Home » Articles » Titles » Is It Legal To Title A Japanese Mini Truck?
A common question we get is whether you can obtain a title or registration for a mini truck or minivan from Japan, as these vehicles are popular for their affordability and uniqueness. The issue is whether there will be problems with title or registration or if they already exist. To understand the rules and laws, let’s examine what is required for successful registration or title and whether rejection is possible.
The short answer is that different states have different rules for registering or titling mini trucks and minivans from Japan. This variation in rules is due to the federal government’s requirement for on-highway use vehicles to meet specific criteria, such as maximum speeds, even though they allow these vehicles to be imported. It is important to note that because they can be imported, it does not automatically make them legal for all roads.
Remember, the rule that allows the exemption for the import of 25-year-old vehicles is HR 2628, which has an exemption for vehicles that do not conform to federal standards. These vehicles are allowed into the United States if they comply with certain conditions and record-keeping requirements. However, it is important to note that the exemption only allows for import into the US and does not automatically mean that the vehicle can be titled in any state. The exemption only allows for the import of the vehicle; it does not automatically result in it being registered or titled.
If you look at the rules in some states, such as Pennsylvania, the official titling division of the state, PennDOT, only allows registration of a mini truck in one of the following ways: an off-road title. This type of title has a one-time fee and allows the vehicle to be operated on private property, not public roadways. There is also a farm exemption, which allows the vehicle to be used as a farm vehicle with incidental road use, such as driving from one farm to another, but not for daily use. It should be noted that the farm exemption is only for occasional transportation and not for general, daily transportation.
So, here’s the thing: Most states generally follow this rule. Some states, such as Maine and Rhode Island, are revoking titles for mini trucks. For example, in Pennsylvania, these vehicles are legally brought into the US under the 25-year import law. Still, Maine has been de-registering these vehicles and informing registered owners that their Japanese rides can no longer be driven on public roads, and they should turn in their license plates. Rhode Island did the same thing. There is an example of one person who had their registration revoked because these vehicles are not eligible for use on most roads. They are only eligible for side roads, but they cannot be taken on the interstate.
So, part of the problem with these vehicles is obtaining ownership documents and navigating the customs and import procedures. Another issue is their eligibility for use on the road, particularly in the state of Arizona, where they aim to create a new classification called a “venture truck,” also known as a mini truck or K-class. This definition requires the vehicle to be used solely for off-highway, off-road recreational purposes, with only one person in the vehicle attached to the permanent seat. It is also prohibited from carrying any other person and operating at speeds greater than 25 miles per hour.
Even in states where these vehicles are allowed, there are many restrictions. For example, they cannot be taken on highways or driven at speeds greater than 25 miles per hour. So, if you have one of these vehicles, it is essential to understand the limitations and restrictions in your state.
Well, you may find that you may be able to get a title application through your state for the time being. However, the pressure is coming down on the DMVs from the federal government to deregister these vehicles. So, what we would recommend is, if you have one that you need to get titled, check with your state, first of all, to see if they’re going to title it at all. Some states just flat-out won’t do it. If they will do it, or you can convince them to, you might want to ask if there are any plans in the works to take it off the road. There are states that are in the process of changing their laws right now, even though it’s allowable today to keep these vehicles on the road. And you might want to know that even if you title it, register it, and pay the fees, it might still come off the road in a year or two. So, you might want to act now and not plan on a long-term future for the vehicle. Some people just want to sell them.
The increasing number of states pulling mini trucks off the road is causing a rise in their availability at low prices. While some states may provide temporary exemptions, it’s clear that the trend is towards deregistering these vehicles. The DMV commissioners of many states want these cars off the road. Even in the states that allow it, additional requirements include special paperwork, an affidavit for no proof of ownership, and a mandatory physical inspection. Considering these factors before investing in a mini truck is essential, as their future on the road is uncertain.
The question of registering a vehicle in another state often arises. The answer is both yes and no. Most states require the person to be a state resident to get a title or registration. If you don’t live in the state and don’t have a driver’s license from that state, most states won’t grant a title. Vermont is one state that allows out-of-state registration, but their records for mini trucks are inconsistent. It will likely be rejected if you just submit an application for a mini truck. However, if you formally request the commissioner and bring the vehicle to Vermont for inspection, some clients have been successful.
It’s important to note that law enforcement agents may be aware of these loopholes if you don’t live in Vermont and drive around with Vermont plates in another state. They will stop you if they see that you have a license from your home state and the vehicle is registered elsewhere, even if it’s ineligible in your state. This could result in your vehicle being seized, towed, and impounded.
So, before you embark on registering a Japanese mini truck or any gray market vehicle, it is important to get definitive answers. Do not rely on information from a web forum or discussion board. There is a lot of misinformation online, and some people may not be knowledgeable about the topic. Avoid basing your plans on what you read online, as it may not be accurate. Instead, get the information directly from a reliable source, such as your local titling division, and obtain documentation.
Most states don’t want Japanese mini trucks on the road. They either reject them outright or make the regulations highly restrictive. Despite some states currently allowing them, more and more states are revoking their titles every few months, as seen in the case of Maine and Rhode Island in 2021. If you only plan to drive one of these vehicles for a few years, it’s fine to go ahead and do so, but keep in mind that it’s just a matter of time before your title and registration may be pulled.
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