Guide for sending packages to Japan

The world is at a point where people send parcels every day. Some travel in the same city and some don’t leave the country. However, some of these travel great distances, often crossing borders and even continents. That’s why one of the challenges of modern society is figuring out global forwarding services. What is the best and safest way to mail a parcel? How to improve the way we ship and forward our cargo? What are the things you can do to work within the systems that are already in place? In this article, read about some of the things you need to remember when sending packages to Japan.

Dealing with Japanese customs

Passports and stamp - similar to traveling, sending packages to Japan includes customs.
Just like when traveling – your things need to pass border control.

Of course, when you are sending a parcel to Japan, you will need to deal with Japanese customs. Just like every country in the world, Japan has border control that monitors over the intake of items, and export and import of goods. And just like every other nation, Japan has different rules when it comes to packages. They might have restrictions or even bans on certain goods you want to ship.

Because of this, one of the first things you need to do when sending packages to Japan is to check the customs website and figure out whether there are any restrictions on the items you are sending. While you are doing that, make sure you have the correct documents with the parcel. You will usually get these when working with an air-sea forwarder, but you should always make sure you have everything.

The Japanese customs will have to check what you are shipping to Japan. The reason for this is twofold. First, they need to charge duties and fees on the imported goods. Second, they need to make sure the goods you are forwarding to Japan are legal. Because of this, it is very important that all the documents are in order, and you have a complete booking process for the package.

A thing to keep in mind is that you don’t need to pay tax or duties on the goods whose worth is less than 10,000 yen. If they exceed this price, then the person who receives the package will need to pay some fee. If you want to be the one who does that, you need to contact the Customer Services and arrange it before sending the package.

Think about prohibited items when sending packages to Japan

As we mentioned before, you need to be very careful about the items you are sending to Japan. Again, you need to visit the customs website and carefully examine the list of prohibited items they have. We give you a quick overview of them:

A man holding a "prohibited" sign.
Be aware of prohibited things.
  1. You cannot ship narcotic drugs. These include opium, stimulants, cannabis, psychotropic substances and similar. The only exception to this rule is the drugs designated by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare Ordinance.
  2. Be sure not to include firearms and firearm parts, as well as ammunition when sending packages to Japan.
  3. The same goes for explosive substances. Steer clear of them!
  4. Of course, you are not allowed to send other weapons as well. This includes bio-weapons (like germs) and chemical weapons.
  5. You cannot send someone paper money or bank notes, as well as counterfeit, imitation or altered coins. Also, do not send securities and forged credit cards in the packages.
  6. You cannot send articles that can harm public safety and morals. These include books, drawings or carvings with obscene or immoral materials.
  7. Finally, you cannot send any articles that will infringe on the intellectual property laws.

There are a couple more prohibited items that you need to research and look into. Also, whether you are using sea or areal cargo transportation, you need to respect the restrictions that the freight forwarders might have for you. This is why you should make sure you talk to their representatives as well before sending packages to Japan. Otherwise, they can be returned to you or confiscated, and you can get fined.

Should you include food when sending packages to Japan?

Gummy bears.
Sending food can be hard.

Now, food is a great part of a country’s cultural background. And maybe you have a friend in Japan who you would love to introduce to your country through food. Or, there might be an expat living in Japan who would really enjoy a taste of their home country. This is why food is often a popular thing to send, although there are quite a few rules about it. Make sure you understand what you can and cannot include in your packages when it comes to food before sending packages to Japan.

In order to prevent extra costs when you are sending food to a person living in Japan, you need to do a couple of things. First, the food you are sending must be in its original package. The package the food is in cannot be opened. You need to send food that is sealed and not tampered with at all. This rule is there in order to stop people from bringing germs and similar microorganisms over to Japan.

When getting food, make sure the label lists all the ingredients. Everything needs to be clear for the Japanese customs – they need to understand what’s in the food you are sending. Also, make sure you check the expiry date. The food you are sending needs to have a shelf life of longer than six months from the date of shipping. Be very careful about this. If this doesn’t apply, then the food is put in the perishables class and you cannot send it.

Getting insurance

The final thing you need to think about when sending packages to Japan is the cargo shipping insurance. Even though the shipping process has improved vastly in recent years, things can still go wrong. Piracy still exists in some parts of the world. Things in a crate can bounce around and damage the items you are sending. Insuring your items will at least give you the financial security if things like these happen.

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