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Don’t be like Susan! (A Japanese import horror story from 2012)

Last week I had an unexpected call from my customer Susan.

Susan bought her car from us in 2012 and I probably wouldn’t remember her by now, but she didn’t transfer into her name for a frightfully large period of time and I kept getting fines from the Victorian countryside, so the name stuck 😊

Japanese Import

Susan was very upset. She was just about to sell her Elgrand E51 when the buyer noticed her Elgrand was still a 2 seater and started to have second thoughts about the deal.

I reminded Susan that I always spend good a 15 min to explain to my customers that all Elgrands (except E52) and Estimas are imported as 2 seater campervans into Australia (thanks, Canberra, we love you!). When we register a car, then we organize a compliance certificate for 7 or 8 seats straight away. This document comes in the folder with the rest of paperwork or emailed a couple of days later.

Susan was adamant. She claimed to never had been explained anything about it and she has also never seen a compliance certificate. Ever.

At this stage I started to doubt myself. Maybe she was the only one that I ever missed?

My records don’t go back to 2012, but I’m so lucky that the engineer, that did the report, quickly located Susan’s certificate by the VIN number and emailed us a copy within an hour.

Susan simply forgot. And misplaced a very important document. And she didn’t give it to VIC roads to register it as 8 seat. All these years she was driving her van illegally. In case of an accident she wouldn’t be covered: you can’t have more than 2 people in a camper.

So, here’s the FIVE Ws of Compliance Certificate (aka engineering report in some circles) so you understand this Japanese import industry phenomenon.

What this is:

Compliance Certificate for 7 or 8 seats is a three page document that allows you to register and use your Estima or Elgrand as a 7 or 8 seater in Australia.

Why you need it:

Nearly all models of people movers are imported from Japan as campervans, with the seating capacity of 2 (and very rarely of 3 or 4) If a car is not certified, you can’t have more than 1 passenger in it.

Who does it:

The dealership you're buying the vehicle from should organize a Compliance Certificate with one of the engineers or cut off all extra seat belts.

When it is done:

As soon as a vehicle is registered and the number plates are on. You should get this document together with the rest of paperwork (tax invoice, Form 5, customer copy of Form 5, original Export Certificate to confirm mileage) *

Where to take it:

You take it to RMS when you transfer a vehicle into your name – within two weeks from the moment of purchase and then forget all about it. Done and done.

That’s it, folks. Very straightforward except if you’re interstate… Are you? Email me on and I’ll explain how that works.

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Here’s what else you’ll get in my weekly emails:

  • How to read auction reports and verify mileage with real life examples
  • Differences between the models
  • Popular models
  • Why 7 seats may be preferrable than 8
  • Possible risks and how to avoid them
  • What to expect from the new import law?

Your JDM addict

P.S. Have a (burning) question to ask? Would love to connect with you via my Instagram: @best.people.movers

* My engineer isn’t in a rush (he likes to give it two or three days) and I usually have to email this document to my customers after the pick up. Still works fine with everyone.