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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!!!!

ISF Filing

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

Costs
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!!

Example estimate:

  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
  7. 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.

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. 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

Resources
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
www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import/
www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import/elig060109.pdf
www.epa.gov/otaq/imports/quiktext.html

Please read though how-to-buy and FAQ on our site to learn more about the business process.

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    5/20/2019

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    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.

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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!

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    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!

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    3/18/2019

    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.

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    1/19/2019

    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.

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    12/19/2018
  • 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.

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    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!!!

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    9/17/2018
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