Importing cars from Japan

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I have been looking arround and reading on the internet on what type of process you must go through to import a right-hand drive car from Japan. I am under the impression that Japaneese cars have a low resale value and sell for really cheap. I was looking at a 300ZX FairLady Twin Turbo for about $3500USD. I would like to know if there is anyone here that has actually imported a car from Japan or knows anyone who has, or if its even legal? I still have not been able to find a direct answer at U.S. Customs sites...

posted by  DSMer

Yes, Japanese cars are often cheaper to buy, but by the time you've paid for all the relevent taxes etc to be able to import tyhe car in the fist place, it's often not worth it, bear in mind you also have to re-register it and make it legal for US roads. Also, not many people want to buy a car that's been imported come resale time and they can prove costly to insure...It's an expensive business is importation lol :clap:

posted by  Cliffy

Well yeah I'm aware of taxes and getting the car up to US standards. But no price can be put on the coolness of rolling up to a bunch of import guys at a streetrace and having everyone show appreciation for your twin turbo fair lady. *Snaps back to reality*. Yeah the only thing is that I would'nt want customs keeping my car and or chopping it in half so having the available funds on check would make handy. But if you had to take a wild guess a car that cost about $3500USD would cost me about how much in the end, to get it in my driveway? :)

posted by  DSMer

I'm not really clued up on this sort of thing myself, but a 3500USD car, would probably end up costing nearer 10,000...as a rough estimate, also, be weary of stolen cars being shipped, it happens only too often :ticking:

posted by  Cliffy

Stolen cars being shipped? Well I think I would go through a reputable dealer in Japan. Even if a stolen car was being shipped, whats that gotta do with me? I feel bad for him, but uh he would'nt be getting MY kick-ass right hand drive import. Lessen he wanted to fly over to American and box..er umm yeah anyways. 10stacks? Whoah, that is alot of money. But thats a rough estimate. Well 3.5k minus the 10k gives us 6.5k. What could possibly cost $6500. The car is only 3.5k thats nearly a 180% tax?

posted by  DSMer

Unless you go through a main dearler in Japan, there's no garentee you wont get a stolen vehicle, I know a couple of years back, there was a case here in the UK where thousands of Jap import cars turned our to be nicked....months or even years after the owner had purchased them!..As for the tax situation, all the cost isn't just the tax, you have to pay for the shipping which is the most expensive part (probably cost more than you average air fare anyway lol) :thumbs:

posted by  Cliffy

Ic, and what do they do about the stolen cars? Shipping should'nt be more than 1000-2000. Whats going to add is getting the car from California to Chicago. God only knows how many dents and dings will be in the car by then. But updating the car to US standards like the Exhaust, Bumpers, Winshield, etc.. should be fairly relative to the price of installing something like that similar on a USDM car.

posted by  DSMer

If you were caught with a stolen car, it would be taken straight back from you, and you would lose the money you've spent on shipping etc, you may even lose the money from the car if the dearler was a dodgy one!....as for the US standards, would you convert it to left hand drive?...that can prove very costly too...often in the 1000's :ohcrap:

posted by  Cliffy

Left hand drive? Thats not a US Standard is it? No that defeats the purpose of me having the car if I can't have it for right hand drive. How would anyone in America know the car was stolen? The car would have its own new U.S. Vin number.

posted by  DSMer

It's not a requirement, but surely it's what you're used to? lol, that's one payment us lot in the UK wouldn't have to make lol...as for the US VIN...I think you'll find it'll still be a Japanese one, regardless is it's a bent motor lol...anyways, I might not reply to your next post as I'm finishing work soon, I'm sure a more knowledgable person on this subject will be here soon lol :hi:

posted by  Cliffy

even though i don't know much on this topic at all but one thing i can tell you is i know of a person who has imported plenty of vehicles from japan and most of them are toyota lucidas a.k.a toyota previas. the vehicles do come very cheap and most of the time have a few faults too which the dealer in japan does not mention for some reason. maybe he thinks its irrelevent to mention these tiny faults but i can tell you, to get them faults fixed up over here in the UK takes a tidy bit of cash and looking around for a mechanic who is willing to work on a car from japan. i think our CF Rent-a-Cop is right....most of the time these cars are stolen and thats why maybe they are sold for cheap. again i don't know much so i can't really say anything. one recommendation is why don't you try looking for a car on ebay....most of them are used and you a guaranteed to find a few imports which have already been imported into the country.

i mentioned ebay....am i advertising? if so please could you remove the sentence :wink2:

posted by  WeaponR

they have cars for sale in ebay that was imported from japen.. i just saw a R34 1990 skyline for sale for 30,000$ why dont you search for that?

