The import of passenger cars includes (1) the direct import from overseas manufacturers(import of manufacturers, etc), or (2) the import through the overseas dealers(gray import). The import of manufacturers, is applicable to only new cars but the gray import includes both new and old cars.
The most common type of a new car distribution channel is such that, when an official importer directly imports automobiles from a manufacturer, the automobiles are sold through the national direct shops or through its agents (dealers). In the past few years foreign manufacturers selected importers in Korea through direct contracts, and established a number of subsidiaries. In addition, as gray importers have no official contract with manufacturers, they are purchasing automobiles from overseas dealers.
In general, importers under the direct contracts having the direct relation with manufacturers or subsidiaries of manufacturers place temporary orders on the basis of one year or half year at first and then they place the actual order to the head offices according to the actual demand. The completed vehicles are coated to protect the vehicle bodies from the sea wind during the marine transportation and shipped at ports. It takes about 2 weeks or 1 month for the ship to arrive at Korea from America or Europe respectively, and once they complete the customs clearance for 1 day, they are transferred to the vehicle preparation center (VPC). (In some cases, they may be left at harbor after customs clearance procedure due to the change of schedule or transportation booking.)
Transferred vehicles go through PDI (Pre Delivery Inspection) procedure such as vehicle inspection and performance adjustment. At first, they remove wax-coating with a steam-washer, check for any scratch, complete the interior and exterior decoration and correct any projecting part between door and trunk, bonnet and fender, and fender and door. Along with the aforesaid check-up results, the pre-delivery inspection is completed.
Once a purchaser buys a vehicle, he shall pay the tax at motor register office, receive the number plate and register it.
For a purchaser to buy a vehicle from official importers means that he can be covered by after service management(warranty and recall) prescribed in the Korea automobile control law and the exhausts warranty stipulated in the atmosphere preservation law of the Ministry of Environment, and the purchase of a vehicle from gray importers means not to be protected for the above-mentioned items completely