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How to buy a car in Sendai

January 05, 2015


Buying & Selling

Buying a car involves a lot of paperwork and complicated procedures, but in most cases, for an extra fee, you can have your car dealer do them for you. In order to own a car, you must first find a parking space, and get an Inkan-shomei (seal certificate) or a signature certificate from their embassy. Aftercare, such as a guarantee and support services vary depending on the car dealer, so these are some points to compare aside from the pricing. Also, in addition to the car price, you need to pay extra fees such as registration fees, various taxes and car insurance (see section on insurance and taxes).

When you want to get a new car or want to sell your car before you leave Japan, you can go to the car dealer where you bought your car, or consult a car buyer. The prices range from one place to another, so it may be better to consult several buyers.

Car Lease

Leasing a car is a great way to drive a car without making a large upfront payment. Another feature is that you only pay for the actual usage of the car. There is no down payment, and fees are monthly. Maintenance fee and insurance included, so the only cost to the driver is gas. When you leave Japan, the lease company will take care of deregistration or sale of the car.

In many cases, Japanese lease companies require a Japanese guarantor and a minimum lease term of 3 years. Also, because you cannot break a lease contract without a cancelation fee, it is important that you understand the penalty and how the fee will be calculated.

There are mainly two kinds of lease, closed-end and open-end. The responsibilities and monthly payments differ depending on which type of lease you sign, so make sure to check the details before signing a contract.


The Jibaiseki-hoken (automobile liability insurance) is a compulsory insurance required for all automobiles and must be purchased when you buy a car. It covers compensation for damages of expected profit lost due to an injury or death of third parties. The contract renewed at the time of the vehicle inspection.

Most drivers also purchase the Nin-i-hoken (voluntary insurance), as compulsory insurance has only limited coverage. Voluntary insurance is available online or at car dealers.

Safety Inspection

Shaken (vehicle inspection system) is a regular check conducted to confirm whether the car meets the safety standards. The initial inspection certificate is effective for three years, and the vehicle must undergo renewal inspections every two years thereafter. Your Vehicles can be inspected at licensed service shops or the Transport Bureau. Car maintenance and adjustment may be needed to pass the inspection. Most car dealers have inspection and maintenance services.

Car Related Tax

Various taxes are imposed when you own a car.
Jidousha-shutoku-zei (acquisition tax) is a 5% tax you pay at the time of purchase of your car.
Jidousha-zei (automobile tax) is an annual tax you pay the prefecture for owning a car, and an invoice will be sent to your home address every April. Tax rates differ depending on the size of the engine.
Jidousha-juryou-zei (tonnage tax) is a tax you pay for the weight of your car. Will be collected at the time of vehicle inspection.


In order to own a car, you also need to secure a parking space near your house. Parking fees in metropolitan Tokyo range from roughly 30,000 Yen to 50,000 Yen per month. A parking space certificate must be issued when you buy a car.

When parking elsewhere, you must park at designated spaces. You can find paid parking on the road or in a lot. The parking fees are about 300 Yen to 800 Yen per hour. Street parking is prohibited on most of the roads and may result in a fine. When your car is towed, you will also have to pay a commission for the towing. See here for parking at airports.

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