Passenger Clearance Procedures: Navigating Japan Customs


As a visitor to Japan, it is essential to understand and adhere to the Customs procedures that are part and parcel of your entry into and departure from the country. Japan Customs has prepared this information to assist foreign visitors in complying with Customs regulations and procedures. Having a good grasp of these procedures will prove helpful during Customs examination. Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to seek assistance from a Customs officer.

Declaration: Ensuring a Smooth Entry

  1. Customs Declaration All passengers entering Japan are required to declare their belongings. If you have any unaccompanied articles, you must submit a customs declaration form in duplicate. Japan Customs highly recommends submitting declarations electronically through the “Visit Japan Web” platform. You can find customs declaration forms on the plane, ship, or at Customs. For more information on electronic declaration, please refer to the Japan Customs website.
  2. The Green and Red Channel System You have the option to choose between the green channel and the red channel.
    • Green Channel: This is for passengers who have no goods subject to duty and/or tax and no prohibited or restricted goods for import.
    • Red Channel: This channel is for all other passengers.
  3. Payment of Duties and/or Taxes If you have dutiable goods with a value exceeding three hundred thousand yen (300,000 yen), you will need to go through Customs procedures for commercial cargo. Duties and/or taxes can be paid at the bank in the Customs inspection zone.

Exemption: Duty-Free Allowances

While some items may be subject to duties and/or taxes, there are exemptions for certain personal effects and unaccompanied baggage. Here are the duty-free allowances for specific items:

  • Personal Effects and Professional Equipment Clothes, toiletries, and other personal effects for your own use, as well as portable professional equipment to be used during your stay in Japan, are all exempt from duties and/or taxes as long as they are considered within a reasonable quantity and not intended for sale.
  • Alcoholic Beverages, Tobacco Products, Perfume, etc Certain allowances apply to alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, and perfume, as specified below.
  • Household Effects (including Automobiles) If you are moving to Japan for a stay of more than one year, your household effects being used by your family may be imported duty-free within a reasonable limit. This includes automobiles, boats, and other vehicles, provided you can present registration certificates or sales receipts to prove their prior use. Temporary duty-free importation is also possible for automobiles and other vehicles, as long as they are subsequently exported.

Duty-Free/Tax-Free Allowance

Item Allowance (for an adult) Remarks
Alcoholic Beverages 3 bottles A bottle contains approximately 760cc
Tobacco Products Cigars: 50 cigars If bringing more than one kind of tobacco product, the total allowance is equivalent to 250 grams.
Heat-not-burn tobacco IQOS: 200 pieces, glo: 200 pieces, Ploom TECH: 50 capsules
Cigarettes 200 cigarettes
Heat-not-burn tobacco 10 individual packages, etc.
Other kinds of tobacco 250 grams
Perfume 2 ounces (One ounce is about 28ml)
Others The total overseas market value of all articles other than those mentioned above must be under 200,000yen. Articles with a market value of more than 200,000yen each or each set are not eligible for duty-free allowances.

Simplified Customs Duty and Tax Rates

If your belongings exceed the duty-free allowances, simplified Customs duty and tax rates will be applied to the excess amount. Here are the rates for various items:

Alcoholic Beverages

  • Whisky, Brandy: 800 yen per liter
  • Rum, Gin, Vodka: 500 yen per liter
  • Liquor: 400 yen per liter
  • Distilled alcoholic beverages: 300 yen per liter
  • Wine, beer, and other liquor: 200 yen per liter

Tobacco Products

  • Cigarettes: 15 yen per cigarette
  • Heat-not-burn tobacco:
    • Products that use tobacco sticks (e.g., IQOS, glo, etc.): 15 yen per stick
    • Products sold as a packaged set of tobacco capsules and liquid cartridges, etc.* (e.g., Ploom TECH, etc.): 50 yen per capsule/cartridge

Other articles (except those free of Customs duty): 15% of the market value

Unaccompanied Baggage: Declaration and Rules

When you have unaccompanied baggage, you must submit two copies of the written declaration forms at the time of entry. One copy will be returned to you with the Customs officer’s seal of certification. This declaration is necessary to qualify for duty and/or tax exemption. You must keep the unaccompanied baggage under your custody within six months after your arrival. The sealed declaration should be presented when clearing the unaccompanied goods. If the baggage is imported by mail, you should list it as unaccompanied baggage on your declaration and label the parcel accordingly.

Currency: Declaration for Cash and Means of Payment

If you are carrying cash or other means of payment exceeding 1 million yen (0.1 million JPY if bound for North Korea), you are required to declare it to Customs. Request a blank declaration form from a Customs officer at a seaport or airport. Note that different rules apply for the import of gold bullion. Visit the National Tax Agency website for more information.

Prohibited Articles: Strict Regulations

Certain articles are strictly prohibited from entry by law. These include:

  • Heroin, cocaine, MDMA, opium, cannabis, stimulants, psychotropic substances, and other narcotic drugs (excluding exceptions designated by the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare Ordinance)
  • Firearms, ammunition, and pistol parts
  • Explosives
  • Precursor materials for chemical weapons
  • Counterfeit, altered, or imitation currency, securities, and forged credit cards
  • Materials that may pose a threat to public safety or morals (e.g., obscene or immoral materials)
  • Child pornography
  • Articles that infringe upon intellectual property rights

Restricted Articles and Additional Regulations

Some goods are subject to restrictions imposed by laws and regulations other than the Customs Law. Permits, approvals, or examination by government agencies may be required for the importation of such goods. Here are some major restricted items:

  • Plants and animals require quarantine inspection by plant or animal quarantine officers before Customs examination.
  • Quantity restrictions apply to the importation of medicines and cosmetics, e.g., pharmaceutical products for a 2-month supply or cosmetics for 24 applications. For specific details, check the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare website.
  • Importing hunting guns, air guns, swords, etc., into Japan without a permit to possess is prohibited.

Tax-Free Goods: Mandatory Exportation

If you purchase tax-free goods, it is mandatory to export them and not consume or transfer them within Japan. When departing from Japan at an airport or seaport, follow these steps:

  1. If you don’t have a “Record of purchase slip,” present your passport to Customs.
  2. If you have a “Record of purchase slip(s),” submit the slip(s) to Customs.

Customs officers may inspect your tax-free goods as necessary. Failure to export them will result in the payment of consumption tax at Customs. For more details, refer to the National Tax Agency website.

With a clear understanding of the procedures and regulations outlined above, you can confidently navigate Japan Customs and ensure a smooth entry into and departure from the country. Remember, Customs officers are there to assist you, so don’t hesitate to seek their guidance if needed. Enjoy your visit to Japan!

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