March 8, 2019

How to Import a Car from Japan to the UK

Thinking of importing a car from Japan to the UK? Here’s everything you need to know. Discover the steps and key considerations.
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Why Japanese Imports?

There are many reasons people choose to import Japanese cars (and it’s not just for the higher spec). You can skip the UK waiting lists, purchase cars that never hit the UK showrooms, and, often find that Japanese models are cheaper than the UK equivalent. It’s no wonder there are imports left, right and centre – just take a look at any ‘for sale’ listings!

However, whilst there is a plethora of positives, purchasing a Japanese import does come with its difficulties. And with a multitude of options when it comes to the way in which you import your car, it can become a bit of a headache. That’s why we’ve put together a handy list of key considerations for when you begin your car import journey.

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How to import a car from Japan to the UK

By far, the easiest way to import a car from Japan is to do it through an online Japanese import specialist via auction or bought outright. This means you can purchase the car you want and have shipping sorted at the same time.

What do I need to do once my car arrives?

1. Declare your new import and pay charges

Your car has arrived! That’s the difficult bit over with, right? Unfortunately, no. There are a few hurdles to overcome once your import arrives in the UK. Before you register your car, you must inform the HMRC that you have brought a car over to the UK. This must be done within two weeks of it arriving. To do this, you will need to make an import declaration, using this form. Then, once you have notified the HMRC, you will find out if you owe VAT or duty fees.

2. Undergo testing and modification

Japan has a completely different set of technical regulations to the UK, which means import cars require testing and potential modification under the IVA (Individual Vehicle Approval) scheme. This is an essential requirement to make sure they meet the legal safety and environmental standards to be on the road.

3. Register and tax your vehicle

Once you have completed each of the above steps, you can register your new car and tax it at the same time. You will need to pay a £55 fee for taxing the vehicle when registering. To register your car, you will need to fill in required forms which can be found in ‘Used’ and ‘New’ import packs on the gov website.

How much does it cost to import a car from Japan to the UK?

The costs involved with importing a car from Japan vary greatly, and depends on a number of factors, including the type of vehicle, the age, and where it is currently registered.

Are there any ongoing costs?

When thinking about costs, it is important to take into account the day to day running of the vehicle (particularly if something breaks). Additionally, Japanese imports usually depreciate more than UK models, a consideration if you ever look to sell in the future.

What difficulties might I face?

Aside from difficulties to do with the importing process itself, there are a few other difficulties to consider. Repairs and maintenance can be a struggle, as some parts may need to be ordered from Japan. Not only is this inconvenient in the time it takes, but also in cost as you will likely need to pay shipping fees in addition to parts cost and fitting.

There are also some physical differences you may experience with your imported Japanese car. Suspension may feel stiffer (as should be expected with higher performance vehicles), brake balance may feel different and paint may not be as durable as it will have been made for different climates.

You will find that financing and insuring your car is more difficult than doing so for a UK car. Fortunately, Keith Michaels specialise in providing insurance for Japanese imports, providing you with a competitive quote. We will take into account your individual circumstances to tailor a policy unique to you.

Overall, we think the benefits outweigh the difficulties, so maybe it’s time to take the plunge! Do you own a Jap Import? We’d love to see it! Join fellow enthusiasts and share your photos on our Facebook page.