How To Register An Imported Vehicle In Japan
If a vehicle is imported into Japan and remains in the country for less than a year, local duties and taxes do not have to be paid. In order to qualify for this, however, you will need a Carnet de Passage en Douane, which must be certified by the Japan Automobile Federation. (See the links at the bottom of this page for more information about the Carnet de Passage en Douane and the required steps of obtaining it.)
You have three months to get the vehicle registered after the first inspection. Registration is done through the Road Transport Bureau (see link at the bottom of the page for more information). Taxes and registration are paid at this point and you’ll need to following:
- Proof of registration payment
- Registration form
- Customs clearance
- Inspection & emissions certificates
- Parking space certificate
It’s mandatory that you have a parking space certificate in order to own a car in Japan. A parking certificate can also be obtained at the Road Transport Bureau.
If you’re considering shipping a vehicle to Japan, you can learn more about the details by viewing our international auto transport page for the country. There, you’ll find information about the process of shipping a vehicle internationally, as well as the specifics of shipping to Japan.
Driving Permits & Rules Of The Road In Japan
The legal driving age in Japan is 18 and cars drive on the left side of the road. You will notice that locally manufactured vehicles also have the steering wheel on the right side, but there are still imported vehicles that will have the steering wheel on the left. Both are acceptable and legal.
International Driving Permit
If you are not a citizen of Japan (or do not plan on becoming one), you will need to apply for an international driving permit in order to legally operate a vehicle in the country. An international permit is good for one year in Japan and you can, and should, get it in the U.S. before shipping your car. To learn more about the international driving permit, see this resource from the U.S. Embassy in Japan.
Getting A Japanese License
As mentioned above, the international permit is only good for a period of one year. If you become a citizen or remain in the country longer than one year, you will be expected to acquire a Japanese driver’s license, which involves taking the full exam for U.S. residents. The test is more difficult that the U.S. version and it’s not uncommon to have to take it more than once, paying each time.
Japan Vehicle Registration Resources
Carnet de Passages en Duoane - For temporary import of a vehicle in Japan, the CDP is good for one year. This link provides more information, including the CDP submission procedure.
Japan Road Transport Bureau - The Road Transport Bureau of Japan is one of the main organizations you’ll have to work with when it comes to inspection and registration of a vehicle.
Call or email us today if you’re shipping a vehicle to Japan! We can help with everything from arranging for secure shipment to making sure you have all the necessary paperwork! We’re happy to answer you’re questions & all cost estimates are 100% FREE!
Written By:Joe Webster
Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.
After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.
With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.