What You Need to Know Before Shipping Cargo to Japan


As an industrial packing and crating company servicing the shipping ports of Greater Vancouver we are intimately familiar with the procedures regarding overseas shipping to Asia. Recently we provided our readers with an article about packing and shipping to the Philippines, which has started a series of blog articles for 2014 regarding shipping regulations as they relate to various regions common to Greater Vancouver import/export. In today’s post we touch on Japan.

Important Information Regarding Shipping Cargo to Japan

Director General of Customs

Japan’s Director General of Customs is your first important point of contact in the import process. This individual will examine the declared items (product, materials, etc…) slated for importing, set the duty and excise tax, and will be the one to issue the import permit.

Hozei Area

You’ll need to be familiar with the term Hozei area. Hozei, or bond, is a system used to suspend custom duties and excise taxes on cargo imported to Japan, as long as that cargo is kept under the control of Customs in the Hozei area. Cargo can stay in the zone for long periods of time, even up to two years.

Import Declaration

An explicit description of the cargo, including the total dollar value, quantity, and more detailed evaluations must be provided for and filed within an Import Declaration. It must be declared by the individual who represents the interests importing the cargo. Often a proxy (a customs broker) is used to file the declaration. The declaration is to be made once the cargo has been taken into the above mentioned Hozei area. However in certain instances of highly regulated goods, the declaration may be required while the cargo is still on board the shipping vessel.

Customs Form C-5020

The C-5020 customs form is needed to be completed in triplicate and must include the minimum following before being submitted to Japan Customs:

  • Invoice/accounts
  • Bill of lading
  • Certificate of Origin
  • Packing list
  • Insurance documentation
  • Licenses required contingent upon cargo and purpose (under Japanese Customs law)
  • Statement of deductions of exemption of duty and excise taxes (if applicable)
  • Customs Duty Payment documents

Prohibited Items

For a comprehensive accounting of items prohibited from being shipped to Japan click here.

Other Less Explicit Laws & Regulations Regarding Controlled Cargo

Anytime you ship cargo overseas for you open your products and materials up to scrutiny than would otherwise be without consequence locally. Laws, regulations, and restrictions are in place that prevent any sort of negative repercussion on Japan, including their varying industries, economy, health and hygiene, public safety, and even morality. Your cargo may very well fall under the classification of “restricted goods” which are less obvious than “prohibited goods”. When cargo requires a permit for approval outside of that detailed directly within the standard Customs Law then an official Certificate of Application for a Permit of Approval under the other laws and regulations shall be submitted. These items include, but are not exclusive to, the following:

    • Cargo under Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Control Law
    • Anything impacting wildlife protection (hunting, etc…)
    • Firearms and sword control
    • Pharmaceuticals
    • Fertilizers
    • Anything impacting sugar prices on the Japanese market
    • Anything requiring quarantine (foodstuffs, plants, animals)

For any additional information regarding shipping business cargo to Japan you may visit the Japan Customs website here.