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Tax on shipment to Japan(Furniture, food, etc)

Japan With Kids - Forums: Moving to and Leaving Japan: Moving To Japan: Tax on shipment to Japan(Furniture, food, etc)
By Michelle weaver on Friday, June 2, 2006 - 7:01 am:

My husband and I are relocating from London to Tokyo in October. He's under an expat contract and has a very generous shipping allowance. I am planning on shipping some of our furniture over and supplies of our favorite food. Will there be any tax levied on the goods shipped into the country? We are also interested in getting some Japanese appliances when we get there in October. From experience, will there be a lot of sayonara sales around that period? Any feedback will be deeply appreciated.


By Nancy on Friday, June 2, 2006 - 9:44 am:

Michelle, in general, your household goods shipment is duty and tax free provided that the items are not new. They are supposed to be your personal belongings. Be sure to fill out the "Unaccompanied Baggage Form" at the airport when you arrive. You need to fill out two copies, customs will keep one. This form will help clear your goods through customs once they arrive.
Check with the moving company about foodstuffs and be careful not to include any products that are banned here.
Sayonara sales take place year round, though there are usually more in June. They are advertised on this website as well as others. Here are some links for you to browse (note: the first two are Yahoo Groups and you need to join to read messages and post.
Tell and Sell,Freecyclejapan,Tokyo Notice Board the last one is also available in print, Japantoday Classifieds. Some of the international grocery stores in Tokyo have noticeboards to post sayonara sale notices. One thing to keep in mind is that in most cases the seller's asking price does not include shipping. You can get just about any item delivered in Japan but larger items can be quite costly. You can also buy or lease second hand appliances at Tokyo Lease Corporation

By Scott Hancock on Friday, June 2, 2006 - 10:38 am:

Per Nancy's correct note about the "Unaccompanied Baggage Form", it asks for a listing of what you are bringing in your separate shipment. So, have with you, in your carry-on, two copies of the inventory of your goods. They will just attach that list to the form with their stamp on it, which - as Nancy says, speeds the clearance process. Your moving company will want a copy or possibly the original that you get back from the customs officer.

As Nancy also says, most of the sayonara sales are now because people's comings & goings are tied to the U.S. school year, for the most part.

By Suzanne on Friday, June 2, 2006 - 1:43 pm:


Unless you buy new expensive items AND
you declare them, there will not be any
taxes levied - but your relocation agent
should be able to advise you on it. You
won't be taxed on goods you already own.

As for food - if it's boxed or canned it
should be ok - I brought a bunch of my
kids favorite foods. Things like fruits,
vegetables, meats, etc. are not allowed.

As for Sayonara sales - they seem to
happen on a rolling basis - I think a lot of
expats leave in the summer, but people
leave at all sorts of different times, so you
never know!

Good luck!

By Leese Johnson on Friday, June 2, 2006 - 2:05 pm:

When we relocated we brought with us consumable stuff for about 3 months. I'm talking things like shampoo, personal toiletries, basic cold medicine, dog food (it was a sack from Costco, they didn't have trouble with it) and things like that. This way you avoid worrying about things like this in those first confusing months here. You don't want to be looking for a drug store that has children's fever medicine with an English label you can read at 9 pm on Friday night!

By Scott Hancock on Friday, June 2, 2006 - 2:21 pm:

Though "everyone" does bring in suppies of OTC medicine from the U.S., it does need to be said that Japan Customs have the right to limit the amount. I'm pretty sure it is still technically illegal to bring in any amount of products with pseudonephrine (most Sudafed). But, again, families of gaijin very rarely get checked.

Just don't tell them "Tokyo With Kids told me it was OK!"

By Scott Hancock on Friday, June 2, 2006 - 2:24 pm:

P.S. Yes, both Sudafed/pseudonephrine and Vicks inhalers are prohibitied:

Other customs information above this page at:

By Leese Johnson on Friday, June 2, 2006 - 2:57 pm:

Any equivalent medicine for sudafed? With the knowledge of "Braun" (codeine?) in cough syrup I'm hesitant to buy anything I can't read the label for.

By Scott Hancock on Friday, June 2, 2006 - 3:25 pm:

In general, I find OTC meds here rather ineffective, compared to those in the U.S.

By Nancy on Friday, June 2, 2006 - 8:35 pm:

Leese, did you mean that you brought your 3 months supply of things in your suitcases and hand luggage? If you sent it with your shipment, unless your shipment left well before you did you would not have had access to it right away.

Some of the moving companies have staff that are well trained and are briefed before they pack what can and cannot go in the shipment subject to country restrictions as well as the effects of heat. A container gets very hot in summer. Even boxed food can be ruined. In our situation they set all the "no go" items aside.

By Leese Johnson on Friday, June 2, 2006 - 11:11 pm:

We carried one month supply of things, and shipped two to three months in our shipment.
The packers weren't sure of several things but took them anyway,i.e. the dog food. We were lucky and didn't have any trouble with customs.

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