Automotive rental, trading and export – Japan



1. About Shaken
2. Saving on Shaken
3. The ‘User-Shaken’ process

About shaken

Shaken is the dreaded biennial vehicle safety inspection required by law to drive a car on public roads in Japan. This can often yield quotes or if you are unlucky, bills in excess of 100,000 yen when you don’t know where to be looking and in turn be a real deterrent for those who would otherwise want to get a car.

If nothing there is nothing that needs repairing on your vehicle, you should be looking at paying 70,000 to 80,000 yen at either Autobacs or Yellow Hat. Paying an extra 30,000 yen or even more, because you didn’t look into the options, will soon teach you the meaning of “mottainai”.

Breakdown of shaken costs:

1. Vehicle weight tax
2. Compulsory insurance
3. Processing fee
4. Necessary repairs to pass the test

Anything costs in addition to the above are imposed by the garage performing the shaken.

Saving on Shaken.

1. Below are some very simple, minimal effort ways to make sure you save on Shaken:
2. Ask for a quote before approving work. “shaken no mitsumori o kusadai” should be enough for them to understand.
3. Shop around. Try to ask for quotes before deciding on a garage.
4. After getting a quote, repair basic things like broken lamps, windscreen wipers or yourself.
5. Many garages offer discounts for booking in advance. A month or two will be enough.

Having a garage do your shaken for you shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg and will usually be worth the convenience, especially if you work a regular Monday to Friday gig. If you really want to go as cheap as possible, check out our User-Shaken guide.



You are here because garages in Japan are pillaging your wallets every time shaken time rolls around. Why do we pay the garages such large fees to do our shakens, when the process really only takes a couple of hours and 60,000-70,000 yen? Even if there is nothing wrong with your vehicle, garages will often charge over 100,000 yen. That leaves their hourly rate enormously higher than most expats! So we are here to help you save your hard-earned money and help drivers cut costs in Japan!

Step 1 – Considering User Shaken

First off, this is a list of the things you’ll need to consider, before booking in your vehicle at the shaken center:

– About 1 month to 6 weeks between starting the process and the day your shaken is due.

– Have you got all of your annual vehicle tax receipts?

– Previous shaken certificate.

– Recycling fee certificate.

– Is your car in a roadworthy condition? Rather, does it have any obvious issues?

– Will you need the assistance of a Japanese speaker?

–  download and complete a 61 point maintenance checklist.

– Liability insurance – jibaisekihoken.

– Do you want to pay as little as 35,000yen for your shaken?

Step 2 – Preparation

A list of things that you will need and get together, before you go in for the test:

– Recycling fee certificate.

– Previous shaken certificate.

– Liability insurance – jibaiseki.

– Annual tax receipts.

– Your name stamp (inkan)

– A completed 61 point maintenance checklist *NB – see below.

– Remove hub cap covers (testing officer needs access to the wheel nuts during the test).

– annnnnd your car, of course.

In the interest of saving time;

a) you could book your inspection before you ready the rest of the documents.

b) You can visit the inspection office and fill in the tax, insurance, recycling and application forms and pay the fees prior to the appointment day, or do it after the test is completed. See steps 4b in “on the day”. 



While you are down there, it might be a good idea to go and see a few cars going through the shaken testing shed. You can watch from the observation area. 

**Filling in the 61 point maintenance checklist.

This is best done by a mechanic or someone with a knowledgeable background in cars. This checklist is to outline some of the components which wear easily and often need to be replaced. It is comprised of checking things like the ball joints, brake pads, oil leaks, steering and brake fluids and so on.

Keep in mind if you book first, you may have to have something that needs repairing, so allow enough time for repairs to be made.


Booking your car in for a shaken

The next step of the user shaken is to book an inspection time. You can either call the local testing center and schedule a time over the phone, or you can book your vehicle in online. For telephone bookings, google your local Rikuunkyoku (陸運局) for your local number. You may have to specific between kei and regular vehicles.

Light vehicle bookings (kei)

Regular vehicle bookings 

The ironically named Mr. Deadman has made an excellent English walk-through of the booking process here.

Once you have booked in your car, make sure you have collected all of the documents mentioned and step 2 and carried out any repairs.

On the day:

As always in Japan and indeed anywhere in the world, first impressions last. Arrive early to the shaken office and be polite. This is the point where you will most likely need to enlist the help of a Japanese native speaker.  They will probably be surprised to see a foreigner doing his own shaken. With exception to the main port cities like Toyama, Yokohama, Kobe etc, the inspection offices don’t see a lot of foreigners so you don’t have anyone to help, the inspection office staff may even assist you. You don’t need to be a keigo master, but just make sure you apologize for your inability when someone helps you out and smile.

