Okay, it’s been almost four months now that my imported Golf GTI has been on the road so I thought I best come back here and write a follow up to my initial blog post. If you haven’t read the original post – click here to check it out then come back!

Leaving Japan

Following on from my previous post, the car left the Kobe dock in Japan on the 16th February and was loaded onto the Hoegh Tokyo vessel. I was able to use the VesselFinder website to track it’s progress and watched it every day.

Once the car had left the dock, the agent had dispatched the export certificate and other paperwork to me in the post. This came within a couple of days and was kept aside for the registration of the car.

Arriving in the UK

The car arrived at the Newcastle dock on the 30th of March. I received an invoice from the shipping agent for around £1,500 that covers the fees I mentioned in my previous blog post. This was paid and I was able to arrange a car transporter to collect it for me. I was provided with a “NOVA” which confirms the tax and duty for the car has been paid, I was then provided a collection PIN number that I passed onto the transporter so they could access the dock and collect the car.

The car was picked up first thing on the 4th April and delivered to my house.

Unfortunately the car was transported with next to no fuel, it was unloaded from the transporter and wouldn’t start again. I had to run to the local petrol station and pick up a petrol can and some fuel to get it on my drive!

Imported Golf GTI

Imported Golf GTI

When talking to the man who collected the car for me, he mentioned it was his first time collecting an imported car from a dock and that the process was very straight forward and he’d have no issue doing it again. He asked about the car and commented on it’s condition – after a short conversation he was super interested in completing the process itself.

I was very satisfied with the condition of the car throughout. The auction sheet and inspection did alert me to minor scuffs on the wheels, front and rear bumper which I knew I’d have to get repaired but this was reflected in the grade and overall price of the car. Below is a closeup of those marks. (Note, these photos were taken after the car had been on the road hence the flies!)

Imported Golf GTI

Imported Golf GTI

I gave the car a thorough inspection and was super impressed. The inside smelt very fresh, I don’t believe the rear seats had ever been sat in and the boot looked like it had never been used.

Registering with the DVLA

The next thing I had to do was register the car which required the following;

  • Completion of the DVLA V55/5 Form
  • Import certificate from Japan
  • HMRC NOVA/Custom Clearance Form
  • MOT Test Certificate
  • Proof of ID

So I booked the car into a local Kwik-Fit which was the nearest garage that could fit me in for an MOT test. It sailed through the MOT without a single advisory, I asked the tester to give the car a close inspection for anything I should be aware of and his feedback was overwhelmingly positive. He commented he’s seen three year old Golfs come in for it’s first MOT in worse condition.

I completed the form (I may write a separate post about that, there are MANY fields and not even half of them are required) and then went to arrange payment. The payment can either be cheque or postal order, unfortunately I have no chequebook as it’s 2023 so I opted for the postal order. The paperwork was all sent off on 9th April. I had a full service completed on the car during this time.

Imported Golf GTI

While waiting for the logbook to arrive I took the opportunity to remove the retrofitted Japanese media system and dashcam. These were all secured with adhesive as seen below and were easily removed with a little heat. I later went back with some adhesive remover and cleaned everything up. I did try and keep the Japanese dashcam but was unable to change the language from Japanese and it made random audio queues which would have become annoying over time.

Imported Golf GTI

I then removed the original VW RCD310 which was limited to frequencies for the Japanese market and fitted a VW RCD330 which not only worked in the UK, but provided Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality also. I purchased the RCD330 from https://www.rcd330.com which included the USB port you can see in the center console. I also removed the original climate control unit and fitted one from a VW Passat which I blogged about here.

Imported Golf GTI

Three long weeks later on 2nd May I received a letter from the DVLA, unfortunately not the letter I was hoping for. The letter stated that there was a typo in the VIN on the NOVA form and my application for registration was rejected. I contacted the shipping agent who worked quickly to source me an updated NOVA with the correct VIN number. I had to write another V55/5 form and had it on the way the following day.

Five weeks later on 7th June I finally received the logbook for the car. I instantly applied my personalised registration and took the car out for it’s first proper drive. The car drove absolutely perfectly and without fault – I was really happy with my decision at this point. The photo below was taken on the first drive out.

Imported Golf GTI

Summary of Timeline

  • 16th February – Left Kobe Dock in Japan (69 Days Since Winning Auction)
  • 30th March – Car Arrived in UK (43 Days Freight Time)
  • 4th April – Car Transported to home.
  • 8th April – MOT Test
  • 9th April – Paperwork Sent
  • 2nd May – Application Rejected
  • 3rd May – New Paperwork Sent
  • 7th June – Logbook Arrived! (36 Days Since Sending Paperwork, 181 Days Since Winning Auction)

Cosmetic Improvements

With the car having a mechanical clean bill of health and me being overall satisfied with the purchase I decided to proceed and address some cosmetic points. The first was the alloy wheels, I was debating changing the alloy wheels but decided I’d like to keep the car fairly stock so decided to have the originals stripped and powdercoated in a dark grey with metallic flake, I had four new Khumo tyres fitted at the same time. The car was given a real good clean including a detailed polish of the exhaust tips.

Imported Golf GTI

Imported Golf GTI

The red stripes on the front grill were faded and showing lacquer peel. I had removed the grill and attempted removing the red stripes to have them repainted but found them to be incredibly brittle and snapped them on removal. Therefore a brand new front grill was ordered and fitted.

Imported Golf GTI

The only cosmetic item outstanding was the front and rear bumpers, I had this handled by a local bodywork specialist with the previous damage being totally unnoticable – very impressed with the outcome here!

Imported Golf GTI

Imported Golf GTI

The car currently stands as you see it below and I have no further plans for cosmetic changes.

Imported Golf GTI

What next?

As much as the car looks clean in the photo, it’s not quite at the standard I’d like it to be. The car has been washed but requires going over with a clay bar, a good polish and then some form of protection either a wax or ceramic coating – I am hoping to do this before the winter weather kicks in.

The other need is the headlining, the headlining unfortunately sags on the MK6 Golf through time and was an issue on every one that I come across during my search. Removing the headlining is a job I’m not willing to tackle myself so I’ll arrange for that to be completed by a local trim workshop.

Once I’ve had the Golf a bit longer I’ll record a long term review on my YouTube Channel. I recorded one of our 2019 Kuga ST-Line and will be doing one of our 2021 Kuga ST-Line soon!

Update November 2023

Unfortunately I sold the car, I’d been after a Ford Focus ST-3 2.0 EcoBoost 250 for a while and the perfect example came up at the right time. The buyer of the Golf loved it, I enjoyed the experience of importing a car and will likely repeat the process again sometime soon!