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Importing used cars from Japan

Today automobiles are produced in many countries all over the world. However, Japanese cars have gained a lot of popularity worldwide because of their excellent quality, mechanical performance as well as stylish design. Japanese used cars are getting popular in many foreign countries and one of the reasons for the popularity is their superb performance and overall excellent quality. Another reason for opting for Japanese used car is the wide assortment of car models that are available for selection, and almost all of them come with ultra-advanced features such as power steering, air bags, air conditioning, power windows and high performance engine. Japan has been a leader in car manufacturing and Japanese cars as Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi, Suzuki and Mazda are famous throughout the world for their excellence, value and steadfastness.

These days, more and more people are setting out to buy Japanese used cars. Although most of these used car buyers have good knowledge about cars as well as car buying techniques, they are not quite sure of ‘Why they should import Japanese cars from Japan?’ and, ‘How to import used cars from Japan?’

We believe that Japan is the best place to buy used cars mainly because cars in Japan are very carefully maintained and the Japanese roads are one of the best in the world. World-class public transportation system, heavy traffic conditions, high toll and parking fees, and stringent rules of Japanese government with regards to proper maintenance of car safety system are some primary reasons why Japanese cars are used infrequently, and hence, are technically sound. Also the Japanese government discourages people to own cars more than 5-6 years through a tier based technical car examination system called ‘shaken’- the older the car is the more ‘shaken’ tax you have to pay. This system encourages Japanese people to buy new cars since shaken taxes vary greatly depending on the age of the car. Also as repair costs in Japan are very high buying a new car makes much more sense than repairing a damaged car even if it is easily repairable. All these factors make Japan a very attractive used car market and it makes a good economical sense to import used cars from Japan.

Once, you're convinced that Japanese used cars are the best; the primary question that impinges your mind is, ‘Where to buy used Japanese cars from?’ There are several dealers and exporters who supply Japanese used cars, you can easily purchase your used Japanese car from them. However, in reality all these exporters get the used cars from major auction houses. These auction houses have a wide variety of used Japanese cars, and all of them are available at very low prices to professional buyers such as dealers and exporters. Hence, it would be a better proposition to buy your used Japanese car directly from such auction houses rather than obtain it from intermediate dealers and exporters.

However, you cannot purchase Japanese used cars directly from auctions because you cannot become a member of these auction houses. Only used car dealers and exporters in Japan can apply for the membership. Furthermore, there are several strict contract terms that have to be followed when applying for the membership. Nevertheless, there are several used car exporters as, who provide "Auction Agent" service, that is, they would purchase Japanese used cars from auctions on your behalf. They also handle all the necessary procedure for shipping Japanese used cars.

When you buy used Japanese cars from online auction houses, using an "Auction Agent", you would neither get a chance to inspect your Japanese used car from close quarters nor you would have the privilege to test drive the used car before purchasing it. Hence, to know more about the condition of the car, you would have to depend solely upon the 'Auction-Sheet', which is nothing, but a car evaluation sheet prepared by the auction house. Although all auction houses have different criteria for measuring the condition of the Japanese used cars, but some parameters are the same. For instance, they allocate grades 2 to 5 or 6 to S for the condition of car exteriors, and grades A to C for the state of car interiors. Apart from external and internal condition, mileage is the next most crucial factor that used car buyers' worry about. The auction houses take care of this aspect. The seller is compelled to divulge the correct mileage. If the owner rolls back the mileage to hide the true figures, he is severely penalized by the auction house.

Most used car buyers hold the opinion that it is usually difficult to import used Japanese car. Nonetheless, importing used cars from Japan is not at all difficult if you know the correct process. Here is a glimpse of the entire procedure that is put into practice while importing Japanese used cars.

1. Find out details about every law dealing with import of foreign cars in your own country.

2. If you haven't found the right used Japanese car as yet, then you would have to send a request to the dealer to find the right car for you first.

3. Before giving a confirmation to the exporter/dealer (Auction Agent) to buy the used car, you should (1) check recent market price of your favorite car, which is usually provided by Japanese used car exporter or dealer (Auction Agent); (2) read the auction sheet very carefully; and (3) decide your budget to bid from auctions.

4. The next step is to make the payment. Before issuing the check, you should verify the authenticity of the exporter/dealer. This can be done in two ways:

(1) by getting the company registration number and address confirmed at Japanese embassy in your country,

(2) by checking if your exporter is a member of JUMVEA (Japan Used Motor Vehicle Exporter Association), which is the most reputable organization in the Japanese used car export industry, and is officially accredited by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japanese Government.

5. On arrival of the used car in your country, you would have to reproduce the documents that the exporter/dealer has sent to you. Thereafter, you would have to complete a few official procedures as paying import tax, getting your Japanese used car tested and insured etc. Once, you do that, you can drive your used Japanese car home.

About the Author: Kenji Yoshimoto is the President of Best Trading, Used Car Exporter based in Tokyo Japan.

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