Japan food import regulations

There are many similarities between moving to another country and moving your office there. For example, when relocating to Japan, you will not only need to learn about Japanese culture but their rules and laws as well. Learning about these is one of the first and most important things you need to do. You simply cannot live in another country and not abide by its rules. And depending on why you are in Japan, there might be certain things you want to examine more thoroughly. One of these, especially if you are an international company, is the trade law. That is why today, we talk about Japan food import regulations.

Why Japan food import regulations matter

Different food - Japan food import regulations differ too.
The laws vary based on the food you are importing.

International trade law is there for a variety of reasons. It protects the interests of both sellers and buyers, but it also ensures the safety of a country. However, to further bolster its safety, a country can impose its own rules on different products and materials. Food transport is of utmost importance to the country’s safety because it is tightly connected to the health of the country’s citizens.

Just like any country, there are the special food import regulations and procedures unique to Japan. However, we can sort the whole process into three simple steps:

  1. A producer must submit the import notice;
  2. Japanese inspectors decide on whether or not to inspect the cargo;
  3. If the goods fulfill Japan food import regulations, then they get a notification certificate which you need to import them to Japan.

Submit an import notification

The process of importing food to Japan starts with the arrival of the cargo. Whether it arrives by boat or by plane doesn’t matter – the process is the same. Let us say you already completed all the requirements of the Foreign Trade Act – we are looking at Japanese laws today. The first thing you will need to do – even before the customs clearance, is to submit the import notification. This is a requirement of the Article 27 of the Food Sanitation Law. You cannot sell the goods, nor use them for marketing or business purposes without getting clearance. This applies not just to food, but food additives, as well as the apparatus and packaging.

You need to send the notification to the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare. You can search for Food Import Notification Form online, or you can submit the written form, as well. However, certain types of foods might need pertinent sanitary and phytosanitary certificates, too. The goods cannot and will not leave quarantine without you doing this.

After you submitted the Food Import Notification Form, we move to the next step, which is the customs inspection and goods clearance.

The inspection of your goods

When it comes to cargo inspection, this falls down on the customs inspectors. If they have a suspicion that there might be a need for inspection, they will issue an order for it. They will be checking whether or not the cargo complies with the Food Sanitation Law. The inspectors will be checking the goods’ documents to verify multiple factors. They will be looking into what the country of the origin is, the place of manufacture and the manufacturer itself, the ingredients and manufacturing process as well as what materials and additives they use during the process.

An inspector.
The inspectors have a number of things to look for.

Additionally, the inspectors will want to know if the imported food meets Japanese manufacturing standards, but also if it contains any substances that might end up being poisonous or hazardous. Finally, they will be checking if the place of manufacture has incidents of sanitation problems in its past.

Getting the notification certificate

After the inspection is over, you receive the notification certificate. Any international freight forwarding company needs this in order to continue the import of their goods into Japan. Getting the notification certificate means that the goods properties comply with the Food Sanitation Law. These are issued by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare in the quarantine station where the goods are held and where you submitted the import notification.

A man with thumbs up - like you might get when getting approved.
After getting approved, you can sell your imported food.

However, if the goods are not cleared for some reason, then you cannot import then to Japan. The importer will be notified about this. If you are the one sending the goods, you will need to take some corrective measures and ensure the goods comply with the Food Sanitation Law.

Since this process can seem tiring and confusing to some, there have been efforts to make it easier. There are a couple of things that streamline the process and speed it up. For example, you can use the Prior Notification System or the Import Planning System, which are more efficient than the standard method. There are some even more simplified systems than these, too. For example, depending on the country of origin, you can use other inspection agencies to look over your goods. They can issue an official notification certificate which you can use with Japan customs. Just make sure that the inspection agency has the authority to do it, first.

How a moving agency can help with Japan food import regulations

This process can seem tough and uninviting to some newcomers to Japan. In order to go through it easily, you can call an expert moving company. Companies like Kokusai Express Moving have been dealing with international cargo forwarding for years, so they will know all there is to know about Japan food import regulations. Getting a moving company to help you is great for a multitude of reasons. First, you save the time you would spend on doing all the paperwork yourself. Since they are involved in the process, they will take the initiative and do most of the work for you.

Secondly, they will transport your cargo from the quarantine to your warehouses. This way, you can focus on the selling part of the business, instead of spending time organizing the transportation yourself. In the business world, time is money. By getting a moving company to help you, you will be saving time, and thus earning money for your company. Finally, you will be saving yourself a lot of stress, which is very important in a day-to-day life.

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