Ship a Vehicle to Japan from the USA

Are you moving to Japan? For a variety of reasons, many American expats have started shipping their vehicles to Japan. Whether it involves shipping a military POV or transporting their American muscle car for enjoyment on Japanese roads, the overall appeal for exporting vehicles has grown.

Japan is an island and the shortest distance to the country from the United States is over 6,000 miles. In order to effectively and effortlessly transport your vehicle the massive distance to Japan, you’ll want to hire an auto shipping company to manage the transport and import process. Thankfully, you’ve come to the right place because Ship Vehicles is the leading international vehicle shipping company with over 30 years of experience. We help to simplify the shipping process, give the best value in the industry and never comprise excellent customer service.

Our essential guide below will help shed some light on how to ship a vehicle to Japan, what the process entails and how you can get started with your shipment today. If you feel like you’re ready to begin shipping your car to Japan, fill out our simple online request form and one of our team members will be in touch with you as soon as possible.

How to Ship a Vehicle to Japan

When you partner with a professional auto shipping company, the process of shipping a vehicle to Japan is very simple. Once your shipment is scheduled, we manage all of the essential steps from start to finish. The entire procedure can be broken down into three major steps:

  1. Obtain a price estimate and hire your vehicle transport company.
  2. Begin exporting the vehicle to Japan.
  3. Once the vehicle arrives in Japan, finish up the import process.

We’ll dive into these steps into further detail so you can better understand the entire process.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Vehicle to Japan?

Gathering quotes and price estimates should be the first step in shipping your car to Japan. The exact price you can expect to pay will depend on a number of factors relating to your individual shipment. In general, the cost for shipping a vehicle to Japan will depend on the origin, the vehicle and the destination. Aside from cars, you can also ship boats, motorcycles, vans and basically any type of motor vehicle to Japan.

Since every shipping situation is completely unique, our representatives create custom quotes that are tailored to each individual shipment. However, examine the following table for some estimated auto transport prices based on the origin in the USA and the destination in Japan. Keep in mind that if the origin location is not near one of the dedicated departure ports, additional vehicle transport may be required.


Origin/Destination Ground Ocean
New York, NY to (New York port) to Toyama $275 $3,300
Los Angeles, CA to (California port) to Kobe $350 $2,000
Las Vegas, NV to (California port) to Okinawa $450 $2,500
Portland, OR to (California port) to Osaka $475 $2,100
Phoenix, AZ to (California port) to Okinawa $550 $2,500
Detroit, MI to (New York port) to Toyama $575 $3,300
Denver, CO to (California port) to Yokohama $775 $2,000
Memphis, TN to (New York port) to Toyama $800 $3,300
Miami, FL to (New York port) to Toyama $925 $3,300
Houston, TX to (New York port) to Toyama $1,075 $3,300


Based on this table, here are some general factors to keep in mind:

  • These prices are estimated and the actual cost will depend on the type of vehicle in addition to the time of year it is being shipped.
  • The ground transport costs refer to the transport of the vehicle to the nearest port. You can save on this cost by delivering the vehicle yourself.
  • Prices are based on 1 car in its own 20ft shipping container. Shipping a car in a container is the most secure and reliable way to transport a vehicle to Japan. You can also save money on moving costs by shipping personal belongings in the container along with your car.
  • You can save some money by opting for the RoRo (roll on, roll off) shipping method. This form of international vehicle transport is less expensive and often faster.

The Export Process for Shipping a Vehicle to Japan

Once you’ve made the decision to ship your vehicle to Japan and scheduled the shipment, we can begin the export process. We will work closely with you in regards to any required documentation that is need for your particular vehicle and port. If you are only importing your vehicle to Japan temporarily, you need to fill out a Carnet de Passage en Douane (CPD). This form is a customs document that will identify the owner of the vehicle. This document, along with a list of the people who are permitted to drive the vehicle while it’s in Japan, will need to be faxed to the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF).

However, if you are planning on keeping your vehicle in Japan for longer than a year, it must be imported permanently. In this case, the process is a little more involved and requires more paperwork than the temporary procedure. The following are the documents you can expect to be required when importing a vehicle to Japan permanently:

  • Import Declaration Form
  • Commercial invoice
  • Vehicle registration
  • Bill of Lading
  • Proof of ownership or authorization letter from lien holder
  • Freight account of cargo
  • Government-issued identification (most often a passport)
  • Proof of vehicle insurance

Completing the Import Process in Japan

Once your vehicle arrives at the port in Japan, it will begin the importation process. You will receive a notification that your car has arrived and customs clearance has started. When the vehicle passes through customs, a declaration form needs to be submitted. The automobile acquisition tax will be assessed and must be paid prior to clearing customs. The tax is equal to five percent of the depreciated value of your vehicle.

The vehicle will be awarded a custom clearance certificate once it clears customs and will move on to the inspection and emissions test phase. Your car will be delivered to a dedicated testing center to go through a thorough inspection. This test can take up to a week and any pieces of the vehicle that do not conform to Japanese standards will be required to be fixed before it can be driven in the country.

Finally, the vehicle will go through the registration process at a Land Transport Bureau office. Registration is mandatory and must happen within three months of the preliminary inspection. At this point, any application vehicle taxes should be paid and then the car registration certificate will be rewarded.

Vehicle Shipping Options for Transport to Japan

At Ship Vehicles, we offer four different types of shipping methods suitable for any vehicle you need to transport to Japan. Whether it’s a small compact vehicle or heavy machinery, we have shipping services that will work for you. When you speak with one of our representatives, provide them with some information about the type of vehicle you will transporting and they can present and explain our shipping method options. The following are the vehicle shipping methods we offer:

  • Container Shipping
  • Flat Rack Transport
  • Lift On/Lift Off Method
  • Roll On/Roll Off Method

Container shipping is our enclosed transport method and most heavy cargo is suitable for the 40ft containers. The most affordable option is the roll on/roll off (RoRo) method but your vehicle will be driven on and off the ship and exposed to the elements during its journey. Flat rack transport secures your cargo to a metal frame to avoid any shifting during the trip and lift on/lift off is the transport method most recommended for those who are shipping inoperable vehicles or crated cargo.

Ready to start shipping your vehicle to Japan? Call us today at (888) 231-0113, or fill out our online quote request form to get in touch with one of our dedicated vehicle transport experts and receive your FREE shipping estimate.