Importing Nissan Leaf from Japan

09-25-2016, 09:09 PM
I'm interested in importing a 2013 or newer Nissan Leaf or Mitsubishi IMIEV from Japan into Arizona. I need to make sure I can register, insure, and daily drive the vehicle legally.

I've heard the importing process can be difficult with some vehicles. But it seems like the Leaf or IMIEV might be easier to import than others, mostly due to the fact that they are zero emissions, and the same models are sold in the USA. Hopefully the only difference is the RHD. The only thing Im afraid about is the safety regulations. Are these Japanese Leaf and IMIEV cars NHTSA certified? Also, will the local DMV and insurance companies give me any hassle?

And yes, Im aware that I could buy the same car for a couple grand less over here in the states. BUT, I have plenty of cash to throw around and dont mind paying extra for a RHD imported car. I think it would be fun and different. I am willing to do it as long as it wont be a headache or nightmare getting it legal.

Can someone help me figure out if its doable?

09-26-2016, 01:26 AM
Is it doable? Probably. Is it going to be a pain in the ass? Probably. As far as the DMV and insurance, you should be fine. What you should be worried about is customs and possibly even homeland security. The car will be checked by customs to make sure there aren't any bombs, weapons, drugs, or anything else illegal hidden in it. From there, much like in dealing with the police, it depends on the officer you're dealing with. If you get a level-headed, rational officer, the car will be checked for illegal items and if there aren't any, you're all set. If you get one of those jumped-up role-crazy assholes that often work in law enforcement, they'll probably start grilling you about why you're importing a car from Japan with the drivers seat on the "wrong side" at extra expense when you can buy one here with the driver's seat on the "correct side" (honestly, I don't understand it myself but whatever, to each their own, I don't judge.) The officer may not be satisfied with your answer of wanting to be unique and different and call for additional investigation just to be a prick. If national security gets involved, you're going to be facing a massive clusterf*ck of red tape. They can hold onto the car for as long as they see fit to conduct their investigation and if they hold it for any more than a day or two (I'm not 100% sure of this, but pretty close) you might have to pay some ridiculous fee for storage, inspection or whatever else they can come up with to get some cash out of you.
The money may not be an issue, but dealing with a government agency is something to be avoided whenever possible. They will often drive you nuts, treat you like a criminal when you've done nothing wrong, and have very little or sometimes zero regard for you, your time, or your rights... you've been warned.

09-26-2016, 05:21 AM
I doubt you will get it into the country as a drivable vehicle. Just because it is zero emissions and is the same basic vehicle as the US version doesn't mean anything.

Look at the Mitsubishi 3000GT versus the JDM version GTO. Same vehicle, but only now can people start importing the 1991 model year due to the 15 year law.

Also, RHD isn't all it is cracked up to be and will be a huge hindrance in a LHD county.

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