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How To Ship A Car To Japan

Published by Joe Webster.

How To Ship A Car To Japan

Shipping a car to Japan seems like a complicated undertaking. However, it's not nearly as difficult as you'd think. One of the most challenging parts of the process is deciding how you intend to ship your car. You will also need to present pertinent documents to the shoppers and have copies available for their arrival. You could, of course, try to ship your car to Japan without help. However, you're likely to encounter a few things you might not have planned for. Before you start shipping your car, what method are you planning to use? Is there anything that you should be aware of before sending your car overseas to Japan?


Determine Your Shipping Provider

Determine Your Shipping Provider

Several companies offer shipping from the US to Japan, but a few things make a company stand out as one you should choose. The company you decide to assign with the task should:

  • Have a service from your current location to Japan
  • Is appropriately licensed, insured, and bonded
  • Will only have as third-party providers companies that are bonded, insured, and licensed to their level

When you're checking out the company's credentials, these points might not be immediately apparent, so you may have to call them directly and broach the subject. If a company is being evasive about its status, you may want to cross them off the list. Once you've got a shortlist, head online and read some reviews, so you aren't caught by surprise. Some companies look great on paper until you read about their customer service stories.


Get Your Documents Together

Get Your Documents Together

You'll need documents showing that you own your vehicle. This stipulation is supposed to prevent individuals from shipping stolen cars out of the country. You will also need export documents to get your vehicle on the sea over to Japan. You will need to submit your documents at least 72 hours before departure at the US Port of Entry that you will be sailing from. The papers required will include:

  • US Customs and Border Protection Cover Sheet
  • An original Certificate of Title for that particular vehicle, the certified copy, and at least two (2) copies of either.

If your car is still being paid off, or you have other encumbrances on your vehicle, you'll need a letter from the bank or financial organization that has the lien. This letter should contain the make, model, and preferably the registration number for the car.

When you're going to Japan, you'll also need to get a few documents together to ensure that you can retrieve your car at the Japanese port of entry. Japanese customs require that you submit a document to verify the particulars of the vehicle. Once the vehicle lands, it must be taken to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLITT) testing center for emissions. Japan has strict emissions laws, and a vehicle must be approved before being used on the roads. Finally, the vehicle needs to be registered with the authorities. Registration fees will also need to be paid at this juncture. Cars will also need a national number plate before they are considered roadworthy. A vehicle cannot have a Japanese national number plate until you've passed inspection and completed the registration process. Finally, each vehicle in Japan needs a parking space certificate to allow the owner a parking spot. It usually takes a week for a parking space certificate to be granted. Driving and owning a car in Japan is different from the US. Their vehicles are right-hand drives, meaning that the steering wheels are located on the other side of the car from what Americans are used to. While you can drive an American-made left-hand-drive vehicle, it needs to be marked appropriately when on the roads. To claim your car in Japan, you will need the following documents:

  • Passport
  • Customs Forms filled out correctly (Form No. C 5360-2 or 5360)
  • Japanese Resident Card
  • The Engine and Chassis Numbers
  • Driver's License
  • Purchase Deed for the Vehicle and the Car's Manual
  • A signed affidavit that you won't sell your car while in Japan.

Once again, these precautions are supposed to deter the import of stolen vehicles from overseas into Japan.


Get The Car Ready for Transport

Get The Car Ready for Transport

Vehicles can be transported in one of two ways:

  • Roll-On-Roll-Off (RORO) Shipping: The vehicle is driven onto the ship and carried across by sea, then driven off at the destination port.
  • Container Shipping: The vehicle is shipped inside a container, protecting it from the elements and ensuring that it won't be accidentally scratched.
  • Flat Rack Shipping: Flat Rack shipping is an open-air shipping method that gets the car onto the ship via a rack.
  • Lift-On-Lift-Off (LOLO) Shipping: LOLO shipping allows a car to be lifted onto the ship and lifted off once it gets to the destination.

Container shipping tends to be more expensive than open-air roll-on-roll-off shipping options. Before the car is loaded onto the ship for transport, an owner must ensure a few things. To begin with, the vehicle's alarm systems should be switched off or deactivated. This precaution ensures that the alarm won't accidentally go off while the car is being shipped. In such a case, there may be no way to turn off the alarm, and it may drain the battery flat. You should also remove all personal effects from the vehicle and any loose items that may typically be held in the car. There's no telling how rough seas can get while the car is being shipped. This precaution ensures that there you don't accidentally lose your items in transit. You can leave items that may be of use to get the car moving, such as jumper cables or tools, but they should be secured inside the vehicle. Finally, you should ensure that you don't have a lot of gas in the car. Some shipping companies would advise that you have less than a quarter tank since the gas may add weight to the vehicle. Customs agents will go over the car in detail to ensure that you're not bringing any contraband or invasive species to Japan.


Calculate Cost

The departure costs for shipping a car to Japan include paying for the vehicle's weight and the fuel for shipping. Shipping companies may also attach other expenses to the initial estimate they offer a client. Among those additional costs are:

  • Marine Insurance: Even if you have auto insurance, it could not cover you if you drive to Japan. In most circumstances, auto insurance will pay for repairs after a collision or other major incident. There may be aspects of shipping on the ocean that are not addressed. Find out what your existing health insurance covers before you leave for Japan.
  • Destination Charges: As noted before, several costs are associated with getting the vehicle to Japan and having it roadworthy. Fees on the other end will include registration costs and paying for emissions and parking certificates.
  • Customs Duty: Any item shipped internationally will have customs duties attached to it. These vary from country to country and even based on the season. Your shipping provider or customs agent may be able to provide more details on how much you might be expected to pay.
  • Other Taxes and Fees: There are a few other taxes and fees that may be included in the cost of shipping the car over to Japan. 

Final shipping costs may be anywhere between $2,300 to $4,400, depending on your source port and destination in Japan.


Receive Car Shipment From Reputable Company

Receive Car Shipment From Reputable Company

A-1 Auto Transport has been dealing with both temporary and permanent shipping of vehicles over to Japan. Our experience in dealing with Japanese customs and registration is second to none. If you want your car in Japan and would prefer to have a professional company to guide you, give us a call today for a quote. We'll look at all the options available and offer you a solution that suits your time and money constraints. Call us now - the sooner we get a heads-up that you're moving, the better we can plan for your car's journey.

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Joe Webster always knew the auto transport industry would be a great career option. And with decades of experience, Joe is now an established consultant for A1 Auto Transport.

Joe was born in Santa Cruz, California. During high school, Joe worked as a mechanic; a job continued to work part-time during his bachelor's degree.

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A-1 Auto Transport is a disclosed agent for the following shipping companies:

CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus Drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd,
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
CFR Rinkens
15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
2840 NW 2nd Ave #105
Boca Raton, FL 33431
NO. 025472F
ShipYourCarNow LLC
1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
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