Import Rules & Compliance
New Import Regulations for Australia from 2019
On 10 Feb 2016 the Govt. announced planned changes to the Vehicle Import Regulations for Australia.
Until these changes take effect, there are currently four options to import a vehicle to Australia, please see our FAQ below What cars can be imported to Australia ? for full details.
What cars can be imported to Australia ?
Note: On 10 Feb 2016 the Govt. announced planned changes to the Vehicle Import Regulations.
Until these changes take effect, there are currently four options to import a vehicle to Australia, as follows.
15 Year Rule
For normal road use, anything older than December 1988 can be imported virtually without restriction. This used to be a rolling 15 year rule until 2004 / 05, when so many good 1989 / 90 models were imported that the Govt. changed the rule, locking it at 1988 and older only.
Conversion to RHD (particularly of European makes which are mostly LHD in Japan) may be required for some vehicles to be registered, depending on the State you live in. WA for example allows Left Hand Drive (LHD) vehicles older than 15 years to be registered LHD, while many other States require the vehicle to be more than 25 to 30 years old. So you should consider how this applies to the vehicle you are looking at and whether you want a RHD vehicle or prefer it to remain original LHD.
There are restrictions on certain modifications, mainly to prevent the import of older cars that have been substantially rebuilt with parts from newer vehicles (e.g. late model drivetrain in an old body). You may need to provide pictures and details of the vehicle when applying for your Import Approval. Contact DOTARS for more information if required. Each State also has its own regulations on the modifications that can be registered, this usually focuses on increased power output compared to original engine specifications, and safety. Contact your State’s Registration Authority for further information.
Vehicles 1989 and newer that are intended for normal road use must be imported under SEVS (the Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicle Scheme). This scheme limits what can be imported and firstly excludes any model sold here new in full volume by the manufacturer. Providing it was not sold in full volume, a vehicle must then meet two out of the four SEVS eligibility criteria to be ruled eligible (unusual appearance, special design features, performance, featured in specialist publications).
View SEVS Eligible Models
Not every model listed as eligible will have compliance available. Registered Automotive Workshops (RAWS) invest considerable time and expense to add a new model to their schedule. Availability of compliance is therefore determined by financial viability based on consumer demand and vehicle availability. Rare or older vehicles for example may be eligible but there are so few of them that setting up for compliance is not financially viable.
SEVS eligible models must be ‘complied’ to meet Australian Design Rules (ADR’s) for safety and emissions by a Registered Automotive Workshop (RAW), the workshop applies for the Import Approval once you have sourced a suitable vehicle. The Import Approval is required for Customs clearance on arrival in Australia.
View Approved RAWs
Note that structural repair / corrosion is not acceptable under the SEVS criteria. This can result in rejection of a vehicle by the compliance workshop meaning it can never be road registered, so you should only source a vehicle through someone you trust.
Race / Track
Virtually any vehicle can be imported for race use only providing you have a suitable CAMS license and can show DOTARS a genuine need for the vehicle and past motorsport participation. If you are unsure whether you qualify you can query DOTARS directly. Include your reason for needing the car and your race history.
Vehicles imported this way can only be used for racing and never road registered.
This means more than just importing a vehicle yourself. It is only available to Australian citizens or permanent residents living in another country with a vehicle registered in their name for more than 12 continuous months, who are returning permanently to Australia. There are significant restrictions on this method of import, and it therefore has limited application only to those in this situation. You cannot use this method if you are living in Australia.
Download the Import Approval form and attachments or apply online.
What is compliance ?
Compliance is the process of checks and upgrades to ensure that relevant safety and emissions regulations are met. Required work depends on vehicle model and import method.
What does compliance cost ?
SEVS compliance for common models usually ranges between about $2,000 to $3,500 plus tyres depending on the type of vehicle and compliance availability (common models are cheaper). Often our clients save on compliance thanks to having access to trade prices through our regular contacts. Additional cost may be incurred if brake pads need replacing.
For 1988 and older vehicles, an allowance of $1,000 to $1,200 will cover the cost of modifications and engineer’s inspection prior to registration for most vehicles in most States. Requirements are more variable on older cars and depends on the Registration Authority in your State, so it’s a good idea to get in touch with one of our recommended workshops in your area for a quote which can be used when setting your budget.
Can I use my own compliance workshop ?
Yes. We will recommend a workshop based on price, reliability and location but you can use any compliance workshop you like.
Can I import a modified vehicle ?
Yes you can. There is no specific restriction against importing modified vehicles to Australia and some can present exceptional value given the cost of additional parts fitted by the previous owner. Modified vehicles naturally carry additional risk of mechanical failure over time as making changes to factory parts can put more stress on a vehicle than if it remained standard. More often than not, a modified vehicle would also have been driven harder than one in standard condition.
These factors need to be considered against the value of the extra parts which often come with the car for little to no extra cost. We inspect all vehicles carefully and modified parts will be listed and photographed for you on auction day. The vehicle must be running well and appear professionally modified with brand name parts.
Non-standard parts do need to be removed for compliance and first registration and this will cost a little more for labour and parts than standard compliance. The workshops we recommend generally have most common standard parts available for popular models but you might still need to source some factory parts yourself.
You can put modifications back again after compliance and registration providing they meet the roadworthy rules where the vehicle is registered. Permits may be required for some modifications, and they can also affect your insurance, so it’s best to do your homework on these things in advance if you’re considering a modified vehicle.
Non-standard parts and compliance
When a vehicle with non-standard parts such as airpod, exhaust, wheels or suspension is complied under SEVS, all these parts must be removed and replaced with factory parts. This is one of the requirements of SEVS and makes importing a modified vehicle a little more difficult than one that is completely factory standard. However, given the value of the parts it may still be well worth the effort.
As a general guide, bodykits are usually fine as long as they don’t affect lighting positions. Aftermarket sound systems do not affect compliance either. Typical aftermarket parts that DO require replacement include pod-style air filters, exhausts, steering wheels without airbag (where an airbag was factory fitted), suspension, wheels, racing seats etc.
Please note that this is not an issue for vehicles imported under the 15 Year Rule as modifications are irrelevant for compliance using this importing method. Your State’s Registration Authority may have an issue with certain modifications at the time of licensing, but this is a separate issue to compliance.
Vehicles are shipped as purchased in Japan and all parts belong to you. The compliance workshop cannot take them from you or destroy them, as it is your property. You can receive the vehicle and make any changes you like, before taking it in for compliance.
Some workshops are flexible on modified vehicles so it is well worth discussing your ideas in advance with the workshop you intend to use directly. They will often assist you to replace the aftermarket parts with factory items they have available, and reverse the process following compliance and registration.
Of course, each vehicle needs to be weighed up in terms of what would have to be replaced and you need to consider the additional costs and whether this is worthwhile. This is quite variable and is therefore not included in cost estimates.
The R35 GTR is on the SEVS list, why can’t I import one to Australia ?
Unfortunately for enthusiasts in Australia, Nissan Australia was able to get Full Volume Import Approval for the R35 in Feb 2009 just before the model became eligible as a secondhand vehicle under SEVS. So the R35 GTR ruling is only for NEW CARS (that means no kms traveled) built prior to Feb 2009.
Three workshops were able to get approval for new GTR’s and imported a few early on, but there have not been any suitable vehicles meeting the ruling since late 2010 when some 2009 built dealer display cars were auctioned off in Japan.
Therefore under current arrangements we are unable to assist you to import an R35 GTR for normal road use. This is a shame since the total import cost would be about half the secondhand price in Australia !
We can source the R35 for race use only, providing you have a CAMS license and meet DOTARS requirements, with some examples between $30,000 and $40,000 landed.
