Imported Car Shipment Terms You Must Be Aware

You must be overjoyed at your prized possession – a used car imported directly from Japan. You have every reason to be so. Japanese cars are known around the world for its amazing performance. The low price tag on these used cars further sweetens the deal. If you are an importer or a diligent individual buyer, you need to know about some technical terms used regularly for the shipment of cars from overseas.

These are some of the most commonly used terms you need to be aware of -


Free on Board comprises of all the costs incurred up to the point of loading into the ocean vessel in Japan. It covers the purchase price of the car. It includes costs for storing the car until the shipping date. It also covers charges towards transportation and handling up till the point of getting the shipment loaded on the vessel. It depicts at what point does the seller's responsibility ends and the buyer's begins.


"Cost and Freight" depicts what amount is borne by the seller and up to what point. In this method, the cost includes FOB plus the price of freight. The seller will not be responsible for the insurance, which will have to be borne by the buyer. If the seller handled the insurance as well, then C&F would change to CIF.


Cost, Insurance, and Freight means that the vehicle price, transportation charges, marine insurance, and shipping freight are borne by the seller. This option places the buyer at the least risk. This fact is because the seller takes the responsibility of everything until it is loaded into the ship destined for your destination port.


Free Alongside Ship means that the seller will be responsible only till the point of placing the product near the ship. The buyer will bear all charges like loading the car into the ship. This term is used specifically in the context of ocean transport. Hence many individuals may come across this term when they go for second-hand vehicles exported from Japan and shipped to their destination via ocean vessels.

Documents needed for international shipping

  • Bill of Lading – provided by the shipping company on the day of departure and has all details about the car being shipped
  • Export deregistration certificate – It shows details of the previous owner and tech specs of the car.
  • Shipper's letter of Instruction – If you use a freight forwarder, then this will provide all information needed to move the product without any issue. If you are under a dedicated engagement with the forwarder, the SLI can also act as a power of attorney (in partial capacity) to act on your behalf for this particular consignment.

The shipment of a used car involves a lot of customs formalities and paperwork at both the ports. Knowing these terms will definitely come in handy for you when you take delivery of your second-hand car from Japan.

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