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Customs Information

Bringing certain items into Japan may be prohibited or restricted.
It is your responsibility to confirm whether the items you plan
on bringing with you to Japan are allowed or not.


TABLE OF CONTENTS




PROHIBITED ARTICLES

  1. Heroin, cocaine, MDMA, opium, cannabis, stimulants including some prescription and over-the-counter medications available in the U.S., psychotropic substances, and other narcotic drugs (excluding those designated by Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare Ordinance);
  2. Firearms (pistols, etc.), ammunition (bullets) thereof, and pistol parts;
  3. Explosives (dynamite, gunpowder, etc.);
  4. Precursor materials for chemical weapons;
  5. Germs which are likely to be used for bio-terrorism;
  6. Counterfeit, altered, or imitation coins, paper money, bank notes, or securities, and forged credit cards;
  7. Books, drawings, carvings, and any other article which may harm public safety or morals (obscene or immoral materials, e.g., pornography);
  8. Child pornography; and
  9. Articles which infringe upon intellectual property rights.

RESTRICTED ARTICLES

The import of some items is restricted and requires permits and/or approval under laws and regulations other than the Customs Law. In some cases, items must be examined by a government agency at the appropriate time upon entry into Japan. Major examples of restricted items include:

  1. Plants, plant products including many foods, animals, meat, eggs and other animal products must be presented to the plant or animal quarantine officer for inspection prior to customs examination.
  2. Imported medications and cosmetics are restricted by quantity. Additionally, some medications require special permits for import. Please refer to the section below for details about bringing medications to Japan.
  3. Hunting guns, air guns, swords, and other weapons are prohibited in Japan without a permit to possess.

For more comprehensive information, please refer to the Japan Customs website here:
http://www.customs.go.jp/english/index.htm
and Customs Answers (FAQ) http://www.customs.go.jp/english/c-answer_e/customsanswer_e.htm#sonota

Pamphlets for Visitors on Specific Topics

CUSTOMS GUIDE for VISITORS  http://www.customs.go.jp/zeikan/pamphlet/tsukan_e.pdf

Pamphlet for Overseas Tourists (Quasi-drugs/ Cosmetics, etc.) http://www.customs.go.jp/english/c-answer_e/sonota/9005_e.htm

Pamphlet for Overseas Tourists (Animal Quarantine) http://www.customs.go.jp/english/c-answer_e/sonota/9006_e.htm

Pamphlet for Overseas Tourists (Plant Protection) http://www.customs.go.jp/english/c-answer_e/sonota/9007_e.htm

Pamphlet for Overseas Tourists (Washington Convention) http://www.customs.go.jp/english/c-answer_e/sonota/9008_e.htm

CURRENCY

There is no limit on the amount currency or another means of payment that may be brought into or taken out of Japan; however, if you are transporting the equivalent of more than 1 million yen, or precious metals exceeding 1kg in total weight, you are required to submit a declaration to Customs.

The preceding explanations and procedures mainly apply to personal travel. There may be additional or different regulations and procedures in the case of business travel to Japan or the commercial import and export of products. Please inquiry directly with the relevant authority on the appropriate procedures for business travel and imports and exports.

 

ANIMAL QUARANTINE

The animal quarantine system is implemented worldwide to help prevent the spread of animal diseases. Japan conducts import inspections on the following animals, including those brought as pets, as well as products and goods manufactured or derived from these animals:

To prevent the spread of animal illnesses and diseases into Japan:
・ Cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, horses, chickens, ducks, pheasants, ostriches, guinea fowl, turkeys, quail, geese, honey bees and other animals as well as products and goods manufactured or derived from these animals.

To specifically prevent the spread of rabies and leptospirosis (in case of dogs) into Japan:
・ Dogs, cats, raccoons, foxes and skunks.