Note: The Import Regulations will change in 2019.
Can I import a vehicle to Australia if I’m not a citizen or permanent resident ?
Yes you can. Anyone in Australia can import a vehicle providing of course the import regulations relating to that vehicle are met – it depends on the type of vehicle, not the person importing it.
Importing vehicles to New Zealand
All vehicles are sourced from auction and are independently inspected, more pictures supplied, and condition and bid limit discussed with you prior to bidding. We follow the same reliable process as we do when sourcing vehicles for Australia, with the following notable differences due to NZ import regulations and shipping.
Our Japan to NZ Cost Calculator explains the process and costs including shipping.
There are no restrictions on vehicle age or condition providing it is intended for parts or motorsport use. Other vehicles for normal road use are subject to the following restrictions.
Due to changes in emission standards, as of January 1st, 2012, vehicles imported into New Zealand must have been manufactured, in principle, no earlier than 2005. Exceptions to that rule can be granted if the vehicle you are importing is a “special interest vehicle” or if you are importing a car that has been registered in your name in Japan.
The vehicle must meet emission and noise standards issued by the New Zealand Government for vehicles of the same class. Detailed information about emission standards for used vehicles can be obtained from the New Zealand Transport Agency.
New or used vehicles must be Entry Certified.
Road Worthiness Check
Imported cars must be able to pass WOF (Warrant Of Fitness) check in New Zealand. Vehicles must not be rusty and be in good mechanical condition.
All used or new cars must be Right Hand Drive. Exceptions can be made for vehicles of special interest such as antique cars, special purpose vehicles, motorsport cars, machinery or hearses.
You must be in possession of all related vehicle documents, i.e De-Registration / Export Certificate, Commercial Invoice and Bill of Lading in order to receive your vehicle. All these documents will be provided by our service and will be sent to you by email and original copies via EMS following shipping together with any books, spare keys and other items sent by the previous owner following purchase in Japan.
Quarantine Service (MAF)
Before vehicle can be released to you in New Zealand, it must pass quarantine service of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF). The Customs Agent we recommend as part of our service will manage the shipping and clearance process and issue you with one invoice for all costs.
Used or new cars exported from Japan to New Zealand can be shipped from any port in Japan i.e. Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe, to all major Ports in New Zealand such as Auckland, Dunedin, Lyttleton, Napir, Tauranga, Wellington. Vehicles exported to New Zealand are shipped FOB. That means that freight charges can be paid upon vehicle arrival. Part of our service is to arrange export and shipping from Japan through our agent.
What we do
We provide a reliable service to assist clients to source and import a quality vehicle from Japan, it’s that simple. Naturally this can be a little difficult to understand if you are new to the idea or have not done anything like this before.
If you thought your only options were buying by private sale or from a dealer, then please read full details here about What We Do and you may be pleasantly surprised !
We have access to ALL the major Japanese auctions, that’s more than 70 auctions and 80,000 vehicles per week. Our system scours the auctions each night and e-mails a list of suitable vehicles to you the night before the auction. Auction pictures and inspection reports are included.
First timers to our system are often pleasantly surprised by the choice of vehicles on offer, all delivered neatly and efficiently to their e-mail each day.You simply need to review the day’s offerings then reply back by e-mail with the vehicle/s of interest. We have each vehicle physically inspected by our reliable agents at the auction, provide more pictures and details, and if you like the vehicle we will help you to set your bid limit in relation to your final budget once imported.
We discuss each vehicle in detail and agree a suitable budget based on kms, condition and features, on a case-by-case basis before the auction. So there are no surprises on condition and price. Once successful on a vehicle, we handle the paperwork with the Japanese agent who will organise shipping to the Port nearest you. We assist you with the importing process by supplying full instructions and contacts required for Customs clearance and compliance if required. We have reliable contacts in each State so we are able to supply the same service no matter where you are located.
From our own experience we know exactly what it is like being in the client’s position, as this is how we also started out. We know that it can be difficult to trust someone you have never met with up front payments and electronic transfers to national and international bank accounts. We are aware of the average level of knowledge about importing and will make the process easy for you to understand, explaining everything you need to know in detail. And unlike most businesses these days, the same person you contact the first day will be the one to follow through the whole process with you.
You need no experience in importing whatsoever and we will always be here to offer advice and guidance if required. Wherever possible we will refer you to reliable and cost effective services in your State, or alternatively give you sufficient information so that you can determine suitable companies for yourself.
You are not obligated to use those we recommend and are free to choose another if you wish. Other than our service fee, all importing costs are paid directly to the companies involved, so you can see exactly where the final price comes from and you will be importing your vehicle for the lowest possible price.
Our service goes beyond simply sourcing a vehicle to your specifications and assisting in its import. Our customers often confirm what we already know — that the experience we impart, the service we provide, and the cost savings we enable them to make, pay for themselves and often many times over. For more information on what we can do for you, view our example vehicles.
Can you ship to the US, UK, Europe, Canada or anywhere else ?
Yes, our service is available to you no matter what country you live in.
If your timezone is significantly different to Japan, for example if you’re in the UK, USA or Canada, you are unlikely to find an import agent in your country that will inspect vehicles at auction, email you the pictures, then discuss the vehicle in detail before confirming your budget with you, since this would be in the middle of the night ! We can offer this service which gives you much greater control over the vehicle you buy and how much you spend.
Due to the AUD exchange rate, our agent fee is also likely to be much less than your local alternatives. We charge only $660 AUD to source a vehicle for countries other than Australia.
Before contacting us you should ensure the vehicle you want is eligible for import to your country, and check that it is financially viable based on applicable import taxes which can be high in some countries to protect local markets. All this information is readily available online.
Are you a licensed Dealer ?
Yes, we are a licensed vehicle import agent, our dealer’s license number is DL14688.
Why does your Example Vehicles section only show sold vehicles ?
The Global Financial Crisis and ongoing volatility in world markets has changed the way the Japanese do business. When we started our service in 1999 we were able to offer many suitable vehicles in agent’s yards that were ready for export. However few agents in Japan hold any sort of stock at all these days, and certainly nothing suitable for our clients.
As a result we source most vehicles to order from auction, and listing recent sale prices for selected vehicles is the best possible means to show you current and useful price information on real examples.
For more detail see About the Examples.
Rest assured that there is a great deal of choice at auction, with plenty of quality vehicles at the best possible prices. With your help to advise us early, our service is designed to enable quick vehicle inspections and bidding. We will guide you every step of the way.
Where are you located and when are you open ?
We are based in Perth, Western Australia and are open from 10am to 7pm AEST Mon to Fri and 10am to 5pm on Saturday.
As we source vehicles to order we have no need for a car yard and our physical office location does not limit our service to any State (or country for that matter).
We have reliable contacts across Australia for customs clearance and compliance and have been sending vehicles to all States of Australia and around the world since 1999.
Do you have a car yard where I can view cars in stock ?
No. As we are an import agent we source all vehicles to order according to client specifications.
This ensures the most choice of genuine vehicles at the lowest prices.
When you consider the role of a traditional dealer which is to source the cheapest vehicles and then sell them for the highest price, you might realise how holding stock would cause a conflict of interest with providing the highest quality vehicles for the best prices.
Our Customer Service Policy
Being totally up front and honest with all clients is the very simple foundation of our customer service policy which has served us well since our commencement in 1999.
To have the best outcome, sourcing and importing a vehicle is a process that needs to be approached in a structured and organised way, and without any illusions. We want you to feel confident that we can supply the service that we promise you. Everyone deserves to be informed of the facts, particularly when paying for a service — this leads to better decisions and a happier end result with no surprises.
