How much does it cost to import a car to the UK from Japan? 26


Introduction

In this post my aim is to give you an insight into how the Japanese auction sold price equates to the ‘on the road in the UK’ price.  When the basic auction price is converted from ¥ to £, it is often astoundingly cheap!  However, there are numerous fees and taxes to add before that bargain out of a Japanese car auction can be used on the road in the UK.  Here is a list of the typical fees involved:

  • Exporting agent’s commission.
  • Auction fee.
  • Transport fees (auction house to exporter’s yard, then on to the port).  Obviously this varies according to the distances involved.
  • De-registration and export paperwork.

    Parking at a Japanese car auction, Laitr Keiows (Own work) [CC BY 3.0]

Everything up to this point (added together) is known as the FOB price.  FOB means either ‘freight on board’ or ‘free on board’ and refers to the cost of buying a car and getting it onto a boat to your destination.  Once on the boat, the fees continue as follows:

  • Shipping charge.  This is usually based on the number of cubic meters of space the car occupies and is paid to the shipping company when the car arrives.  The customs clearance agent will sort this for you if you use one.
  • Shipping insurance, if you choose to have this.
  • UK import agent commission or UK car dealer profit.
  • UK port fees.
  • UK customs clearance agent fees.
  • Import duty, charged at 10 % of FOB price + shipping.
  • VAT, charged at 20 % of FOB price + shipping fee + import duty.
  • Transport from port to home in the UK.
  • Work involved in fitting a fog light and converting the speedometer if you choose to do so.  More work may be required for cars under 10 years old going for an IVA test.
  • MOT (or IVA) test fee.
  • Registration fee.
  • Car tax (vehicle excise duty).
  • Number plates.

You may be interested in the worksheet I’ve produced to help you work out an accurate estimate of the UK ‘on the road’ cost of a car imported from Japan.  Click here for more information.

picture of the Japanese import car cost calculator worksheet from Andrew's Japanese Cars

What I’m going to do now is show you how the auction price in ¥ maps to a UK ‘ready to go’ price.  For simplicity I’ll use fictitious Japanese auction sale prices in round ¥ 200,000 amounts.

How auction cost in yen equates to UK on the road cost in £

Sold cost at Japanese auction (¥)Sold cost at Japanese auction (£)UK 'on the road' price (£)
200,00010534122
400,00021055512
600,00031586901
800,00042118290
1,000,00052639680

Having looked at the table, you may well have compared the £ cost of the car from the auction with the ‘on the road’ cost.  Quite a difference isn’t there?  Please consider the following:

  • Remember the value for money you’re getting in buying a car direct from a Japanese auction.  Have a look at my post on why imported Japanese cars are better.
  • Almost all of these charges and fees are unavoidable unless you engage in dishonest practices or are importing a car as a personal import.  Say you lived in Japan and were moving back to the UK.  If importing a car as a personal import that you’d owned in Japan for at least 6 months, you’d be exempt from paying the largest of the above charges, the import duty and VAT.

Assumptions in the above figures

These costs are estimates based on a car over 10 years old and an exchange rate of 190 yen to the pound (correct at time of writing).  They include MOT costs (cars under 10 years old would incur higher charges in the form of an IVA test, see separate post on this), 12 months car tax and all import and associated fees.  They do not include transport of the car from the port to your house (I don’t know how close you live to the port) or insurance costs.  They assume shipping costs of a minivan sized vehicle, but do not include shipping insurance.  They assume you are using a UK-based importing agent to guide you through the process.  Costs will be higher if buying from a car dealer.

How much does my desired vehicle sell for at Japanese car auctions?

I appreciate that you need to know how much your desired car typically sells for at Japanese car auctions to apply this table to your situation.  This is a difficult subject to cover in a single post, due to the number of variables involved: car make, model, condition rating, odometer reading & year to name a few.  Please note that the auction starting price should not be used as a guide to the final selling price.

 

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26 thoughts on “How much does it cost to import a car to the UK from Japan?

  • Kyle

    Hi I have a imported mitsubishi fto from japan that has never been registered in the uk as it has only been used on a track but now I want it on the road but I have no paper work atall with the car or the foreign plates all I have is the vin numbers can I still register it with just those to drive it on uk roads? Thanks in advance

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Kyle

      I think you’ll need to give the DVLA a call about this one, to check their requirements. Perhaps several calls as I’ve sometimes found I get different answers from different people when I’ve contacted them in the past!

      I think they will probably ask you to get a dating certificate from Mitsubishi UK or BIMTA. They will also likely want some proof that VAT and import duty were paid, unless it was a personal import. This may already have been recorded electronically, depending on when the car was imported.

