car of your dreams.

Grade Meaning

The car assessors normally utilizes two grades when it comes to grading your vehicle. One will showcase the exterior as well as the overall vehicle condition of the car, and the one interior of the car. Let’s have a look at what the grades mean.

Interior Grade

  • Grade S: this car is considered new. They only have a Delivery Mileage on them and have been registered within the last twelve months.
  • Grade 6: the car has been driven less than 30,000km and there is no need for repairing the car. The car condition is almost perfect though used and less than 36 months old.
  • Grade 5: These cars are well maintained with less than 60,000km on the clock. they require zero repair though they might contain scratch or scrape on them.
  • Grade 4.5: the vehicle has 100,000km on their clock. You can have confidence with these vehicles as they are high grade but you may encounter some minor imperfections on their body. This Grade does not require major repair as grades 6,5 and 4.5 are high and for used cars, those are grades you can consider.
  • Grade 4: the car has been driven less than 150,000kh and is considered above average condition. The vehicle has zero crash history but the exterior may contain some scratches, dents as well as scrapes. Repair needed to this vehicle is minor and the interior will also be fairly worn.
  • Grade 3: The large scratches on this car are clear and visible as well as dents and scrapes. The interior of this vehicle is very poor and repair is much needed.
  • Grade 2: the car is not yet considered write off but the bad condition with this car is a nightmare to own. They also contain corrosion problems and will much need extensive repair.
  • Grade 1: they are in very poor condition and you should avoid the vehicles. The vehicles may contain significant modifications to them like auto to manual transmission conversion as well as aftermarket turbo.
  • Grade RA: This car contains accident damage but may have been repaired and graded as minor.
  • Grade R: This vehicle has been repaired from accident damage. This car can be fairly good to buy considering the repair can be well done. You should thoroughly check this car before purchasing it.
  • Grade?: These cars will not start or move and in most cases, the auction house will never provide any information regarding this car on the check sheet.

Exterior Grade

  • Grade A: this car is maintained and in good condition
  • Grade B: There might be scratches or ding but the vehicle is in above average condition.
  • Grade C: Some dents are available on this car cracks and scratches. Minor repair needed.
  • Grade D: it is below average and contains some corrosion scratches and dents.
  • Grade E: significant corrosion problems are available and a lot of dents and scratches. Some bodywork needed.


There is quite huge information when it comes to Importing cars to USA from Japan. You can’t do that all alone and you need to find an importer who helps you find the vehicle you want and place a bid. You will then be required to get appropriate paperwork together and make the payment as it is required.

You should not be in a hurry when importing any car from japan and if you are not sure about the vehicle, get another person’s advice. All the time get the auction sheet as well as its translation. Consider the auction sheet as your bible when it comes to Importing cars to USA from Japan.