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The BIG thread on how to import from Japan

  • 28-08-2013 11:57pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 4,973 ✭✭✭ Chris_Heilong


    This is a guide on how to import a car from Japan to Ireland, guides have been written in the past but most are out of date and lacking crucial information, this guide is a how I did it and what to expect when importing to the Ireland of 2013.
    imagecars001.jpg
    Japan is still a ripe country when it comes to sporty automobiles and there is no better place to pick up a 2nd hand bargain than at the auctions. Cars that were once only a distant dream while playing Gran turismo can today be bought relatively cheap. My last two cars were JDM(Japanese Domestic Model), Both a Honda Civic and a Mitsubishi FTO and both were absolutely fantastic cars, so I didn't worry too much when I decided that my next car would also be a JDM. I wanted something a bit different, something large, with 4 doors but not too heavy, It needed a powerful Turbo Engine and be no more than 2.5 litre, I finally decided it had to be a 4 door Nissan Skyline but during the process of searching the auctions I kind of fell in love with a different car, The Toyota Chaser, which is what I ended up buying in the end.
    mycarsmaller.jpg

    So here is the process I went through from start to finish.

    If you don't already have a definite car in mind then look at the auctions, See what is out there and what prices they are going for. Make sure to check the conversion rate between Yen and Euro. Do as much research on the car you want to buy as possible and if you still want to go ahead make sure to check out the VRT you will be paying once the car hits Ireland. https://www.ros.ie/evrt-enquiry/vrtenquiry.html?execution=e1s1


    If you are still happy to go ahead from here then its time to choose an agent,
    what the agent does is source your vehicle, find your wanted Colour and spec, bid on the car on your behalf, organise transport with in Japan(from the Auction house to the docks) and they also deal with all the paperwork such as the deregistration and Export.
    They usually require a deposit to be paid upfront and this can vary but is usually around €1000, I was told if I didnt win any cars then I would receive a full refund

    You can view what cars are up at auction by using http://www.japan-partner.com/ and browsing to ‘Used Car Auctions’. While browsing the site it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with what different models of the car your after, for example There were 3 different grades of JZX100 chaser, the Tourer S, Tourer V and the Avente. The Tourer V was the 2.5 litre Turbo model putting out 280 hp and was the only one I wanted. So I told my agent what I wanted and we waited for suitable cars to turn up at the auctions, I would give him the lot numbers for cars I found myself and we would bid on them.

    A very important word when looking to import, PATIENCE!
    I was almost 2 months looking for a car in good quality, in the right colour and I could realistically get, I lost a few bids but in the end got a good car for a great price. I had given my agent a price of €2600 to play with and we ended up buying the car out of auction for €1800, it was a grade 4 with a grade C interior. I made all my payment to the agent trough PayPal.
    auctiionsheet6.jpg
    Taking a look at the auction sheet you will see many words in english, pay close attention to the little car diagram as this will indicate where if any marks, dents or scratches are on the car. I would look at only grade 4 or 3.5 as anything under these marks can end up being very rough. An R/RA grade usually means damaged and repaired, these cars can be bought at really low prices and the repairs can be so good they are unnoticeable but its at the buyers risk.

    mycara2.jpg
    I got Titan autoworks to add a few mods to the car while it waited in Japan and hi res photos were sent to me which had much more detail than the ones I saw at auction. Some websites like http://www.tradecarview.com/ offer similar services to the agent but are usually Japanese Dealers, these can cost more and you have less of a personal experience. Your agent will tell you the FOB(freight on board/ getting your car onto the boat) or if you want to pay for insurance the CIF(Insurance and Freight) price which includes the price of the car and the agent fee. You can organise to pay shipping though the agent or wait for the boat and pay it this end which is what I did. You have two options, Roll on Roll off or you can get a container, Roll on Roll off is by far the cheaper of the two as a container can cost over €1000.
    boatsmall.jpg
    When the ship leaves Japan with your car onboard your agent will courier your paperwork to you, this includes an invoice for the car, a Bill of laden with info about the vessel carrying your car and a dereg/export cert(this may need to be translated into english). When you get your Bill of Laden you will be able to use this website to track your ship by name http://marinetraffic.com/ais/

