Japan Used Car Import Duty / Regulation in Sri Lanka

Year Restrictions

Max. 3 Years Old

Destination Port

Colombo and Hambantota

Time of Shipment

RoRo (14-24 Days)

Vessel Schedule

RoRo (Fortnightly)

Shipping Line




Shipping Ports:

Generally used vehicles are shipped to the maritime port of Colombo and Hambantota.

Road-worthiness Inspection:

All Japanese used vehicles imported to Sri Lanka must be JAAI (Japan Auto Appraisal Institute) certified for roadworthiness.


There is a compulsory inspection JAAI that should be passed in Japan. Inspection original certificate is needed to complete customs clearance upon arrival. It will be also needed as an additional document for LCA transaction (Letter of Credit Authorization).

Right-Hand Drive vehicles:

Importation of only Right-Hand Drive (RHD) vehicles is allowed in Sri Lanka.

Age Restriction:

  • Age of used cars imported should be under 2 years, whereas vehicles (vans and dual purpose) should not be more than 5 years old.
  • Age Limit of Buses (10-12 passengers, including Driver), Motor Cars, Sports Utility Vehicles (Jeeps), All-Terrain Vehicles (Beach Bikes), Ambulances, Motor Bikes are 3 Years.
  • Age Limit of Single Cabs, Double Cabs, Lorries/ Trucks (GVW Less than 5MT), Refrigerated Trucks (GVW less than 5MT) are 4 Years.

Import Taxes rates:

Duties :- 5-35%
Motor vehicles :- 25%
VAT :- 12%
Ports and Airport Levy (PAL) :- Generally 5% of the CIF value, or in some cases at a reduced rate between 0% and 2.5%, of the CIF value.
Ad valorem rates :- 1%- 45% (of the CIF value).
Nation Building Tax :- Two percent of the sum of the CIF value X 110 percent, customs duty, cess, excise duty and PAL.

Documents required for port clearance:

Valuation of Motor Vehicles:

How does Customs determine the value for computation of Customs Duties?

Value of motor vehicles falling within HS headings 8702, 8703, 8704, 8705 and 8711, value is determined as follows:

1. In case of a Brand New vehicle imported on an invoice issued or certified by the manufacturers, the transacted value shall be applied.


2. For all other vehicles, the value shall not be below 85% of the manufacturer’s value, excluding local taxes, of a similar or identical brand new vehicle at the country of export. (Please see Gazette Extraordinary No. 1971/10 of 14.06.2016 for more information)

Classification of Motor Vehicles:

What is a HS Code?

In short, HS stands for Harmonized System. These codes are introduced under Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System formulated by the World Customs Organization, which covers 98% of the world trade. These codes are applied to internationally traded goods for various reasons. The most relevant reason is trade statistics. Also, they help identify local tax rates and legal restrictions and prohibitions on imports. These codes are used by almost all the countries in the world, and help uniform identification of internationally traded commodities, irrespective of language and other trade related barriers.

How does Customs calculate the age of a used vehicle?

The age of a used vehicle is the period between the date of first registration and the date of shipment from the country of export. The date of first registration is available on the export certificate while the date of the Bill of lading/ Air Way Bill is taken as the date of shipment.

Importation of Motor Vehicles on Concessionary Permits

In addition to the requirements to be fulfilled in importing a vehicle in to the country, as explained before, you must make sure that

  1. You possess a valid Concessionary permit.
  2. The value, as determined in terms of the regulations explained above, is within the permitted limit, at the time of establishment of the relevant letter of credit.
  3. The other conditions relevant to the permit must be fulfilled. (These condition can be found on the permit itself, and the relevant Gazette Notification under which concessionary permits are issued)

Importation of motor Vehicles by Sri Lankans Employed overseas

The vehicle must be within the permitted age limit. If not, a permit from the Controller of Imports & Exports must be obtained prior to importation. Also, if the vehicle is imported on No Foreign Exchange Involved basis, necessary clearance must be obtained from the Controller General of Imports & Exports prior to importation.

Customs Clearance Process of Motor Vehicles

Under the provisions of the Customs ordinance, the Customs clearance documents must be presented and the clearance formalities completed by a licensed Customs House Agent. However, Motor Bicycles brought in as part of unaccompanied personal baggage can be cleared by the passenger without a Customs House Agent.

Customs Clearance Process of Motor Vehicles

This can be verified from Customs. You need to make a request with all details (I.e. Chassis Number, CusDec Number etc.) to the ICT Directorate, at 3rd floor, Customs Headquarters, Colombo 11.

Importation of Motor Bicycles under Duty-Free Allowance

Technically, a Motor Bicycle having engine capacity up to 350 cc can be brought in under baggage allowance. However, whether such a motor bicycle can be cleared duty free depends on your duty free allowance entitlement and the valuation of the vehicle. If the value of the motor bicycle exceeds the duty free allowance, Customs duty calculated proportionately has to be paid. You are strongly advised to consult the Motor Vehicles Unit before importing such a vehicle, so that you could be aware of the duty liability in advance.

What are the documentary requirements when a motor bicycle is brought in as part of personal baggage?

In case of a brand new motor bicycle, the purchase receipt is required. In case of a used motor bicycle, the registration papers are required to determine the age of the vehicle. If these documents are not in English language, English translation is required.
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