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Moving to the UK from Japan

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. 

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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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Mylene Rutllant
It’s my number one pick in auto shipping to this day.

Due to the nature of my work, I must relocate every couple of years to where my company needs me. Because of this, I’ve tested several moving and auto transport companies over the years.

And my choice in terms of auto transport has to be A1 Auto Transport. It’s in the name, but also in the quality with which they do their jobs. I’ve never had a problem with this company.

The only time my shipment was delayed was during winter when a snowstorm closed down all the major roads. And they still found an alternative and got my car delivered before roads got unstuck.

When I moved to West Virginia, they picked up my car the very day I called them. I like to think they take special care of me considering all the business I’ve sent them. I’ll continue to support A1 Auto Transport. It’s my number one pick in auto shipping to this day.

Luis Rodriguez
You have my full support and recommendation!

I considered selling my car when I moved to Washington. It was old and rusty, but I grew attached to it. So, I called a couple companies to transport it to my new home, but they both fell through.

The first one couldn’t decide on a schedule. He would constantly change the pickup date till I got frustrated and canceled. The second was insufferable, very rude on the phone, even worse in person.

They started picking a part my car asking me why I still have it. If that’s their opinion of my vehicle, how can I trust they’ll take care of it? If something happened midway, why wouldn’t they just blame it on the car instead of paying up?

So, I cancelled this company as well and turned to A1 Auto Transport. From the get go, they were very different from my past options. Their website was very professional and up to date, full of useful information. I requested a quote using their online form, and I got an email response within an hour. Surprisingly fast!

If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought they were lacking customers, but the email spoke for itself. In just one email, everything I needed to know was there, including a contact number I could use to get more information or confirm the transport.

I called and got things rolling. I was very pleased with the driver. He followed standard procedure and represented his company well. Can’t remember his name, but props to him!

The car arrived in Washington 6 days later in excellent condition. From what I understand, the transport was delayed a bit by a storm, but since the time window was 4-6 days from the beginning, I don’t really care. You have my full support and recommendation!

Testimonial by Cristine Benoit
Cristine Benoit
I can safely say this is a legit company that will get the job done.

There are a lot of options for auto transport these days, which surprisingly makes it harder to find a good company. I received more than 10 offers to ship my car, but I couldn’t decide on any of them.

After doing some research, I got even more worried reading about all the scams and accidents that can happen. But, I have work to do and couldn’t afford to drive my newly purchased Mini Cooper all the way to Virginia.

Fortunately, I made the right choice with A1 Auto Transport. They are very good at their jobs. I spent more than an hour drilling Joe with various questions, and he never once lost his patience. He saw I was interested, so he bore with me until I was satisfied. The driver was also very courteous and my car was intact on arrival. I couldn’t have asked for more.

By the way, the price we first agreed on stayed the same. There were no delays or unexpected “surprises.” I can safely say this is a legit company that will get the job done.

David Osallo
We give A1 Auto Transport a big 10 out of 10!

We give A1 Auto Transport a big 10 out of 10! We chose them to move our car from California to Vermont, since we needed professionals.

We were abroad during the transport, so the transport was a bit tricky. The driver had to pick it up from storage on short notice and get it to its destination within at most 10 days. I was happy to note it arrived sooner. We got it 3 days early, right when we got home to pick it up. It made getting around way easier. Awesome service!

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

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
CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
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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