Shipping to Japan
Disclaimer: This information is based on our experience gathered during our trip through Japan from end of September to end of December 2016 entering from Korea and exiting to the USA. Things tend to change, check with authorities on latest guidelines and regulations.
Country of Registration: Be aware that offcially cars registered in Germany, Switzerland, Monaco or Slovenia can not be driven in Japan as the documents are not recognized by Japanese authorities (see also apexmoto.jp)! Depending on where you arrive you might be lucky and the customs officials might not realise it but in case they do, it will be an expensive experiment!
Temporary Import: If you arrive in Japan by ferry (meaning you are on the same ship as your car!) you do not need a Carnet de Passage (CDP) but can enter using a so-called form C5014. We used Koreaferry (Camellia Line) from Busan to Hakata and were obliged to buy a return ticket. This was still way cheaper than other offerings from Korea to Japan (e.g. DBS). The ticket price included the customs process in Japan, we only had to organize Japanese insurance for which we had the original papers shipped to the ferry company’s office in Hakata (see below). You need insurance in order to get the clearance and form C5014. With this customs declaration, your vehicle can be exempted from taxes under the Customs Tariff Law, Article 17 for one year (even if the estimated export date on the form says otherwise). Please note that if you will not re-export your vehicle within 1 year since entry, taxes which are exempted at entry will be imposed.
You can download this customs form from the following site: http://www.customs.go.jp/kaisei/youshiki/form_C/C5014a.pdf. We also had to pay a gurantee fee (15’000 Yen) in order to obtain the form.
The ferry company’s broker managed all import aspects and while we ran through a rather extensive quarantine inspection all paper work was done and we left the dock just 2 hours after unloading.
Insurance: Insurance (“Jibaiseki”) is obligatory in Japan. We used apexmoto.jp who issued the insurance within 2 days and sent the certificates and stickers (that you have to place on your plates) to the ferry company before our arrival, so everything was ready as we arrived in Hakata. A 3 months Jibaiseki for our truck was 9480 Yen, payable by PayPal.
Driving License: You need a valid International Driving License to drive in Japan.
Export: As we shipped our Rouletout via RoRo from Yokohama to Long Beach we couldn’t use the simplified process with form C5014 for export. We had to make regular export declaration forms and declare them to Yokohama Customs using a broker as the process is quite complex and English non-existent. You must also submit a proof that you are leaving Japan around the same time (e.g. plane ticket). The following pages might still be useful if you want to attempt it by yourself:
The Japan Customs Homepage
—> English —> Export/Import —> Customs Answer(FAQ)
—> 5001 Outline of Export Clearance