Here are some frequently asked questions about importing vehicles from Japan.
If you have a question that you don’t see listed here, please contact us for a prompt and helpful reply.
Q: Why JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) cars?
A: There are a lot of really neat cars available on the Japanese market that you can’t get here; from diesel family vans to the legendary Skyline to head turning Kei cars. It is a decision you need to make, but we can put you into a really neat car that just can’t be found in North America.
Q: Is it illegal to import cars from Japan?
A: If a car is 15 years old or older on arrival in Canada (to the month of manufacture) then it is legal.
Q: Are these cars hard to fix?
A: We work with a very competent Mechanic shop in London to comply the cars to Canadian standards. Most parts are available in Canada. Rare stuff is a phone call away (remember, we started this business in Japan).
Q: Aren’t you on the wrong side of the road?
A: Canada Post does it. It’s cool.
Q: Is insurance difficult to get?
A: It sure is (depending on who you talk to). We work with our clients to source the best insurance possible. Insurance appraisals are provided free of charge if the insurer requires it.
Q: How long will it take to get a car here?
A: The import process will take between 6 and 9 weeks. If your search criteria is very specific it may take longer to track down the right car.
Q: What are the fees?
A: In Japan; Auction fee, recycle ticket, sales tax, road tax, export certificate, transit, customs clearance (possible inspection), Shipping, Canada soil check (randomly), duty, GST, PST, AC excise tax… I can give you an estimate on the car you are interested in.
Q: Are haircuts a problem?
A: A haircut means the odometer has been tampered with. This is part of a larger problem in the car business that is no doubt an issue in Canada as well: bad cars. At Bonsai Rides, we can read the auction sheets, and we have partners in Japan that check our cars in person before we bid on them, confirming the odometer reading and condition of the car. Cars are registered in Japan every two years and odometer readings are tracked on official paperwork, so it is an easy thing to catch.
Q: Why do cars have to come off the road at 50,000km in Japan?
A: If anybody ever pitches this idea to you, call shenanigans! They are hiding mileage history.
Q: Are the cars radioactive?
A: Everything is geiger counted before being exported. All of our cars have had in the region of 0.10 and 0.13x mSv/h which is standard background radiation. At Bonsai Rides in 2014 we continue to avoid auctions in Fukushima and Tohoku.