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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 market
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 $150! Formal entries require a customs broker. We work with several reputable brokerages nationwide to ensure a smooth import of your vehicle.
Details of the process are explained in this extremely helpful Import Blog written by our customer. It is highly cost prohibitive and a ton of red tape to import a newer vehicle, but any any import of a vehicle 25 years or older is exempt from federal 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!!!!
An ISF must be filed for all imports. In the case of informal import the importer/client is responsible for filing. easyisf.com is the cheapest and easiest way to do so. 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 – $80.00
Duty based on vehicle cost:
- Passenger Vehicles and most Mini trucks* – 2.5%
- Trucks – 25%
- Unloading – $80-$200
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’s brokerage partners offers the cheapest service!!
- Customs entry fee per shipment – $95.00
- ISF – $50.00
- EPA – $15.00
- DOT – $15.00
- 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
- Bond – $30
- Account set up fee $50.00
* When doing a DIY informal import 9 times out of 10 the customs agent will not consider a mini truck an actual truck and levy a 2.5% duty. In some cases a customs agent can levy a 25% duty on a mini truck. If you decide to use a customs brokerage to clear customs a 25% duty will be levied.
Note on Port of Tacoma
The port of Tacoma now requires that a broker be used for all imports. Customs also requires a third party proof of manufacture for Kei vehicles registered in 1994. This proof of manufacture can be provided through JCD at a cost of 33,000 yen. This is for Kei vehicles only.
DIY Import Process
Shipping takes 2-5 weeks, depending on port. As your vehicle closes in on port the shipping company will contact you from their local office with an arrival notice and request payment for unloading *usually $80-$200 per vehicle, depending on size and port. 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 and cash 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 Should you use a broker they will guide you through the process.
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. Please read through the process here.
25 years or newer
It is nearly impossible for an individual to import something newer than 25 years old. If you wish to try and 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:
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!!!