Unlock the Potential of Owning a Japanese-spec Subaru in the US: A Guide to Importing a Car from Japan

Are you an avid car enthusiast who values Japanese engineering and wants to experience unique Japanese-made cars firsthand? If so, you may be considering importing a Japanese-spec Subaru to the United States. In this guide, we’ll go over the legal process of importing a car from Japan, the costs associated with it, the benefits and drawbacks of importing a car, the history of Subaru in Japan, and the differences between Japanese and US-spec Subarus.

The Legal Process of Importing a Car from Japan

Importing a car from Japan involves a detailed process, and it’s important to ensure that the car meets US import laws. First, you’ll need to find a reputable exporter in Japan to purchase the car from. They will arrange for shipping, handling, and documentation for the export. Once the car reaches the US, it will need to be declared to the US Customs and Border Protection and pass an environmental and safety inspection by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT). Additionally, you’ll need to obtain a US vehicle title, pay any duties and taxes, and register the vehicle in your state.

The Costs of Importing a Car from Japan

Importing a car from Japan can be expensive, and there are a few costs to consider. First, you’ll need to pay for the purchase price of the car and any associated fees for exporting from Japan. Shipping fees can range from around $2,000 to $4,000 depending on the distance and mode of shipping. You’ll also need to pay a 2.5% import duty on the value of the car, as well as any state sales tax, customs fees, and registration fees.

See also  Does the back seats of a Subaru lay flush? 🚙

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Importing a Car from Japan

One of the benefits of importing a car from Japan is the opportunity to own a unique, JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) car that may not be available in the US. Additionally, Japanese-spec cars often have more advanced features, such as higher horsepower and performance. However, there are drawbacks to consider, including the high costs and lengthy process of importing a car. Japanese-spec cars may also have different safety and environmental standards than US-spec cars, which can make it difficult to register and insure the car in some states.

The History of Subaru in Japan

Subaru is a Japanese car manufacturer that was founded in 1953 as Fuji Heavy Industries. The company’s first car, the Subaru 1500, was introduced in 1954. In the 1960s and 1970s, Subaru gained popularity in Japan for its 4WD vehicles, which were commonly used for off-roading and rural driving. Subaru entered the US market in 1968 with the Subaru 360 and has since become a well-known brand in the US car industry.

Differences Between Japanese and US-spec Subarus

There are a few key differences between Japanese and US-spec Subarus. Japanese-spec cars often have more advanced features, including higher horsepower, different suspension systems, and unique body kits. Additionally, Japanese cars may have different safety and environmental standards than US cars. Some Japanese-spec cars may require modifications or additional parts to meet US safety and environmental regulations.


Q: Can any car be imported from Japan to the US?
A: No, only cars that meet US import laws and safety and environmental standards can be imported.

See also  The Ultimate Guide to Subaru Buyback: Is It the Right Option for You?

Q: How long does it take to import a car from Japan?
A: The process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months depending on shipping, customs, and inspection times.

Q: Are Japanese-spec Subarus legal to drive in the US?
A: Yes, as long as they meet US import and safety standards.

Q: Can I modify my imported Japanese-spec Subaru to meet US standards?
A: Yes, modifications and additional parts may be required to meet US safety and environmental regulations.

In conclusion, importing a Japanese-spec Subaru from Japan can be a unique and rewarding experience for car enthusiasts. However, it’s important to consider the costs and lengthy process that comes with importing a car. By following the legal process and ensuring that the car meets US import laws, you can enjoy the potential benefits of owning a JDM car in the US.

Avatar photo

Davis Bellew

As a Subaru owner and enthusiast, Davis has a deep understanding of the needs and concerns of Subaru drivers. He specializes in writing informative and engaging content about Subaru maintenance and repair, and his articles are always well-researched and easy to understand. When he's not writing, he enjoys hiking and photography.

Recommended Articles