Includes import documentation and other requirements for both the U.S. exporter and foreign importer.
Last Published: 8/31/2018

Understanding import requirements and documentation is very important when doing business in Japan. Having a local representative in Japan and/or working with a freight forwarder or customs specialist can be extremely helpful in this regard.

Any person wishing to import goods must declare them to the Director-General of Customs and obtain an import permit after necessary examination of the goods concerned. The formalities start with the lodging of an import declaration and end with issuance of an import permit after the necessary examination and payment of Customs duty and excise tax. For additional information see the section on Customs Regulations.

Certain items may require a Japanese import license. These include hazardous materials, animals, plants, perishables, and in some cases articles of high value. Import quota items also require an import license, usually valid for four months from the date of issuance. Other necessary documents for U.S. exporters may include an Import Declaration Form (Customs Form C-5020) and a certificate of origin if the goods are entitled to favorable duty treatment determined by preferential or WTO rates. In practice, shipments from the United States are routinely assessed using WTO or “temporary” rates without a certificate of origin. Any additional documents necessary as proof of compliance with relevant Japanese laws, standards, and regulations at the time of import may also apply.

Correct packing, marking, and labeling are critical to smooth customs clearance in Japan. Straw packing materials are prohibited. Documents required for customs clearance in Japan include standard shipping documents such as a commercial invoice, packing list, as well as an original, signed bill of lading or an air waybill if shipped by air. The commercial invoice should be as descriptive as possible for each item in the shipment. The packing list should include the exact contents and measurement of each container, including the gross and net weights of each package. The Japanese Measurement Law requires that all weights and measures on a packing list be reflected in Metric System values.

Import and customs clearance procedures and contacts can be found through Japan Customs

Japan prohibits the importation of certain items including narcotics, firearms, explosives, counterfeit currency, pornography, and products that violate intellectual property laws. When planning to import goods into Japan, you may wish to consult with your international shipper for specific details regarding your shipment since your international shipper should be up-to-date on Japanese import requirements.

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.



Japan Import Regulations Trade Development and Promotion