    Now is a good time to choose a customs clearance broker, I chose http://www.mccbrokers.com/. You need to send them copies of the 3 documents you received and they will inform you of the costs involved at the docks such as customs, Vat and handling fees.

    the break down at the Docks is like this if car cost €1000 and shipping was €700:
    Duty: 10% price of car + shipping = €170
    Vat: 23% price of Duty+car+shipping = €430
    unloading fee: €100
    broker fee: €120
    Total at docks = €820

    you can use this website to calculate your cost including duty and VAT.
    http://www.dutycalculator.com/new-import-duty-and-tax-calculation/
    You have 7 days to complete these tasks, after that point you will be charged to keep the car in the dock.

    Make sure your Customs broker locks your car once off the ship, I have heard stories of bits going missing at the docks from cars that were left unlocked. The last few steps involve you getting the car from the docks, the safest easiest way is by transporter. You might risk driving it home yourself but if you are stopped by the Guards you could be in trouble.

    Next you need to Book in an appointment to the NCTS center for to get the car VRTed http://www.ncts.ie/vrt.html, An appointment for a pre-registration examination of the vehicle must be made with a NCTS centre within 7 days of the vehicle entering the State. Registration must be completed within 30 days of the vehicle entering the State. You must give the NCTS center your certificate of export which they keep so you may want to make a copy of this. After you pay the VRT and some Motor Tax you get given a reg number and you must get plates made and on the car within 3 days, Your log book will then be posted to your home.

    Now you should make an appointment to have the car NCTed, word of warning, you may need to get all 4 of your tires changed as they will not have a European E mark and this is a fail.

    Thats it, Hope this helps bring more Japanese metal to these shores, happy hunting and dont be afraid to ask any questions.


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,480 ✭✭✭ YbFocus


    Great read man, something I always thought of doing.
    Very well written and really shows all the steps in great detail.
    I'd feel much happier about giving it a go after reading this :)

    I vote sticky :)


  • Moderators, Regional Midwest Moderators Posts: 10,848 Mod ✭✭✭✭ MarkR


    I imported two cars years ago. Is it still worth it? Haven't seen a chaser in ages. Pimp wagon!

    Would you mind saying what was the total cost, and what mods did you get in japan?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,773 ✭✭✭ coolisin


    Great write up.

    Personally not something I plan on doing but at least its there to read if I change my mind.

    How do you vote for this to be stickyed to the top of the page.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,935 ✭✭✭ Renegade Mechanic


    I would certainly love to see this stickied, great write up.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 10,276 Max Power1


    Certainly an eye opener.
    The total cost is a a lot cheaper than I would have expected.


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  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 59,362 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Wibbs


    It seems cheaper than it was too and easier. It was hard enough to go direct back in the noughties. Patience as CH says is everything. The right car will come up sooner or later. Doing it yourself, rather than going through a garage has another great advantage too.

    This way you know the mileage is likely to be correct. I dunno what it's like now, but when I was looking for a JDM in 2005/6 the stock in the garages in Dublin was bloody dubious more often than not. Like CH I was watching the stock in Japan for months and took notes of individual cars and their condition and mileage. I saw a few of those cars end up on Dublin forecourts with very different stories. They ALL had been clocked. None had auction reports. The excuse always was "shure it's in Jap you can't read em and we never get em anyway". BS of course. Two cars in particular stood out. Both had been R/accident damaged in Japan. One of them had the front caved in in a smack. Lo and behold 6 months later it's in a garage in Dublin(no names, no pack drill, but they're still trading) as a "grade 4". The repair was so crap the underbonnet suspension strut was missing. I found it in the boot, offered it up and it was about 10mm out. Unreal. Another one I was convinced was a stolen car. Had all the signs of forced entry and third party keys. Another had clearly suffered an underbonnet fire. Crazy days.

    The bit about parts going "missing" was an issue alright. If not in the docks here, stuff would go walkabout on the slow boat from China Japan. I lost me knob. Gear that is.

    Looking through the stock on offer, there seem to be some real beauties on offer. *wishes he had money* :D

    Rejoice in the awareness of feeling stupid, for that’s how you end up learning new things. If you’re not aware you’re stupid, you probably are.