This is why we make our process and pricing completely transparent. You are able to see the vehicles at auction for yourself and make your own choice as to what you like.
It may sound simplistic, but our policy is to be totally honest with you from the very first contact. That way you are never under any misconception as to the process or costs involved. If there is a cheaper option we will suggest that to you, even if it means you don’t use our service !
Being totally up front is not only the right thing to be, but it is valued by clients and rewarded. We know that even if someone does not use our service then they are more likely to use us in future or refer us to others because we have helped them with honest advice. So at the end of the day if all we are able to do is to save you money, time or frustration with some quick and free advice then we will be satisfied with that.
An important difference to note between ourselves and the alternatives is the level of customer service. From the time you contact us you will deal only with the one person. We are on call for customers from 9am to 5pm WST Mon to Fri and 9am to 3pm WST on Sat. We answer all e-mails, usually the same day and most within a few hours. We guarantee that you will never feel frustrated waiting for us to get back to you, like so many other businesses these days.
We do everything we can to ensure that all clients receive quality vehicles and accurate descriptions. Other import services tend to spring up overnight and disappear as quickly, they don’t have the same level of commitment and availability to serve you.
More than 70% of our business is generated through referrals and repeat clients, which means we must be doing something right.
Read some Testimonials if you have time, to hear what our clients have to say.
Sourcing Your Vehicle
How long does the process take ?
Allow 8 to 10 weeks to be on road in for most States of Australia from the day of purchase. WA and SA can take 1 to 2 weeks longer due to shipping schedules, and allow another 2 weeks for TAS / NT due to additional road transport, or where compliance is limited or not available in your State for the model you want.
Rest assured that your vehicle will be shipped on the first available vessel and all paperwork will be handled efficiently for the quickest possible import.
Based on your circumstances we can provide the most cost effective option and likely timeframe.
Where do you source vehicles ?
We source most vehicles for our clients from the large centralised auctions in Japan. This is the cheapest source of vehicles, provides the most choice, and allows physical inspection of many thousands of vehicles in each location. The system is very reliable and efficient as it is controlled by a strict membership system.
Our Auction Alerts system will email you all auction vehicles matching your requirements daily. Our agents will then inspect those of interest at auction, with more pictures and details provided to you until we find what you want at the right price.
Free Trial our Daily Auction Data for any make / model of interest including sale prices.
How do the auctions work ?
The Japanese auction system operates on a vast scale and is nothing like vehicle auctions anywhere else in the world. View this video of an auction in progress to see how they work and read our Auction Guide for more detail.
Our Japanese Auction Guide has a full explanation of how the auctions work, and more detail about the grading including abbreviations used on the auction inspection reports. Most relevant information is readable by anyone, and positive and negative comments in Japanese will be translated for clients. So you don’t need to read Japanese ! We use the auction reports as a guide only, and always inspect vehicles for ourselves, in person. See our FAQ Vehicle condition and the importance of vehicle inspections below for why this is so critical.
Most vehicles are graded from 0 to 6 (6 is best) with A to D (A is best) used for interior grade. 0, R, A are all used to denote repaired vehicles, with RA, A1 being minor repairs. *** is used when there is major existing damage or mechanical fault.
Auction start prices
Auction start prices provide a general guide as to what vehicles may sell for if you are used to monitoring the auctions and are familiar with general pricing for a model. Of course, the amount buyers will bid is extremely variable and there is no hard and fast rule. Sometimes vehicles starting at zero end up being quite expensive, and others with high start prices will pass in and not sell. Generally the more common the vehicle, the easier it is to anticipate the sale price as there is a more consistent market value, but spending too much time trying to guess what a vehicle will sell for is often counter-productive and will take the focus off what is most important – what is a fair market price for the vehicle based on your other options, and how much the vehicle is worth to you.
It is no good basing your bid limit on what you think a vehicle might sell for, then realising you would have paid more once you’ve lost the auction. This is particularly true for vehicles which are difficult to find, and this is the reason why rare or unusual vehicles sell for unpredictable amounts and are difficult to price.
If you win the auction you only pay what the car actually sells for, so you should set your maximum budget at the absolute most you would be prepared to pay for the vehicle, that way you won’t be too disappointed if you miss out and we will simply continue searching.
Auctions generally require patience and persistence to achieve the best result.
Final auction prices
Final prices are generally shown on our system the day after the auction and many Past vehicles in our Auction Search will show the final price. This may be the SOLD price, PASSED IN (unsold, reserve not me) price, or sold on NEGOTIATION (in which case the price is only known to the buyer and seller and not displayed online). Our system displays final prices where available from auction, occasionally these may remain unavailable.
Many people like to track and record sale prices, coming up with an exact budget they want to spend based on averages for a certain grade of vehicle. While this can be quite a useful tool to get a general guide on prices initially, please consider that this evaluation neglects the actual vehicle condition which is the most critical factor when judging price. Drawing too many conclusions without real condition information can be counter-productive as condition varies considerably and even graded 4 and above vehicles can be rusty, smell of smoke, or otherwise not be up to the standard we would source for our clients.
There is a lot more to buying from auction than just raw prices and grades. It is important to be realistic in setting budgets for the best quality vehicles. We can guide you in this based on many years of first hand auction experience in buying the best quality vehicles.
Negotiation at auction
If a vehicle ‘passes in’ at auction (owner’s reserve price not reached) we can negotiate on it through the auction negotiation desk. This must be done the same day of auction for all auctions except USS Tokyo on Thursday for which we have up to midday on Friday. However, negotiation is best done immediately after the car passed in to provide the best chance of buying it. The highest bidder has first right of negotiation.
What if two clients want to bid on the same car ?
We work on a first come first served basis which is the only way to be fair. In this situation we give priority to the client that commenced searching with us first, ie. when our service fee was received.
Where a second client has a higher limit we will continue to bid for them ONLY IF the auction carries the price beyond the first client’s limit.
For this reason, for popular models where we usually have ongoing orders we recommend commencing your search as soon as you have decided to use our service, which will give you priority over later clients.
When you are considering our service we will let you know if your specification is similar to another actively searching client.
See Preparing to Bid at Auction for more information.
Do I have to buy the first car inspected ?
Of course not. We are here to find you the RIGHT car not the first car and you should never feel any pressure. This can often require inspection of a number of possible options before we achieve the right quality / price. For rare cars the search may take some months or longer and we never give up !
How much do I pay if the vehicle sells for less than my budget ?
You only pay the amount the vehicle actually sold for at auction plus the standard Japanese agent fee of about 100,000 yen (total = FOB price). The agent fee allows for auction fees, transport, deregistration, export paperwork and procedures, bank transfer fees and EMS postage of important paperwork and any vehicle books / spare keys to you. The fee is generally a little higher on more expensive vehicles as price rises above 1.5 million yen.
What does FOB mean ?
FOB = Free On Board. This is the total price including all costs paid to export the vehicle. It consists of the actual car cost plus the agent’s fee, which will vary depending on the location and vehicle cost. FOB is used by Customs to calculate import duty and GST so we always use this amount for determining total cost in our Cost Calculator. When we discuss your maximum budget for a vehicle, it will be in FOB. This avoids any misunderstandings when it comes to bid limits.
Can we check auction vehicles for service history, books etc. ?
What happens after I find my car ?
Once successful at auction we will provide your comprehensive Vehicle Import Guide in PDF with simple step by step instructions for you to follow. This is specific for your vehicle and location and will explain everything you need to do to import your vehicle. It will include details for sending payment, shipping, compliance, Customs clearance and registration, and contact details for the compliance workshop and Customs Agent.
