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Old 23.08.2010, 12:29
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Anyone had experience importing from Japan?

Hi all, been through the car import threads and was unable to find anything that quite answers the particular questions I have, so hopefully someone out there might have some advice to offer.

Basically I'd like to import a car from Japan, specifically a Mazda RX-8 or Nissan 350Z.

Importing cars from Japan is not uncommon in the UK, where there are many companies that will sort everything out for you. This not only allows substantial savings on UK prices, but also allows customers to get interesting models that are only on sale over there (helps that Japan is also RHD).

In particular, the price of Japanese performance cars here is chronic. A 1993 Toyota Supra costs about 30,000 CHF here whereas you can buy one in Japan for about 2000 quid, and its probably been better looked after.

So has anyone had any experience of importing from there to Switzerland? and if so, would they be able to advise on the costs involved?
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Old 23.08.2010, 12:31
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Re: Anyone had experience importing from Japan?

we had a jap imported landcruiser, that was imported to the uk, then we bought it here, as it had a jap vin plate and not an eu one?? we where told we could not import it to switzerland, so we ended up selling it back in the uk
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Old 23.08.2010, 12:36
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Re: Anyone had experience importing from Japan?

Thanks bigblue2, yeah one thought I had was to get one shipped to the UK and then drive it down here, but thought against it as would probably have to pay import fees dues twice...

With respect to the VIN, i reckon US car owners may run into the same issue when importing their cars here too.
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Old 23.08.2010, 12:39
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Re: Anyone had experience importing from Japan?

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Thanks bigblue2, yeah one thought I had was to get one shipped to the UK and then drive it down here, but thought against it as would probably have to pay import fees dues twice...

With respect to the VIN, i reckon US car owners may run into the same issue when importing their cars here too.

it seems to be just a jap thing, we had a guy from france want to buy the landcruiser, but he said the same thing, he couldn't import it to france with a jap vin. I found it all quite odd as the uk accepts jap imports no problem.
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Old 23.08.2010, 17:13
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Re: Anyone had experience importing from Japan?

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I found it all quite odd as the uk accepts jap imports no problem.
That's probably because UK are right-hand drive, same as Japan...
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Old 23.08.2010, 17:21
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Re: Anyone had experience importing from Japan?

I really do not think that you want your driver's seat on the "wrong side" long term - every time you want to enter a car park you will need to climb to get the ticket out of the machine...

But anyway: Both models are very common in Switzerland and at least the rx8 has a terrible resell value, so you could get one here relatively cheap. I can see the point of importing a Porsche from the US as one can save a lot - but a Mazda from Japan?

A low km one with sat nav, new tires and a fresh MFK (the MOT here) costs <15k CHF.
http://www.autoscout24.ch/AS24Web/De...6&page=1&row=9

The process of getting the papers done plus the actual shipping will likey cost several thousands, so your potential gain is minimal while the risk of not getting your car street legal is quite big.
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Old 23.08.2010, 22:08
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Re: Anyone had experience importing from Japan?

Thanks for the answers guys! I've a funny feeling that RX-8 on autoscout was so cheap due to the horrible colour

I'll look into it a bit more, as even if I have to pay a couple of grand for shipping and paperwork, I still think that savings could be substantial (ok maybe not on the RX-8). It doesn't take much to make a Japanese car road legal in the UK, so unless there is a bureaucratic barrier (as bigblue says about France not accepting Japanese VINs) I can't see it being that expensive.

The reason I was interested in the RX-8 was that I used to have a RX-7 when I was living in Japan, but I have never seen one in Switzerland. Come to think of it, an RX-7 can be had for about 3000 quid over there, and I'd happily pay 6000 to have one on the road here
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Old 06.05.2011, 12:47
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Re: Anyone had experience importing from Japan?

Hi, I thought I'd give a bit of an update as to where things stand at the moment on my quest to get a high performance Japanese car over here.

After much research, I've come to the conclusion that it is not impossible, but prohibitively expensive, to bring any car that was originally made for non European markets over here. Testing of most of the parts is necessary in order to get European safety certification, and at Swiss labour rates this would probably cost more than the original car.

