|Car for sale at the Lemon Lot|
There are several places where you can get a car. The easiest is from the MWR "Lemon Lot" on base next to the commissary and Youth Center. People PCSing out as well as spouses who work with used car dealers sell their cars here. There's also a Facebook page called Yokosuka Auto Resale with car ads. You could buy a car out in town if you'd prefer. Another option is to get in touch with one of the dealers and ask them to find you a specific car if you know what you'd like. We've bought our cars at the Lemon Lot both times we've lived here. The turnover is quick so keep that in mind when looking around.
The purchase process is fairly similar to the U.S. Call the number on the ad, test drive it and negotiate a price. Most of the cars are between $2000 and $4000 USD. The cars we've bought have had to be paid for in U.S. cash, so if you bank with USAA make sure to move money into Navy Federal to withdraw. It helps to look for cars that have already passed base inspection and have about two years of Japanese Compulsory Insurance (JCI). JCI is liability insurance that is attached to the car. If the car doesn't already have it or it's expiring soon, you have to pay for two years of insurance up front. From memory two years of JCI is about $300-$500 depending on the car. A base inspection costs about $40 USD plus cost of needed repairs.
|Yokosuka City Hall|
If you don't already have it, you'll need a parking certificate to prove you've got a spot to park the car. We got ours from Housing when we signed the paperwork accepting our house. If you haven't done that yet the Navy Lodge can provide it as well. The process is different if you'll be living out in town. We haven't had to do that so I don't know specifics.
If the car has never been registered to a service member before (buying from a dealer in town or on base) you'll have to go to Yokosuka City Hall (10 min walk outside the gate) to get a temp plate. Bob had to go through this process with my car three weeks ago and his car last week. They're used to sailors coming in so they've got signs in English and some employees spoke English as well. It cost ¥750 and is good for five days.
|A convenience store inside Yokosuka City Hall|
You can go to LTO on your own if you'd like but it's confusing and intimidating for new arrivals...especially if you've never driven off base before. The majority of us pay about $50 for an "LTO runner" to do it for us. They advertise in the base paper and on the Yokosuka Auto Resale Facebook page. They'll take your paperwork and drive your car if needed. Round trip highway tolls cost ¥2900, so your share will depend on how many sets of paperwork are being taken. Our car was back within a couple of hours which is worth every penny of the $50 we paid.
Once the LTO runner is back your temp plate will need to go back to City Hall. Our runner returned it for us. Once that's done head back over to VRO with all paperwork and they'll check it over again. If it's good-to-go you'll get base stickers.
I realize this sounds daunting, but we bought our car on a Wednesday night, went to insurance/City Hall/VRO Thursday and had the LTO run done Friday morning. By lunch we were street legal with our own plates!