Moving to the UK from Japan

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Moving to the UK from Japan
Moving to the UK from Japan

Maybe you are moving for work or school, or maybe you just have a thing for living on islands. Either way, moving from Japan to the UK is a big change. The two countries have a few things in common – both are constitutional monarchies that enjoy a high quality of life. Some of the things you will find different in the UK is a cooler climate and more room to stretch out. 

You probably have a lot of questions about what you can and cannot bring with you. The purpose of this article is to answer some of those questions. 

How Do I Import Personal Items to the UK? 

If you have been a resident of Japan for at least the past year and intend to move your primary personal residence to the United Kingdom, you can import the majority of your personal goods tax and duty-free. You won’t be allowed to bring prohibited or restricted goods (firearms, drugs, etc.) with you.    

In order to qualify for duty free import, you must be able to submit a detailed customs declaration and provide any documentation required regarding your ownership of the imported goods. 

 The United Kingdom is in the process of “divorcing” the European Union, aka Brexit. Thus, all of the UK’s import rules are subject to change pending Brexit negotiations. Contact your local customs officials for updated guidance.  

How do I import a vehicle to the UK? 

You are permitted to import your vehicle from Japan to the UK, as long you complete the following steps. 


  1. HM Revenue and Customs: Within two weeks of your vehicle’s arrival in the UK, you must contact HM (Her Majesty’s) Revenue and Customs. You can use the Notification of Vehicle Arrivals (NOVA) service to report the arrival of your vehicle.
  2. VAT and Duty: If HM Revenue and Customs advises you to do so, you must pay Value-Added Tax (VAT) and duty. The VAT is calculated based on the value of the vehicle. Duty is paid for vehicles that are imported from countries outside of Europe.
  3. Vehicle Approval: Upon arrival in the UK, your vehicle will need to be evaluated according to safety and environmental standards. Japanese residents will need to register their vehicle using the Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) scheme unless their vehicle has previously been registered in the UK.
  4. Tax and Registration: Contact the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to pay taxes and get your vehicle registered. It is here that you will be issued the necessary registration plate for your vehicle.
  5. Insurance: The last step is to purchase insurance for your vehicle before you are permitted to drive it on UK roads.


Will I need to pay taxes to bring a vehicle to the UK? 

Most of the time, no. Here are the specific requirements you will need to meet for a tax-free import: 

  • You have been a resident of Japan for no less than 12 months
  • The vehicle was owned by you in Japan for at least 6 months prior to transferring your residency to the UK.
  • The vehicle has been fully paid for, including taxes. You will be required to provide proof of this. Be prepared with a clean title and bill of sale.

Vehicles that are found to be ineligible for tax-free import will be subject to 10% duty and 20% VAT. 

What if I need help with my move? 

You’re in luck. A1 Auto Transport is here to help you with every aspect of your move. Our team of shipping experts understand the complex regulations governing imports. They can help with everything from paperwork to customs declaration, taking the stress out of your next move. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation shipping quote. 

Joe Webster
Written By:Joe Webster
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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.

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