posted by  Ki2AY

Hmm... 30 large eh... Skyline eh..? Nah, that kind defeats the purpose of buying a "cheap" (keyword there :wink2: ) imported Japaneese car. Yeah WeaponR I looked arround on Ebay and I found a place that sells just the chassis of allready imported JDM cars(but the website acts funny).Wich could be almost the same thing right? If I can order a JDM engine and just plop it in. But darn it, why does everything cheap have to be so stolen :cussing: . I really need to hear from someone whos actually done it though...

posted by  DSMer

It pays to have friends in the right places :wink2:

posted by  importluva

atleast i was right about there being imported cars for sale on ebay....a think that makes it easier for you in a way as you don't have to bother with all that custom CR@P and you end up with an import....exactly what you wanted! yeh, the price can be high but thats only becuase the person who bought it, got it for cheap and so he wants to make money on it...exactly what the guy i knew was doing..... :clap:

posted by  WeaponR

something is wrong though...... 1990 R34? someone is selling fake krap on ebay :P

posted by  Inygknok

Haha, good catch. It would be an R32 correct? Yeah thats why I'm reluctant to buy a car off Ebay.

posted by  DSMer

i was going to comment on that but i thought no because im sure they can both read and type properly....not unless the owner has got the wrong document from the japenese dealer which he bought the car from......proves CF Rent-a-cop (and me) right!.....these cars from japan maybe a little 'dodgy' :wink2: :laughing:

posted by  WeaponR

the skyline for sale on ebay had pics and everything... but i forgot to mention, starting bid was at 30g's.

posted by  Ki2AY

ah right! so i was right you can both read and write but you can forget important factors very easily.....no need to worry.....we are all humans and make simple mistakes.....just don't let them drop next time as the situation may not be dealt with like its being done over here...if your thinking what im thinking then you can imagine :wink2: if not i wont mention it....its pointless besides this is 'Car Forum'

posted by  WeaponR

What the do pictures mean? On the news a few weeks ago some lady almost bought a Merceds SL600 for 60k and she had pictures also. Tunrs out the car was owned by some rich guy in Berverly Hills and somone took pictures of the car. People can fake pictures and something as rare as a Skyline and serious as a 30k purchase, simple misprints like a 1990 R34 should not be taken lightly. Anywyas, seriously back on subject here. Anyone import a car from Japan or know anything about it?

posted by  DSMer

Right, oh god where do i start.

The VIN is put on by the manufacurer and stays with the car for its life, it is registed to the engine block casting number and so unless your going to change the engine block then there isnt an easy legal was of changing the vin.

Importation, there are alots of cars on the market, and stop being one of these coled minded types who things america is best at everything, im fed up of it. You are probibly best to buy from an agent in the usa, this way you get USA law within your contract and so have some comeback. The relevant rates for inport duty will be avaible on the customs (state department) website so you will be able to calaute the cost.

There will also be sales tax to pay on the total amount including the shipping and tax.

With the shipping there are 2 methods normally RORO or container. if you plan for a long road trasport afterwards then container might be better for you although it will be cheaper on a RORO.

In relation to meeting US standards there wont be that much that will be different. Lights and ignition timing will be the main ones and you will have to run the car on the higher octane ratings as jap fuel is 95 RON, i wouldnt worry about it to much as the reason that imports are so chep is that regualtions in japan are so tuff they dispose of there cars alot sooner as they are not economical to keep or try and get up to the level required.

The other option of course is buy a ready imported car, this will be a ltitle more expensive but atleast you get to drive and look at it before you purchase.

posted by  cinqyg

Hmm, If I thought America was bets at evertyhing I think I would'nt be trying to import a car from Japan. :screwy: Yes anyways you say the customs website has relevant taxes? Could you possibly give a link to this page?

posted by  DSMer

i would help out with the subject, but i only have friends who have imported parts and engines and trans, etc, but im very sure that it certainly isnt cheap to ship out the whole car. the dad of a friend of mine works with money kinds of things, not sure exactly wat it was, but he knew pretty much everything there is to payments of any sort (he has managed the monitary sections of many companies in the island, one of them being the top engine distributor in the island, so he knows wat hes doing). i guess i could go ask him atleast an average of everything that needs to get done and an estimated final cost whenever i catch him at his house (thats hard to do).

posted by  Inygknok

Its about $1500 to ship a car from japan to the west coast San Fransico for example on a RORO boat.

