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How do people buy RHDs? Part 2

Here's part 2 detailing how people get their right hand drive cars in Canada. Last week was buying one locally, this week is a little more exciting.... importing!

Importing from Japan

This is a book on it's own. I'm going to try to scratch the surface. There's two major ways of importing your own RHD.  Doing it yourself, or going though an importer.

Using an importer - Going through an importer is generally a good idea.  There are people who specialize in just importing cars, others import whatever people want and things they think there will be a market for.  Some importers import as a side business, or fun, and some importers import for a living.  It's usually cheaper to go though an importer since you can save a bundle on shipping.

Basically, importers are packing a shipping container.  They'll charge you either for the square footage it takes up in the container, or some import the car under their name and do a markup on the car when they 'sell it to you' (even though it's coming for you and only you).  Importers generally know where to buy things, and people to pack the containers to send it out to wherever you are.

There's good and bad stories about using importers.  I'm considering bringing in a new truck, and thinking about going this road.

Doin' it yourself - this can go millions of ways.  Let's frame the problem.  You want a car that's in Japan to get here.  99.999% of people use intermodal shipping containers to do this. So you need a contact in Japan to:

  1. Buy a car (your car)
  2. Get a container
  3. put car in container
  4. ship it

You need to trust this person. A lot. There's a lot of money you're putting into this.

How do we make it affordable?  Put other stuff in the container.  The guy I bought my truck from wanted a Hijet... so he brought in a whole container full, selling the other 9, and basically getting his truck for free.  If you're enterprising, have a bunch of money kicking around and  are a good salesperson this is a great way of getting something cool for cheap.

Don't know anyone in Japan?  Check out Alibaba.com.  It's a connecting site to put buyers in direct contact with manufacturers and salespeople abroad. It's kind of ebay-like in the ratings, which gives a lot of people piece of mind. Buyer beware, of course. Keep repeating to yourself "15 years".  Also don't forget about all the other costs involved. Not everything on Alibaba is a deal. But... you sure can find some (minitrucks for $1000!).

Once it gets here, you need to do the proper import process, detailed on riv.ca - Canadian Registrar of Imported Vehicles.

It's a lot of work, but you can make it worth it if you're smart.

How do most people get their RHDs?

I'd say most people go through an importer directly or indirectly. Let them do the heavy lifting, and you get all the fun.



How do people buy RHDs? Part 1

Although this question seems funny at first glance, it's not as simple as some people think.

There are two obvious ways to get buy a right hand drive vehicle if you're in Canada: Buy local, or import.

Buying an already imported RHD

So, say you're looking at buying a right hand drive and the car is already in Canada.  This could be either privately, or through a forward-thinking dealer. Interestingly enough, as long as the car is safetied (or your province's equivalent).... it's just like buying a used car. If the car has a safety certificate..... you're done!

You might want to be proactive and make sure the car is 15 years old, and not skirting the law in any way (yes, there are ways this is done). Also, make sure you know if you're buying a RHD conversion, or a car that's always been a RHD (JDM spec).

The truck I bought had been registered in Manitoba before I bought it, so it was 'in the system'. I'm not sure what magic is all needed for the first time it is registered... but given it was imported properly and you have the documentation it shouldn't be a hassle (or, more of a hassle than usual). The 'first time insurance' will also vary province to province.

So... if it's here and has been registered in the past, it's just buying another used car. Best place to look?  Kijiji.ca.  Ebay is more miss than hit. Autotrader is also a good option, but kijiji is making it irrelevant.

Hang on for next week for more!


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