Finding a Car
In order to purchase a car, you need to have the following documents.
- The certificate of registered Inkan* (Not required for a 660cc K-car)
- The certificate of parking space* (Not required for residents of villages)
- Inkan (for more information: What is an Inkan?)
Buying a Vehicle
If you wish to purchase a car, motorcycle, or moped, you will need an inkan (Seal) and the certificate of Inkan. If you are buying a white plate car, you will also need a proof of parking space called “shako shomeisho （車庫証明書）”. To get a shako shomeisho, you must get a document from your landlord or housing agency showing your parking space. Your landlord may charge you a hefty sum for this document. Once you have the document from your landlord, bring it to the police station. The police will verify that it is correct, and prepare a shako shomeisho.
You do not need to get a proof of parking space if your residence is in Onna- son/ Yomitan-son.
There are many English-speaking car dealers around U.S. military bases. However, their prices are much higher than regular “Japanese” car dealers. You can find Japanese car dealers on almost every highway. Usually, they leave the price sign on the front window of cars they are selling. Most cases, the price is only for a “vehicle”, and the dealer will charge you for tuning, etc. Please do not hesitate to ask the dealer questions such as Japanese Compulsory Insurance expiration date, if the car has been in an accident before, the actual price you need to pay, etc.
Please refer to the following for average prices for second hand cars. The price may vary depending on which year the car was made, the condition, and the mileage
Kei car (660 cc engine) Yellow license plate
- Suzuki Wagon R: ¥200,000 to ¥700,000
- Daihatsu Move: ¥200,000 to ¥700,000
Small car (around 1.3 to 1.8 Liters)
- Toyota Vitz: ¥300,000 to ¥800,000
- Toyota Corolla: ¥300,000 to ¥800,000
Regular (around 2 Liters)
- Nissan Skyline ¥500,000 to ¥800,000
- Honda Step Wagon ¥400,000 to ¥1,000,000
Other Necessary Things to Remember:
1. Automobile Acquisition Tax
When an automobile is purchased, regardless of whether it is new or used, the purchaser must pay an acquisition tax.
2. Disposition Fee
You have to pay a one-time disposition fee if you buy a new car/used car that has not yet had a disposition fee paid. If you purchase a car through an auto dealer, they will take care of the paperwork for you.
3. Voluntary Insurance
When you purchase a car in Japan, you have to subscribe to the Japanese Compulsory Insurance (JCI) which is a mandatory insurance that only covers a limited amount for injury to a third party. This insurance’s coverage is limited and doesn’t cover property damage liability, which means it doesn’t cover your injury or the damage to your car. It is highly recommended that you get the Voluntary Automobile Insurance from a private insurance company. The following insurance company has a branch office in Okinawa and an English-speaking agent.
ACE Insurance (English speaking agents: WILTEC)
Address:368 Sunabe, Chatan-cho, Nakagami-gun, Okinawa
4. Annual Road Tax
In Japan, passenger cars are classified into three categories: regular cars (more than 2,000cc), compact cars (660cc – 2,000cc) and mini cars (less than 660cc) based on their air volume displacement. Regular cars have a white license plate with a 3-series number. Compact cars are white plates with a 5-series number, and mini cars have yellow plate. Official vehicles of the Self-Defense Forces, foreign diplomats, and the U.S. military are required to display other plates. Plates that have a Roman letter (usually ‘Y’) are exclusively used for U.S. Forces personnel and their families.
All automobiles are charged an Annual Road Tax. The Annual Road tax is based upon the car’s engine displacement. Please see the following chart for the fees and examples of the tax and JCI and road tax costs for cars in Japan.
For more information: Tax
Selling a Vehicle
If you wish to sell your vehicle individually, you must change the name on the vehicle registration. Visit the Land Transportation Office together with the buyer of your vehicle. Bring both the seller’s and buyer’s inkans, insurance documentation, proof of vehicle inspection, proof that you have paid the yearly road tax, and both people's registration cards and licenses. If you are selling a white plate car, you will also need both person's Inkan Registration Certificates, and the buyer's proof of parking space (shako shomeisho 車庫証明証), if required.
Disposing of Vehicles
If you want to get rid of your vehicle, you must contact a private vehicle disposal company. Vehicle disposal is called “haisha” (廃車).