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Your Guide To Importing A Car From Japan

If it’s your first time trying to import a car, from Japan or anywhere else in the world, then you might need a few tips and tricks to help you along the way. Sometimes the domestic car market just doesn’t have the car that you want on offer, so you’ll find yourself having to look elsewhere. But this isn’t always as simple as it may seem, at first.

So, why not surf the web and try somewhere like Parkers, which will value your car and provide the perfect guide to bagging your next dream car from overseas? Do not have the time to scour the internet? Well, you’ve come to the right place, as we’re about to talk you through the basics of importing a car from Japan. Read on to find out more.

Who should you source your new car with?

Much like when you purchase a car in the UK, you’ll find yourself going with one of two options: an auction house or a dealer. Buying from a dealer is more often than not, the best way to go, as typically, you’ll end up paying a massively inflated price if you’ve chosen your car from a forecourt, particularly one that is thousands of miles away in a different country!

However, if you’re not a registered trader, you won’t be allowed to bid in overseas car auctions. Registering isn’t as easy as you might think – it can cost thousands of pounds to get the necessary paperwork before you’ve even begun to factor in the cost of your future car. So, it’s in your best interest to use an agent as a go-between when wanting to bid in a Japanese car auction. There are loads of UK-based specialists who can help you with this, all offering varying degrees of involvement.

What does the agent do?

The agent will ensure that the car has been de-registered, as well as its numberplate surrendered in Japan, which is crucial for the vehicle to be exported. Without the de-registration paperwork, the car cannot legally be driven in the UK.

Next, the agent will further the process, getting the car to the nearest docks for a fixed amount, otherwise known as “freight on board” (FOB). You, or your agent, can then find a shipping firm that is willing to bring the car over, independent of your dealer – as this will most likely be at a lesser cost.

The agent will now come back into the picture, sorting out UK documents for the imported car, as well as sorting out the cost for the customs duty (based on the car’s invoice and mileage), VAT, and NOVA (Notification of Vehicle Arrivals). All of this must be in order and with the HMRC within a fortnight of the original transaction.

How do you insure your imported car?

Before you can tackle the issue of car registration, you must first ensure your new vehicle. The majority of specialist brokers and insurers will provide you with cover, as long as you supply them with the number on the chassis.

How do you register your imported car?

If your imported Japanese car is aged between 10 and 30 years, then it can be registered through a standard MOT. But, if the vehicle is any younger, it’ll be liable for an IVA (Individual Vehicle Approval) test.

Cars from the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) will usually need a few modifications to get through the MOT or IVA testing. The most common new fitting is a rear fog light, which you can easily get with the right forms and a reference pack. This will then create a logbook and a UK Vehicle Registration Mark for the car.

How do you tax your imported car?

Now, the finish line is in sight, forgetting your foreign car on the roads! If your vehicle is in the aforementioned 10-to-30-year-old age bracket, then the process will be fairly straightforward. The Vehicle Excise Duties (VED), or rather road tax rates, are calculated on a pre-March 2001 flat-rate system, which predominantly depends on whether or not the car is under, or exceeds, 1549cc.

So, now that you’re a little more in the know, you can start your journey on importing your next car from Japan!

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