Import Regulations in US for Japan Used Cars

Restriction in Number of Years:
Max. 25 Years Old
Shipping Ports:
Los Angeles, Long Beach
Shipment Time:
9-18 Days
Shipping Schedule:
Shipping Line:
Atlantic Container Line
No Inspection

Both right and left-hand-drive used Japanese vehicles are permitted for import in the US.

Other ports for importing used vehicles in the US are New York, Kodiak, Tacoma, San Francisco, San Diego, San Antonio, Houston, Tampa, Miami, Jacksonville, Savannah, Georgetown, Baltimore, and Newport.

Other ports for importing used vehicles in the US are New York, Kodiak, Tacoma, San Francisco, San Diego, San Antonio, Houston, Tampa, Miami, Jacksonville, Savannah, Georgetown, Baltimore, and Newport.

Vehicles to be imported in the US have to comply with road safety and emissions standards.

Arrangements to be made by the owner prior to the arrival of the shipment:
  • The shipper will notify you about the date of arrival of the shipment.
  • Processing of the shipment upon arrival is done by CBP.
  • Arrange for a freight forwarder at the abroad for clearing the shipment at the first port of entry. The vehicle can then be sent to a CBP bond as per your convenience.
  • CBP officers are not allowed for making entries, so you are required to hire a CBP broker for managing the entry process.
  • Bill of Lading (original, from the shipping company)
  • Bill of Sale
  • Documents of foreign registration
  • Other documents covering the vehicle
  • EPA Form 3520-1, DOT Form HS-7 (to be completed, these forms state provisions of safety and emissions of the vehicle)
  • Proof of eligibility for EPA exemptions (for vehicles which lack the manufacturer’s label on the engine as a proof that the vehicle meets all the safety and emissions standards)
  • Invoice (in English)
  • Certificate of Title of the car or the export certificate (in English)
  • ISF filing forum
  • Importer Security Filing (ISF) form

If the vehicle does not meet the standards of the safety and regulation by the EPA and is also not eligible for the exemption, then it can be imported through an Independent Commercial Importer (ICI).

Modifications will be done by the ICI to make sure that the vehicle meets the EPA standards. Fees of ICI is high. However, some vehicles may not be modified by the ICI as per EPA standards to make them eligible for importation.

The car must be cleaned thoroughly to remove any unwanted pests. The undercarriage should be cleaned of soil and pests as per the rule of the US Department of Agriculture.
The vehicle must be free of any personal belongings during shipment. Declaration of the contents of the car should be made to the CBP upon entry. The car and the contents could be seized or fined if the rules are not followed.
Transporting illegal narcotics through the car in shipment could lead to seizure and penalty.
  • Citizens of the United States who are employed abroad and returning for a short-term basis are eligible for duty-free entry. The importer must claim a non-resident status in the US and must export the vehicle out of the US when the duration of stay ends.
  • Military and government employees among the civilians who have served outside the Customs territory of the US are allowed to bring the vehicle duty-free as their personal belongings. Relevant duties must be paid prior to the sale of the vehicle at the CBP office.
  • Non-residents of the US are allowed to import a vehicle duty-free if the vehicle is brought with their arrival. With duty-free import, the vehicle is allowed to be used for no longer than 1 year.
  • Non-residents who want to import vehicles during a temporary stay or for other specific reasons like sports. For reasons other than money, the CBP may allow entry of a vehicle for 90 days informally or without bond, provided that the CBP officer contends with the identity of the importer. The vehicle must be exported within those 90 days or else the vehicle could be forfeited.

If the vehicle is more than 25 years in age, then it must abide by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). HS-7 form must be filled by the importer prior to importation which declares that the vehicle abides by the requirement of the DOT.


Japan used vehicles to be imported in the US are liable for applicable duties and taxes. Rates of duty depend on the paid or payable price of the vehicle.

  • 2.5% duty will be applicable to automobiles.
  • 25% duty will be applicable to trucks.
  • 0% or 2.4% duty will be applicable to motorcycles.
  • Most of the Canadian vehicles can be imported duty-free.
  • Federal tax may apply on some automobiles that are imported for personal or commercial uses.