There is a lot of interest in the whole car importing scene, especially with Mr. DeMuro importing a R32 from Japan. In the comments you read a lot of misconception about importing car to and within Europe. That it is easy to import cars from oversees to Europe and that importing cars within Europe is like moving cars between states in the US, the Peoples Republic of California excluded off course.


Please stop talking about Europe like it is a country... It is a continent, with a great number of countries that are all completely different. There is no such thing as a European citizen, only a group of overpaid bureaucrats in Brussels believe in that myth they created themselves while traveling back and forth to Strasbourg because they need a change of scenery once in a while. Staring out of the window all day on taxpayers money gets boring it you don't change the view.

The Greek think of the European Union as a German evil plan to control Europe without having to go to war again. The European Union provides a bureaucratic layer of enforced rules and regulations massively ignored and amended by all member states to their own liking. More on that later.


JDM Import

Back to car import and export. There is no 25 year rule in Europe. So we get to drive most anything we want. That brings in the usual suspects like Supra's, Evo's from all generations, R33 and R34 GTR Skylines and S14 and S15 Silvias. But things like the Stagea RS Four also known as the Skyline Wagon and small things with turbo's like the Starlet Glanza V and GT are imported.

So how do you get the car you want registered in the country you want? The trick is to first get a registration in a EU member state that is the most forgiving. Once you have that, you can use some of the European bureaucracy to your advantage and get it re-registered in a different European country. So you will usually see Japanese cars going to the UK first. They seem to believe the steering wheel is located on the correct side of the car. So the car is first changed from Japanese to UK registration. With the UK registration it is transported to mainland Europe and the application procedure will be started for the destination country. Being a UK car now it is a changeover within Europe and it is easier to get the final registration.

As Doug also mentioned about the Japanese side of his adventure. Local knowledge and speaking the language is key. There is a big difference between Europe and the US. In the US everyone officially speaks the same language: a strange English variant your spellchecker labels US English. Unless you are near the southern border where a Mexican variant of Spanish is more common. The European Union consist of 28 member states as long as Russia stops their invasion in Ukraine and does not proceed further. Every member state has at least one official language that is unique, many countries have several official languages. All the rules for importing and exporting cars are different between states as they all have different amendments to the European Law, all have different organizations for handling the paperwork and in every member state the technical requirements for the car in order to get a registration is different. So be prepared to face a pile of paperwork from at least the tax office and the road authority, that paperwork will be available in either the official language of the country or the local dialect or the region.


There are many specialized companies who will arrange this whole process for you. Selecting the car, the Japanese paperwork, the shipping, the UK paperwork, the shipping to the mainland and the final registration. Often some things need to be changed on the car before it can get a registration on the mainland, like changing the headlights to not blind upcoming traffic driving on the proper side of the road. They can't help it you drive in a car with the steering wheel on the wrong side so there is a law in most countries that makes you change the headlights.

To find some examples of the cars we can drive, take a look on the website of SW Performance. They can arrange everything and get the final registration for most EU countries and their website is available in 7 languages.

Next time I will go into detail about how to get a car Exported from one European country and Imported it in another.