Usually, they have numbered counters and the staff will instruct you as to the next step, but if you are lost, ask and again be grateful for their efforts.

In addition to the preparation of documents you’ve completed in Step 2, you’ll also need to get/buy the following once you arrive at the inspection office:

– Shaken application form 継続検査申請書

– A vehicle inspection form 自動車検査票

– Weight tax form 自動車重量税納付書

– Self-maintenance record (自作の整備記録簿)

You will collect these as you tour the different counters throughout the process.

Now the process once you are ready to go:

Step 1. Approach the first counter and tell them you have a shaken appointment.

Step 2. They will sell you the shaken application form which is a few yen. Fill out the form and return to the information counter.

Step 3. Pay the test fee. If you fail the test, you’ll have to pay this one again, after you fixed the problem and come back. Hint: TEll them its your first time through the shaken process and they’ll give you a little sign ‘誘導’ which reads yuudou, or ‘induction’’, this will grant you a more guidance than the others, who have probably been through shaken hundreds of times. Place the sign somewhere easily visible.

Step 4. At this stage you can do one of two things:

A) You can go for the test – For the reason listed, we always do option B) first. If you want to get all of the paperwork and fees out of the way, jump down to 4B) (anchor)

B) You can tour the counters and complete all of the paperwork and fee-paying now.

A) Get in your car and line up for the test – We recommend doing the test first before paying the insurance and the weight tax in the chance that your car should fail the test, you will have to have something fixed. If the repairs are expensive, you may decide the car has come to its miserable end and scrap it / sell it cheap. If you pay the taxes before coming to this conclusion, you may lose the money.

The language used by the testing officers is straightforward, but if you don’t feel confident, you can have a Japanese friend take the test for you. As mentioned above, you may want to check out your local testing process from the observation lane, as they differ slightly from testing station to testing station. This will give you a good idea of what to do when to do it when your turn comes around. Also, grab the ‘yuudou – noobie’ sign mentioned above.

Note: As you complete the tests, you will either need to put your test form into the machine or pass it to a man to have the form stamped with your results.

The approximate testing order:

1. Lights and signals.

The first test is to check the functionality of all lights, signals, and warning signals and wiper fluid and horn. This will involve a man yelling orders for you to apply the signal or light he wants to check. He will also check your wheels and the wheel nuts.

2. Multi-tester machine.

This will test your speedometer (you will be asked to accelerate to 40km/h and flash your headlights when your speedo reads 40km/h), Brakes (There will be an apply brake (ブレーキふむ) sign and a release brake (ブレーキはなす) sign) and the parking brake.  For the brake tests, the car should be put into neutral.

3. Next up, you will test the light brightness and alignment, emissions, and shock absorbers.

Cruise up to the next stop sign, park on the rollers again. They’ll ask you to leave your headlights on high beam and the car running. They/You will insert an emissions probe deep into the exhaust pipe. The probe should be stuck all the way in. Most modern vehicles after the ’90s should be okay on the emissions check.

4. The last check is the pit check. Which is literally and man in a pit, smacking your car around. Pull up over the pit, and turn off your car. Once they’re done banging around, you’ll drive off the pit and park up.

5. Once you have finished the trip through the testing shed, you’ll insert your inspection form into the machine which will mark the tests which you passed and failed. You need to show it to a gentleman or woman and they’ll stamp it for you. They should be located pretty close to the test result machine. If you fail, this person will inform you of what needs to be fixed, before you come back to try again.

4B) Tour the counters, pay the fees, and complete the paperwork

The next step is paying fees, collecting stamps, and affixing them to documents. There will also be a little paperwork involved. You will be paying for the weight tax, the registration fee, and compulsory insurance costs in this step. This can also be done on a different day to the day you put the car through the test.

Go around and collect the remaining documents mentioned above as well as paying for the taxes and fees. Much like the immigration office, you’ll be required to buy stamps to stick on various forms.

5. Once you’ve made all the payments and got all the receipts and so on, submit everything to the reception – They’ll ask you to chill out for a few moments, then they’ll produce a new shaken certificate and a sticker for your windscreen. Congratulations, you’ve done a ‘User-shaken’ and saved about 50% on what it would you to get someone to do it for you!

Make sure you keep your new shaken and jibaiseki – compulsory insurance and tax payment slips with you in the car, You’ll need them often and then the next time you go through the shaken process.