Date of First Registration v. Year of Manufacture

When buying from car auctions in Japan, you need to remember that the “year” of the car is not the model year, nor is it the manufacturing year. Instead, it is the year that the car was first registered in Japan.

If the car in question is made by a Japanese manufacturer, then it is likely that the year of manufacture and the year of first registration will be the same. However, if the country you are importing to (such as Trinidad) looks at the year of manufacture, then you need to be careful if the vehicle was registered in the first month or two of the year. If you need confirmation of the manufacturing date of a Japan-made car, please ask us and we can find this out for you.

Now, if the car you are looking at is made by a non-Japanese manufacturer, then there is a chance that the year of first registration will differ from the year of manufacture. The first and most obvious reason for this is that the car was made overseas and so a gap of a month or more can be expected as a result of the international shipping. This can be a few months in the case of official dealer import cars, but if the car is a gray import, the gap between when it was made and when it was imported into Japan this can be greater. However, the most extreme situation is if  the vehicle is a classic car that was imported as a classic years after it was manufactured.

Here is a good example of a classic car for sale in a car auction in Japan. This Lincoln was made in 1977, but in Japanese car auction it appears as a 2000 car since it was first registered in Japan in August 2000. Obviously, as soon as you see the photo, you know it was not made in 2000. In these cases, the model year will often be noted on the auction sheet, and this will appear in the translation, if you ask for one. If the model year is also unknown, then it is still often possible to find out more using an online VIN decoder.

For importing cars from Japan into countries like Cyprus, the month of first registration is also important. Most auctions show this (as you can see in the example above), but there are a few that do not – the biggest of these is probably HAA Kobe on Saturdays. If you are ever unsure, please ask us and we will be happy to help. If your country has particular regulations, we always can screen your bids for you to cancel those that will not be compliant.

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