foreign private imports into Japan

If you have imported a foreign car from Japan, perhaps bought in the Japan auctions, you may notice that it has a strange chassis number on the export document (export certificate).

foreign cars strange chassis numbers

The reason privately imported foreign cars in Japan have a different chassis number designated to them and stamped onto the chassis, as well as that number given to the registration paper, is primarily for the purpose of compliance with the regulations and requirements of the Japanese transportation authorities.

When a foreign car is officially imported (Mercedes-Benz Japan, BMW Japan, Audi Japan, or Porsche Japan for example),  and sold through authorized dealers in Japan, the vehicle goes through a process known as “Type Approval,” where it undergoes inspections, certifications, and modifications to meet the specific safety and environmental standards set by the Japanese government. As part of this process, the vehicle is assigned a unique chassis number that aligns with the Japanese system and regulations.

However, when a foreign car is privately imported into Japan, bypassing the authorized dealers and their associated Type Approval process, it does not automatically meet the Japanese safety and environmental standards. Therefore, to ensure compliance, the vehicle needs to undergo inspections and modifications to meet the necessary requirements. As a result, a new chassis number is designated for the vehicle, and it is stamped onto the chassis itself. This new chassis number is then linked to the vehicle’s registration paper, allowing for proper identification and documentation.

By assigning a unique chassis number and linking it to the registration paper, the Japanese authorities can accurately identify and monitor privately imported foreign cars, ensuring that they meet the necessary safety and environmental standards for road use in Japan.

Another authorized importer that sells most foreign vehicles in Japan apart from the makers listed above, as well as having their own used car auction in Japan, is Yanase:

Yanase & Co., Ltd. is an authorized importer and dealer of foreign car brands in Japan. Established in 1915, Yanase is one of the oldest and most well-known automobile importers in Japan. They have a long-standing relationship with various international car manufacturers and hold authorized dealership rights for multiple luxury and premium brands.

Yanase operates a network of dealerships across Japan, offering sales, service, and maintenance for imported car brands. Some of the car brands associated with Yanase include Mercedes-Benz, BMW, MINI, Volkswagen, Audi, and Volvo, among others.