  • Registered Users Posts: 4,973 ✭✭✭ Chris_Heilong


    Its hard to say if you would save much it would really be down to what you were after, I know any Chasers I saw over here or the UK were going for 7 to 8k and they rarely come up, I would say I got mine for around 5k, going to wait until after the NCT to see if I really need new tyres and add them to a final cost list which I will post here.

    As far as mods go, it was all external, factory front lip (€150) and side skirts(€300), I also got chrome clear indicators (€150) which are not in the pictures, I felt it would be more cost effective to get any body parts put on while still in Japan and not have to go to the trouble to get them posted as they are big heavy items.

    Obviously the more you pay for the car the more expensive it will be once it arrives as Duty and VAT are percentage based.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,476 ✭✭✭ ba_barabus


    Is insurance a problem on something like that if you don't mind?


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,973 ✭✭✭ Chris_Heilong


    ba_barabus wrote: »
    Is insurance a problem on something like that if you don't mind?

    €682.60 third party with 123.ie


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,476 ✭✭✭ ba_barabus


    €682.60 third party with 123.ie

    Not bad at all :eek:


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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,973 ✭✭✭ Chris_Heilong


    ba_barabus wrote: »
    Not bad at all :eek:

    I dont think Chasers have the same scare factor for the insurance companies as the likes of Skylines, less common so less claims against them. They have always been a cult car in Japan and have held their prices well over there due to their strong drifting heritage but still not well known outside of Japan...except I noticed Russia seem to love them.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,300 paulmclaughlin


    €682.60 third party with 123.ie
    ba_barabus wrote: »
    Not bad at all :eek:

    You have factor in your age, no claims bonus and much more though.

    What would be a quote for yourself in a similar Irish car?

    Excellent write-up by the way, I always thought it was more hassle than it was worth but you've opened my eyes! Thanks :D


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,484 ✭✭✭ Soarer


    Excellent guide Chris. Makes me want to get back into big engined yokes. Not gonna happen though.

    Would be interested in a Leaf though. Wonder what the JDM ones are like and what the story is with the vat and vrt.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,667 ✭✭✭ Voodoomelon


    Unless I missed it, what happens if the car is damaged in transit? Great post btw.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,973 ✭✭✭ Chris_Heilong


    Unless I missed it, what happens if the car is damaged in transit? Great post btw.

    Good point, I will add it to the original post. you have the option of 'Cost, Insurance and Freight' (CIF) instead of FOB, only problem being if the car is damaged who is to say it happened on the ship or the Docks after it was unloaded as in their books its no longer their problem once it is unloaded.

    Here is more info about FOB and CIF. http://www.speedycargo.com/resource-center/cif-vs-fob/


  • Registered Users Posts: 12,240 ✭✭✭✭ joujoujou


    Great info, thank you very much.

    The more I read, the more I'm tempted to import one. ;)
    [...]

    Obviously the more you pay for the car the more expensive it will be once it arrives as Duty and VAT are percentage based.

    There's a possibility to reduce VAT (well, at least slightly) - if car arrives to UK (Northern Ireland) , it's subject to 20% VAT (not 23%).

    Not sure if it's a good idea though. :o


  • Registered Users Posts: 746 ✭✭✭ bf


    Is getting the official CO2 figures on JDM still much of an issue for paying VRT etc?


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,973 ✭✭✭ Chris_Heilong


    bf wrote: »
    Is getting the official CO2 figures on JDM still much of an issue for paying VRT etc?

    My car is over the 36% threshold so I was paying the highest VRT anyway, if the NCTS center have the car on file then they will already have this information otherwise you will need a document sent with the car from Japan that states how much CO2 your car outputs.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,973 ✭✭✭ Chris_Heilong


    joujoujou wrote: »
    Great info, thank you very much.

    The more I read, the more I'm tempted to import one. ;)



    There's a possibility to reduce VAT (well, at least slightly) - if car arrives to UK (Northern Ireland) , it's subject to 20% VAT (not 23%).

    Not sure if it's a good idea though. :o

    Yes there is, you can also get your car unloaded at a UK mainland port but you then need to get the car transported over and thats at a cost, in my case it was cheaper to just pay the 23%.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,341 ✭✭✭ mullingar


    Well Feck you OP.