posted by  cinqyg

...ok, you guys are missing a vital piece of information here. It is not just the money that is the problem. It is illegal to import cars into the United States that is not 20 years or older. In Canada, we have the same law, but it is 15 years instead. There are cases where people import cars that are newer, but then you have to bring it to court, and go through a very long process. Extremely long process, and then still have to make modifications to your car. Like speedometer, exhaust, bumper, side panels, LHD ( i am not sure if this is a must, depends on your case, and which state you live in). But this process doesnt come cheap as well, you might as well just buy an 300zx here and put modifications into it. There are other things you could do though. You can find a friend that works at Nissan, and then import the car over here and put advertisement for the dealership on it. Legally, the government cannot touch these cars, but then you have to have giant words on it, and the cops are going to be following you around. ......Or you can do it illegally :wink2: Wouldnt recommend it though, if you get caught...your screwed.

posted by  aerith

That can't be. I know a guy who moved to Cali. He imported 2 89 CRX's. One for drag use the other for street. He said nothing about court he just had to pay about 6stacks for each car. He had some hassles with the customs but thats about it, he updated the winshield,bumpers, and exaust. The Drag car did'nt need any sort of adjustments cause it was for racing purposes. Damn there has gotta be somone who knows more about this.

posted by  DSMer

I wanted to know if you found out anymore information about importing JDM cars to the US. Hypothetically speaking, could you get it shipped to Canada then drive it down to the US? I read the thing about import car to Canada, they have to be more than 15 years old....Unless, they are not remaining in Canada. I don't know if anyone has tried this, but I'd like to know if it would work... anyone have any ideas??? :ticking:

posted by  J2NR

Ok, I have done weeks upon weeks of reasearch on this topic. YES, you can import almost any car to the USA from Japan. If you have the funds hypothetically speaking its fully pluasable. If the car is over 15 years old then you get to pass go and collect $200. No laws will be held against you, and the car gets a free trip to your garage. However if you wanted to import something like a Skyline R33. You would have to go to a certified importer(something like this CI or something) and check with him the legality of the car you are trying to import. Then once you actually find the car in Japan, you must get the proper papers, payment reciets, manuals etc.. You will give this information to your CI and he will photocopy the information and send a request to import car form to some government office. They will send you back an accpetance form then you are clear for go. Now you must send those acceptance forms to customs, or be prestent at the dock when the car is shipped to America. After the car his cleared by customs you will then either have it transported to your CI's buildings or drive it yourself.(Yes, if the car is driveable you will be legally allowed to drive it to the CI's business). Upon entering it in his hands, he is now contracted to bring the car up to US standards. God knows how much money this could take or what needs to be done, but I read that it is a tedious process. It involes MPG testing, emissions, saftey standards, winshield replacement, KMH - MPH guages, etc.. Once your CI has completed his job he will write out a full detailed reciept of everything he has done to the car. He will then give you documents that you must take to respective government offices, and they will either give you a go for your car to be legal or other requierments. If they give you an ok, you then go to another branch of the same building where you will be taxed and all ofther legal fees will be settled. They then give you a certificate of ownership to the car(title to car) and you take that to your CI. Upon here he releases your car. Its is now legal for you to drive your JDM car!!!.

BUT WAIT! Not over yet. You then must take this car to a local DMV building or something and get the car registered in your name, vin numbers documented, year, make, model, etc. You may get new license plates or use existing ones, whatever. Now you take your car to get insured, then you're all LEGIT. This car is yours to do whatever you please...

**Some parts of this story are roughly described with non correct names and titles of certain documents. This a general idea of what it takes to get a car into the US for daily driving purposes.**

posted by  DSMer

BUT WAIT! Not over yet. You then must take this car to a local DMV building or something and get the car registered in your name, vin numbers documented, year, make, model, etc. You may get new license plates or use existing ones, whatever. Now you take your car to get insured, then you're all LEGIT. This car is yours to do whatever you please...

**Some parts of this story are roughly described with non correct names and titles of certain documents. This a general idea of what it takes to get a car into the US for daily driving purposes.**[/QUOTE]

DAMN...that is a bit more then I want to do...It sux that you can pick one up for like $5g's shipped, then you have to conform it costing like another god knows how many more stacks you have to drop in...Thanks for your help! Keep me posted, if you find out any loop holes...lol but it looks like I'll just have to wait a few more years and then import one in...thanks again

posted by  J2NR

it would prolly be cheaper to just move to japan, uk, australia, or wherever the hell these cars are being imported from.

posted by  importluva

How do we get bodykits? i've been checking and for my car i've seen 2 different types of bodykits. The drifting one, and the really ugly one. Can someone direct me to a site that has nice bodykits?

posted by  VMJYogi

just a little point for ya as far as importing from japan goes. It will always be from auction, and the auctions give the cars grades. if you want a decent car? (which of course you do!), then make sure you buy nothing less than auction grade 4! 4-5 will make sure you dont get accident repaired or damage import. Another thing to be weary of is that most all cars in japan that get exported, WILL have the speedo wound back! they wont be reading 10000kms but they will be strangly low! by buying grade 4 or above you at least get some confidence in the condition of the car.