To prevent the spread of diseases that can be transmitted from monkeys to humans which have not yet occurred in Japan such as Ebola hemorrhage fever:
・ monkeys ( It is only possible to import monkeys for the purposes of research and exhibition – monkeys as pets are not allowed )

Specific import procedures exist for each type of animal. . Detailed information can be found at the Animal Quarantine Service’s (AQS) website here (http://www.maff.go.jp/aqs/english/index.html). AQS is responsible for animal and animal product quarantine as authorized under the Domestic Animal Infectious Disease Control Law, the Rabies Prevention Law and the Law concerning the Prevention of Infections and Medical Care for Patients with Infections.

・ procedures for bringing animals to Japan: http://www.maff.go.jp/aqs/english/animal/im_index.html
・ procedures bringing animal products to Japan: http://www.maff.go.jp/aqs/english/product/import.html

NOTIFICATION SYSTEM FOR THE INPORTATION OF ANIMALS

Separate from import procedures administered by AQS, the Notification System for the Importation of Animals was introduced on September 2005 in order to prevent the outbreak of infectious diseases that can be passed from animals to humans.

Any importer of terrestrial mammals and birds is required to submit a written declaration with details such as the species name and quantity of the imported animals to the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, accompanied by a health certificate issued by the relevant government authority of the exporting country certifying that the animals are free of infectious diseases specific to that species.

Detailed information on the notification system can be found at Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s website here (http://www.mhlw.go.jp/english/topics/importanimal/index.html)

ANIMALS PROHIBITED FOR IMPORT

The importation of the following animals is prohibited under the Law Concerning the Prevention of Infections and Medical Care for Patients of Infections:

Badger, bat, raccoon dog, masked palm dog, prairie dog, mastery, and monkeys (except for the purpose of research or exhibition).


PLANT QUARANTINE

Plant pests and other pathogens cause significant damage to agriculture crops in many countries all over the world. In order to prevent the spread of pathogens and protect crops in Japan, the import of some plants and/or plant products may not be allowed. In Japan, the plant quarantine system enforces inspections on imported plants and plant products at sea and airports of entry as a measure to prevent to introduction and spread of pathogens.

The regulation of plant imports is divided into the following three categories:

(1) Articles that are prohibited for import
Plants and/or plant products that commonly host pathogens difficult to detect by point-of-entry inspections,
and with no practical control measures, are prohibited.
In addition, pests, parasitic plants, soil and plants with residual soil are prohibited, as well.

* A number of insect species such as flower beetles, Phasmatodea (stick bugs), and butterflies have the potential to cause severe damage to domestic agriculture and timber crops. Such live insects are designated as harmful pests under the Plant Quarantine Law, and cannot be brought into Japan. When planning to bring live insects into Japan from overseas, please contact a Plant Protection Station before traveling to determine whether the insect in question is included in this category.

(2) Articles subject to import inspection
All other plants besides those that are prohibited are subject to quarantine inspection upon entry into Japan. This category includes an extremely wide range of plants and plant products such as seeds, nursery stock including scions, flower bulbs, cut-flowers, fruits and vegetables, grains and cereals, beans and legumes, dried flowers, timber excluding cut lumber, spices and medicinal plants. If quarantine pests are not detected by inspection, plants will be released for import into Japan. Plants will not be allowed if pests are detected; however plants can be released for import if disinfection treatment successfully eliminates pests.

Application for import inspection
When presenting plants for inspection, the ‘Application for Import Plant Inspection’ along with an official phytosanitary certificate issued by the government of the exporting country must be submitted to the Plant Quarantine Counter that has jurisdiction over the seaport or airport of entry. A phytosanitary certificate is issued when plants are inspected by authorities in exporting countries in accordance with the International Plant Convention. In the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is the plant-export inspection and issuing authority for phytosanitary certificates.

*Hand Luggage & Foreign mail
Plant materials carried in passengers’ luggage will be inspected at the seaport of airport Plant Quarantine counter prior to the customs inspection. Plant materials sent via foreign mail are inspected at customs post offices.

(3) Articles not subject to import inspection
All plants are, as a rule, subject to import inspection. However, some plant products are exempted from import inspection including highly processed products such as wooden furniture, tea, canned or bottled products packed in sealed container which are free from the risk of recontamination.