    There is some serious metal on that site that is very tasty.........and tempting........:P



    (great post!)


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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,302 ✭✭✭ 5500


    Couple of caveats I can add in, don't rely solely on an auction sheet without having a car inspected, and make sure that the inspector notes are explained to you.

    Remember the grade mostly relates to the exterior condition, the car may well have an oil leak, dodgy clutch, worn shocks ect which also so sometimes aren't mentioned on the inspectors notes.

    I only bid on a chaser on monday that checked all the boxes but when it was inspected the arches were rusted, no mention of it on the auction sheet and it was a grade 4. Different auction houses are known for marking cars differently so you still need to be carefull.

    Personally i would never buy FOB only, if your ship sinks its bye bye money. Ive successfully claimed before for damage in transit to the wing of a car, its not that hard of a process if done correctly, plus insurance is roughly 75/100euro extra so hardly a big issue.

    There's a lot of exporters in japan and they all seem to do things slightly differently, be it shipping a car or paperwork but any car I've gotten in the past few years has came with a co2 conformity report, it always tends to match revenues figures too

    Also worth noting that no ships sail direct to Ireland anymore, its all tranship via Rotterdam or zeebrugge and sometimes your car can be sat there for a couple of weeks until there's space to load it. In all cases also factor in a new battery and the cost of a service once the car arrives in Ireland, it may have been sitting around at auction for weeks or even months before even shipping so is a bit of a must. You need to remember that the majority of second hand cars at auction are non shaken ( japanese version of nct) and the owners are selling them because they don't want the expense of putting the car through a shaken again, so they may well need habit of work once here. Cars still covered by a shaken or not needing one tend to sell for a good deal more then those without one.

    Transport from port and insurance from your home to ncts to register can also be an issue, some companies won't cover by chassis number alone so make sure to check that out too

    Op was your price of 1600 the auction only price? as ive never seen a chaser sell that cheap even grade 0/R unless its an auto. 3500 auction/5000 CIF for a 98 tourer V manual would be the norm for a clean car with subtle mods, anything drift worthy can go to double that.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,973 ✭✭✭ Chris_Heilong


    5500 wrote: »
    Couple of caveats I can add in, don't rely solely on an auction sheet without having a car inspected, and make sure that the inspector notes are explained to you.

    Remember the grade mostly relates to the exterior condition, the car may well have an oil leak, dodgy clutch, worn shocks ect which also so sometimes aren't mentioned on the inspectors notes.

    I only bid on a chaser on monday that checked all the boxes but when it was inspected the arches were rusted, no mention of it on the auction sheet and it was a grade 4. Different auction houses are known for marking cars differently so you still need to be carefull.

    Personally i would never buy FOB only, if your ship sinks its bye bye money. Ive successfully claimed before for damage in transit to the wing of a car, its not that hard of a process if done correctly, plus insurance is roughly 75/100euro extra so hardly a big issue.

    There's a lot of exporters in japan and they all seem to do things slightly differently, be it shipping a car or paperwork but any car I've gotten in the past few years has came with a co2 conformity report, it always tends to match revenues figures too

    Also worth noting that no ships sail direct to Ireland anymore, its all tranship via Rotterdam or zeebrugge and sometimes your car can be sat there for a couple of weeks until there's space to load it. In all cases also factor in a new battery and the cost of a service once the car arrives in Ireland, it may have been sitting around at auction for weeks or even months before even shipping so is a bit of a must. You need to remember that the majority of second hand cars at auction are non shaken ( japanese version of nct) and the owners are selling them because they don't want the expense of putting the car through a shaken again, so they may well need habit of work once here. Cars still covered by a shaken or not needing one tend to sell for a good deal more then those without one.

    Transport from port and insurance from your home to ncts to register can also be an issue, some companies won't cover by chassis number alone so make sure to check that out too

    Op was your price of 1600 the auction only price? as ive never seen a chaser sell that cheap even grade 0/R unless its an auto. 3500 auction/5000 CIF for a 98 tourer V manual would be the norm for a clean car with subtle mods, anything drift worthy can go to double that.