We will provide your contact details and the vehicle details to your Customs Agent and compliance workshop.
Your vehicle will be transported from auction to our agent’s holding yard awaiting payment and shipping. More pictures will be taken for you. De-gassing of the a/c system will be undertaken if required, although in most cases this is no longer necessary as an exemption is available to private importers.
See What We Do for further details.
Vehicle condition and the importance of vehicle inspections
The most important factor in the entire process is to have every vehicle of interest personally inspected by someone you trust – it’s useless going to the effort of importing if the vehicle is no good !
Our agents inspect every vehicle of interest prior to auction, this includes running the engine, checking transmission / clutch while at rest, and more pictures inside, outside and underneath. This is how we ensure our high quality standards on every vehicle. We then call you to describe the vehicle, good and bad points, and your budget if you wish to bid. We often assist clients to set their budget if they’re not sure what a vehicle is worth.
Part of our inspection process is to list any modifications and provide pictures for you. Once you are a client, we will inspect as many vehicles as needed to find the one you want and there is no extra charge. Please see Preparing to Bid at Auction for more information.
Surely such low kms in Japan can’t be genuine ?
Actually low kms are not unusual for Japan and as few as 3,000 kms per year is not that uncommon, particularly for rare models which the owner bought with that in mind.
Japan is a relatively small country with a very accessible and efficient public transport system and comparatively high road tolls. Car parking is limited and expensive. Many people choose to use the bus and train for the majority of their travel, particularly in city areas.
Typically, vehicles in Japan average between 5,000 km to 15,000 km per year.
These days it would be quite difficult to find a car at auction with inaccurate kms where this had not already been noted by auction staff on the inspection report. If a vehicle has been auctioned before with higher kms, this will be reported.
When buying from auction direct you can be confident of the kms shown. Where genuine repairs have been done to the odometer this is recorded on the auction sheet and records provided to the auction as proof. This situation will be denoted by a “$” sign next to the kms, with further detail on when the odometer was replaced and the kms showing at the time.
We also inspect every vehicle of interest in person and evaluate kms versus condition.
Upon export, Japanese Customs produce an Export Certificate from the de-registration paper which shows the actual kms recorded at the last two re-registration inspections (mandatory inspections are at 3 years from new, then 2-yearly intervals).
From this you can see the progression of kms over time. The original copy of the export certificate is sent to you by EMS following shipping.
We have never sourced any car where the kms have not been 100% supported by this document. Therefore, you can be confident of the kms for any vehicle you import using our service.
On the other hand, ask a dealer or private seller for the Export Certificate and auction sheet and see what happens… If they are reluctant to supply you with a copy or give you a funny look, then you can be sure something is not right.
Mostly altering odometers is done either by the exporter at the request of their customer prior to export from Japan, or by a dealer in another country after receiving the vehicle. So it is important to check the documentation for any local vehicle you are considering – if they won’t supply, don’t buy ! After all, if the kms are real then it’s in the seller’s best interest to provide that proof.
Most people that take their time to evaluate the options realise that there is a big difference in buying a secondhand vehicle locally and selecting their own from Japan for direct import. We receive constant reports of fresh imports being offered locally with false kms and accident repair. Don’t be deceived, and dig beyond the advertisement.
Our specialty is sourcing vehicles in very nice condition and with genuine low kms. This is what our reputation is built on. Regardless of whether you import using our service, another company or buy locally, our main concern is that you don’t get ripped off.
So how can you tell you are getting what you pay for ?
Simple. If the vehicle was imported recently, ask the seller for a copy of the auction sheet showing condition, kms and chassis number. With virtually all vehicles being sourced from auction in Japan, don’t believe them if they tell you it wasn’t (that’s the standard answer)… Record the chassis code and investigate further for yourself.
You can use our Auction Trial for free access to auction sheets, grading, chassis numbers and sale results going back up to the last 3 months. It takes less than a minute to set up and results will be emailed to you immediately.
This allows you to check whether you are being told the truth about many vehicles being offered for sale, if they were imported in the last 3 months.
There are some reputable importers that offer a good service, you pay a premium for having the vehicle available to you here and now which is fair and reasonable if that’s the service you want and don’t mind paying more for the convenience. These companies have nothing to hide and will gladly supply the information you need to confirm condition.
So, to recap, there are certain things you can do to protect yourself and ensure you get what you pay for. You can check the kms and condition in 2 ways:
- Use our system to check whether the vehicle was sold at auction in the last 3 months or so. The auction sheet shows the chassis number identifying the vehicle, also the condition and the kms when it was auctioned. If the kms are false or questioned by the auction this will be clearly noted.
- Every vehicle exported from Japan has it’s deregistration document converted to an Export Certificate by Japanese Customs. This shows the kms at the last two registration inspections (3 years from new then every 2 years). The importer is sent this document from Japan and in the case of Australia, the original is retained on file by the compliance workshop as a SEVS requirement. Our opinion is that anyone selling a vehicle will be happy to supply a copy of this document to you IF it supports the kms shown on the vehicle. If they can’t or won’t supply then you can try contacting the compliance workshop listed on the compliance plate. If you still can’t get confirmation on a relatively fresh import after all that work, then odds are the kms are not genuine.
Can you buy from Dealers in Japan ?
Yes, we can do that for you however do bear in mind that dealers in Japan are just like dealers in any country – they sell cars with a profit margin and therefore the final price is likely to be significantly higher than auction.
Buying direct from auction nearly always offers the lowest prices.
Not only are dealer prices substantially more expensive, but dealers can also be hard for exporters to deal with as they prefer to sell vehicles to the domestic market (they often make more money from add-ons such as registration and associated services for domestic buyers, AND prefer to see special vehicles stay within Japan).
Being located in any part of Japan, it can often be time consuming, expensive and difficult to arrange physical inspections of dealer vehicles. Reliability of the dealer in terms of vehicle quality, transport, and provision of paperwork required for export are also unknown except for those we have dealt with before.
We can certainly buy from a dealer for you as long as you are aware of these issues and particularly the additional time and cost involved.
Due to the recent rise in collector / classic vehicle prices and the difficulty of finding good examples at auction, we have started to focus more on selected dealers that specialise in these types of vehicles.
It is also possible to search on Goo-net Exchange which many dealers in Japan use to list their stock.
If you’re looking for a GTR Skyline then have a look at the following GTR dealers:
Global Auto is located in the Osaka region just near the office of one of our agents, so we can undertake free inspections for you. We have dealt with this company before and have found the quality to be good. Click here for an example. They tend to deal with modified vehicles and have a mix of all the GTR models.
This dealer is out in Gunma prefecture (northwest of Tokyo). They are very much into the racing scene and have a very nice workshop, but their stock is mostly R35s.
This dealer is in Kanagawa prefecture (south of Tokyo). They have a good stock list with a mix of all the GTR models.
Do be aware though that while we can enquire about their stock on your behalf, they generally do not sell to exporters / foreigners so it may not be possible to buy for export without first registering the vehicle to a resident of Japan which would entail additional cost and complication.
Listed below are links to sites for dealers that sell top-quality older classic vehicles. We consider the first one, “Rocky Auto”, as the best choice in the whole of Japan.
Specialist GTR Dealers in Japan
Due to the recent rise in Skyline GT-R prices and the demand for collector cars, we have started to focus more on selected dealers that specialise in GT-R’s and classic cars.
Listed below are links to sites for dealers that sell top-quality classic vehicles and some that specialise in GT-R’s. We consider the first one, “Rocky Auto”, as the best choice in the whole of Japan for classic cars.
