How much does it cost to import a car to the UK from Japan? 43


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 (£)

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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43 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

      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!


  • 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

      Hi Brian

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


  • 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


      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.


  • 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

      • Andrew

        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.


  • 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

      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.


  • 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

    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

      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.


  • Adam

    Thank you for putting up a great post,im interested in finding a little more in regards to U.K. charges/procedures involved in importing cars from japan.for example:1995 Toyota supra 3.0twinturbo(manual).2015 Audi s3.and finally 2014 Toyota Land Cruiser 3.0d4d(damaged).Any help would be thoroughly appreciated.

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Adam

      I realise I’m quite late in replying to your comment, but I get asked this quite a lot so I produced a worksheet to help people work out the costs.

      Your costs might be higher for a damaged Land Cruiser, depending on whether it could be driven or not.


  • mark

    hi just bought car from was imported from japan and import duty was 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

    • Andrew

      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.


  • 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

    • Andrew

      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.


  • Barry Smith

    I am looking at getting a new Japanese import car but I would like to do this myself rather than pay the over inflated prices in the UK already – Are you able to advise on how I go about this from the initial purchase to getting on the road

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Barry

      There is quite a lot of information about this on my website already. I also supply a cost calculation worksheet to give you a better idea of how much it will all cost. You can find that here


  • 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

      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

  • Goran

    Dear Andrew, I am looking at importing a LHD car from japan – looking at 10+ year old classics at auctions (porsche 911s). If the japan based trader through which I participate at various auctions, organises the shipping to the UK, what else will I have to do in the UK to get the car on the road?Does the car need to be specifically adjusted for uk requirements although 10+ years old and if so what are they? And also, what are the latest fees/cost apppicable for this transaction. Many thanks

    • Andrew

      Hi Goran

      This post gives a good overview of what is involved, and contains links to some others about getting the car ready for the MOT.

      I sell a detailed worksheet to help you calculate the final cost of the car in the UK, based on the auction selling price in Japan. It is available here.


    • Andrew

      Hi Luke

      The R33 would be more expensive, and would work out at about £610 at current exchange rates.


  • Bradley tuckwell

    Hello, I’m looking at importing a Nissan Silvia s13 from Japan for myself. Could you please email with the details of what I need to do?

    • Andrew

      Hi Aslam

      Thanks for your question. This website has lots of information about importing a car from Japan to the UK 🙂


  • Burnie

    Hi I’m looking at buying a Toyota Prius . I have total Budget of about £3500 -£4k. Do you think it’s worth importing from Japan or do the costs outweigh savings?

    • Andrew

      Hi Burnie

      At that budget, I’m not convinced it would be worthwhile importing a Prius from Japan. There are loads available in the UK at that price point.

      I hope you manage to find a nice Prius.


  • Zoltan Gyanyi

    Hi Andrew,

    I’m buying a Toyota Alphard G 2003 3000cc from Japan. Please can you tell me how much it will cost me to get it UK road ready?
    Please help me with this your help would be much appreciated thank you Zoltan

    • Andrew

      Hi Zoltan

      Thanks for your question. It is a difficult one to answer, especially without seeing the car. Some of the costs are predictable (although at the mercy of exchange rates) and some are not. The costs involved in getting it ready for the MOT could be very low (e.g. just the cost of a fog light) or quite high. For example, it might need a full set of tyres and a new battery when it arrives, or it might not. I’d definitely factor in the costs for an oil and oil filter change.

      I have a cost calculation worksheet available to purchase, which will help you calculate a lot of the predictable costs involved. Obviously it can’t help you work out how much the MOT preparation will cost as this varies so much from car to car.

      The worksheet is available here


    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Kuba

      Thanks for your question. Quite a difficult one to answer because there are a number of different R33 skyline models. Which model are you after and what sort of condition, mileage etc?