That being said, I have been given the rare opportunity to buy an original UK-market RX7 that is absolutely bog standard and has not been absolutely ragged. A friend is selling it and it is quite cheap. A European certificate of conformity is available for 75 quid from Mazda UK. I still have an address in the UK that I can insure the vehicle at and it is taxed and tested (just for clarity, UK road fund license and MOT) until this winter. Its a very clean car and at the last MOT is just required a handbrake cable and rear tyres.

Now, the difficulty begins. I have been a resident (5 year B-permit, although I only have 1 year employment contracts) in Switzerland for just over a year. I've trawled the forum for info, but much of it is a bit confusing and difficult to interpret.

I gather that as a Swiss resident for more than 1 year, I am not allowed to drive any vehicle on foreign plates at all. Does this mean I would be turned away at the border, or just given a form that requires me to import the car within a couple of days?

If it is required to be imported, then as it originates in the EU I gather that it should be exempt from customs duty, but I would have to pay sales tax and VAT (8% and 4% of the value if I'm not mistaken). How do the customs calculate the value of an old car that was never sold in Switzerland?

After the import, how long do I have before it needs to get an Mfk? I was hoping there would be at least some time to allow me to get the necessary modifications done (and I would still be allowed to drive it during this time). For the Mfk, I realise that the lights would need to be changed over, which might cost a bit, but I'm willing to pay for this.

Just as a side note, this car is cheap, and the current rate for Japanese RX7s that have gone through homologation here is around 35,000 Francs. If the import and tests went smoothly (and given this is a European market car) and I chose to resell it, I may be able to make a tidy profit. Most of all though, I really love these cars and it is rather a special case.

Thanks to all who have previously shown an interest in this topic and any further advice would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 06.05.2011, 13:28
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Re: Anyone had experience importing from Japan?

when i looked on autoscout for germany and switzerland, they had rx8s for fairly cheap prices. are you getting enough of a discount to make it worthwhile to import?
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Old 06.05.2011, 13:41
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Re: Anyone had experience importing from Japan?

Hi there, this model is an RX7, the RX8's predecessor, which was never sold in Switzerland. Considerably cooler in my opinion

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Old 06.05.2011, 14:51
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Re: Anyone had experience importing from Japan?

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I gather that as a Swiss resident for more than 1 year, I am not allowed to drive any vehicle on foreign plates at all. Does this mean I would be turned away at the border, or just given a form that requires me to import the car within a couple of days?
I don't know about that, but you can get temporary (3 days I think) plates for the purpose of bringing the car in.

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If it is required to be imported, then as it originates in the EU I gather that it should be exempt from customs duty, but I would have to pay sales tax and VAT (8% and 4% of the value if I'm not mistaken). How do the customs calculate the value of an old car that was never sold in Switzerland?
On my car they chared it at the price I paid for it. I've heard different stories, but not from anyone who's imported a car. I took the sales receipt and the ebay print out and they asked no questions. Wish I'd given them a fake one for a few grand less.

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After the import, how long do I have before it needs to get an Mfk?
Apart from with the temporary plates I mentioned you can't drive it without an MFK. They won't issue you with plates. This was really annoying for me as they wouldn't even book it for an MFK without an abgas test so I trailered it for that, then waited 3 weeks for a test, then trailered it to the MFK station. Then the guy said, 'oh you can buy temporary plates'.

Importing need not be a pain. It wasn't especially for me (I have a trailer anyway). You seem to have picked your car carefully and that is the basis for a successful import.
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Old 06.05.2011, 15:51
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Re: Anyone had experience importing from Japan?

Thanks a lot for your reply. I suppose my biggest fear is being forced to import it as I've been here for 12 months, then it failing an emissions test or Mfk and subsequently not being allowed to take it back out of the country on its UK plates. Quite a scary thought and I would hope that customs would give me a bit of leeway in such a situation?
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Old 06.05.2011, 18:10
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Re: Anyone had experience importing from Japan?

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Hi there, this model is an RX7, the RX8's predecessor, which was never sold in Switzerland. Considerably cooler in my opinion

Can you take the wings off, I assume they do nothing but add drag and look horrible?
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