It is also possible to search on Goo-net Exchange which many dealers in Japan use to list their stock.
If you find a vehicle of interest please email through the link, we can work out an approximate total price for you if the dealer sale price is displayed, or contact the dealer to find out the price for you.
Please note that communicating with Japanese dealers takes time, effort and patience.
Classic Car Dealers in Japan
Due to the recent rise in classic vehicle prices and the absence of good examples at auction, we have started to focus more on selected dealers that specialise in classics.
Listed below are links to sites for dealers that sell classic vehicles. We consider the first one, “Rocky Auto”, as the best choice in the whole of Japan.
It is also possible to search on Goo-net Exchange which many dealers in Japan use to list their stock.
Can you help me to import a car from a company I've found in Japan ?
Generally not, unless we are able to have one of our agents physically inspect the vehicle and deal directly with the company involved.
We only deal with trusted agents in Japan that we know will efficiently and reliably export your vehicle. We have traveled to Japan and spent time getting to know our agents, how they work, and inspecting vehicles with them at auction. We have dealt with them for many years.
If you buy through an unknown company you found on the internet without any further checks there is no telling what you will receive in terms of condition, that the model will be correct, or that it will arrive at all. If the vehicle has unstated repairs or rust this could exclude it entirely from SEVS compliance / registration.
Foreign agents have little interest in ensuring that your vehicle can be imported, their concern is simply receiving payment for another unit. Few have any idea of the import restrictions applicable to Australia or other countries. We know this as we are constantly contacted by foreign companies offering us vehicles which are simply not eligible for import, and individuals in the past have asked us to ship vehicles they have already bought which can’t be imported to their country.
The sad fact is that the world is rife with scams. We recommend you are very cautious with your money and only choose to deal with a company where you can be sure of their track record.
Can you buy from Yahoo!, GOONet or other online auctions ?
GOONet / GOO EXCHANGE is very similar to Tradecarview (see below). It is basically a system setup for wholesale and export dealers to use “ghost-cars” to drum-up orders, and / or broker cars that don’t actually exist. The point is basically to get the person who is inquiring to send a “deposit” which usually leads to a typical response “sorry the car was already sold, but I will find you another one just like it…” etc., in which case they already have you locked in, and your deposit goes to funding their operations minus a “service / cancellation fee” in the end (if they ever do actually find a car or refund any money). Be very wary of these types of websites.
Technically we could buy from Yahoo! and some import agents do, but we choose not to. There is too much risk involved in buying from unknown online sellers. Being located in any part of Japan, it can often be time consuming, expensive and difficult to arrange a physical inspection just like dealer cars. Reliability of the seller in terms of vehicle quality, transport, and particularly provision of the paperwork required for export would also be unknown in most cases. We feel these risks are unreasonable – if you are set on buying this way then we recommend using another import agent and wish you luck !
We only deal with trusted agents in Japan that we have met in person.
Can you buy from Tradecarview ?
We could source Japanese cars from Tradecarview but we don’t, for a number of very good reasons.
Tradecarview was set up a few years ago and has become popular to research prices for those who don’t know how the used car market in Japan works. Mostly this is due to their website being in English together with clever advertising and promotion which puts them at the top of many search results.
Unfortunately what most people looking to import a car from Japan don’t realise is that Tradecarview is simply a ‘dumb portal’ for anyone to list Japanese cars online. Specifically:
- Tradecarview actively recruits for Japanese car sellers worldwide by offering free listings for Japanese cars on their website (we ourselves received an invitation to list cars on their site, yet we are in Australia !)
- There is no active checking of sellers or of the vehicles they display
- Any seller can list two Japanese cars for free and no action will be taken by those running the Tradecarview site to remove listings until at least two complaints have been made.
As such, Tradecarview and similar websites focussing on Japanese import cars are a constant source of frustration for those sourcing genuine quality vehicles and of disappointment for buyers, as they create a falsely low impression of real prices.
Look carefully at the Tradecarview listings and you will notice that many Japanese import cars on their website are displayed with just several auction pictures and inspection report or are listed multiple times by different sellers. This is a good indication that the cars are not really for sale.
To be more specific, Tradecarview is rife with sellers using “tag-advertising”, that is, advertising a Japanese car that doesn’t really exist so as to generate an enquiry from you. The seller’s response to you then would be something like, “Sorry that car has been sold, send a deposit and we will find you another one for the same or similar price.” At the same time they are telling you this, the car of course remains listed on Tradecarview to continue attracting further enquiries, and they are not telling you the price was set unrealistically low…
Now let’s assume you fell for this dirty trick and did send money to one of these Tradecarview sellers, believing they would find you a similar vehicle for the same price.
Can you trust them ?
Well, firstly if you are a one-off customer then they have no loyalty whatsoever to you as they know whatever they do is unlikely to impact on future sales.
Secondly, like every other country Japan has it’s fair share of sharks in the secondhand car import game. This has become even worse in recent years as business has become more competitive than ever before.
So we always wonder why anyone would consider sending money to a company or individual in another country they didn’t know / hadn’t been recommended through a trusted source ?
OK, so what happens after you’ve sent your money and they “start searching for your Japanese import”. Now you’re locked in to them with your deposit (partially or fully non-refundable minus some fairly large international transfer and refund processing fees to make you think twice), they can take their time to present you with other options. These are likely to be much higher priced dealer cars or cars from auction. The questions then are:
- Will what’s offered match the Japanese import car you are looking for ?
- Will they actually check the Japanese auction cars for you and provide more pictures and details of faults ?
- What control do you have over how much you spend ?
- Can you trust what they tell you the car sold for ?
- Will you receive any sort of personal attention ?
- Are you going to be paying the best price for the best quality car ?
The fact is, once they have your money they can pretty much do what they like. In the end after a lengthy period of frustration, you may have to settle for a car that is not what you wanted, just to get your money back. Of course, once the car arrives in your country (assuming it arrives at all) you may find that:
- the condition doesn’t match what they said
- the car is not eligible for import due to past accident repair, chassis damage, rust, water damage, adjusted odometer or simply being the wrong model
Any of these things will cause you a major import headache / wallet-ache and quickly suck the joy from your Japanese car import experience. Unfortunately over the years we have been contacted by many people asking for help to solve these sorts of problems.
As for the Tradecarview car prices, for anyone that knows the current value of vehicles at auction (you can research 3 months of REAL sale prices yourself straight from the auctions themselves using our Auction Search), many prices on Tradecarview are either too low to be genuine, or the condition simply cannot be as stated (kms, past repair etc).
The fact is that the large Japanese auctions are the cheapest place to buy cars in Japan. So if Tradecarview prices are significantly cheaper than the Japanese auction prices then why wouldn’t they be putting the car through auction ?
After all, if it was a genuine vehicle then they’d make more money and it would be a lot easier, quicker and cheaper than exporting a Japanese car to a foreign buyer, with all the extra time and effort that entails. The obvious answer is that after the car has left Japan there is nothing you can do if you’re unhappy with it.
Obviously there will be exceptions and the occasional genuine Japanese car for sale on Tradecarview, but in our experience these are few and far between and there is no way to be certain before you buy.
There is just way too much risk involved in buying from unknown online sellers such as those on the Tradecarview website with whom you have no recourse once they receive your money. Physical inspection by a reliable agent is always critical to confirm condition, as is choosing an agent you can trust with the payment and import process.
It’s for these reasons that we strongly recommend our clients NOT to source their Japanese import from Tradecarview. Sourcing directly from Japanese auctions through a good agent is the most reliable method for finding a quality Japanese import car at the lowest price.
