How to Import Used & Damaged Japanese Cars

Written by james green
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How to Import Used & Damaged Japanese Cars
Importing used cars from Japan must abide by U.S. and Japanese regulations. (luxury car - model toy car image by alma_sacra from

An increasing amount of people are taking advantage of Japan's great deals when importing used and damaged cars into the United States. Often, the profit opportunities in the resale and spare parts market are often worth the shipping and import costs. Care should be taken, however, when abiding by the import and export regulations of the United States and Japan. A registered importer can often help you navigate such regulations. By following a few simple steps, importing used and damaged cars from Japan into the United States can be trouble-free.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Check if the cars you wish to import are on the list of nonconforming vehicles that are eligible for import. Even after a damaged car is repaired, a certain model of car may not be legally driven on U.S. roads due to safety regulations. A list of eligible cars may be found on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website.

  2. 2

    Obtain the services of a registered importer, a list of which may be found on the NHTSA website. A registered importer will arrange for shipment from Japan, carry out all necessary Japanese and U.S. paperwork, carry out any modifications that are required for your vehicle (such as converting from a metric speedometer), and pay any import charges that are levied. All services will be billed as a single payment to the registered importer.

  3. 3

    Carry out a MOT test for any used vehicle imported into the United States (the Ministry of Transport test). The MOT may be carried out by your registered importer, and it is therefore beneficial to use an importer that specialises in the import of used cars. Upon passing the MOT, the car is eligible to be driven on U.S. roads.

Tips and warnings

  • Although Japanese cars are typically right hand drive, they may still be eligible to be driven on U.S. roads.
  • Importing many vehicles as part of a bulk shipment will save you money on shipping costs.
  • The customs tariff for cars imported into the United States is currently 2.5% as of 2010.

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