How to import a car from Japan

How to import a car from Japan in 10 steps

Picture of a vehicle transporter ship passing through the Panama Canal
Photo by Dozenist (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
This is a quick ‘how to import a car from Japan’ guide.  Here we go!

  1. Decide on the car you want.  You could always have a read of my reviews if you need some inspiration or suggestions.
  2. Work out how much you want to spend in total to get the car to the UK and ready to go.  Then work backwards to find out how much your desired ‘UK ready to go’ price translates into a purchase price in ¥ from the Japanese car auctions.  This post will give you a better understanding of the costs involved.
  3. Find someone in Japan who you trust to source, inspect and buy the car for you, de-register it and put it on a boat to your chosen port.
  4. Wait.  Track the boat obsessively on MarineTraffic (if you’re anything like me).  This post explains more about the car transport process.
  5. The car arrives: pay all the necessary shipping charges, taxes and port fees.
  6. Get insurance.
  7. Collect the car from the port.
  8. Fit a fog light, convert the speedometer if you wish.  Organise other conversion work depending on the age of the car and test it will require.
  9. Have a MOT or IVA test depending on the age of the car.
  10. Register it with the DVLA and fit number plates.  Drive!

Now you know the basics of how to import a car from Japan

The above list is a basic overview of the importing process.  It is written based on the assumption that you’re doing it all yourself.

Is doing it all yourself a realistic option?  Nothing in the process could be described as ‘rocket science’ but it can be time consuming and there is a lot to learn.  There are also many pitfalls for the inexperienced.

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