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Import regulations for used vehicles from Japan to The United States of America

Quick Reference:  ・25 years or older ・ Cheap and easy DIY import ・Legal in all 50 states ・Shipping to all major ports ・ Great resale market

Purchasing Process

Register to see auction vehicles – Search – Send links for translation – Send deposit – Pre bid inspection – Bid – Win – Pay Invoice while vehicle is transported to nearest export yard – Payment confirmation – Photos taken at port – Booking requested – Booking details confirmed – Vehicle loaded – ISF filed – Wait and track boat – Get arrival notice from boat company – Pay the arrival notice invoice – Clear customs – Pay broker or customs – Pick up or hire transport for your vehicle – Be happy!!

Importing is easy and affordable
Importing a vehicle on your own is extremely easy and economical. There are two ways to import, informal and formal entry. If the commercial value is less than $2,500 the entire do-it-yourself informal entry process, including the filing of all documents, customs fees, and duty can be done for under $150! Formal entries require a customs broker. We work with several reputable brokerages nationwide to ensure a smooth import of your vehicle.

Details of the process are explained in this extremely helpful Import Blog written by our customer. It is extremely difficult, highly cost prohibitive and a ton of red tape to import a newer vehicle, but any import of a vehicle 25 years or older is exempt from federal transportation laws so you can drive your newly imported air-cooled 911, mini truck or Skyline from Florida to Alaska on any roads you choose!!!!

Costs
Duty based on vehicle cost:

  • Passenger Vehicles and most Mini trucks* – 2.5%
  • Trucks – 25%
  • Unloading – $80-$200

DIY Informal entry does not require a broker. Only 3 customs forms are necessary: Entry Summary 7501, EPA Form 3520-1 and the DOT HS-7 Form. Total customs clearance cost is Duty + .3464% + .125% = Less the $80

* When doing a DIY informal import 9 times out of 10 the customs agent will not consider a mini truck an actual truck and levy a 2.5% duty. In some cases a customs agent can levy a 25% duty on a mini truck. If you decide to use a customs brokerage to clear customs a 25% duty will be levied.

Formal entry requires the use of a broker, and JCD’s brokerage partners offer the cheapest service!!

Note on Vehicle Washing:
The cost of having vehicles washed at port starts at 25,000 yen and depends on the yard & size of the vehicle. We will arrange for washing when requested by the customer. As very few vehicles are flagged by US customs, and the washing price is similar there, we recommend shipping as is. If your vehicle is flagged it will not prohibit the import, but only delay it slightly.

Example estimate:

  • Customs entry fee per shipment – $90.00
  • ISF Filing – $25.00
  • ISF Bond – $70.00
  • PGA per shipment – $40.00
  • Single entry bond – $55

Duties – at cost

  • A) 2.5% or 25%
  • B) 499- Merchandise Processing Fee is currently at 0.3454% with a minimum of $27.75 and a maximum of $538.40
  • C) 501-Harbor Maintenance Fee is currently at 0.1250% with no minimum

DIY Import Process
Shipping takes 2-5 weeks, depending on the port. We will provide you with a Bill of Lading before the boat loads. You will need to file an ISF immediately after receiving the Bill of Lading from us. As your vehicle closes in on port the boat company will contact you from their local office with an arrival notice and request payment for unloading *usually $80-$200 per vehicle, depending on size and port. We will send you the required documents as the boat nears so you can fill out the customs forms. Once your vehicle arrives at port you must contact the arrival port of entry CBP office and inform customs of its arrival. The CBP will contact you within 24-48 hours and let you know when the vehicle will be available for pick up. DO NOT show up to port unannounced. You have 2 weeks to pick up so no rush. Bring the required documents and cash for duty then drive your vehicle off the lot! You can also have it arranged to be transported to your home. Should you chose to use a broker, they will guide you through the process.

ISF Filing
An ISF must be filed for all imports. In the case of informal/DIY import the importer/client is responsible for filing. easyisf.com is the cheapest and easiest way to do so. Here is a link to the description of and ISF and the regulations related to it, https://www.cbp.gov/border-security/ports-entry/cargo-security/importer-security-filing-102.

ISF filing – $25.00 – $80.00

Note on Port of Tacoma
The port of Tacoma now requires that a broker be used for all imports. Customs may also require proof of manufacture for certain kei vehicles close to the 25 year limit occasionally. This would take place after the vehicle arrives and you can use Japan Inspection Organization. Please request manufacture year verification here.

