How to Import a Car from Japan to the USA?
Japanese automobiles possess a distinctive character that sets them apart. In addition to being highly innovative, they were crafted to endure the passage of time. Due to their incorporation of cutting-edge technology, numerous individuals opt to import both new and used Japanese cars to the United States and other regions across the world.
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Nonetheless, contrary to common assumption, the process of importing cars to the USA can be a challenging and winding road. If you are a first-time importer, it is crucial to adhere to the following essential steps.
Select a Vehicle You Prefer
If you are residing in Japan and already possess a vehicle that you wish to import to the US, you may skip this step. Otherwise, you need to be cautious when selecting a Japanese vehicle for importation.
With the aid of technology, it is no longer necessary to travel to Japan to personally inspect and choose a car. However, reviewing various online companies and locating a trustworthy importer can be a daunting task. and this is why CarUsed.jp is here to help you make sound decisions. You can simply pick from the wide array of vehicles available in Japanese car markets and auctions by browsing on Carused.jp website.
- The car you picked has less than 25 years old?
- Check if the Vehicle Complies with US Standards before Importation
Each country has its own set of regulations and rules regarding car importation, and the US is no exception. Before importing a vehicle to the US, it is crucial to check if it complies with US policies. You can accomplish this by examining the list of Japanese car models and makes that adhere strictly to US standards. If your chosen vehicle is not included in the list, you must determine if it can be modified to meet all US requirements.
If the vehicle you selected does not meet US standards, you can still bring it into compliance. However, this may appear to be a straightforward process, but it can be a challenging task, particularly if you are unfamiliar with the regulations that you must follow.
Importing a non-conforming Japanese vehicle to the US can be costly, but it can be worthwhile with proper precautions, particularly for commercial importation. To ensure that you are on the correct path, follow these steps:
Crash Testing: Before importing a non-conforming vehicle to the US, it must undergo crash testing to verify compliance with US safety standards. During crash testing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) will purchase several vehicles of the same model and make to subject them to severe stress.
Check Vehicular Parts for Safety: Before crash testing, ensure that the vehicular parts comply with US standards. Check and replace the following car parts, if necessary:
- Headlight Angles: Replace headlights that do not conform to US standards.
- Speedometer: Convert speedometer readings from kilometers to miles.
- Reflectors: Install red reflectors at the back and orange reflectors at the front sides of the vehicle.
- Brake Light: Reposition the 3rd brake light to meet US standards.
- Bumpers: Check the bumpers for power and durability.
- Other Safety Precautions: Ensure that the vehicle has other safety features, such as a seatbelt alarm and a fuel spillage limiter.
Vehicular Reinforcement: To enhance vehicle safety, reinforce car doors, bumpers, rear ends, and roofing systems.
Emission Testing: If the vehicle passes crash testing, you must acquire an Environmental Protection Agency permit, which limits pollutants from vehicles.
Importing a non-conforming vehicle for non-commercial purposes can be overwhelming. Fortunately, you can seek assistance from an independent commercial importer (ICI) or a registered importer (RI) to complete all necessary vehicle modifications.
Double Check if the Vehicle has Valid Stickers
To avoid issues during the importation process, it is essential to check if the vehicle has two valid stickers: one issued by the Department of Transportation and another by the Environmental Protection Agency. The former is typically located on the driver’s side doorjamb, while the latter is attached to the vehicle’s engine.
If either sticker is missing, you must obtain a certificate from the car manufacturer certifying compliance with US import policies.
However, vehicles that are 25 years old or older do not need to comply with DOT and EPA regulations. Still, you must complete the necessary paperwork required by DOT and EPA to obtain clearance from the Customs and Border Protection.
Pick a Car 25 Years or Older
If you want to avoid expensive and laborious car import tests, importing a vehicle that is 25 years old or older can be a shortcut. According to US policies, all vehicles aged 25 years or more are exempted from EPA and DOT regulations. Additionally, they can be imported into the country without undergoing crash tests, bumper strength tests, and other similar assessments. As long as the vehicle still runs on its original engine, it can be directly imported without conforming to US standards, regardless of whether it lacks seatbelts or headlights.
However, there are two exemptions to this rule. Firstly, while federal law permits the importation of all 25-year-old vehicles into the US, you must also consider state laws that govern the state in which you plan to register the vehicle. Some states do not inspect imported vehicles, but others require basic safety car features like seatbelts.
