Importing from Japan

Solomon Grundy

Distinguished Member
Jus a quick post to see whether anyone has bought or has looked into buying a car from Japan and importing it themselves and have any advice.

...I am seriously thinking about it because the cost savings (even taking tax and duties into account) are quite large and the cars seem to be really good quality...

Ian J

I've bought imported cars but only from the importer and never tried to do it myself as it seemed like too much hassle.


Well-known Member
Ive bought several imports same as Ian though only from importers. there's some one on these forums who imported an MGF a year or 2 ago, don't know who though.

keep us updated!


Solomon Grundy

Distinguished Member
well I think I have found the right website which will enable me to buy a car injapan and take most of the hassle away with regards to tax and logistics.

I can feel my wallet twitching. I might buy a cheap one to test the water, see how it goes.

Layne RIP

Active Member
You have to be careful buying from Japan.

It's a better idea to get someone to import it for you it's a lot less hassle.
There are many factors to think about:

1. The Yakusa steal cars to order and export them.. (make sure it's not one of these)
2. you need to know what kind of condition the car is... they go in auction grades usually....
1 is old clunker.
5 is brand new.
However the best you'll probably get is 4.5 which is very good condition but used.
Lots of this can affect this i.e. modifications so beware.
Preferable get the car checked over by someone
3. Transporting it... this can range from about £1000+ for (roll on-roll off) to about £6000 ish for (container) you'd be wise to get some kind of insurance too.. just incase they accidentally drive your car off the ship in to the water!!
4. Import duty and tax... now this is a stinger... import duty can vary a bit but it has been known to be as high as 10% on top of the car and the transportation.... then you have to pay VAT on it too.
So on a £10000 purchase and £1000 shipment charge you'd pay £3217.50 in tax and charges.
5. SVA test this stands for (Single vehicle approval test) it's like a big MOT but can cost around £400 mark.
You'd also nee to get the car up to regulations for driving in this country... i.e fit a rear fog lamp, change the speedo to MPH... sometimes the tyres need to be changed... the ecu will in some cases's need to be sorted so the car will run on our unleaded.. most we get 98 octane, in japan they have 100 octane. Also you'd want to have it derestricted.. otherwise it'll only do 112 mph.
6. Insurance... now there are plenty of companies that'll insure imports but most will charge you a fortune for doing it.. put it this way my Celica GT4 UK version costs me £720 p.a. fully comp.. with the alloy wheels etc. The same GT4 on an import would cost me over £1000p.a.
7. Parts and servicing... there are places now that can source you any part for an import, but main dealers on the most part now won't deal with imports even if they have a similar version in this country.
8. Resale value... Be prepared to loss quite a bit here, because of the problems with import ownership i.e. insurance etc... most are not worth alot in resale value!!

I hope this has helped you.. i'm not trying to put you off buying from Japan, if i could afford it i'd have a Skyline R33 or R34 tomorrow on an import, i love jap cars... but i would say if you can get a proper UK version, i would, it's a lot less hassle in the long run.
Some cars though you'd have no choice on.. like Mitsubishi EVO's they are ALL imports... they only started offically importing them near the end of the EVO 6's and they would be through Rallyart.

Layne RIP

Active Member
My last bit of advise to you Decadence is to look in this country for people that are selling their imports.
This is great because they've already shouldered the costs of bringing it over etc.
This is when imports are a much cheaper option.
The only time really that the new cars from Japan were a steal in comparison to the UK versions were the Skylines (R34's especially), as they were £30,000 on import (on the road) and £54,000 as a UK car.
Now even with higher insurance etc... these were still a bargin!!

Solomon Grundy

Distinguished Member
cheers for this info...The SVA isn't so much of a problem as I would deliberately look for a 10yr old car which would mean that it wouldn't need one...

I've already checked out the insurance and am happy with the pricing there too. My family owns a garage and bodyshop too so any adjustments will cost me next to nowt, I am trying to find out if I put the car through the business could I claim the VAT back...I still think it works out much cheaper to import than buy from a dealer...I will probably get a cheap one over for a couple of grand, test the water before stumping up the cash for a better car...I am looking for a 1995 Supra turbo.

Layne RIP

Active Member
Ahhh you see if you want a Supra Turbo you'd be better off looking for a UK version there too... my advise is to get a Uk Manual twin turbo (manual 6 speed definately the way to go).. 326bhp as apposed to about 280bhp..

The Uk versions have steel turbos which are a lot stronger than the Jap ceramic ones and can handle more boost...
Plus you get better front lights (Glass, not plastic)
if you have any other questions about this or other cars i'd be happy to answer them!


Well-known Member
with regards to parts if you buy a car that isnt officially imported (a skyline)then you may have some difficulty getting parts but if you go for a toyota, for example, parts are very easy to get. Blueprint do a list for imports and i have found them to be very reasonable and easy to get hold of (3 dealers within 5 miles of my house).

As for insurance it worked the other way round for me! I was driving a UK spec Celica and bought an MR2 Turbo and the insurance stayed exactly the same. One point i will make about insurance is that its getting really difficult to find companies that will quote.


Active Member
Best place for researching skylines is - loads of info there plus quite a feww for sale. Serving and parts can be a bit pricey, but then given most basic gtrs will be 380-420bhp this shouldn't be a suprise.

You could pick up a nice R33 GTR for c11k at the moment from the gtr site and this will be a better bet than trying to get one in cheaper from japan and ending up with a money pit

Having owned an R33 GTR in the past they can be addictively expensive, so finding one already (professionall) modified to c 450-500bhp would be my suggestion. If you for for standard stage 1 at c 380-400 then you'll be wanting 450-500 very quickly ;-)



Layne RIP

Active Member
markymark34 said:
with regards to parts if you buy a car that isn't officially imported (a skyline)then you may have some difficulty getting parts but if you go for a toyota, for example, parts are very easy to get. Blueprint do a list for imports and i have found them to be very reasonable and easy to get hold of (3 dealers within 5 miles of my house).

In fact some Toyota dealers are more than happy to work on / get parts for imports.
But you will have to look around for them.
Insurance companies on the most part are the problem... one insurance company told me they charged a lot because the parts take such a long time to come in... and they'd had to wait 3 weeks for a door mirror for an EVO.

I laughed at this as i used to work for peugeot and we had to wait once over 6 months for a manual window regulator for a UK 106... that did kinda **** on their chips a bit!! :D


Active Member
Decadence said:
I am looking for a 1995 Supra turbo.

A fine choice of car good sir :) .

I've had one for 8 years now and still love it to bits. Fantastic performance, superb Japanesse reliability (even when running in a much higher state of tune) and (IMO) still great looking. I can give you plenty of advice / info on them if needed or perhaps you may want to take a look here..... :)

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