I'm in Japan, can you help me to buy a car ?
Yes. We can locate vehicles for foreigners living in Japan, and assist with the Japanese registration process (we charge AUD $550 for this service) and later export to virtually any country in the world (another AUD $550 if required). We can source a vehicle for you as usual or you can find your own within Japan.
Depending on your location, we will appoint one of our reliable agents in Japan to assist you with the purchase and registration process and advise you on what’s required for a sponsor if needed and your carpark space.
Our agent will charge you an amount in Yen for this service, which is separate to our service fee. This will vary depending on the source of the vehicle, transport requirements and how much assistance you require for registration etc.
You’re welcome to contact us with your situation and we will be happy to provide initial advice and a quote, free of charge. We can also assist you to determine the likely cost to buy any vehicle through auction so you can compare against other options and work out your best option.
I've bought a vehicle in Japan and want to use it for a short time while on holidays, before export ?
We have been asked this a few times over the years. When you buy a vehicle in Japan the registration has to be changed to the new owner by law within several weeks.
To register a vehicle in Japan requires insurance and a car park space. For foreigners this is very difficult to organise and not something you could do if you’re only in Japan for a short time as it requires a local sponsor plus a trip to the police station, whereupon they will organise to inspect and measure your carpark to ensure it is suitable for the intended vehicle !
When our agent buys a vehicle for you, the title is transferred to their company name at the time of deregistration ready for export, usually within a week or so of purchase. So it’s not going to be practical for you to use it in Japan, and would end up being quite risky to all involved should you choose to drive it. So you should hire a car if you wish to drive in Japan and keep the export process entirely separate.
I'm in the United States, can you help me to import a car ?
Yes, we can source a vehicle for you from Japan and export it to the Port nearest you in United States. Please note that there are restrictions on importing vehicles to the US which you need to consider before using our service.
The best import option for US clients is the 25 year rule, which allows RHD vehicles of this age to be imported. There are many good options in this age range that we could source and ship to you. See Auctions for what’s available.
Can you source a Truck or Motorbike ?
Certain trucks and motorbikes can be imported but unfortunately we are unable to assist you with this service as we only source cars to order.
Can you Source Parts / Half Cuts / Body Shells ?
Sorry no, we only source whole vehicles and don’t deal with parts of half cuts.
What does the service cost ?
The following prices are all in AUD unless otherwise stated. We generally save our clients at least the cost of our service fee (often more) through better prices, quality vehicles, trade savings and efficient service.
When buying a vehicle from auction, the standard Japanese agent fee of about 100,000 yen is additional to our service fee and covers Japan side costs — auction fees, transport, de-registration, export paperwork and procedures, bank transfer fees and EMS / DHL postage of important paperwork and any vehicle books / spare keys to you. The fee is generally a little higher on more expensive vehicles as price rises above 1 million yen.
When exporting a vehicle that is already owned and registered in Japan in your name (for example if you are returning home to Australia and want to bring your vehicle with you), a Japanese agent will still be required to assist with deregistration procedures, transport, shipping, paperwork and EMS postage of your documents. The price is generally 70,000 yen or so but will depend on the location and type of vehicle and how much transport is required. We can provide a quote once you advise these details.
You may be quoted a cheaper Japan side cost elsewhere but do be warned, service also varies and a few hundred dollars saved initially will seem irrelevant later on if paperwork is not handled correctly, your vehicle sits at the Port for weeks without being shipped, you get charged for unnecessary cleaning on arrival, or the vehicle is shipped to the wrong location or using a more expensive shipping service.
Source and import a vehicle to Australia $1,100
As our service fee is the same for any vehicle it is in our interest to find you the best vehicle for the lowest price. After all, the better the vehicle and the lower the price, the more likely you are to use our services again and recommend others.
Thanks to our contacts in the industry, we are often able to pass on savings with trade prices for shipping and compliance, which can offset part or all of our service fee.
We inspect and bid on as many vehicles as needed, to find you the right one. We will guide you as to suitable bid limits and advise you of outstanding vehicles that are worthy of a maximum budget, but will never pressure you to buy no matter how long the search may take or how many vehicles we need to inspect.
Source and ship a vehicle to the USA $660 (USD)
Source and ship a vehicle to any other country $660
Source a vehicle for a Japanese domestic buyer (for use within Japan) $660
Arrange export procedures and ship a personal vehicle from Japan to any country including Australia $660 (includes professional valuation required for Australian Customs)
Advise on import procedures for a vehicle from any country to Australia $660 (includes professional valuation required for Australian Customs)
Vehicle valuation report for Australian Customs $165
We offer a flexible refund policy, no questions asked within the first 12 months of searching. We understand that circumstances change and we are here to help.
Refunds are therefore prompt and hassle-free should they be required, direct to your account and a proportion of our cancellation fee may be used as a credit for a future search.
We do have significant expenses in maintaining our web based systems which we feel are second to none and provide the most up to date Japan auction monitoring service available, as well as maintaining a network of agents in Japan for quality and timely vehicle inspections.
Our cancellation fee is charged to cover these costs together with our time incurred in the search up to the point of cancellation.
This is how it works:
Our base cancellation fee is $110 plus $110 for each vehicle model you have asked for on your auction search profile (the daily auction email alerts system).
In addition there is a $55 per month (or part thereof) fee from the time the search commenced, to cover the email alerts system.
A refund is not available once a vehicle has been bought at auction or from a dealer based on your instructions, or the search has extended beyond 12 months from the time you commenced searching with us.
Price estimates explained
We don’t believe in hidden costs !
Price estimates of example vehicles always include import and compliance costs as applicable, and our service fee. Any additional items such as tyres and on road costs are always clearly stated.
Price estimates do not include tyres and on road costs as these vary depending on the brand, size and choice of tyres, as well as the State your vehicle will be registered in.
Tyres are a personal choice and cost can be determined in advance by speaking to the compliance workshop or tyre retailers.
On road costs can be determined using the online calculators for your State’s Registration Authority.
Tyres and on road costs (ORCs)
New tyres are usually required for 1989 built or newer vehicles imported under SEVS. In most cases there is nothing wrong with the tyres that come fitted to the vehicle when it is bought in Japan — the quality is equal to the tyres sold in Australia and they may be roadworthy. However, tyres at the time of compliance must meet Australian Design Rules (ADR’s) including specified load ratings. If this isn’t the case or can’t be easily determined, then new tyres will be required.
You can organise to fit new tyres yourself providing you supply a copy of the receipt to the workshop for their file, and you can keep the old tyres.
The cost of tyres naturally depends on the brand you choose and the size of the wheels, and this depends on what YOU want. This is why tyres are not included in any price estimates or the cost of compliance. Prices vary greatly, so you should obtain quotes from tyre retailers if you wish to allow for this cost in your budget.
We can’t recommend tyre brands other than suggesting you choose a tyre with a high safety rating. Tyres are your only physical contact with the road and are therefore one of the most important safety aspects of your vehicle. A good set of tyres will also enhance your driving experience and allow you to get the most out of your vehicle.
ORC’s include roadworthy inspection, stamp duty and registration. These costs vary by State and can be determined using the online calculators for your State’s Registration Authority.
“Market Value” is the amount you declare the vehicle to be worth at the time of registration, and is used for the calculation of stamp duty. This should be a reasonable value based on local prices and your import costs.
Luxury Car Tax (LCT)
LCT applies when importing a vehicle which has a GST-inclusive value above the LCT threshold of $65,094 for normal vehicles and $75,526 for fuel efficient vehicles (2017-18 financial year).
LCT is only payable on the GST-exclusive value above the threshold, at a rate of 33%. Visit the ATO website for current thresholds and further information.