    Your right, Most Manual Chasers go for a premium as only 5% of Chasers were factory manual, the rest were converted afterwards which is what I will be doing, I paid €1800 and my agent approached the seller before the auction started to negotiate that price and we bought out of auction. Ship was 8 weeks from leaving Japan to reach Dublin. A battery booster or a new battery is recommended as well as some petrol for when you go to collect your car at the docks, you need to bring ID and the paperwork you received from the agent to be let into the docks. As with yourself people are paying their agent in Japan to inspect any potential buy to make sure the cars are in good condition, find an agent that has a good reputation. If you decide to go with shipping insurance then be aware you will have to also pay VAT on this.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,973 ✭✭✭ Chris_Heilong


    If you have a facebook account then you should check out Titan Autoworks page as it has some interesting cars go through. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Titan-Autoworks-Japan/283601278897


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,973 ✭✭✭ Chris_Heilong


    Now the 2nd part of this Guide.

    When you pick the car up at port, you will meet with your customs agent and they will bring you to your car at Terminal 4, it was located at the first gate when you enter Dublin docks, right past the security gates. Do inspect your car fully before you sign it out, check front and back, make sure nothing is missing from the boot(spare tyre) and check engine bay and under the car. If there is something wrong or missing you must request the office in terminal 4 to give you a docket of damage, they must note every item that is missing or damaged before you take the car, this can be used later if you need to claim for anything, without it you will get nothing.

    You should receive your paper work with information from customs, you will need this when you VRT your car, you will also receive a declaration for the VRT office that you need to fill with details about your car, for example; engine size, how many doors, what color the car is....

    Look on here to book in your VRT appointment https://ncts.ie/booking_app/Bookings/ImportInspectionBooking2.aspx?language=english&mode=i
    and use your last few digits from you chassis number when booking online.

    When you show up you give in your forms with the Japanese dereg cert and Photo ID as well as an official document with your PPS number and a utility bill showing your name and address. The guy at the center will look at your mileage and your engine bay. He wont care what state your car is in, they use the same calculator as here https://www.ros.ie/evrt-enquiry/vrtenquiry.html?execution=e2s1 , If your car is not here then they wont give you a price there and then but instead send your details down to shannon in order to generate a new statistical code for your car. you will receive a text from VRT ask you to give them a call and they will give you a figure, you then return to the VRT office to pay and get your reg number and they can make the plates for you then and there, please note you do not have to bring your car back to the VRT center if they saw it the first time.

    It will take 24hrs for the Tax system to recognise your car reg, when using the system type in your reg number and for the pin use the last 6 digits of your chassis number. You must have insurance on your car to Tax it.

    After you tax the car it will take a few days to go onto the NCT system, you should call them everyday until they can give you an appointment.

    And thats it, your car is on the road.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,282 ✭✭✭ Supergurrier


    What came about with your missing bits Chris ? Any satisfaction since or are they a dead loss ?


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,699 ✭✭✭ advertsfox


    mycara2.jpg
    Moar pics please!


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,973 ✭✭✭ Chris_Heilong


    What came about with your missing bits Chris ? Any satisfaction since or are they a dead loss ?

    Not a dead loss, the shipping company said they will look after the exterior as long as I get a quote from a repair shop here, they sent me some forms to fill out and send back.
    I only noticed the exterior when I picked the car up so thats what I put down on the docket.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,973 ✭✭✭ Chris_Heilong


    advertsfox wrote: »
    Moar pics please!

    Here is how it is here in Ireland, minus some bits
    chase1.jpg


  • Registered Users Posts: 89 ✭✭✭ Maserati23


    Thought you might like this one from the Titan site! Hi-Ace


    http://www.japan-partner.com/Picture/Toyota/HIACE+VAN/22404/1/picture.html


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  • Registered Users Posts: 159 ✭✭ moonship


    Great thread i myst say, thanks OP.
    Because of tsis guide i am strongly considering importing Honda Stream myself. But:
    1. Wouldnt be easier to use tradecarview.com or similar instead involving an agent as per this guide? Any experience?
    2. After a few weeks of checking prices of many Streams on japanese sites and comparing them to carzone/donedeal, either garages in Ireland are importing really the cheapest cars available in Japan (maybe after accidents etc) or tgey just make about 1k per car. Japanese cars seem to be expensive after adding shipping, duty, vat and vrt!


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