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


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.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

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