Note on WWO Shipping
When shipping to ports using WWO (Tacoma, Long Beach, Newport News), if the dimensions of the vehicle listed on the Export Certificate differ from the actual dimensions of the vehicle, the actual dimensions shall be used and an additional 20,000 yen fee shall be charged to the importer for official measurements to be taken.

Import Regulations

25 years or older
When importing Japanese used vehicles, of all the models over 25 years old mini trucks are the cheapest, and easiest to import because of the exemption. They can be imported without complying with any safety, bumper, theft prevention, or emission standards. Please read through the process here.

25 years or newer
It is nearly impossible for an individual to import something newer than 25 years old. If you wish to try and import a vehicle newer than 25 years old, you must use a Registered Importer (RI) to comply it with Federal safety, bumper and theft prevention standards. If the motor vehicle is less than 21 years old, you must additionally hire an Independent Commercial Importer (ICI) to comply it with EPA emissions standards.

When using a RI, there must be a “DOT Conformance Bond” posted worth one and a half times the vehicle’s dutiable value. When using an ICI, a “Customs Bond” worth at least the vehicle’s value is required by the EPA, if the vehicle is being petitioned. Customs may still require the bond regardless of EPA requirements. Additionally, only vehicles that are listed by NHTSA as eligible for importing may go through the process. If a vehicle is not listed, a RI must petition and prove to NHTSA that the vehicle meets, or can be modified to meet, all US Federal safety and bumper standards. The process includes providing crash test data which is a very expensive process. Because costs can become prohibitively high, it is very important that you thoroughly research your options to see if it is worth importing.

Required Documents for Customs Clearance:

Provided by JCD – Manufacturer ID JPJAPCAR2101CHI

Bill of Lading

  • Commercial Invoice
  • Export Certificate
  • English Translation of Export Certificate.

Filled in by Importer

Resources
For current state by state rules and regulations for use of mini trucks newer than 25 years old, please use the following link.
For all of the correct and up-to-date information about the rules and regulations to import a vehicle into the USA please contact the NHTSA & EPA. For your reference, please click on the links below:
US Customs Ruling website

Please read though how-to-buy and FAQ on our site to learn more about the business process.

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    Bobby Capa
    11/22/2022

    FIRST TIME BUYER
    So…. I have just ordered my second car from Yoshiro Nakajima at Japan Car Direct. Keep in mind my first car has only just gotten to the port,...
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    Alpesh Patel
    9/11/2022

    Great service. This was my first time importing a car from Japan. Everything was well explained and the whole process went very smooth. Would highly recommend!! Thank you Yoshi!

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    9/08/2022
  • Importing through Japan Car Direct has been a great experience through and through. Their assistance in the auction and bidding process and arranging shipping is top notch. More importantly their... read more

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    9/07/2022

    Awesome experience working with Taylor, he was extremely helpful and patience. It was my first time exporting a vehicle and he walked me through step by step and didn't... read more

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    9/06/2022

    Japan Car Direct made buying a car from Japan dangerously easy. 🙂 Yoshiro was a great help. He was responsive and supportive through the whole process. They have... read more

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    9/04/2022
  • I had an excellent experience working with Matthew at Japan Car Direct. I was a first time auction buyer and importer to the United States. Mathew walked me through... read more

    Alex Spiegel Avatar
    Alex Spiegel
    8/11/2022

    A great experience for my first time importing a car from Japan. Mike’s customer service was second to none and all the paperwork was in order.

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    Bobby Crumpley
    8/03/2022

    Matthew at JCD is the man. I’ve now imported three of my own cars through him. JCD was able to accommodate my unique needs, everything from short turn around inspections,... read more

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    Chan Shin
    7/29/2022
  • I highly recommend Japan Car Direct. They help you find exactly what you are looking for and are with you throughout the entire process. Import was seamless. Mike was great... read more

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    7/14/2022

    Before this I have never imported any vehicles to NZ let alone one from Japan! I decided to give these guys a shot and bought a JDM Tesla into the... read more

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    7/11/2022

    Great experience. Extremely easy process and Kept me well informed. Highly recommend them if looking to purchase a vehicle from Japan.

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    Antonio Sevilla
    7/08/2022
  • It's hard to say anything that hasn't been said from other reviewers! This was my first experience importing a vehicle. Mike Nguyen was super patient with me and my indecisiveness.... read more

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    6/30/2022

    I used Japan Car Direct's services to import a Nissan Silvia from Japan to Australia. Mike was very helpful from start to finish and definitely made the process stress free.

    The...
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    6/24/2022

    Just picked up my car that I bought through JCD. I was a complete newbie about buying a car overseas and Mathew was kind enough to basically hold my... read more

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    6/18/2022
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