How to import a JDM 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 a JDM imported to Canada. Purchasing a used Japanese car that has already been imported is possible, but why not do it yourself? Going through a JDM exporter such as ZervTek gives you a verified hands-on approach to the import process and helps you navigate the  easily. The Japanese car  will get you access to all the vehicles going on  every day from over 100+  across Japan. Once purchased, ZervTek will arrange shipping, taking care of everything up to either the Vancouver or Halifax ports.


Import a JDM from Japan to Canada

First, you need to familiarise yourself with how to import cars from Japan and whether the Japanese car you want is importable to Canada. As with most countries, Canada has its own set of import rules and regulations.  In the 2000s, many famous Japanese JDMs became legally imported, including Nissan Silvia, Nissan GTR Skyline, Mazda RX7, and the handy Kei trucks. ZervTek 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 15 years or older from their date of manufacture, with Quebec being even more strict, prohibiting importing Japanese cars less than 20 years of age. Right-hand drive vehicles are permitted in Canada to import any of 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 already exported to Japan.


Regarding Canadian shipping ports, the major ports to import JDMs are Halifax, New Westminster, 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 a lot of time while importing to Vancouver is much easier and faster. We always try to ship cars from Japan as cheap and as fast as possible.

Documents Required

  • A copy of the Export Certificate
  • English translation of the Export Certificate
  • Copies of the invoices
  • Bill of Sale / Commercial Invoice
  • Bill of Lading

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


The Japanese 

  1. Firstly, please register on ZervTek's Japanese auction site and have a friendly conversation with one of us at ZervTek about importing to Canada. Describe the vehicle you have in mind, including the make, model, mileage range, year range, and any other preferences. We will start by going through upcoming listings with you. Each listing comes with an auction sheet (condition report), which we will translate to provide more information about each JDM. You can also browse recent sales data to get an idea of the current market price and estimate the cost of importing a car from Japan.
  2. Next, you must provide a refundable security deposit to participate in the Japanese  with ZervTek. You can make deposits through Paypal or make an international bank transfer. Once we narrow down the vehicles you want to bid on, we will take care of the bidding for you, and the deposit is 100% refundable in case of unsuccessful bids. Remember that most bids will be unsuccessful, so our customers usually keep going until they get a successful bid. 
  3. You and the agent can work closely, analyzing vehicles from different  to find the perfect match. With translated Japanese auction sheets, images of used Japanese cars, and even additional inspections (to get you more photos and videos before the auction), you can decide what to bid for, and the agent will take care of the bidding for you. 
  4. After a successful bid, you will be given an invoice, and you can pay 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
Cost of importing a JDM car from Japan

Shipping a JDM to Canada

After payment is processed and verified, ZervTek will arrange the shipping process. The required documents will be sent digitally, and the original documents, including any manuals and accessories, will couriered once the vehicle leaves the port in Japan. With the Ro-Ro shipment, the vehicle carrier will arrive at the Vancouver, New Westminster, or Halifax port about a month after departure. ZervTek will surrender the vehicle to the consignee listed on the Bill of Lading before it reaches the destination port.

How uch does it cost to import a car from Japan to Canada? 

Unlike buying from an exporter's stock with potentially inflated prices, Japanese  allow you to purchase vehicles at wholesale prices similar to what local dealers and exporters pay. The cost will depend on the vehicle's condition. ZervTek's service fees are transparent and based on the vehicle's final price. Shipping costs from Japan vary by car size and cost per cubic meter. For the latest service and shipping rates, please contact us.

GST, Duty, Import tax, and Custom Clearance Charges at Canadian Ports

  • 5% GST
  • $250 Customs clearance
  • $385 Dock charge (could be a bit more if it’s an SUV / truck / larger vehicle)
  • $100-250 Tow fee
  • $100 A/C Excise tax
  • Duty 0- 2.5% on Japanese makes / 2.7%-3.3% on trucks / 6.1% on Non-Japanese makes
  • Fill out the Japan free trade form for reduced duty rates on JDM Import cars.


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 essential 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.