*From North America
Fruits including apples, pears, peaches, plums, cherries, and walnuts (in the shell) are prohibited. Citrus fruits including oranges, grapes and melons are exempt from these restrictions. Seedlings or cut flowers of the rose family (Rosaceae) including apples, pears, hawthorn, and pyracantha roses are prohibited; however common roses are exempt from these restrictions. Barley straw, rice straw and rice husks, and any plants with roots and/or soil attached are prohibited.

Detailed information about importing plants can be found on the Plant Quarantine Station’s (PQS) website at (http://www.pps.go.jp/english/index.html). PQS is the authority in Japan responsible for administering quarantine regulations, as authorized under the Plant Quarantine Law.

 

CITES

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), also known as the Washington Convention is an agreement between governments prohibiting or restricting international trade in animals and plants at risk of extinction, in addition to products made from these species. For further information, please visit the CITES website: http://www.cites.org, refer to the Pamphlet for Overseas Tourists (Washington Convention) http://www.customs.go.jp/english/c-answer_e/sonota/9008_e.htm, or contact the following authorities for specific information on importing species or products to Japan:

・CITES Listed Products
Trade Licensing Division, Trade Control Department, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry(METI)
Tel: +81 (3) 3501 -1659 Fax: +81 (3) 3501 .0997
・CITES Listed Live Animal and Plant species
Agricultural and Marine Products office, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry(METI)
Tel: +81 (3) 3501-0532, Fax: +81 (3) 3501-6006

ALIEN SPECIES

The Invasive Alien Species Act (IAS Act) went into force in June, 2005 to prevent the spread of invasive species not found in Japan protect ecosystems, human safety, domestic agriculture, forestry and fisheries which may be impacted by such species.

The IAS Act lists invasive alien species, uncategorized alien species and other living organisms that require certificates verifying certain properties when imported.

More information and relevant materials can be found here: http://www.env.go.jp/en/nature/as.html

 

GENERAL FOODS

Upon arrival to Japan, you are responsible for declaring certain food items for quarantine inspection and providing the appropriate certificates during the customs clearance process. It is usually not necessary to declare store-bought canned, bottled or packaged food items that are highly processed and do not contain any meat. Some examples may include crackers, dried pasta, candy, jam, tea or coffee. Oh the other hand, some products may be prohibited for import depending on the origin of contents.

Before they can be brought to Japan, meat and egg products, vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, legumes, nuts and other plant products must undergo an inspection in the country of origin that satisfies Japanese standards, irrespective of intended use or quantity. These items must also be presented for quarantine inspection upon arrival in Japan with an inspection certificate or package stamp issued by originating country’s government. For animal and plant products brought from the U.S., the U.S. Department of Agriculture is usually the agency responsible for inspecting animal and plant products for export, and providing export inspection stamps on packaging or issuing the appropriate export certificate. For more information about quarantine inspection procedures related to the personal import of food, please refer to this website for meat or other animal products: http://www.maff.go.jp/aqs/english/product/import.html; or this website for vegetables, fruits or other plant products: http://www.pps.go.jp/english/trip/index.html. For information about obtaining USDA inspection certificates, please see the following website: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/import_export/index.shtml

*Please be advised that Japan has imposed bans on the import of some animal and plant products originating from the U.S. as measures to prevent the spread of livestock or crop diseases. Prohibited meat items currently include, but may not be limited to beef and pork products including jerky and sausages, and poultry products from designated U.S. states. Prohibited plant items currently include, but may not be limited to fresh apples, pears, peaches, plums, cherries, walnuts in the shell, and any part of plants from the solanaceous family (nightshade) such as potatoes and tomatoes. For more information on these and other prohibited food items, please refer to the two websites listed in the previous paragraph.

Notification to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is necessary when importing food and related products including food additives, food preparation or processing equipment, containers or packages if such items are intended for sale or use in business. The Notification Form for Importation of Foods must be submitted to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare quarantine station responsible for the airport or seaport where the products are imported. At the quarantine station food sanitation inspectors carry out document examination and inspection to make sure products comply with the Food Sanitation Law.

