Tariffs and regulations

Tariffs and duty rates are constantly revised and are subject to change without notice.

Tariffs have been revised significantly since the entry into force of JAEPA on 15 January 2015 and some will continue to decrease annually for many years.

Austrade strongly recommends you reconfirm these prior to selling to Japan.

For further information, visit Japan Customs.

Tariffs and non-tariff barriers

Tariff

Tariffs are based on the Harmonised System - most duties are ad valorem (per cent) based on the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) valuation system approximately cost, insurance and freight (CIF) value (‘Incoterms 1990’).

Japan maintains tariffs and restrictions on items, including agricultural items, which are relevant to some Australian exporters.

The Japan Australia Economic Partnership Agreement entered into force in 2015. Tariffs are expected to reduced in a number of product areas, some immediately, some over several years. Find out more about about Japan's Tariff Schedule.

Generalised preferences are granted to developing countries. A ‘self-assessment’ system designed to expedite customs clearance allows prior calculation of duty by importers.

Non-tariff barriers

Potential exporters to Japan should not be deterred by a widely perceived view that the market is closed and heavily regulated. Barriers to market access for merchandised and value added goods are mainly informal. Examples of informal barriers include, successful entrance into business networks, maintenance of market presence and product quality assurance.

Formal restrictions, mostly on agricultural produce, do exist and the Australian Government has a range of market access issues, which it continues to work on with the Japanese Government on behalf of Australian industry.

Customs laws, regulations and import processes are strict and need to be clearly understood by exporters. Find out more about customs laws

Import licensing may be required for some imports. Two categories exist:

  1. Import Quota (IQ): Quotas set by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), range from moderately to severely restrictive. Quotas are imposed on a variety of foods including some dairy products, seafood, cereals and grains. Importers must obtain an import quota allocation certificate from METI, which entitles the importer to receive an import licence on application to a foreign exchange bank.

  2. Import Declaration (ID): a wide range of raw materials, semi-finished products and manufactured goods can be imported without prior approval from METI. Completed ID forms are freely verified by authorised foreign exchange banks on application, prior to import.

Goods must be cleared through customs within the validity period of the licence (usually six months).

Imports from Australia, which include most fresh fruits (excluding certain oranges, mangoes, Fuji apples, pineapples and green bananas) are subject to restrictions.

Product certification, labelling and packaging

Labelling

Foodstuffs must have a sticker attached to each package showing a detailed description of contents, including artificial colorings or preservatives, name and address of importer and date of import or manufacture in Japanese.

Many food and consumer products are subject to very specific labelling requirements and importers should always be consulted on proposed labelling.

Containers of canned and bottled goods, soft drinks, small goods, frozen foods and pre-packed foods must be marked and labelled solely in metric measurement by the Australian exporter, even though responsibility for metric measuring rests with the Japanese distributor.

Drug usage directions should be printed in Japanese. Special labelling regulations apply to:

  • electrical appliances
  • soap
  • aluminium foil and plastic film
  • some kitchen utensils
  • cleaning materials
  • toilet and bath fittings
  • certain furniture
  • hot water bottles
  • cosmetics.

Packaging

Use of straw packing materials is prohibited. Proposed packaging should be cleared with importers as they have definite preferences. Goods should be marked according to normal commercial practice.

Special certificates

Animals, plants and their products require health certificates issued by an approved authority in the country of origin.

Frozen vegetables and fruit must be accompanied by a certificate of condition (Form E46) instead of a phytosanitary certificate.

Meat for human consumption requires an additional certificate, issued by an approved authority in the country of origin, stating that the animals were free from designated infectious diseases prior to slaughtering and that subsequent processing was under hygienic conditions.

Imports of food require a food import permit issued by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

Alcoholic beverages may require a certificate of age.

Electrical appliances must conform to the Electric Appliance Control Law, with certain goods requiring type approval before being permitted to be sold in Japan.

Machine tools under a year old must be accompanied by a certificate of date of manufacture.

Methods of quoting and payment

No legislative requirements and quotations in Australian dollars are common. Advance payments may be made for some imports.

Methods of quoting and payment depend on type of product, quantity and relationship established between exporter and importer.

Documentary requirements

Fax signatures are not permitted. Minor typing and other errors in documentation often result in serious delays and complications at point of entry.

Pro-forma invoice

No special requirements.

Commercial invoice

A minimum of three copies are required and must be signed by the supplier and include the following details:

  • marks and serial numbers of packages
  • description and quantity of goods
  • CIF value (Incoterms 2010)
  • place and date of preparation
  • destination and consignee
  • name of vessel
  • import licence number
  • conditions of contract relating to determination of the value

It is strongly recommended, whenever possible, to include the HS Commodity Classification of the goods to be imported. Complete invoices and packing lists should be forwarded promptly to the importer by airmail.

Insurance

Normal commercial practice. A certificate may be required if customs clearance without invoice is requested (to assist in appraisal of taxable value/quantity). In such circumstances other documents covering transportation cost, premium specifications and price list etc. may be required.

Bill of lading

For goods dispatched by sea, minimum of three signed originals and two unsigned copies are required. For goods sent by air, standard sets of 10 are available (original plus nine copies) but no strict rules apply.

If made out To Order, it should indicate the name and address of the person to be notified.

Information required is usually specified in importer's letter of credit, but should include name of shipper, ultimate and intermediate consignees, marking and number of packages and description of goods with gross weights and measurements in metric terms.

Packing list

Two copies recommended, indicating details of goods, including the weight and measurement of each package.

Certificate of origin

Required for goods eligible for concessions granted under GATT.

Normally issued by Japanese consular or diplomatic officer at place of production, purchase or shipment. Certificates issued by Customs, other government agencies or an approved authority are acceptable and must be signed by the exporter and must include:

  • origin and certify that commodities were produced in stated country
  • marks and/or numbers of commodities
  • description and number of packages.

Weights and measures

The metric system is the legal system for weight and measures. The Japanese Measurement Law requires that all imported products and shipping documents show metric weights and measures.

Public health requirements

Strict controls govern the manufacture and sale of both fresh and preserved foodstuffs.

All imports of food must be accompanied by an import permit, issued by the Food Sanitary Inspection Service of the Ministry of Health and Welfare and may also be subject to inspection on arrival.

When imported for the first time, a description of all ingredients and the manufacturing processes involved will be required for application, along with any other requested documents, e.g. health certificates from the country of origin.

The use of certain substances such as food additives are either strictly controlled or prohibited.

The use of chemicals whose residue remains in crops, soil or pollutes water is strictly controlled.

Imports of animals and plants and their products require health certification issued by an approved authority in the country of origin. In Australia, this is usually the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS), Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry-Australia (AFFA) or the relevant state department of agriculture.

Under Japanese quarantine regulations Australia can supply:

  • green bananas
  • mangoes
  • lemons
  • pineapples and certain oranges
  • range of vegetables, which do not contain seeds.

A larger range of fruits and vegetables from Tasmania can now be imported into Japan, as it is recognised that they are fruit fly free.

The official reference for importing and distributing drugs in Japan is the Pharmaceutical Affairs law. Manufacturers or importers intending to manufacture or import drugs, medical equipment, cosmetics and toiletries need to obtain approval in accordance with the Pharmaceutical Affairs law.

If cosmetic products contain ingredients outside the Comprehensive Licensing Standards, the approval of Minister of Health and Welfare will be required to import those products.