Import Procedures In Japan



Import Licenses for Japan

Most goods can be imported into Japan without controls, although transactions must be reported to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) through banks authorised to deal in foreign exchange. However, some items (alcohol for industrial use, leather, rice and rice flour, wheat) are subject to import quotas.

For postal imports, an import licence is required for all merchandise exceeding GBP 50 unless the item is a relief parcel or gift.

A copy of “Administrative Procedures for Importing into Japan” can be obtained on request from the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) in London: Tel. 0207 470 4700 or at

Customs in Japan

Tariffs are based on the Harmonised System which is a standardised international system for classifying traded products. Details of the Harmonised System can be found at the World Customs Organisation’s (WCO) website at

For Japan, duties are levied according to the Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) value of the consignment. However, some raw materials, agricultural machine tools and industrial equipment are not subject to customs duty.

Further information regarding customs requirements for Japan can be found at

Bill of Landing

Japan has introduced compulsory declaration of consignments to Japanese customs 24 hours before expected arrival (this is usually done by the carriers themselves). Release of goods to the consignee may be accelerated by the use of an express bill or release if applicable.

Government Help in Japan

JETRO is keen to provide support to foreign companies who want to do business in Japan offering a wide range of support and services.

Podcast: Shipping Goods to Japan with David Van Turton

In this episode, we interview David van Turton, Director at Cavelier Logistics. David shares some of his vast experience and we ask him some of the common questions we get from viewers about sending products over to Japan.

You can find more about the opportunities in your sector in the Key Industries in Japan section of the site.

Last updated November 2023: Steve Crane OBE