How to Import a Car from Japan: The Ultimate Guide

Everything you need to know about how to import a car from Japan to Canada.

Importing vehicles from Japan may look like a lengthy and stressful procedure, but if you’re familiar with the import regulations of your country, it may look like a simple and straight process. The post import homework is important as it can protect you from importing vehicles which are not compliant with the import regulations and are not allowed. This can save you from wasting your time and money. In this article, we will discuss the entire import procedure for importing cars from Japan to Canada. In order to make it easy to understand, we will discuss all the details of the process step by step.

Table of Contents

How to Import a Car from Japan to Canada

Before planning to import your dream vehicle into Canada, it’s important for you to take into account the import rules and regulations. It is also important to know what concerned departments are there which regulate vehicle imports in Canada. Currently, there are two departments: CBSA (Canadian Border Service Agency) and TC (Transport Canada) which are administering and enforcing import regulations and other domestic laws. CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) is another department which requires your vehicle to be properly washed and free from any soil, sand, dust, pests and/or plant residue before entering Canadian borders. This rule applies to all used vehicles regardless of their export region.

Canadian Car Import Regulations

There are different import regulations for vehicles imported from the United States to Canada and vehicles imported from other countries such as Japan. It is not allowed in Canada to import vehicles that are not compliant with the standards set by the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. However, you can import vehicles from any country other than the United States if your vehicle meets certain requirements that are set by Transport Canada and the Canada Border Service Agency. The following conditions must be met for importing a vehicle into Canada.

  • The vehicle is 15 years old or older with respect to its manufacturing month and year. The vehicle is regulated and is not categorized as a bus.
  • If the vehicle is a bus then the manufacturing year must be before 1971.
  • If the vehicle is originally owned in Canada, and complies with Canadian Standards and also is a returning vehicle with Canadian specifications, then the importer can seek pre-authorization from Transport Canada.
  • If the vehicle complies with Canadian Standards and was purchased new from a manufacturer’s foreign buyer program, then the importer can seek pre-authorization from Transport Canada.
  • If the vehicle was purchased new as part of a United States specification foreign delivery program and meets all United States federal motor vehicle safety standards.

Now that we have an understanding about Canadian import regulations and conditions which should be met in order to import a vehicle into Canada, let us move on to the process of importing vehicles from Japan to Canada.

Importing Cars to Canada

Importing a Japanese car into Canada is simple, given that you follow the step by step guide and make sure that all the requirements set by CBSA, TC, and CFIA are taken into account. Japanese cars are famous for their durability, engine quality, and affordability. That is the reason why many people in Canada import cars from Japan.

Select an Importer in Canada

The vehicle importing process starts with the selection of a credible car importer that is trustworthy. These importers use special portals and websites on which customers can register. Buyers can sign up using their information and it is confirmed through their email. After the registration, buyers become eligible to use various functions of the website or portal.

Choosing the Vehicle

After the registration is complete, you can choose the car that you want to buy. The cars can be chosen from a wide range of stock. You can filter your search on the basis of price, model, make, mileage and other specifications. While finalizing the vehicle for purchase, it should be ensured that your budget and car specifications requirements are aligned so that you could have a better value for money.

Mode of Purchase

The vehicle importers offer two kinds of vehicle purchases: auctioned vehicles and private sale vehicles. You need to decide which mode of purchase is feasible for you according to your budget and other requirements. The requirements for auctioned vehicles and private sale vehicles are different. First, we will describe how auctions and private sales work and then we will explain the complete procedure.   

Vehicle Auctions

While buying a car from an auction, you need to consider certain things such as the requirements for taking part in auctions. You also need to take into account the pros and cons of buying a car from an auction. Your experience in bidding also affects your deal.

Private Sale

You can also buy your desired vehicle from an automotive dealer’s portal in a private sale. You can choose a vehicle from the stock, get its quotation and the invoice will be generated and sent to you via email. Unlike an auction, the private sale does not require any security deposit.

Assuming that we have understood how auctions and private sales work, let us move forward to the process of importing through auctions.

Japanese Auction House. Source: Toprank International Vehicle Importers

Buying from an Auction

The auction process is based on seven steps or phases. We will discuss each step in detail so you could have an idea about how to buy a vehicle from an auction for importing.

1) Customer Registration

The first step in the process is to register or signup on the dealer’s portal or website. The registration requires customer’s information and the confirmation of registration is made through an email to the customer. This registration is free of cost and allows the user to effectively use all the functions of the portal or the website. 

2) Security Deposit

The auction process is based on bidding and in order to participate in the bidding, the customers must deposit a refundable amount of security. If the customer’s bid isn’t successful, the security amount deposited will be refunded to that customer. On the other hand, if the customer’s bid is successful, the security amount will be adjusted in the invoice of the car.

3) Bidding Process

The bidding process is quite simple, the customers need to set a bidding range on the portal or website. The car dealer’s agents will then bid for the vehicle in the auction following the range set by the customer. In case of unsuccessful bidding, the customer will not have to pay anything to the dealer.

4) Bidding Results

After the bidding process is complete, the results of the auction are displayed on the web portal in order to notify the customers. These results are also emailed to the customers on their provided email ids. In case of a successful bid, the invoice containing the CIF (Cost of Insurance and Freight) is provided to the customer along with the methods of payment.

5) Payment

If your bid results in success and you have the results emailed to you, the payment should be made for the invoice generated and sent by your car dealer. There are various methods for making payments which can be decided with the auto dealer.

RORO (Roll on, Roll off) Vehicle Shipping Yard. Source: Turkey SeaNews

6) Shipment Process

The shipment process begins after the settlement of payments. Good auto dealers try to ship your vehicle on the earliest vessel, and the bill of lading is issued one week after the departure of your vehicle. The bill of lading is sent along with some other documents which are listed below:

  • Final Invoice
  • Export Certificate
  • Marine Insurance
  • Inspection Certificate from JAAI and JEVIC
  • Deregistration Certificate

JAAI stands for Japan Auto Appraisal Institute and JEVIC stands for Japan Vehicle Inspection Association

7) Vehicle Port Clearance

The vehicles are delivered at the port as per the pre communicated schedule and it is necessary for customers to bring all the documents they have received from their auto dealer. In order to have a smooth and hassle-free clearance from the port, it is important to provide all the documents.


This was the complete 7-step vehicle import procedure for importing your dream car into Canada from any part of the world in general and from Japan to Canada in particular. If you take care of all the points and obtain and provide relevant and sufficient information where required, we can give you a reasonable assurance that importing a car from Japan to Canada would become easier and hassle-free.

All you need to do is a little homework, read this guide properly and follow through all the steps, and you would be able to complete the entire import process on your own.

Works Cited

Auction Order Process. (2019, 05 31). Retrieved from Car Hub Japan:

How to Buy. (2018, 05 25). Retrieved from Japanese Car Trade:

Importing a Vehicle. (2018, 08 23). Retrieved from Government of Canada:

Zulfiqar. (2017, 12 04). How to Import Japanese Used Cars to Canada. Retrieved from

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