Are you interested in getting a car from Japan? JDM Legends is renown for bringing classic cars straight from Japan with efficiency and transparency. Unlike other importers who charge a straight MSRP on a vehicle, we show you all the fees and taxes so you know exactly where your money is going.
So lets break it down so you can get a feel for the process:
Step 1: Understanding the rules
When importing a car, there are a few things to keep in mind. First of all, it does take time to get your vehicle. From the date of purchase of the car in Japan we have seen it take as little as 3 weeks to as long as 3 months until the car is titled, registered, and in your driving hands.
Another important thing to remember is that condition cannot be guaranteed. JDM Legends will have you sign paperwork that states that we are only an importer and a mediator for a car being bought AS IS. Now, of course, we will do our best to get any information on the car before purchase, as well as make recommendations, but it must be expressly stated that we are not responsible for the fitness or condition of the vehicle.
That being said, your importation will be insured for its journey, making sure you are covered if it falls into the ocean. Similarly, you can assume the car starts and runs, as all importations must be able to drive on and off the ship. We do not import shells or non-running vehicles.
A quick side note, we do not import car parts at this time, just full vehicles at the moment.
Finally, if you are not aware, all cars must be 25 years or older to meet United States importation requirements. This is a strict requirement that must be followed to the exact date of manufacture. For example; if today was 1/1/2019, you could import a car that was produced on 1/1/1994, but not a 1994 car that was manufactured in February of 1994.
Bonus round! Cars are titled here in Utah by JDM Legends, transferring titles to other states is easy as the car is registered and made street legal by us. JDM Legends DOES NOT outfit vehicles to meet California's C.A.R.B. standards, so California vehicles that fall under C.A.R.B regulations must be done by a licensed professional in California.
Step 2: Find your car
Cut out some of the middle men and extra costs by locating your car directly with one of Japans premier dealer classifieds. We recommend Goo Net Exchange (which is in English) or Car Sensor. These websites will offer information like odometer reading (make sure to convert kilometers to miles when calculating), options and trim levels, photos, and cost in JPY. We are a very small shop and only have a few employees to work on the restorations, so we are too busy to source the car for you. Searching for the car yourself allows you to have a better intimate knowledge of the vehicle as well as saves you money. If you are very serious and are ready to make your deposit, we can communicate to the seller to see if extra photos or information is available.
Step 3: Calculate cost estimates
With the cost of the car also come taxes and fees. Many fees in Japan are calculated in percentages based on the value of the vehicle. Basically, the higher the price of the car, the more you pay in fees. Typical fees can be broken down into the following categories:
Commission - a flat $500 or 8% of the value of the vehicle, whichever is greater. This goes to the broker in Japan that picks up the vehicle, arranges inland shipping within Japan to port, prepares it for shipping, processes the transaction, and communicates with the seller.
Shipping - A variable rate depending on whether the car comes by container or is parked in a boat. This can also vary for the inland shipping in Japan as per the distance to port, as well as the distance from JDM Legends to your door if you are having us ship the car to you after we register it and get it legal in the US. Shipping can be as low as about $1500 and as high as $5000 if you want to get fancy.
JDM Legends fee - a flat $2000 that basically covers all the work we do on our end. The communication with Japan, wire transfers, arrangements, customs handling, the set up and follow through of the entire process, and most importantly, the titling, the licensing, the registration, and the US legalization of your vehicle.
Taxes and Duties - A variable rate based on the percentage value of the vehicle. Expect to be charged for taxes, duties, customs, and fees. This can be as low as $500 and as high as $9000 depending on the value of the vehicle.
Step 4: Understanding cost breakdown
A lot of places selling imports in the US will charge $12,000 or so for a $5000 car in Japan to make some extra money. Don't let our fees scare you away, you still end up typically paying less with us. Here are a couple of examples of some importations done by us in the past:
$5,000 (cost of car in Japan) 1991 Toyota MR2
$ 500 Commission
$2,000 JDM Legends fee
$1,500 (approximate) Shipping
$ 700 (approximate) Taxes and Duties
$60,000 (cost of car in Japan) 1972 Nissan Hakosuka style Skyline GT-X
$ 4,800 Commission
$ 2,000 JDM Legends fee
$ 3,500 (approximate) Protected enclosed shipping
$ 4,700 (approximate) Taxes and Duties
These values can change and any time for any number of reasons. The first thing to remember is that the exchange rate on USD to JPY varies every single day. On top of that, as stated before, many costs have variables in them that can change the end price. These guidelines are meant to give you a rough idea of how much you should have set aside before embarking on the process.
Step 5: Let's do this!
Once you have the car picked out, and the necessary budget set aside, email Joey at firstname.lastname@example.org
Make sure you put IMPORTATION as the subject line. Also, make sure to provide a link to the car and an estimate of the funds set aside so we can make sure its a good fit. Once everything is in place, you will be billed for the deposit, which is the cost of the car, plus the commission fee in Japan. Upon receiving the car in the US, all other fees will be calculated and you will be billed the remaining amount. Upon payment of the final invoice, the car is all set and ready to go to its happy new home!