Secondly, California has stricter laws on vehicular emissions. Even if a car can be legally imported to other parts of the US, if it was released after the year 1975, it must be certified in the state before it can be driven on Californian roads. Unfortunately, car certification in Canada can be expensive, costing thousands of dollars.
Complete the Required Paper Work
To avoid delays and issues with importing your vehicle to the US, it is crucial to complete all paperwork accurately, even for vehicles aged 25 years or older. Here are some of the documents you need to prepare:
EPA Form 3520-1: Collect all car specifications from your car import service provider, which can be found in tabulated form on our website at CarUsed.Jp. This information will be necessary when completing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) form, which can be downloaded online. The form asks for essential information about the vehicle, such as the car model, status, use, and the Independent Commercial Importer (ICI) if applicable.
DOT Form HS-7: Similarly, you can download the Department of Transportation (DOT) form and complete the required fields in advance. The DOT form requires basic car information, such as the vehicle model and make, entry date, and port of entry. If applicable, also include information about your Registered Importer (RI).
CBP Form 7510: The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) form can be obtained and completed at a CBP port. When filling out the form, you will need the following:
- Completed DOT Form HS-7 and EPA Form 3520-1
- Manufacturer’s certificate or letter stating that the imported vehicle fully conforms to DOT and EPA standards
- Proof of car ownership (original or certified true copy of the original certificate of title)
Other required documents for importing a 25-year-old vehicle include the following:
- Bill of Lading issued by the shipping company
- Invoice in English
- Importer Security Filing (ISF) form
- Car title or car export certificate
- Export certificate translated into English
Ensure that you gather all necessary documents to ensure a smooth and efficient importation process.
Prepare the Vehicle for Shipment
If you are partnering with a Japanese company like CarUsed.jp to import a vehicle, pre-shipment preparations are not something you need to worry about. However, if you are working independently, you need to ensure that the vehicle is ready for shipment.
Firstly, have the car professionally cleaned to meet the standards set by the US Department of Agriculture. According to the department’s policy, all imported vehicles must be free from any foreign soil or debris before shipment.
Next, choose a carrier for the vehicle. Shipping costs typically range from $1,500 to $4,500 USD, depending on the vehicle specifications, shipping company, and port of entry. Shipping can take up to 17 days, so ask your shipping company to notify you of the exact arrival date so that you can submit all the required documents to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The vehicle will undergo a thorough inspection at your chosen port of entry.
Pay Import Taxes and Register the Imported Vehicle
Upon arrival at the port of entry, you must pay duty fees and federal taxes before registering the vehicle. Duty fees are based on the total price of the vehicle and its category. For example, trucks have a significantly higher duty rate of 24%, while cars have a lower rate of 2.5%. However, as a US resident, you may be exempt from paying duty fees.
Federal taxes are imposed on vehicles with a fuel economy rating below 22.5 miles per gallon. You can obtain more information about fuel economy ratings by consulting independent professionals or car manufacturers.
After paying all necessary taxes, register the vehicle and obtain a license plate number from the Department of Motor Vehicles before driving it on the road. You may need to provide documents from the Customs and Border Protection during the registration process.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does the car importation process take?
The car importation process can take several weeks to several months depending on the specific requirements and regulations involved, as well as the shipping and delivery times. It is important to plan ahead and allow ample time for the process to be completed.
Are there any restrictions on the types of vehicles that can be imported?
Yes, there are restrictions on the types of vehicles that can be imported, particularly in terms of meeting US safety and emissions standards. Additionally, there are restrictions on the age of vehicles that can be imported. Vehicles must be at least 25 years old to be exempt from certain importation requirements.
Can I import a car for personal use?
Yes, you can import a car for personal use as long as you comply with all necessary regulations and requirements. You must also pay all applicable duties and taxes and obtain the necessary documentation and registration for the vehicle.
Is it possible to import a car from Japan without going through a Japanese exporter?
Yes, it is possible to import a car from Japan without the help of a Japanese exporter. However, working with an exporter can help ensure that the process is smoother and more reliable. A reputable exporter can provide guidance and support throughout the entire process, from selecting the vehicle to completing the necessary paperwork and arranging for shipping and delivery.