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Buying cars online from Japan

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Buying cars online from Japan is still a challenge

With all enormous popularity of the Internet - buying cars online from Japan is still a challenge. Why? There are several reasons for it where trust, way of doing business in japan, language challenges and lack of a good advise are prevalent.

Trust - one of the largest issues that the customer has while buying a car that he didn't see with his/her own eyes. This aspect could be farther divided into company trust -since all online car exporters from Japan require 100% advance payment and confidence that the car described on the web-site is in the same condition as the site says.

Regarding the due-diligence on company's legitimacy - there are several ways how you can check. The easiest one - just pay attention to the company site and such facts as frequency of stock updates, professionalism and clearly defined procedure how to order your car and steps necessary (please check for the details How to order section at Japan Partner Inc.). Also a good check would be to see if the company owns the domain it sells the cars from and the site is not being hosted for free (you can tell it if there is abundance of advertising). There is nothing wrong with free hosting however if the company is serious about selling cars online in Japan they would definitely need 300-1000 MB of hosting space that is never given for free.

More thorough checks can be conducted through the proper official channels. Company status is probably one of the most important factors while checking for its trustworthiness and legitimacy. There are 3 main forms of conducting business in Japan:

  1. Personal business (kojin) is least regulated and least accountable for its practices here in Japan
  2. Houjin Limited ownership (Ltd.) in Japanese (yuugen gaisya)
  3. Houjin Incorporated (Inc.) in Japanese (kabushiki gaisya)

The most prevailing form of business is Ltd. so if the company you are about to buy car online from Japan is either Ltd or Inc. then they should be legitimate and legally operate in Japan. As personal form of business (Kojin) there is nothing wrong with it but it must be transparent and do not claim that it is the "the largest exporter" in Japan and etc. There are a number of personal businesses, which are in export business, and if somebody used that koujin company before and was happy you can also use it .

Another way to check if the company that sells used cars online in Japan is whether they are registered (have registration number) with Foreign Trade Chamber. This registration number is awarded to the companies, which had trading/export history and properly equipped/staffed to conduct export business (For the format you can check our Export registration number on our company profile page). So if the company that you are about to buy a used or damaged cars online from, has such registration number - it is a good sign of its legitimacy.

And the last but not the least - bank account. Japanese banking laws are rather strict when it concerns "monetary movements" and bank accounts. All registered (houjin businesses LTD and INC require to have their banking accounts exactly under the name that they registered their companies. So if you are buying a used car online from Japan and name on the bank account is different than the name of the trading company (or even worth belongs to an individual) then you need to investigate more before transferring the payment.

Language challenges

Even though most of Japanese study or studies English - very few can speak (even if they can write English, most of them have difficulty speaking). Make sure when you speak on the phone with your Japanese agent or dealer that you are about to buy a car from, that he/she understands what you want.

Way of doing business in Japan

Japanese business is heavily dependent on "middle men". It wasn't until 90s when both under the influence of depression and foreign competition Japan economy started getting more efficient and direct while doing business. Regular way of selling cars in Japan is to go through the number of middlemen before it actually comes to a company or individual abroad. So if you decide to shop before choosing your online used car company - you won't have lots to chose from, most of the reliable but rather expensive online car traders can be counted by one hand with stock really exceeding 20-30 cars.

OK, now you did all the homework with choosing the local (Japanese) company to buy a car from and ready for the action BUT Not so fast.

"MUST DO" before deciding on the car

You will need to check with your country import rules to make sure that the car you want to get does not fall under any restrictions. Most of the countries have liberal laws on importing used and damaged cars and when they do they mostly relate to production year or gas emissions. Also make sure you check and know what export related documents you need from Japan. The regular package is B&L (2-3 sheets issued by a shipping company through your shipping agent, Original Deregistration Certificate in Japanese, its English Translation and Invoice.

What info to look for before buying a car?

Most of the serious sites selling cars online should have a fairly detailed description for the cars they sell online (check this link for the details). Our site offers more details than a regular online used car dealer so you should not expect. You might want the following details before deciding what car to buy online:

  1. Model
  2. Production Year (ATTENTION: Make sure that you are buying a car that was MANUFACTURED let's say in 1995 and NOT REGISTERED in 1995. In most Japanese auctions in the year column, REGISTRATION year is used. Registration is the year when the car is being registered in Japan (and sometimes with LHD cars, it can vary as much as 2 years and with used cars which were imported on personal import base 3-5 years). When you buy cars from the auction - make sure you either check the manufacturing year by chassis number or ask your agent to check manufacturing year by examining the car (most cars have manufacturing year at on their front seatbelts).
  3. Steer: LHD / RHD
  4. Transmission (AT/MT)
  5. Gas / Diesel
  6. Mileage
  7. Drive: 2WD, 4WD

Time to pay for the car that you ordered online

Most of the companies require 100% advance payment before they begin export related arrangements and confirm the purchase. There are three main types of payments you are going to deal with.

  1. Car only price - if you have a yard in Japan and first gather cars in one place before shipping them home, then this is an option for you
  2. FOB (Free on Board) - price should include car cost and export / custom related arrangements (or it can be expressed with Car price + FOB charge). You need to check with your local shipping agent if you can pay freight collect, since the freight is not included into FOB arrangements.
  3. CIF (Car cost + Insurance + Freight). This option is the most frequent when you buy cars online in Japan.
    Car Shipping Cost Car Shipping Cost

Getting your car back home

Once you bought your car online in Japan - it is natural you want it fast as soon as you can. If shipments are frequent to your port - and deregistration certificate is already issued - then you can have your car on board of a car ferry within a week (provided your agent could get a spot on it with no lead time). Usually it takes about 2 -3 weeks to ship your car (with frequent connection) or full 4 weeks if deregistration certificate has to be issued. When you buy from the auction, or the car is being purchased directly from an individual - they usually ask for 10 days to have your deregistration certificate ready. Once your payment is confirmed, shipping arrangement are conducted and once the car leaves Japan a package with your car related documents is expressed mail to you.

Picking up your car at the port

Now it is easy. You check your closest shipping agent, contact him/her and bring your export related documents to your agent. For a small fee, he will arrange your car off-loading and other (if any) custom related paper work. After that - the car is YOURS!

* Please note that this is a general and non-specific to any country flow. It is for illustrative purposes only. Check with your local authorities and shipping agency for complete details.

Our latest stock items!

Honda BEAT used car
Honda BEAT PP1 - 1991
Steer.:Right, Price: USD 4,350
Chrysler GRAND VOYAGER used car
Steer.:Right, Price: USD 1,660

3300CC,PS, PW, Leather seat, After market Navi
Mercedes-Benz C240 used car
Mercedes-Benz C240 STATION WAGON - 1997
Steer.:Right, Price: USD 1,770

2398CC, PS, PW
Subaru Impreza WRX used car
Subaru Impreza WRX NB - 2000
Steer.:Right, Price: USD 5,510

2000CC, PS, PW, Manual 5 Speed, Turbo, 4WD

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