I will find some names and numbers from some agents i know if you wish?
i get faxes from loads every nite wanting to do bussiness.

Importing to the uk, you pay 10% duty (on the cost of car+shipping and insurance for shipping, plus docking fees) and vat (17.5%).
I dont know about the us.

If you buy a car earlyer than 1996, 97 next year, you will find cheaper than normal prices available. since nz has stoped allowing cars any older than that into the country it has affected the japanise used market. since nz is one of the biggest importers of used jap cars. (nz car market IS jdm).

I don't import anymore but use wholesalers that do to save price problems with currency fluctuation during shipping.

I would say though, if your thinking of doing so, becareful and you could get a great deal because they are out there! :thumbs:

posted by  Unlicensed

now im not positive that this would be the way you would like to go but one thing that you might be abel to do is import the car strikly for racing(meaning it would not have to meet us codes because it would not be street leagle) then take a trip to a state with very lax regestering laws, Montanas not to bad they dont check emmitions or anything like that but it might still be hard to get registration, Alaska is alomost a sure bet if you show up and say you own a car and can show any proof of ownership you get registration, plus alaska has beutiful senary and great fishing, then go back to wherever you come from and if you get pulled over you have alaskan registation, though it would be questiable you would most likely not get in serious trouble

just an idea and mabey not the best to follow its perty gray market.

posted by  sam...

Do you guys even know what you're talking about?
Importing a car DIRECTLY from Japan requires alot. First, you need to find an importer. Have them plan out what you want, say a Honda NSX-R. You need to fill out lots of legal forms, documents, and finalize that you really want to go hroughwith it. Then you need to get the car to comply with US Emissions Standards.

As for body kits, I HOPE YOU KNOW WHO VEILSIDE, BOMEX and SIGNAL JAPAN ARE. Because they make body kits for just about any car you can think of.

posted by  s13_Drifter

What the hell? Is there some sign in front of the CF website saying all idiots welcome? We got one guy saying import a car for racing then register it in Alaska? WTF!!! Ughh, pay no attention to him, unless you wanna get a court case from customs and loose thousands of dollars. Yeah, maybe I'll go buy a house from Japan and register it in Alaska.. :banghead:

This other guy with the Bomex, Veilside, and blah blah ahh stfu. You know nothing. Not even how to answer a simple ass question. None of those companies make aero kits for his car. Geez, how could you even manage to fire enough nuerons to drive let alone drift? Yogi try AAS (www.andysautosports.com) . They have some pretty decent kits for your car as for other cars. As far as I know, there will probably not be another body kit available for our cars other than the wide mouth drift kit and the Dragon Z.

posted by  DSMer

Well i just finshed typing out a bunch of info, but this ****ing site ****ed it up and im pissed. Any how ill go over what i know in short. Im canadian, i found a site that is gonna ship 3 sweet cars
(Skyline GTS-T 1990) - 150 000km
(Benz E300 1987) - 87 000km
(Skyliine - GTS -T 1990) 120 000km
To vancover for me for a total of:10 000USD.

SInce these cars are 15 years old, they are considerd antique and are cheap to change over to our road standards. And even if the cars end up costing me 17 000USD i could turn around and sell one skyline for nearly that much with a minimal amount of work. The cars that are built in japan are ment to be driven slow. The max speed limit in japan is 80km/h. The irony of this is that alot of these sky lines and fairladys have more horse than whats legal in canada. LOL but anyhow, talk to your states custom and admissions employee and get them to answer what specs a car must have to be legal. The internet is full of personal opinions and isnt a valid source for that kind of info. But it is cheaper to bring these cars over to the states or canada becasue the resale value is huge after the nessacary mods. The cars are a major rarity in our market today. vist http://www.japan-partner.com/index.php
but i ask you not to **** me over with my ordered cars, or ill come back and eat your whoel familey. ;) :screwy: :fu:

posted by  WannaBeGansta

Just so you know, I make a habitual act out of copying what I post before I hit the 'Submit Reply' button. That way if this site craps out you will have it on paste and not have to type it again.

posted by  DodgeRida67

I retired from the Marine Corps 3 years ago and I spent just under 16 years on Okinawa Japan. I owned an Evo III, R32, R33, 1990 Supra TT 2.5R (this version never made it to the states.) and now my 1971 Skyline GT-R. I was featured in Jan. 2003 Super Street mag. If you want info call me at 850-698-3447. Later.

posted by  71SKYLINE

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