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Registering a Car in Japan

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An important part of buying a vehicle in Japan is the registration. The process is usually covered by the vehicle dealer (for a significant premium) but there are still some steps to be performed by oneself. Probably rather normal for Japanese but nevertheless a little challenge for a foreigner like me.

These items were requested by the dealer to complete the registration:

  • One certificate of my personal inkan (stamp) for official registration at the office
  • Four inkan example prints for the vehicle dealer
  • One parking permit from the police

Let's start with the personal stamp certificate. It's required for most bigger purchases (like cars and houses). The corresponding stamp needs to be specifically made for that purpose and registered with the local authority and validated by an official certificate that needs to be provided when the stamp is used.

Stamp Certificate

We had already registered my stamp but didn't manage to collect the certificates within a given time period. We found out about this after my wife went to the local office to collect them. As the process had to be restarted, the whole family and me utilized our weekend for a second registration.
Alternatively it would have been possible to send someone else in your name but that requires an authorization in Japanese - difficult task without a pre-print being available. This step took us about one week.

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Personal Stamp Certificate

After that's completed the four prints for the vehicle dealer (two each) could be made and put on the stack together with the official inkan registration paper.

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Example Prints

Parking Space

As it's impossible to register a vehicle without a parking space, exceptions sometime apply for small size (Kei) cars in more rural areas, it's mandatory to provide proof of a suitable parking space. There is the application paper itself, which in turn requires tow more papers which will be explained in a minute.

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Parking Space Registration

To be able to verify the parking space it's required to provide a map and descriptions to the police. The parking space is part of an automated parking system, in case you're wondering about the many apartments.
As it would be possible for someone to pretend a parking space is his and we weren't the owner of the parking space it was required to provide a paper from the landlord stating that we are allowed to use it.

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Proof from the Parking Space Owner

To get everything done it's necessary to provide all of above papers to the police - which (of course) has to be the correct police department. Even though a colleague and me checked via telephone we ended up at the wrong office and had to take a lengthy detour to reach the correct one.

After reaching the correct building we found out that the stamp certificate is required as a copy - it's not possible to use an original (like I intended to do). In addition, the parking space registration was supposed to be filled-out twice.
While my colleague copied the data into a second registration, I walked to the next convenient store and made a copy of the stamp certificate. After a small Payment we were done.

A local police officer is visually checking the parking space. If approved, the final papers needed by the vehicle dealer to complete the registration can be collected at the police station one week later.


Payment for the NSX was done by means of multiple bank transfers. As banking is a long time digital business, it's not that easy for beginners. The name of the recipient has to exactly match the name registered with the corresponding bank account and character input it half-width Katakana only - still from the age when digital processing did not support high complex characters yet.

Overall it took me four weeks to collect all papers then another two weeks for the vehicle dealer to complete the registration.


There are several options to insure a car in Japan: Coverage for personal injury to others is already included in the registration. Technically that's sufficient but for obvious reasons not suggested. The next level would be insure against damage to other people's property and finally against damaging your own property and theft. The premiums are reducing with every crash-free year but getting started is expensive.

As the NSX is an exclusive car, theft and self-caused damage insurance was not an option, unfortunately (several thousand Euro per year). We opted for a regular insurance to cover any damage to other people's property and limited potential drivers upwards a specific age to get an acceptable rate.


At day of collection, the NSX was prepared by the vehicle dealer and a name plate at the office announced that I would be collecting the car today. Unfortunately the newly fitted Honda wheels were in pretty bad shape but it seemed there was no room for further negotiation.

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Collection Day

Driving home was an adrenaline filled experience as driving RHD cars in RHD traffic was partly new to me. Nevertheless the NSX and me arrived safely at the garage, a distance of roughly 10 km.
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Arrived safely

Tokyo traffic itself was not that much of an issue as it's mostly packed which means you can follow the car ahead of you if there's a case in which you are unsure. Being an AT NSX is another advantage in heavy traffic, of course

Updated 24-08-2020 at 06:36 PM by Heineken

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