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I purchased my first Japanese import car a few years ago and it all went a lot easier than I expected. I imported a Nissan Skyline and found a number of specialist insurance companies who were more than willing to help. My local motor factors (Unipart / Partco) were able to supply all of the usual service items and the Nissan dealers supplied a cambelt. With the car insured, serviced and an MOT done (Had to fit a rear fog lamp with switch on the dash) all I had to do was take the papers to the DVLA with a cheque for £38 plus cost of 6 mths road tax. 3 days later the paperwork was back in my hands, number plates made up and I was on the road......

I found owning the car a pleasure - it was in great condition, had low miles and was extremely reliable. Although it was 10 years old it still drove and looked as good as new.

For everyone looking at a Japanese import I would advise the following -

Buy from a dealer with experience in the import trade, they will usually be able to advise on parts, servicing, insurance and provide advice on UK registration etc.

Cars over 10 years old DO NOT require an SVA test - only a basic UK MOT. Jap cars are RHD and the speedo will be in KMH, not MPH but this is very easy to change in most cases.

Buy from someone based in the UK with an office in Japan so you know that the cars are inspected and fully photographed prior ro shipment. If you are buying direct from Japan then make sure the seller has good feedback from previous customers and be patient - shipping takes time but it's worth the wait.

If buying a car already in the UK then the seller should be able to supply the Japanese export papers and customs form to prove import duties have been paid . These are needed to register the car with the DVLA. If the car is registered and MOT'd then of course you dont need any of these - just the MOT and V5.

Questions I get asked the most -

What problems can I expect with a Japanese import ?

Not many to be perfectly honest as servicing and MOT type tests are very strict in Japan. The main problem I see each week is faded or peeling laquer as the cars are exposed to a lot more sun light than we get in the UK but a good session with a power polisher usually sorts that out.

Will the car pass the MOT in the UK without me spending a fortune?

Out of the past 20+ cars I've had in the UK, the most I have ever spent is around £150 for a set of tyres or a rubber suspension bush. Most cars go straight through or need something minor like a new bulb fitting. You do of course have to fit a rear fog lamp (around £3.00 and connect it to a switch on the dash - around £1.50).

How do I get the car from the docks to my house?

All you need to do is insure the car first - insure it on the VIN number and take the cover note with you. You can then pick up the car and take it to you appointed MOT station. If you don't fanct the drive then there are plenty of companies who can assist with nationwide delivery.

How long does it take to register the car with the DVLA?

Once you have handed in the paperwork it should take around 3 days. Some local DVLA offices take around 2 days and some take around 5 days depending on how busy they are. Once they have checked the papers and processed them through the system you will get a tax disc and V948 (permission to get number plates made up) in the post. The V5 will follow a few days later.

What sort of spec can I expect on a Japanese import?

Most things are standard equipment like Air con, electric windows and mirrors, power steering and central locking come on most cars. Most MPVs will have front and rear air con, either privacy glass or curtains in the rear and quite often a large rear sunroof. Parking mirrors or parking sensors are also quite common.


If you are unsure about anything - ask the seller and if unhappy with the answer then go elsewhere.

If buying an import via Ebay then read the description and payment terms a couple of times to make sure you know what you are buying and that you know all the costs involved.

Lastly,  if you do go ahead and purchase either a car in the UK or import direct from Japan to save some money then enjoy it. I've owned and driven dozens of them and have never had one let me down. From teh fast & furious Nissan Skyline to the Relaxed and comfortabel Nissan Largo MPV they are superb cars that are well built and generally very reliable. Buy a good one instead of a cheap & tatty one as there are plenty to choose from. Around 100,000 cars a week are sold in Japan so supply is good.

Hope this is of some help.



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