Australian Customs will generally use the vehicle invoice value for duty and LCT calculations, but may request an independent valuation on arrival.
Payments, Finance, Insurance and Warranty
Order and Timing of Payments
You can use the following information together with our Import Cost Calculator to accurately work this out for your situation.
- Our service fee is paid to commence actively searching for your vehicle (please request our Vehicle Search Commencement package for full details).
- Once we are successful at auction on a suitable vehicle, you pay for your vehicle directly to our agent in Japan. Payment within 3 working days is preferred to keep the process moving. Full instructions on how to make payment will be provided, it is not difficult to do and we will assist you if needed. The timeframe to source your vehicle will depend on what you are looking for, your budget, and luck. It may be a few days to several months or longer for rare cars.
- A compliance deposit of usually $500 to $1,000 is required by most compliance workshops to apply for your Import Approval while deregistration in Japan and shipping is being organised. Vehicles generally take 4 to 6 weeks to arrive in Australia from the day you send payment to Japan. Shipping to Adelaide can take another week or so as often vehicles are ‘transhipped’ (moved onto another vessel) in Melbourne for the final leg into Adelaide. Import Approvals usually take 2 to 3 weeks to obtain, depending on the processing time through DOTARS, but this can be longer depending on staffing, time of year, and type of Import Approval.
- On arrival in Australia your Customs Agent will undertake clearance through Customs and Quarantine. We will recommend our usual agent to you depending on your location but you are also welcome to choose your own. Your Import Duty, GST, shipping and wharf clearance costs (including any transport from the wharf) are all paid to your Customs Agent once the vehicle has been cleared and is ready for collection. This will usually be 3 to 7 days after arrival. Your agent can organise delivery to your home or directly to the compliance workshop.
- The compliance workshop will generally have the work on your vehicle completed and the compliance plate from DOTARS within 2 to 3 weeks. Very occasionally there may be delays with DOTARS finalising the paperwork depending on how busy they are and the time of year. You need to pay the balance of the compliance work plus tyres to the workshop prior to collecting your vehicle.
- Next you take your vehicle for roadworthy inspection and licensing. On road cost estimates can be obtained using the online calculators available for your State’s Licensing Authority. Often the workshops we recommend can offer roadworthy inspection and licensing as an additional service to make the process even easier. Please confirm the cost with them directly if you prefer them to handle it for you.
How do I make payment ?
Payment for our service fee can be made by direct deposit (EFT), cash, cheque or money order. Sorry, we do not accept credit cards. Direct deposit (either over the counter or through online banking) is the best option and allows us to commence the search for your vehicle without delay.
We recommend you send payment for your vehicle to our Japanese agent through an online transfer service such as Ozforex. This can save hundreds of dollars thanks to a lower fee and a more competitive exchange rate compared to a bank or other traditional options. Funds usually arrive in Japan within 24 to 48 hours of transfer. Ozforex provides progress updates by SMS and email and we will confirm when your funds have been received.
Can you provide finance ?
No, we simply focus on sourcing the best vehicles cost direct and are unable to offer finance. You will need to have sufficient funds available to pay for the vehicle and import costs before commencing the process.
Please see below for finance options when importing.
Can I use a car loan to import my vehicle ?
A secured car loan requires the vehicle to be in the country with local registration, and therefore won’t work when importing a vehicle.
The best option if you require finance is to organise an unsecured personal loan (usually at a higher interest rate) with the funds transferred to your account. If you ensure this has no early payout penalties you can use it as bridging finance to cover the import costs for the 8 to 10 weeks or so that it will usually take to get the vehicle on road.
Once registered, you can then refinance with a lower rate secured loan, preferably with the same lender to minimise paperwork.
Whichever way you go, any finance you use must allow you to make payments along the way as the import process progresses. Details of payments and timing are set out in our Import Cost Calculator.
Can I use a novated lease or salary sacrifice when importing ?
For clients that have tried to organise a lease or salary sacrifice in the past, our experience has been that it is not possible until the vehicle is in the country with Australian registration.
You might consider importing the vehicle first using other funds, then organising the lease following registration. This is something to discuss with your leasing company as to how they could make it work for you.
Insurance for your Imported Vehicle
We recommend Just Car Insurance once your vehicle is on road in Australia.
As we offer a service to assist you to import your own vehicle directly, which provides the opportunity for significant cost savings, we do not provide a warranty.
When buying vehicles by other methods that include a warranty, this is always built into the cost. In our humble opinion (after reading the conditions of most warranties which are quite restrictive), unless you are the type of person that really values that peace of mind, it is worth saving your money up front and instead putting this towards general vehicle maintenance.
If you compare the costs, in most cases you will end up being much better off.
Do you offer a Trade-In service ?
Sorry no, we do not offer a trade-in service.
The reality is that you will usually pay a heavy price for the convenience of trading-in your vehicle with a dealer. The perceived value given for your traded vehicle simply comes off the built in profit margins of the dealer which are already elevated to allow for trade-ins — obviously they would not do the deal if they were not making good money.
Wouldn’t you rather save that money than give it to a dealer ?
Generally you will lose thousands on the overall transaction just for the easy changeover via trade-in and this is precious money that you could have saved with a little extra effort, then spent on importing a better vehicle. In almost all cases you are much better off selling your existing vehicle privately and doing without a vehicle for a few weeks while you are importing its replacement.
A little short term inconvenience can be well worth the extra trouble !
Our regular shipping service includes a pre-clean and inspection prior to export from Japan at no extra cost.
This streamlines the clearance process once your vehicle arrives in Australia and eliminates any nasty quarantine cleaning and transport bills which could otherwise see you out of pocket hundreds of unexpected dollars.
Where and how are vehicles shipped ?
We regularly ship vehicles to Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth for clients all over Australia.
Once you have paid for your vehicle it will be booked on the next available vessel and usually shipped to the Port nearest to you (unless there are cost savings, for example with compliance, in sending the vehicle to another location).
Depending on your specific circumstances, we will discuss the best shipping and destination options with you before we commence searching for you, including potential cost savings, so you can work out your budget and discuss your preferences before you become a client.
Vehicles can be shipped to virtually any Port in the world using either purpose-built roll on / roll off (ro/ro) car carrying vessels (preferred) or container. Ro/ro is generally much cheaper than shipping single vehicles in traditional 20ft containers and usually works out at around half the cost.
For clients in Tasmania we generally ship vehicles to Melbourne as this allows collection following compliance via the ferry to Devonport for a relatively small cost.
Shipping options to the Northern Territory are quite limited, and SEVS compliance is non-existent there. So most vehicles for NT are shipped to another State for compliance, then road transported.
What does shipping cost ?
We get very competitive rates on shipping which work out particularly well for large vehicles. The cost varies depending on location and shipping method. Please see our Cost Calculator for more detail on current prices.
Unless otherwise stated, our price estimates always include the cost of shipping.
How long does shipping take ?
Once you have paid for your vehicle it will be booked on the next available vessel and usually the destination will be the Port nearest to you unless there are cost savings (cheaper compliance for example) in sending the vehicle to another location.
The shipping timeframe from Japan will predominantly depend on shipping schedules and available space at the time of booking.
From the time that you purchase a vehicle you should allow on average between 4 to 6 weeks to arrive at Australian Ports, 8 to 11 weeks to the UK, and 4 to 8 weeks to Canada and New Zealand.
There can be exceptions outside these indicative timeframes as the shipping companies may reallocate space preferentially to new vehicles (on which their businesses depend), or adjust schedules depending on weather or other factors.
