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Import regulations for used and new cars from Japan to Australia

If you want to import a used car from Japan to Australia you’ll need to look at the rules, the exceptions to the rules, and the import requirements and process.

The exceptions to the rules make importing easy. Basically, if the car was manufactured before January 1st, 1989, it can be imported.

The exception to the exceptions are where things get complex: If the car was made after January 1st, 1989 but is on the list of exceptions under the RAWS (Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme) program you can probably import it to Australia but it will be difficult and expensive. You’ll find the list of vehicles that can be imported to Australia under the RAWS program here:

The import process is not terribly tricky but you do have to go step by step, and with the steps in the right order. The Australian government site to get this information up to date is here:

If you decide to work with us here at Japan Car Direct to import a used good vehicle to Australia, we are able to recommend Australia-based customers clearance agents who can smooth the process for you and give you the most current Australia-side information.

Of course, we are here to take care of the Japan side of things: finding your used car (either at the Japanese used car auctions or at the dealers here or from a private seller), getting it to the port and through Japanese customs (we take care of all the paperwork, translations, and other documentation), and then shipping the car to you in Brisbane Port Kembla, Melbourne, or Fremantle.

As a Japan-based used car exporter to Australia we find that it is simply best to stick to the pre-1989 cars to get good value with minimum hassle.

The vehicles that we ship to Australia are mostly the good pre-1989 Japanese minitrucks like the 4WD Suzuki Carry (which can be had with the very convenient dump body). This little truck is light and very capable off road and around town; and on the farm it’s a first rate piece of kit. With its ultra low gearing in first and second in Low Range, it’s like a little tractor. Super economical, too. Parts are not a big problem and we are able to find good low mileage minitrucks in Japan at reasonable prices these days.

Japanese Kei sports cars like the first generation Suzuki Alto Works are also great cars to import from Japan to Australia as they are well made, cheap to run, and terrific fun.


Japan Side:
You’ll find full details of the Japan-side costs on our website here: Japan Side Costs
If you are serious about importing a pre-1989 minitruck from Japan Contact Us

Ocean freight is subject to changes due to fuel costs and other variables, so it’s best to contact us for an up to date figure. But at the present (April, 2015):

Ocean Freight:

  • USD  90.00 Per CBM – Up tp 20CBM
  • USD 100.00 Per CBM – Over 20CBM
  • BAF: +10%
  • Shipment is subject to space and schedule
  • Any local rates at POD is not included in the above rates

Australia Side:
When your minitruck (or other vehicle) arrives in Australia there are a number of smaller costs that need to be dealt with and your customs broker will handle those for you.

Typical Australia-side costs according to one of our very good customs brokers covering Fremantle port are looking like this at present (April, 2015):

  • Customs clearance: AUD 100.00 + GST
  • Quarantine processing: AUD 37.50 + GST
  • CMR fee: AUD 27.00 + GST
  • Quarantine fees: AUD 108.00 if it passes the first inspection, or add AUD 90.00 if it needs to be cleaned and re-inspected
  • Steam cleaning: AUD 180.00 + GST
  • Delivery to Perth area: AUD 150.00 + GST
  • Duty: 5% of the FOB Value
  • Import GST: 10% of the CIF Value and Duty
  • Customs entry fee: currently AUD 65.00 if the total clearance value is under AUD 10,000.00, or AUD 167.60 if the value is over AUD 10,000.00

These costs are subject to change but the above gives at least a fair idea of what you’ll pay to get your minitruck or other second hand vehicle through customs in Australia.

Useful Links

  • review rating 5  This was my first time importing a vehicle for my personal use and naturally I was leary about who to go through. After looking through a few other places and after getting in touch with a longtime customer of theirs I decided to try these guys out. I can say without a doubt I'm glad I did. They are definitely professional and know their craft when it comes to getting you your dream car. Everything from getting cars inspected and bidding was completely transparent and went smoothly. I couldn't be happier with the car I bought and I hope down the line I'll be able to purchase another using these guys!! Thanks for all you guys do!!! 11/7/19 Still have my MR2 and loving it everyday!! I'm going to Japan next month and hopefully I can find something fun for my car to bring back! Just re-read my review and I can still say my car has been nothing but great along with my experience with Yoshi and his team! Thanks again!

    thumb Kevin Heidari

    review rating 5  You made the purchase and export of my 1998 Rover Mini to Vancouver Canada so easy Thank you and I"ll be back

    thumb Scott Brunning

    review rating 5  A few months ago I set out on my goal of importing a vehicle from Japan through an auction. After tons and TONs of research and countless emails, I decided to use Japan Car Direct as my exporter in Japan. From the beginning of my interactions with JCD, I was thoroughly impressed. My contact, Yoshi, was amazing...definitely a huge asset to the JCD team. He answered all of my questions promptly, translated dozens of auction sheets for me, and advised me of what to watch out for when looking for a vehicle. He was beyond helpful! I picked up my Kei truck at the port in Newport News a few weeks ago and couldn't be more pleased. Since then, the truck has made it to its final home in Charlottesville, VA on my farm. Yoshi and the other guys at JCD are now my go to team for more of these soon. Thanks again JCD and keep doing what you guys do! You all are the real deal.