You can find more details on the commercial import of food products at this website:
(http://www.mhlw.go.jp/english/topics/importedfoods/index.html)

 

PERSONAL IMPORT OF PHARMACEUTICAL PRODUCTS>

The import of medications (prescription or non-prescription), medical devices, and many other health and cosmetic products are regulated under the Pharmaceutical Affairs and the Customs Laws in order to prevent illegal distribution and protect public safety in Japan.

-Medications and other pharmaceutical products-
In General, the import of most pharmaceutical products to Japan by private individuals is allowed with various restrictions as described in this section. Over-the-counter medications, health supplements, skincare products, medical devices and any other product with a specified health effect are considered pharmaceutical products under Japan's Pharmaceutical Affairs Law. Medications that have the potential to cause serious harm to health may not be imported by private individuals, regardless of quantity, without a legal prescription by a medical practitioner from the country of origin. Also, please be aware that some medications available in the U.S. or other countries, prescription or over-the-counter are prohibited in Japan.

When bringing prescription medications to Japan you may have items inspected and cleared upon arrival by the Customs Agency, and avoid further processing if the following conditions apply:

  1. Items are brought for personal use only, and may not be sold or given to anyone while in Japan
  2. Items are oral or external medications, and are not taken with a syringe (i.e. insulin, EpiPen, etc.)
  3. Items are not prohibited drugs in Japan such as stimulants (i.e. Adderall)
  4. Items are not narcotics, or other highly controlled medications in Japan (i.e. morphine, oxycodone, etc.)
  5. Quantities do not exceed a one-month supply per unique medication as prescribed

There are no expectations in the case of (3) above regarding prohibited drugs, even if the medication is legally obtained outside of Japan. The import of stimulants such as methamphetamines or amphetamines, as well as precursors such as ephedrine or pseudoephedrine exceeding a certain concentration level, is prohibited by the Stimulants Control Law.

For non-prescription medications and other pharmaceutical products, you may generally bring the following items and their respective quantities to Japan without taking any special steps:

  1. Powerful and potentially harmful over-the-counter medications; up to a one-month supply (medications that contain more than 10% pseudoephedrine are prohibited)
  2. Over-the-counter medications and other products with a specified use and mild effect on health such as tonics and bath treatments; up to a two-month supply
  3. External medications and skin or body-care products, except those types of items previously listed; up to 24 items (i.e. ointments, eye drops, moisturizers, etc.)
  4. Cosmetics; up to 24 items
  5. (10) Personal medical devices for home use; 1 set (i.e. electric massager). The personal import of professional devices used by medical practitioners is not allowed.

Special processing is required when bringing syringes, narcotic and other highly-controlled medications, and supplies of prescription or non-prescription medications that exceed the limits detailed in the previous lists. For syringes and an extended supply of medications, it is necessary to submit an application along with supporting documents to a Regional Bureau of Health and Welfare of Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare for a special import certification called "Yakkan Shoumei" in Japanese. Please refer to the following document for details on applying for a Yakkan Shoumei: (Yakkan Shomei Instructions and Application Forms (March 14, 2012)

An importer of narcotic medication is required to obtain a license from the Director-General Regional Bureau of Health and Welfare under the Narcotics and Psychotropics Control Law.

Advance approval is not required to bring psychotropic medications (i.e. methylphenidate, diazepam, triazolam, etc.) into Japan. However, possession of quantities exceeding the limits set for certain medications require a copy of the legal prescription along with a physician’s letter certifying that the medication is particularly necessary for treatment of the diagnosed condition. For more information about bringing psychotropic and narcotic medications to Japan including how to apply for a narcotics import license, please refer to the following document: Japan Customs and Quarantine Procedures (March 14, 2012)

In accordance with the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) Treaty, the import of drugs that contain ingredients made from listed animals or plants, including the following examples, is restricted: 1. Rhinoceros horn; 2. Musk; 3. Tiger bones; 4. Fel Ursi; etc. Please contact the following office with CITES-related inquiries:
Trade Control Department, Trade and Economic Cooperation Bureau, Ministry of International Trade and Industry Phone: +81-3-3501-1511, Website: http://www.meti.go.jp/policy/external_economy/trade_control/boekikanri/cites/