Customs Japan: Regulations and restrictions

If you intend to import or export goods to Japan, it is important to know the rules and procedures of Japanese customs. In this article, we will give you all the information you need to facilitate your trade with Japan.

Japan Customs: How are duties and taxes calculated?

When you import goods into Japan, you must pay customs duties and taxes. Customs duties are charges imposed on imported goods, while taxes are levied on the added value of the product. The amount of duty and tax depends on the type of goods and their value.

To calculate duties and taxes, you need to know the rate of each tax applicable to your product. You can check the rates online or contact the customs authorities for more information.


Customs clearance of goods in Japan

Customs clearance is the process by which imported goods are allowed to enter Japan. To clear your goods through customs, you need to complete the customs formalities and present the necessary documents. The documents vary depending on the type of product, but generally include a commercial invoice, bill of lading and customs declaration.


Japan Customs: Fines and parcel seizures

Japanese customs may seize imported goods that do not comply with the rules and regulations. In addition, if you fail to pay the required duties and taxes, you may be fined. Fines vary according to the seriousness of the offence and can be quite high.


Is origin marking mandatory in Japan?

Origin marking is the indication of where the product was manufactured or produced. In Japan, origin marking is not mandatory, but it may be required for certain products. If you are not sure whether you need to mark your products, you can contact the customs authorities for information.


Food products at Japanese customs

Food products imported into Japan are subject to strict food safety regulations. Food products must meet Japanese food safety standards to be allowed into the country.

In general, food products banned from import into Japan include:

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables, except for bananas, potatoes, onions and garlic in limited quantities.
  • Meat and meat products, including beef, pork, chicken and meat products such as sausages, bacon and canned products. Exceptions to this rule include dried meats, commercially prepared canned foods, fish products and dairy products in limited quantities.
  • Dairy products, such as cheese, milk and butter, except in limited quantities.
  • Eggs and egg products, such as pastries containing eggs.
  • Seafood and seaweed, except for certain commercially prepared products.
  • Home-canned vegetables or processed foods, such as sauces, jams and juices, unless they have been commercially processed.
  • Seeds, nuts and plants.

It is important to note that import rules may vary depending on the destination, source and quantity of the goods. It is advisable to check the specific import rules before travelling to Japan.


Products allowed through Japanese customs

Certain food products are allowed to be imported into Japan, such as fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products. However, they must comply with food safety standards. 

The following is a non-exhaustive list of food products that are allowed to be imported into Japan: 

  • Commercially prepared canned foods, such as soups, stews and canned fruits
  • Fish products, such as smoked salmon, canned sardines and seaweed
  • Fresh fruit, such as bananas, potatoes, onions and garlic in limited quantities
  • Commercially prepared canned vegetables, such as mushrooms, tomatoes and pickles
  • Dried meats, such as beef jerky and ham
  • Limited amounts of dairy products, such as powdered milk and single-serving cheese
  • Sweets, such as chocolates, sweets and biscuits

Tobacco at Japanese customs

Tobacco products are subject to strict restrictions at Japanese customs. Travellers are allowed to bring in a limited amount of tobacco for personal use, but restrictions vary according to the type of product. If you wish to import tobacco products as a business, you must obtain a licence from the relevant Japanese authorities.

If you wish to export tobacco to Japan, it is important to know the rules and duties that apply depending on the origin and quantity of the product. Here are some important points to remember:

If you are exporting tobacco from the EU to Japan, you benefit from duty-free treatment under the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement.

For more common products and goods, tobacco exports to Japan must comply with the general limit of 200,000 yen (~€1,700).

If the product is mixed with other types of tobacco, the export of tobacco to Japan must also respect the 500 gram limit.


How do I know if my package is stuck in Japanese customs?

If you have sent or received a parcel in Japan and you suspect that it has been blocked at customs, you can contact the customs authorities for information. You will need to provide information about the package, such as the tracking number, contents and value of the product.

If you have sent a parcel to Japan and are concerned that it may be blocked at customs, here are some steps you can take to get information:

Check the tracking of your package: The first step is to check the tracking of your package to see where it is. If the tracking shows that the package is waiting in customs, it may indicate that it has been held for inspection.

Contact the carrier: Contact the shipping company that delivered your package to get information about the status of your shipment. They will be able to tell you if the package is being held at customs and why.

Check import rules: If your package contains items that may be subject to import restrictions, check the import rules for Japan to see if your package is compliant. You can check the Japan Customs website for information on import restrictions.

Contact Customs: If you have any questions about the status of your package at Japan Customs, you can contact Japan Customs directly. You will need your package tracking number and any other relevant information to help them answer your questions.

It is important to note that packages can be held up at customs for a variety of reasons, including compliance issues, documentation issues or suspected fraud. If your parcel is held up at customs, it is important to take prompt action to resolve the problem and avoid unnecessary delays.

Japan Customs: what to do in case of a blocked parcel?

If your package is blocked by Japanese customs, it is important to take the necessary steps to unblock it. Here are some steps you can take:

Contact the carrier: If you have a tracking number, check the status of your package online. If the package is stuck in customs, contact the carrier immediately to find out what is going on. They can provide you with information on why your package was held and what can be done to release it.

Prepare the necessary documents: Japanese customs may require additional documents to release your package, such as purchase invoices, customs declarations, certificates of origin, etc. Make sure you prepare all required documents and submit them promptly.

Pay customs fees: If your package is held in customs, you may have to pay additional customs fees. Check with the carrier or customs to find out if this is necessary and how to make the payment.

Wait for customs to examine your package: Once you have submitted all the required documents and paid all the necessary fees, customs will examine your package to check its contents and admissibility. This can take time, so be patient.

Track the status of your package: Continue to monitor the status of your package online and contact the carrier if you have any concerns or questions. If you don't hear from your package after a while, contact Japan Customs to find out what's going on.