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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.

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  • 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
  • review rating 5  Just purchased my second car through Japan Car Direct. Could not be more pleased with their customer service. Matt went above and beyond to help me find the right car. Translating countless auction sheets, messaging sellers, requesting vehicle inspections, putting up with me and my requests well after his time in the office, etc. I can happily and honestly say that I would recommend this company to anyone looking to purchase a car from Japan and that you will not be dissappinted. Very kind, helpful and professional. Can’t wait for vehicle number 3.

    thumb Tanner Himmel

    review rating 5  Mathew and the team are amazing. Bought my first Porsche in Japan and they have helped me all the way through. They are competent and honest people, will definitely be doing more business with them. Thanks guys!

    thumb Dami Eugi

    review rating 5  Mat is is the best he was right on target and video descriptions are perfect. Shipping was alot faster than I thought it would be, as JCD didn't mess around. My van was at port and ready to go. I will be using JCD again soon, got my van now I want a car.

    thumb Lee Frye
  • review rating 5  I hunted the internet for a broker I could trust with my money. JDC won and I am so happy I went with them. Matt and Yoshi are great. Matt puts up with a very demanding customer in me, I can certainly take up time. Matt sends me cars from the list I sent him, when I don't have time to check the auction. It is scary how accurate Matt is when I ask him to predict a selling price. He is always very close which sometimes is not fun but he really does know pricing. They have walked we through buying two cars now and have held my hand on both. I really apricate all the time and knowledge. After purchase they have also held my hand through the whole import process which can be daunting for a first timer. I am a dealer and Matt is great at suggesting other cars to import as well. I am very satisfied with my choice

    thumb John Holmes

    review rating 5  What can I say? The service was friendly and good, and I got my car, which ended up being in a better condition than expected. Sure, there were couple of unforeseen snags that no-one had anticipated, but overall, it was an extremely positive experience. Hommat meni hyvin, auto tuli Suomeen eikä noiden pyytämä hintakaan ollut mikään mahdottoman paha.

    thumb metziih

    review rating 5  I bought a 1993 RX7 FD from these guys they are great! Communication was very good, and prompt! Iv has my car now for 6 months and have been loving it! I would recommend emailing them and looking into the options! They are upfront about price and will steer you into the right direction on what the car will take to own! I’m working with Yoshiro to buy another car now! I’m very pleased with the service I received. It can be scary sending lots of money to a person you don’t know for a car you have never seen, but they will come through with everything they tell you they will do!

    thumb Spencer David
  • review rating 5  They've somehow made what was expected to be complicated, so simple. I got all the info I needed and imported my first JDM car without a single problem. Matthew was super fast to respond and always had an answer.

    thumb Elliott Riggen

    review rating 5  A must for exporting cars from Japan. I've exported various models with these guys now and they have been exactly how we wanted them with no underlying issues or surprises when they arrive. Very pleased and will continue to use these guys in the future!

    thumb Callum Underwood

    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!!!

    thumb Kevin Heidari
  • review rating 5  I have already purchased 3 cars from this company and have a 4th on the way. They are very nice, extremely helpful, and work around your budget. I worked with Yoshi. He is very nice and made me a lot more comfortable with the wire transfers (after purchasing the vehicle), because let’s be honest, it is nerve racking to send money to a foreign country and have to wait several weeks for your vehicle to arrive. However, everything has gone smoothly, and they make it very easy to import the car of your dreams. I will continue to go with Japan Car Direct for all my japan car needs 😀

    thumb Patrick Smolka

    review rating 5  Amazing people to work with. Answered any question I could think of and never left me hanging in during the entire process. I was always kept in the loop. Matt and his team are superb in every way. From picking my car out at auction to picking it up at port they were always there and now I have great little cappuccino to drive around now! I will be using them again to bring in another car in the near future that's for sure.

    thumb Allan Thomas
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