    thumb N W
  • review rating 5  Since a kid the FD RX7 has always been a dream car but i didn't pursue it till i graduated high school but the prices just for the shell over here in california was over 15k!! I kept looking around until I decided i would just import one. I found JCD while looking for the top 5 importers you could trust and they stood out more than all the other ones, and for a couple months of more research on their page until I ultimately decided I would go through them. Although this was my first time getting a car from Japan and having an endless amount questions spanning a couple hundred emails until it would freeze up and i had to make a new email thread .. Mathew always answered every question and helped me though every step. I didn't have all the funds in the beginning but they were very patient with it until i was fully ready, then after a month of having Matt give his thought on some of the FDs i was looking at we finally won the auction for a 94 Efini type R Fd3s. As we picked it up from Long Beach till the drive home I couldn't believe that it was here and soo much better just looking at the picture but i defiantly would recommend JCD to anyone looking to import their dream car too and and want to thank matt and the whole team with getting me my RX7.

    thumb Erwin Contreras

    review rating 5  I'd been looking to buy an RF series Honda Stepwagon to convert into a mini camper for a while but the UK prices always seemed too high. I had joined a few JDM import sites to get an idea of auction prices and costs (including Japan Car Direct) but just couldn't bring myself to take the next step, it seemed such a risk ! Finally after reading so many good reviews for JCD (and Mathew in particular) I took the plunge and contacted Mathew. After he answered my many questions regarding costs, fees etc I felt confident enough to pay the deposit and start hunting the Japanese auctions for my Steppy. My budget for the Steppy was pretty low (pathetic even !) but I felt Mat still put the same effort into replying to my questions and queries as he would have done if my budget had been into the tens of thousands. The result was I now have a very tidy Stepwagon with lower mileage than any vehicle I've ever owned, I've paid far less for it then I would have done buying in the UK and I've got a bigger budget now for the camper conversion. I wouldn't hesitate to buy through them again, and hope to do so soon.

    thumb Matt B

    review rating 5  5 star experience from start to finish. Transparent and easy process, and Mat was very patient to answer plenty of questions I had during the purchase! Can’t wait to do it again because the Japanese cars from this era are pure automotive art and these guys hold the keys to the museum!

    thumb Ross C
  • review rating 5  After an initial inquiry several years ago, I still wanted to get a Japanese Delica or Hiace. Matthew was immediately in contact and helped with all the details. His videos were perfect for my search. Matthew was able to answer all of my questions and my wife and I were able to make decisions based on the great information he provided. I would recommend Japan Car Direct to anyone interested in getting the right car at the best price.

    thumb Zach Matheson

    review rating 5  The staff at Japan Car Direct made what I thought would a a difficult process very easy. Matt explained every step thoroughly and his advice on details of cars was spot on.

    thumb nick creece

    review rating 5  I imported a van though JCD and they made the process super straightforward. They were amazing at communicating and quick to answer any of my questions. If you are looking to import a car I would highly recommended them.

    thumb William Bender
  • review rating 5  Awesome experience !! Their service was extremely good and efficient. Yoshiro was soo patient with my many requests for information and translations. The vehicle purchased was better than expected. I would definitely consider using their services again.

    thumb Rafael Cuadros

    review rating 5  All I can say about the experience is AMAZING! I worked with Matthew and he was helpful through the whole process of bidding, purchasing, and shipping the car to me. He had an answer for every question, and was always quick to respond. Enjoying my new Mercedes and I will be using them again!

    thumb chris casali

    review rating 5  All around exceptional experience! Matt was great to work with and guided me through the entire process with ease. As a first timer, importing was a bit nerve racking but JCD did a great job providing a cool little truck I can enjoy here in Delaware. I look forward to picking up the next toy/vehicle through them.

    thumb Jesse Wencius
  • review rating 5  The experienced, grizzled veterans of the import scene. They were very accommodating with all my questions and concerns. It was my first time importing, so everything was confusing and intimidating, but I'm happy to report everything went as planned! I'm definitely calling them back when I finally come up with an excuse to import another!

    thumb Joey Rodriguez

    review rating 5  Mathew was great to work with and made what could be a scary daunting experience very easy. I am super happy with my car and am sure I will be importing with them again!

    thumb Kayla D'Ambrosi

    review rating 5  Working with Mathew and his team was an absolute pleasure. I went from never knowing you could import your own vehicle to owning my own Suzuki Cara within 6 months. Mathew was so helpful and completely transparent with me during the entire process. We spoke on the phone and via email and he helped me pick the perfect car exactly within my requirements. He dealt with my excitement and inexperience with patience and understanding. I couldn't be happier with my experience and will absolutely use Japan Car Direct again when it's time for another project. I highly recommend Mathew and Japan Car Direct.

    thumb Tristan Gilbert

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