i cant seem to find the link but i know in the last few days i read a thread on this site (i think..could also have been one of the feeds i follow :/ ) about how in japan someone had quite a few hoops to jump through for registration etc on a late model harley.. im sure the author of that may be able to give you some more insights.. i'll keep trying to find the link
My experience with Greece many years ago was that there were diff tariffs on bikes and parts. Since most bikes were built from various parts we just broke them down, shipped them, got them through and reassembled. Into Greece bikes were taxed at 42%, parts at 18%. Def a strategy. Land of hiring un might be diff but worth a thought.
Bikes brought into Japan must be brought in as bikes (though not necessarily assembled) if they are to be registered (unless 50cc or under). You must have a title/rego papers and bill of sale/receipt on the export side.
On the Japan side you must obtain a tsukanshomeisho (certificate showing the bike has cleared customs, listing the VIN and motorcycle type, etc). This will be used later when registering the bike.
Tax for bikes I believe is still the base 5%; individual parts may incur different (higher) tax rates in addition to the base 5% rate.
There are various other fees based on whether or not you do the customs clearance yourself etc, plus you could be looking at other fees for transport, disposal of crate, etc etc. I have a detailed breakdown of these charges for both single shipments and containers, but not on hand right now I'm afraid.
PM me if you need further details or introduction to customs agents etc.
Pete, i've been through it all too when i brought my knuckle over, so if you need to know anything, feel free to give me a yell too. everything Simon said was on the money, but of course he just gave ya the rough outline. there are LOTS of details to the process. the process and what you need document-wise also depends a lot on what year the bike in question is.
and then once you get it "imported," you still have to go through the "shaken" inspections to actually get it licensed. even if you are just planning on selling it, a lot of buyers are leery of buying a bike that has only passed the import process.
Have imported bikes both into Japan and from Japan to the U.S. Throwing a bike into a box and sending it off is easy, the devil is in the details. Do you speak Japanese? If so, you can save some money by clearing the bike through customs yourself, renting trucks, driving around Tokyo (!) etc. Also, where will the bikes be stored once they get there (space costs money), etc. If you're dealing with a shop owner or other middleman, that can also work out differently than you expect it to..... Every biker is a buddy over a beer, but when there's money and Harleys involved, well, you know how it goes.
If you're dealing with a middleman, it might be best to have him pay you cash for the bikes, then send them off and let him deal with everything on that side. Either that or do everything yourself on both ends. As with everything, people are the biggest problem. "We'll sell them in Japan for a huge profit and then split the money!" Yeah, right.
None of my deals went sour, but for the amount of hassle involved it wasn't worth the time and effort. Still, with the yen at 77 to the U.S. dollar, the potential to make some money is definitely there.