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
The entire process takes 1.5 – 2 months.
Register to see auction vehicles – Search – Send links for translation – Send deposit – Pre bid inspection – Bid – Win – Pay Invoice while vehicle is transported to nearest export yard – Payment confirmation – Photos taken at port – Booking requested – Booking details confirmed – Vehicle loaded – ISF filed – Wait and track boat – Get arrival notice from boat company – Pay the arrival notice invoice – Clear customs – Pay broker or customs – Pick up or hire transport for your vehicle – Be happy!!
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 extremely difficult, highly cost prohibitive and a ton of red tape to import a newer vehicle, but 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!!!!
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
* 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.
Formal entry requires the use of a broker, and JCD’s brokerage partners offer the cheapest service!!
Note on Vehicle Washing:
The cost of having vehicles washed at port starts at 10,000 yen and depends on the yard & size of the vehicle. We will arrange for washing when requested by the customer. As very few vehicles are flagged by US customs, and the washing price is similar there, we recommend shipping as is. If your vehicle is flagged it will not prohibit the import, but only delay it slightly.
- 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
DIY Import Process
Shipping takes 2-5 weeks, depending on the port. We will provide you with a Bill of Lading before the boat loads. You will need to file an ISF immediately after receiving the Bill of Lading from us. As your vehicle closes in on port the boat 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. We will send you the required documents as the boat nears so you can fill out the customs forms. Once your vehicle arrives at port you must contact the arrival port of entry CBP office and inform customs of its arrival. The CBP will contact you within 24-48 hours and let you know when the vehicle will be available for pick up. DO NOT show up to port unannounced. You have 2 weeks to pick up so no rush. Bring the required documents and cash for duty then drive your vehicle off the lot! You can also have it arranged to be transported to your home. Should you chose to use a broker, they will guide you through the process.
An ISF must be filed for all imports. In the case of informal/DIY 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
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 1995. This proof of manufacture can be provided through JCD at a cost of 33,000 yen. This is for Kei vehicles only.
Note on WWO Shipping
When shipping to ports using WWO (Tacoma, Long Beach, Newport News), if the dimensions of the vehicle listed on the Export Certificate differ from the actual dimensions of the vehicle, the actual dimensions shall be used and an additional 20,000 yen fee shall be charged to the importer for official measurements to be taken.
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, 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
- Entry Summary 7501
- EPA Declaration
- DOT Form HS-7
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
Please read though how-to-buy and FAQ on our site to learn more about the business process.
Great experience working with Japan Car Direct. Very helpful, great communication and very patient with a first time mini truck buyer and importer.
I can't recommend JCD enough. Mathew was a fantastic person to work with. As a newbie to the Japanese auctions, I was quite naïve and had far too many questions. Mathew was kind, knowledgeable, and patient through the entire process. My Minicab arrived last week and I am quite pleased. I would not hesitate to work with Japan Car Direct again in the future. Thank you Mathew!! Jay A.
I purchased a suzuki carry from here.. They made the whole process so easy..fantastic communication,and I got what I wanted.. highly recommend using this company for your next purchase. 5 stars
IF YOU ARE OVERLY CAUTIOUS READ THIS I am over the top and I am aware of it. Matthew probably should get an award for dealing with me. I dig into everything and am used to fighting for fairness at auto auctions here in the USA - we own a small dealership. Early into my fist purchase (of many) Matthew earned my trust. He’s a rare breed: a true professional and exceptional at what he does. The world NEEDS more like him in every industry. Matthew is one of our most valued partners now, as we strive to bring JDM to Rochester and the Great Lakes. I’m a tough case, I openly admit, but he worked through my caution and I’m now very happy to purchase through him. Call me if you want, I’ll recommend Matthew to anyone. Drew
IF YOU ARE OVERLY CAUTIOUS READ THIS I am over the top and I am aware of it. Matthew probably should get an award for dealing with me. I dig into everything and am used to fighting not to get taken at local auctions (I own a dealership and believe strongly in integrity). Early into my fist purchase (of many) Matthew earned my trust. He’s a rare breed: a true professional and exceptional at what he does. The world NEEDS more like him in every industry. Matthew is one of our most valued partners now, as we strive to bring JDM to Rochester and the Great Lakes. I’m a tough case, I openly admit. Find me and call me if you want, I’ll recommend Matthew to anyone. Drew
I always wanted a Land Cruiser ! Mathew helped me find 2 beautiful trucks from the Japanese auction. Had them delivered to Freeport, TX last week. He was amazing to work with. Fast response time on bids, super easy to work with, he has a lot of experience and answered all questions promptly. Will be working with JCD more in the future to purchase more vehicles !
Very pleased with my experience with JCD. Mat helped me with my purchase of a Honda Beat and its shipping to the port of Baltimore. Everything was seamless and I would (and already have) recommended this company to several friends.
Thanks to JapanCarDirect for the opportunity, Yoshi took well care of my requests with a incomparable patience and fast follow up. Will definitely pass the word around !!! 👌🇨🇦🇯🇵
Fantastic service, helped me through the process of importing my JZX100 to the UK, Everything was clear and fees were low, worth every penny though, fantastic and couldn't have asked for more!
I just picked up my dream campervan from port and have to say that Japan car direct was with me the entire way. I felt so supported all my questions were answered and I could not imagine doing something like this without them. I highly recommend the whole team, trust them and would encourage anyone to use there services.
Mathew and all stuff JCD are best. I ordered 4 cars to UA. Support was 24H. The team did its best to solve my problems. They are really good. Now I can recommend them. Unique condition of the car. P.S. sorry but the photo was taken immediately upon arrival. Thank you again!
I just wanna thank Matthew and the whole team at Japan Car Direct, they always went above and beyond in making sure their clients are always happy and informed about the vehicles they are purchasing. I am still in the buying process but so far 5/5 definitely. I’ll keep everyone posted when I do find a car!
Do yourself a favor, call Mathew at Japan Car Direct. Let him take the worry about doing business over seas off your plate. Not knowing anything about importing vehicles from Japan, I spent countless hours studying and trying to figure it all out. The headaches were too much! After Mathew walked me through the process it was a piece of cake. We've already bought a couple and are now buying more with complete confidence. Thanks guys, much much appreciated.
Can not recommend these guys enough. I dealt with Matt, who was extremely helpful and patient with all of my stupid questions. The way they have the whole process is so convenient, especially with the live video translations of the auction sheets. I will absolutely be returning to them in the future.
Trustworthy group here! They made it easy from point a to b. So glad this was the first group I tried as I have heard horror stories about the import process. Highly recommended.