      In addition to this, the car will need to pass a MOT test. I don’t know how challenging this will be – depends on how much it has been modified for track use!

      Cheers
      Andrew

  • Brian sinclair

    Thinking about buying a delica d5 2007 model would this be something you could help with and getting it uk road ready and what would be the cost thank you

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Brian

      Thank you for your enquiry. I’ve sent you an email so we can discuss this in more detail.

      Andrew

  • Alam

    Hi my friend can u please tell me if I buy car in Japan how long it will take to reach to u.k ?and how much is shipping cost ? I’m ordering Toyota estima hybrid thanks

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi

      In answer to your question about how long the car will take to reach the UK, have a look at this post. For a more precise answer, check with the shipping company or exporter.

      The shipping is billed in US dollars and is based on the volume of space occupied by the car. I estimate that a Toyota Estima Hybrid would cost about $1150 but please check with your customs agent or shipping company for a more precise figure.

      Andrew

  • Jake

    Hi I’m looking to import a Mazda RX7 FD, just wondering how much everything after the purchase of the car is? Things such as import taxes and all that fun stuff
    Cheers

      • Andrew Post author

        Hi Jake

        Thanks for your question. I’ve replied to you by email with some more specific questions to help me illustrate all the costs involved for you.

        Cheers
        Andrew

  • Robert

    Hi Andrew

    Im looking to import an Nissan Elgrand from japan and im in need of some further clarifications..

    do you have a checklist where I could commence through start to finish to equate all costs involved ?

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Robert

      I don’t have a checklist at the moment but if you make sure you know how much all the items listed in this article and comments are going to be, you should have a pretty accurate idea of how much the car will cost.

      Cheers
      Andrew

  • Dr Saleem Mulla

    Am looking to import a Toyota previa //estimated. 2003/or 2004 model done less than 60000miles. How much would it cost to buy in Japan + import duties etc

  • Atif Abbasi

    Hi,
    I want to buy toyota 8 seater hybrid car from Japan. Can you please give me some information about uk duty and other taxes how much I need to pay in uk. And how much ruffly I need in total.

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Atif

      There are 2 taxes, import duty and VAT. Import duty is charged at 10 % of the FOB price + shipping. The FOB price is made up from the cost of the car at auction and export agent fees. The VAT is charged at 20 % of FOB price + shipping fee + import duty. The cost of shipping varies with the size of the car.

      To address the question about how much you need in total, this isn’t straightforward as there are so many things that can influence the cost of the car. I take it you are looking for a Toyota Alphard? There are some 8 seater Toyota Estimas but they would be fairly cramped with 8 people inside!

      Could you send me a message with some more details on the type of car you’re looking for? This will enable me to give you a more accurate indication of price.

      Thanks
      Andrew

  • mark

    hi just bought car from ireland.car was imported from japan and import duty was paid.my plan is to bring it in to the uk and register it here. what forms do i need to fill ? and how to pay vat for it ?

  • idris

    Hi, i want to import a NISSAN LAFESTA 20S 07.2005 (27,000 yen). i’d like to find find out the cost and whats included in the cost. i’d also like to find out if there would be any additional costs i have to pay for.
    the other car i’d like to find out about is NISSAN LAFESTA HIGHWAY STAR 10.2008 (149,000 yen) as im still undecided as to which to get.
    Many Thanks
    idris.

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Idris

      If those prices you mentioned are the FOB prices, then there are lots of additional costs, as described in this post. If you went for the second car, at the time of writing it would be under 10 years old so would also need an IVA test prior to registration in the UK, making it more expensive than a car over 10 years old. Have a look at this post if you’d like to read more about the IVA test.

      Cheers
      Andrew

  • Pete

    Hi Andrew,

    Just wondering
    a) is the info still up to date
    b) rough length of time this process takes
    c) is there a maximum quota one can ship back as personal item?

    Thank you
    Pete

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Pete

      The information about the process is still up to date. The prices sadly are not up to date. They were based on an exchange rate of 190 yen to the pound. I really wish that was still a current rate, but it isn’t. The rate is hovering around 140 yen to the pound at the moment.

      In terms of how long it takes, this post explains more about the time involved.

      You’ll need to check with HMRC about maximum quotas for shipping personal items. This isn’t something I’ve investigated in any detail because it doesn’t apply to me.

      Cheers
      Andrew

  • Humphries

    Hi ,
    I would like to buy a car from Japan and import it into Malawi in African . Would you mind explaining to me how it works?

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Humphries

      Thanks for your question. Unfortunately I’m not going to be able to answer it because I’ve only ever imported cars into the UK from Japan. Hopefully you’ll be able to find an import agent in Malawi who will be able to help you.

      Best wishes
      Andrew