Buying a car in Japan

Buying a car in Japan

Buying a car in Japan


Transport in Japan is modern and highly developed, and it is very easy to going around Japan's urban Metropolises and all because one of the most organised and efficient public transportation systems. Generally people of Japan use public transport, when it comes to personal transportation in Japan people prefer them when they have to go outside of the urban areas, however, getting around Japan may require some form of personal transportation whether that’s a car, van, motorcycle, or scooter.

If you talk about buying cars in Japan, then it's not a easy task to do. You require to do a lot of research work because there are many factors that matters in buying a car a Japan. Like the purpose of buying a car, your budget and most important where you live in Japan, in mountains or small town.

Buying a car in Japan involves a lot of bureaucracy and form filling, and need to do lot of arrangements before you buy a car in Japan.


Following costs apply to vehicle owners:

  • Compulsory vehicle inspections (shaken) every two to three years which can be expensive. These inspections include weight tax, vehicle inspection and compulsory insurance

  • Car Tax

  • Optional Insurance

  • Parking costs in Cities (which can be high)

  • Tolls on Motorways


Buying a New Car in Japan:

Driving License:

When you are buying a car in Japan you must have a valid driving license.


The Parking Space:

Before buying a car in Japan, it is very important to have a parking space, and a proof of parking space is required and you have to submit to the police. One can get this certificate proof of parking space from the police station nearest to where the parking space is located. You must have a registered parking space and submit certification of such (Shakoshomeishou) to the police. The rental of the space varies, from a couple of thousand yen/month in the sticks, up to maybe over 100,000 yen/month in the plush areas of Tokyo. To get a parking space, some are found through estate agents (fudosan), others are rented directly from the owners. If it's from the fudosan, except for the guarantor, most of the other terms for flat hunting apply.


Paying Taxes:

There are three types taxes of you will have to pay when you a buy car in Japan.

  • One is Acquisition Tax

  • Weight Tax

  • Annual Tax every May

  • Acquisition Tax, and weight tax these two taxes you have to pay at the time you buy a car. 

  • The basic concept of charging is bigger the engine, the more you pay. 

  • The acquisition tax is charged 5 percent which is based in the price of the car you are buying.

  • The weight tax for cars with engine sizes up to 2 litres are about 56,700 yen, greater than that is 75,600.

  • Highest Tax: If you are buying a passengers car having a 300 or 33 something in the upper right corner of the License plate are the highest. 

  • Lowest Tax: Buying a car with 50 something on the license plate indicates a medium-size car, and the "Kei" cars with an engine of 660cc have a yellow plate and are lowest.

  • May Tax: The May annual tax for Kei cars is the lowest as well at about 5000-yen, but for larger cars the tax quickly escalates to 34,500-39,500 yen for medium cars to 45,000 yen for 2.5 litre cars and 56,000 yen for 3 litre cars.

You also need to pay consumption tax when you buy fuel, and many petrol stations don't display their prices. Prices can vary and may be up to 15 yen/ltr. cheaper at some stations, a big difference.


Vehicle Financing:
Most dealerships offer car loans at relatively low rates. The advantage of financing a vehicle through a dealership is that they take care of all the related paperwork for the buyer.

Car Insurance:
When you buy a car you have two insurance programs, in which one is mandatory insurance (Kyosei Hoken) which covers the car only. The second one is optional insurance(Jibaiseki Hoken) which covers injuries/ damages you may get/cause. This is on, so you can better decide for it but it is recommended to have this insurance as they covers many of things.  



Shaken is the name of the vehicle inspection program in Japan for motor vehicle over 250 cc in engine displacement, Shaken is the dreaded biennial vehicle safety inspection. Cars that are 3 years old have to have a mandatory maintenance check (Shaken), which is repeated every other year. The costs again vary according to the size of the car, but basically you'll be paying 120,000-160,000 yen or so for a smaller car, and more for a larger. 


What’s the cost of owning a car in Japan?

One cannot predict the exact cost of owning a car, Because this will depend on the brand, type and model you are buying as all the taxes, charges and insurance depends in the type of vehicle you have purchased.

But Yes, you can have average estimate of your expense. You might be quite aware that cars in Japan are either of white plate cars or Yellow plate.


White Plate Cars:
White plate cars are the types of vehicles which we usually see around the world which are safe, spacious, and able to transverse long distances and move at high speeds. 


Yellow Plate Cars:
Yellow plate cars are considered “around town” cars, and are usually less safe, unable to meet highway speeds, and don’t have much trunk or leg space.


Buying a new car:

Buying a new car with white plate will usually cost you ¥1,000,000 or more, while a used white plate car cost between ¥240,000 and ¥300,000. On other hand yellow plate car should cost between ¥160,000 and ¥220,000, while a new yellow plate car can range anywhere up to ¥1,000,000.


After you purchase your car you need to pay Taxes as mentioned above, shaken(roadworthiness inspection) which can cost ¥120,000 or more (but includes third-party insurance), automobile tax at 5% of the cost of the car, tonnage tax around ¥75,000, and a name change fee between ¥10,000 and ¥25,000.

Other costs include liability insurance (~ ¥30,000), auto tax (¥30,000 - ¥50,000), gas (~ ¥110 per liter), and your parking space (~ ¥20,000 in the city).

This was all when you a buy a car in Japan, yes not easy but if you want to enjoy the comfort and experience driving a own car then you have to sacrifice your some valuable time and your money too. But it is guaranteed you will not get disappointed after buying a car in Japan, as whole world is admirer of Japanese car. The experience you get on Japan roads will not get anywhere. 


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