the raws

Japanese used vehicle exporting

Japanese used vehicle exporting is a large global business which deals in the export of used cars and vehicles from the Japanese domestic market (JDM) to numerous markets around the world. Despite the high cost of transport, the sale of used cars and other vehicles to other countries is still profitable due to the relatively low cost and good condition of the vehicles being purchased. Contributing factors to the viability of the vehicles for export include strict inspection tests, high depreciation which make such vehicles worth very little after six years, and strict environmental laws that make vehicle disposal expensive. Consequently, used car exporting has increase to over to 1,136,000 units in 2006. The most popular destinations for used JDM cars are Russia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, Pakistan, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Kenya, and The Philippines. Additionally Chile, Singapore, South Africa, and United Arab Emirates are used as popular transit hubs.


Supply of Used Cars

Used car exporters, sometimes referred to as export agents, have a number of sources at their disposal. Japanese used cars are mainly sold in Japan at auto auctions by car owners and dealers. At auto auctions, owners are hidden from bidders while the auctioneers provide independent car evaluations (called Inspection Sheets) and place for sellers and buyers to meet. Although auto auctions are primarily for Japanese residents seeking an alternative from buying at dealerships, many exporters, acting as a bidding agent for the importer, use this as their main supply. There are over 30 major (over 200 total) auto auction groups operating throughout Japan including JAA, JU Group, TAA, USS, and ZIP.

Besides auto auctions, Japanese exports have access to two other supplies. One being dealerships which are more expensive to purchase from, and second being private sellers which can prove difficult to use.

Exporting Methods

Cars which will be exported from Japan must be prepared before shipping. This includes (among other things) deregistering the vehicle with the government, getting an export certificate, and cleaning the car from Biosecurity risks. Car cleaning is especially necessary for Australia's AQIS and New Zealand's MAF agencies' clearances.

Exporters can ship the car that is ready by Ro/Ro or Container. This largely depends on a number of factors such as customers request, ship schedules, and Port of Destination's capabilities (where it is able to accept RoRo ships or not). The Port of Destination is the intended final arrival point of a ship or shipment.

Market Differences

Japan has some of the world's most stringent emissions requirements . This can result in making some cars in Japan unsuitable for resale in Japan, yet the cars might still meet the emission requirements of other countries.

The suitability of Japan's domestically sold cars for export to other countries is complicated by the fact that vehicles in Japan are right hand drive cars. The term "right hand drive" refer to the position of the steering wheel, and such cars are driven on the left side of the road. This is one factor which limits the export potential of Japanese cars to countries such as the U.S. or the Continental E.U. However in some markets, where the labor required is economically attractive relative to the value of certain cars in that market, conversion of right hand drive cars to left hand drive are sometimes done by the local importers. The Philippines is an example of a market where such conversion is common.


Generally, most exporters are responsible for the organization and completion of the vehicle's transportation till it arrives at the importer's Port of Destination (POD). At the POD, possession of the vehicle, and the responsibility of possession, is laid on the importer. Financial responsibility, on the other hand, is transferred when ownership is handed over. Ownership is switched after the car has been purchased and before being exported. In the case of damage or losses occurring during shipping, the buyer is the one bears all financial loss.

Country Specific Import Information


Australia applies strict control on imports. In order to import a car, it must be either built before January 1 1989, a private import, or imported under the RAWS (Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme). RAWS uses professional workshop limited to 100 vehicles each to certify that an imported vehicle meets safety and emission standards called ADR (Australian Design Rules). Additionally, only vehicles listed on the approved list (SEVS) can be imported. Going through a RAW increases costs, but makes importing possible. People looking to import Japanese used cars will find it possible, but limited to a degree by costs and selection.


Ireland has relatively loose vehicle importing laws for Japanese cars. To keep imports down, Irish Revenue Commissioners require all new and imported cars to pay the Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) which raise costs. Ireland's approach keeps the country open for anybody to import easily.

New Zealand

New Zealand has relatively relaxed importing laws but recently provided a timetable to raise the safety and emission standards. Besides Biosecurity clearance and Customs clearance, a vehicle must be Entry Certified by a Transport Services Delivery Agent (TSDA) which includes seeing paper data and physical data meet safety, emissions, and possibly fuel consumption standards. Japanese used vehicles have been easily importable although the new higher standards may impact volume of imports.

United Kingdom

Importing rules for the UK largely depend on the age of the vehicle. Depending on the age of the vehicle, it may need to pass the ESVA, MOT, or both. Usually Japanese vehicles, must have some modification completed in order to pass. If the vehicle needs Enhanced Single Vehicle Approval (ESVA), it may be necessary to lease a Model Report. Availability of Model Reports may affect the amount of importable used vehicle, but it is still an open country to Japanese used vehicles, especially those over 10 years old which there is no need for an ESVA.


Canada has had the 15-year rule in place for many years. This means that any vehicle manufactured outside of the NAFTA Trade Agreement must be older than 15 years old to the month of manufacture. In many exporting countries, such as Japan, the vehicle registration document shows the date or registration and not the build date. The Canadian Customs will accept a letter from the manufacturer that states the age of the vehicle, or an Export Certificate issued by the Ministry of Land, Transportation and Infrastructure regional office (known as rikkuunkyoku in Japanese).

Canada has strict regulations regarding the tires the imported vehicle may have. Federal law requires all tires used on Canadian roads to have stamped on the side wall the tire's maximum load capacity and maximum psi capacity. Other requirements include day-time running lights, side markers and a third brake light.


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