Importing JDMs from Japan to Canada: Everything You Need To Know

Avishka Chandeepa

Posted 14 May 2024


Japanese vehicles are somewhat of a forbidden fruit in North America. These excellent vehicles have been at the top of their game for the half-century or so, but there are quite a few loops you have to leap through to get one imported to Canada. Getting a JDM vehicle all by yourself is theoretically possible, but isn’t recommended, as it won’t save you as much money as you’d think, and make the process quite complicated. Going through a local agent such as ZervTek not only gives you a verified hands-on approach to the process but also helps you navigate the auctions easily. Here’s what you need to know about importing JDMs to Canada.


What You Can Import

To start, you need to familiarise yourself with how to import cars from Japan, and if the car you want is importable to Canada. As with most countries, Canada comes with its own set of import rules and regulations.  In the 2000s, many popular Japanese vehicles became legal to import, including Nissan Silvia, Nissan GTR Skyline, Mazda RX7, and the handy Kei trucks. ZerTek has a reputation and experience in exporting the highest quality vehicles to Canada in line with the regulations mentioned below.

Firstly, you can only import Japanese vehicles that are 15 years or older from their date of manufacture, with Quebec being even more strict, prohibiting the importing of vehicles less than 25 years of age. Additionally, right-hand drive vehicles are permitted in Canada, which means you can import your favorite JDMs. Furthermore, since left-hand driven vehicles are the norm in Canada, you can also reverse import left-hand drive North American or European vehicles that were exported to Japan for cheaper than buying one locally.


It is also important to keep in mind that Canada’s safety standards are stricter than those of the US, so what may be importable to the US may not necessarily be legal in Canada. Most Toyota models, especially the later ones, don’t qualify for import to Canada. 

In terms of shipping ports, the major ports that bring in JDMs are Halifax and Vancouver. Roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) shipments have a fortnightly shipping schedule and generally take about a month to arrive from the Japanese ports. Halifax is notoriously difficult to get bookings for and takes quite a bit of time whilst Vancouver is much easier and faster.


Documents Required

  • Certificate of Title (original) /Certificate of Origin / Statement of Origin 
  • In the absence of the above, a Certificate of No Title must be presented
  • A copy of the Export Certificate
  • Copies of the invoices
  • Bill of Sale
  • EPA label (attached to the vehicle)
  • Manufacturer’s Statement of Compliance


Non-Regulated Vehicles

None-regulated vehicles are JDMs that are exempt from the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Act. They are classified as non-regulated based on the characteristics of the vehicle and its condition when entering Canadian soil.

Non-regulated vehicles include:

  • Vehicles with a manufacturing date older than 15 years.
  • Temporarily imported vehicles by tourists, workers, or foreign students.
  • Buses built before January 1971.
  • Agricultural vehicles
  • Vehicles participating in close-coursed competitions
  • Power-assisted bicycles meeting the standards defined by section 2(1) of the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations


Buying a JDM

Going through an agent mitigates any additional complications you may face if you were to go through the process by yourself. With ZervTek, you will be able to smoothen the purchasing and importing process, especially when it comes to auctions. 


Auction process

  1. Firstly, register on the auction website and have a friendly conversation with one of the agents from the company. Describe the vehicle you have in mind, including the make and model, following which the agent will provide you with translated documents, images of the vehicles, and the estimated costs of the cars from Japan
  2. Next, you must provide a security deposit to take part in the auction process. You can make deposits through Paypal or wire through the bank. The agent will make the bidding for you, and the deposit is 100% refundable in the event of unsuccessful bids. Keep in mind that most bids may end up unsuccessful, so it is better to keep going till you get a successful bid. 
  3. You and the agent can work closely, analyzing vehicles from different auctions to find the perfect match. With translated auction sheets and images of vehicles, you can decide what to bid for, and the agent will participate in the auction for you. The vehicles at major auction houses are subject to inspections, but the agent will do his inspection, checking the engines, brake functions, and the overall condition of the vehicle.
  4. After a successful bid, you will be given an invoice, and you can make the payment through one of the company’s payment options within the period stated on the invoice. The final price will be calculated as follows:
Zervtek JDM Export fees

Transportation and Release

After payment is processed and verified, ZervTek will arrange the shipping process. The required documents will be sent digitally, and the original documents will couriered once the vehicle leaves the domestic port. With RoRo shipment, the shipment will arrive at the destination port in about a month from departure. ZervTek will take care of everything up until the shipment reaches the destination port.

It is important to note that a duty rate of 6.1% will be levied on vehicles that are not manufactured in North America. Upon arrival at the destination port, ZervTek will surrender the vehicle to the consignee listed on the documents once the payment is confirmed. 


Additional Tips

Join Online Communities: Connect with experienced JDM importers for valuable advice and support.

Factor in Buffer Costs:  Unexpected expenses can arise.  Budget some additional funds for contingencies.

Enjoy the Journey: Importing a JDM can be a rewarding experience. Embrace the process and celebrate the arrival of your unique car.


In this guide, you have learned all the important details that you need to know about importing JDMs from Japan to Canada. By carefully following the outlined steps and conducting extensive research, you can successfully import your JDM and enjoy the excitement of owning a valuable piece of Japanese automotive history.