Allow 3 to 7 days generally for clearance through Customs and Quarantine, depending on the Port and how busy it is at the time.
Allow 3 to 5 weeks for Australian compliance. Then expect to spend half a day at your local transport authority for licensing and registration.
Is shipping insurance available ?
Vehicles on roll on / roll off (roro) car carrying vessels are usually automatically covered by insurance in shipping by one of the following two options. This will depend on the shipping options available to your Port in Australia so please enquire at the time of shipping if you’d like further detail.
- Cover of up to NZD $100,000 per vehicle. Cover starts from the time the vehicle is collected / bought in Japan until it arrives into the Port. Trucking from the wharf is organised by the Customs Agent and includes insurance that covers the vehicle from Port collection until it reaches your door or the compliance workshop as required. Note that this insurance does not cover any loose parts shipped inside the vehicle.
- Total loss cover only (if the vessel sinks). This does not cover damage or theft of items in transit.
If you would like to organise a separate insurance policy for your vehicle being shipped by roro or container, the premium generally costs 1.25% of the insured value, plus an admin fee of $11 incl GST.
The incidence of damage and theft in shipping is relatively low so while various insurance options are available, the cost, conditions and excesses together with the difficulty of identifying where an event occurred can mean that insuring a vehicle during shipping may not be worthwhile.
Where can I find information for classic Nissan models ?
A good starting point is Nissan’s own website, see the Nissan Heritage Collection. Further information is available on Wikipedia and enthusiast websites.
Why use a vehicle broker / import agent ?
A good import agent offers many years of experience which can save you money and time, find the best possible vehicle, and organise the process so that it works efficiently and without stress.
Our service is designed to provide consistent quality, and a reliable and efficient export service for a reasonable price.
We were one of the very first to offer this service in Australia way back in 1999. During this time we have gained a reputation for honesty and reliability that is second to none.
We deal with reputable companies in each country to ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible and your vehicle is safe.
We know how to get the best vehicles for the best prices, and can also target those that are likely to be bargains.
We can advise you on the most cost effective and reliable import method for your situation. If you are unsure of what model to choose we can advise you on that also, as we have personally owned many of the popular imports.
Our clients often save money on compliance thanks to trade prices through our workshop contacts.
We are not here to sell you a specific vehicle, there are many to choose from and our focus is only on sourcing the best deal for you. If there are faults that are evident on inspection we will tell you.
There are many simple mistakes a first time importer could make. These could end up costing a great deal more than our service fee, particularly if you buy a vehicle that is ineligible for import, can’t be complied for road use due to poor condition, or simply never arrives.
It’s for all these reasons that the services of a good import agent often pay for themselves many times over.
After importing many of our own vehicles over the years, we understand the excitement of buying a new vehicle and that you want it to arrive as soon as possible. We will provide regular updates to you throughout the process, including:
- Payment confirmation
- More pictures
- Full Import Guide in PDF tailored to your vehicle
- Shipping schedule
- Shipping confirmation
- EMS package tracking information
- Export certificate
- Shipping paperwork
Why Import Direct ?
Not sure about it all, importing direct sounds risky ?
Most things in life involve a certain amount of risk versus benefit.
A reliable agent with a good track record will minimise your risks while maximising your benefits.
There are significant other advantages in addition to saving money. Often lower kms and better condition can be achieved, and there is much greater choice and confidence about what you are buying.
Japanese vehicles are typically of a higher standard and option level than equivalently priced local alternatives.
We have been sourcing the best vehicles to order for clients around the world since 1999. We use honest and efficient agents to inspect and ship vehicles. Pictures and descriptions are provided so you know the true condition before you buy.
We provide no-nonsense advice and full cost breakdowns so you can evaluate the best option for your needs.
Your money is safe and you will get what you paid for.
Clearance and compliance are straightforward through reliable contacts.
All you need to do is follow our simple instructions throughout the process, and we are here at any time to support and assist you.
Don’t just take our word for it. Read our Testimonials to see hear what our clients have to say.
There are lots of imports around now locally, why not just buy one of those ?
As time goes on there is more choice of vehicles that are being re-sold to the second, third or more local owner. Some of the prices may be quite good, and can be cheaper than importing direct as each owner has made a loss when selling the car on.
So it’s always important to check local prices as part of your research and if you find a genuine vehicle for a good price then you should buy it.
However, our clients often report that they have come to us because most vehicles they have viewed locally were in repaired or poor condition, had high (or questionable) kms, paperwork not available, modified, treated hard, overpriced, or falsely advertised. Vehicles put on kms pretty quickly once they leave Japan so it can be hard to find clean, genuine low km vehicles locally.
Unless exchange rates change dramatically, for the same quality and kms importing direct is almost always the cheaper option. This is mainly because vehicles depreciate in Japan faster than any other country, and many local vehicles were imported with a fairly large amount of profit built in for the first importer.
Some exceptions to this rule are vehicles attractive to enthusiasts, where prices in Japan are rising on the best, low km examples.
We strongly believe in informed choice. You can check prices for yourself using our Auction System and compare against other options before you decide. Ask us as many questions as you like, for free.
Most importantly, remember to ‘compare apples with apples’ – specifically vehicles of the same spec, condition and kms.
A car is a big investment. Do some independent research to ensure the listed details are correct, and ask the seller for the original auction sheet and Export Certificate to support the kms and condition. Then compare that against what you find from other sources to ensure they are telling you the truth.
If you’re set to buy a local car, you can do some smart detective work on its history in Japan with a handy service called Japan Car History Check. This can supply auction records going back to 2009 and a full registration history for cars that left Japan within the last 10 years (kms at and locations of mandatory re-registration inspections from new plus recorded accidents etc.).
As always, if a price seems too low then there is usually a good reason.
If your question was not answered here please contact us and we will be more than happy to provide a detailed answer.
Did you know ?
Prestige Motorsport was founded and has been operated by the same person since 1999 and he has dealt with every client personally during this time, always ensuring the highest standard of vehicles and customer service.
Japanese vehicles even of the same model are usually a higher base spec than Australian delivered vehicles. Power output for Japan is usually higher as well as interior trim.
Re-registration in Japan first happens at 3 years then every 2 years. A full inspection is required which is different to some other countries like Australia where the registration just needs to be paid to stay on the road.
An Export Certificate is produced from the original Japanese de-registration paperwork by Japanese Customs. This shows the kms at the last two re-registration inspections together with the date. When sourcing your own vehicle, you receive the original Export Certificate.
Vehicles that are out of registration (no number plates) are generally cheaper as registration adds value for Japanese domestic buyers.
Japanese dealers tend to target newer cars with low kms which keeps the prices of those up and harder to buy for foreign buyers. Therefore vehicles that are less than 5 years old are generally a lot cheaper with over 50,000 kms. These cars can be just as clean as others with lower kms, and can save you thousands of dollars.
Red, grey and silver are generally the cheapest colours, and black and white the most expensive.
Manual transmission is more expensive than automatic on the secondhand market.
Auction sheets are not a reliable indicator of condition. The only way to be confident is to have an independent agent inspect a vehicle in person prior to auction, and to provide more pictures and details faults and condition.
If a vehicle passes in at auction we can negotiate on it through the auction negotiation desk. This must be done the same day of auction for all auctions except USS Tokyo on Thursday for which we have up to midday on Friday. However, negotiation is best done immediately after the car passed in to provide the best chance of buying it.
Many models that were updated in a particular year were actually released in November or December the previous year. So sometimes it is possible to make substantial savings where the vehicle is an updated model but sold as the previous year. Usually this can be determined from the chassis code shown on the auction sheet if not by the vehicle appearance.