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Import regulations for used vehicles from Japan to The United States of America

Quick Reference:  ・25 years or older ・ Cheap and easy DIY import ・Legal in all 50 states ・Shipping to all major ports ・ Great resale value

Importing is easy and affordable
Importing a vehicle on your own is extremely easy and economical. There are two ways to import, informal and formal entry. If the commercial value is less than $2,500 the entire do-it-yourself informal entry process, including the filing of all documents, customs fees, and duty can be done for under $80! Formal entries require a customs broker, and ours charges less than $200, half the price of other brokerages! Details of the process are explained in this extremely helpful blog written by our customer. It is highly cost prohibitive and a ton of red tape to import a newer vehicle, but any vehicle 25 years or older is exempt from state transportation laws so you can drive your newly imported air-cooled 911, mini truck or Skyline from Florida to Alaska on any roads you choose!!!!

Duty based on vehicle cost:

  • Automobiles and Mini trucks* – 2.5%
  • Trucks – 25%

ISF Filing
Most of our customers choose not to file an ISF as it is almost never looked into by customs for an informal entry but we recommend that it is done. Here is a link to the description of and ISF and the regulations related to it, https://www.cbp.gov/border-security/ports-entry/cargo-security/importer-security-filing-102
ISF filing – $25.00
ISF bond – $50.00

DIY Informal entry does not require a broker. Only 3 customs forms are necessary: Entry Summary 7501, EPA Form 3520-1 and the DOT HS-7 Form. Total customs clearance cost is Duty + .3464% + .125%=Less the $80

Formal entry requires the use of a broker, and JCD offers the cheapest service!!

  1. Customs entry fee per shipment – $95.00
  2. ISF – $50.00
  3. EPA – $15.00
  4. DOT – $15.00
  5. Duties – at cost
    A) 2.5% or 25%
    B) merchandise processing fee .3464%, min $25, max $485
    C) harbor maintenance fee .125% no min no max
  6. Bond – $30

*The above costs do not include fee charged by the shipping company which is approximately $90US

Importing Process
Shipping takes 2-5 weeks, depending on port. US RORO ports: Tacoma WA, Long Beach CA, Freeport TX, Jacksonville FL, Savannah GA, Newport News VA, Baltimore MD, New York NY. The freight rate for all US ports is $90/cubic meter.

As your vehicle closes in on port the shipping company will contact you from their local office to confirm shipment and accept payment for unloading/loading fees, *usually $80-$120 per vehicle, depending on size. Once your vehicle arrives at port you must contact your CBP office at the port and inform them of its arrival.

The CBP will contact you and let you know when the vehicle will be available for pick up. Bring the required documents (Commercial Invoice, Export Certificate, English translation, Entry Summary, DOT and EPA forms) and money for duty and drive your vehicle off the lot! You can also have it arranged to be transported to your home. Here is a link to get an inland transport quote from the port to your place: www.uship.com

Import Regulations

25 years or older
When importing Japanese used vehicles, of all the models over 25 years old mini trucks are the cheapest, and easiest to import because of the exemption. They can be imported without complying with any safety, bumper, theft prevention, or emission standards.

25 years or newer
If you want to import a vehicle newer than 25 years old for driving on public roads, you must use a Registered Importer (RI) to comply it with Federal safety, bumper and theft prevention standards. If the motor vehicle is less than 21 years old, you must additionally hire an Independent Commercial Importer (ICI) to comply it with EPA emissions standards.

When using a RI, there must be a “DOT Conformance Bond” posted worth one and a half times the vehicle’s dutiable value. When using an ICI, a “Customs Bond” worth at least the vehicle’s value is required by the EPA, if the vehicle is being petitioned. Customs may still require the bond regardless of EPA requirements. Additionally, only vehicles that are listed by NHTSA as eligible for importing may go through the process. If a vehicle is not listed, a RI must petition and prove to NHTSA that the vehicle meets, or can be modified to meet, all US Federal safety and bumper standards. The process includes providing crash test data which is a very expensive process. Because costs can become prohibitively high, it is very important that you thoroughly research your options to see if it is worth importing.

Required Documents for Customs Clearance:

Provided by JCD

  • Bill of Lading
  • Commercial Invoice
  • Export Certificate
  • English Translation of Export Certificate.

Filled in by Importer

For current state by state rules and regulations for use of mini trucks newer than 25 years old, please use the following link.
For all of the correct and up-to-date information about the rules and regulations to import a vehicle into the USA please contact the NHTSA & EPA.  For your reference, please click on the links below:

US Customs Ruling website

Being self-sufficient, learning it, doing it. That’s what mini truck guys are like. They are independent and don’t bow to regulations and restrictions when there is a way around it, over it, or through it. Just like driving a mini truck off road: Study the trail and learn the lay of the land, like our man in the blog did. Blog information is available to our customers.

When you have time please read thru how-to-buy and FAQ on our site to learn more about how the business goes.

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