Couriers·Jan 9, 2023

How to Shop from the US and Ship to Japan: A Comprehensive Guide for Japanese Readers

A Japanese lady holding a package with a huge smile. Article updated on Nov 24, 2023

Living in Japan, but have your sights set on exclusive products only available in the US? We've all been there: finding that perfect item online, only to discover the store doesn't have way to ship it to Japan. But don't let international borders limit your shopping desires. This guide is tailored for individuals like you, eager to navigate the intricacies of buying from US stores and ensuring those treasures land safely in Japan. From leveraging priority mail international call-forwarding and courier services to understanding customs nuances, we've got you covered. Dive in to unlock a world of cross-border shopping possibilities. Plus, we'll dive deep into what you need to be aware of to ensure a smooth and hassle-free shop and ship from the US to Japan.

Researching and Finding Reliable US-based Online Stores

someone shopping online from multiple US-based stores

For those captivated by the diverse offerings of trendy U.S. stores and seeking the convenience of shipping to Japan from the US, the journey can be both exhilarating and filled with uncertainties. The U.S. market is renowned for its exclusive products courier services, innovative gadgets, and unique fashion pieces that often aren't available elsewhere. However, the challenge isn't just finding these products but ensuring they can be reliably and efficiently delivered to the destination country Japan. Navigating the vast online marketplace to identify trustworthy U.S. retailers becomes an essential step in this cross-border shopping adventure. To ensure a seamless shopping experience, here are some pivotal steps to consider:

Check store's reputation

Google the store's name with words like "reviews" or "complaints." You'll be surprised at what people say about these stores. Look for patterns - if multiple customers complain about, let's say, the store's bad customer service, then you might want to rethink your choices.

Look for secure websites

Online security is vital, especially with international transactions. Always check if the store's website begins with "https." The "s" means it is secure, and your data is safe.

Verify payment methods

If the store accepts internationally recognized payment methods like PayPal, Visa, and MasterCard, then it is a good indication of its legitimacy.

Choosing the Right Products for International Shipping services

restricted and prohibited items that cannot be shipped internationally to Japan from the US

When planning to ship items from the US to Japan, making informed decisions on product selection becomes paramount. Through extensive observations of international and shipping methods ship from the us, it's evident that certain goods tend to withstand the journey better than others. So, what's the strategy for selecting the most suitable items for international shipping from the us alone?

Consider the Product's Size and Weight 

Just a heads up: the size and weight of the package play a significant role in shipping costs. Shipping items with significant weight and dimensional weight, such as furniture or large appliances, can lead to considerable differences in cost and delivery time when sent overseas. The logistics of shipping partner transporting bulkier items often involve more complex handling and routing, which can escalate shipping fees. Additionally, customs clearance for larger shipments might entail more scrutiny and further delays in delivery. It's essential to take into consideration international shipping rates or request a shipping quote from multiple top shipping companies and partners.

Select Durable Products 

As you can guess, shipping products internationally is not always super smooth. Packages may be shaken due to air conditions or shifted during transit, which can damage fragile items. It's better to choose durable products that can withstand the rigors of international shipping. For example, while it's entirely possible to ship delicate porcelain figurines to Japan, you have to be sure that the package is safe and secure for your international shipment. So, taking fragility into account when making your purchases would spare you heartache and unnecessary expenses.

Understanding Prohibited and Restricted Items

variety of items that are restricted and prohibited from being shipped

When shipping items from the US to Japan, it's imperative to be well-informed about prohibited and restricted items. 'Prohibited items' denote goods that are entirely forbidden from being shipped. In contrast, 'restricted items' pertain to products that might necessitate special documentation, incur additional fees, or have quantity limitations for shipping. Non-compliance with these regulations can result in shipment delays, penalties, or even the confiscation of the package.

Prohibited Items

Typically, countries, including Japan, classify the following categories as prohibited:

  • Narcotics and illicit drugs
  • Explosives and flammable materials
  • Materials deemed obscene or immoral
  • Firearms, firearm parts, ammunition, and other weapons.
  • Items deemed mentally harmful

While some of these categories are self-explanatory, the list also encompasses items like fresh fruits, plants, seeds, meat, and animal products due to stringent quarantine regulations. It's crucial to review all specifics before initiating the shipping process.

Restricted Items

Restricted items, conversely, often require additional documentation or have quantity limitations for the higher shipping costs. Some common examples include:

  • Medications, encompassing both over-the-counter and prescription drugs.
  • Dairy and egg products.
  • Goods made from animal skins or fur
  • Specific cosmetics and toiletries.

Such items, even in small packages or those as commonplace as cosmetics, can introduce complexities into the shipping process. It's advisable to consistently verify with both the shipping service provider and shipping carrier about Japan's customs policies.

It's essential to recognize that these restrictions and prohibitions are instituted not to hinder shopping endeavors but to safeguard the citizens, flora, and fauna of a country. Adhering to these regulations ensures a streamlined and trouble-free shopping and shipping experience.

Finding Deals and Discounts for International Shoppers

finding deals and discounts online for shopping

For international shoppers, the allure of discovering deals and discounts online from US retailers is undeniable. The satisfaction of identifying a sale on a sought-after item is a rewarding experience. However, amidst the complexities of currency conversion, shipping logistics, and tax computations, these savings opportunities can often be overlooked. This guide aims to provide essential strategies for maximizing discounts and deals when shopping from the US to Japan.

Newsletter Subscriptions and Alerts

Many US-based online retailers offer email newsletters or alert services, providing information about current sales and promotional offers. Subscribing to these email updates can be beneficial, as some retailers grant exclusive discounts to their subscribers. Engaging with these email prompts can lead to valuable savings opportunities.

Utilize Cashback and Rewards Platforms

Websites such as Rakuten, previously known as Ebates, provide cashback opportunities for purchases made from their partner stores in the US. These e commerce platforms offer a straightforward registration process and can significantly enhance the overall value derived from shopping.

Consider Membership Programs

While much does it cost it might seem counterproductive to spend on membership programs initially, many of them offer long-term value. Renowned platforms like Amazon, through its Amazon Prime service, extend exclusive offers and discounts to members. The benefits, ranging from exclusive deals to free deliveries and expedited shipping options, often outweigh the initial membership costs.

The US retail calendar features specific sales periods, such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, post-Christmas sales, and end-of-season clearances. These events present opportunities to acquire products at significantly reduced prices. It's advisable to be prepared and plan purchases around these sales periods.

In addition to the above strategies, it's beneficial to monitor for discount coupons and promotional codes. Many online platforms periodically offer these discounts, which can substantially reduce the overall purchase and cost to ship packages with. As with all deal-seeking endeavors, diligence and consistency are essential for optimal results.

Understanding Custom Duties in Japan

a package shipped internationally to Japan from the US being inspected by customs officers

Understanding import restrictions and customs duties is paramount when considering the shipping packages to Japan from the US. Ensuring that chosen goods smoothly pass through customs without being returned or, worse, disposed of is crucial to start shipping them. Japanese customs regulations might appear intricate initially, but with thorough research and comprehension, they become more manageable. The key lies in discerning what items are permissible and which ones aren't.

The Customs and Tariff Bureau in Japan provides a comprehensive list of products prohibited from import. This list encompasses items such as specific meat and dairy products, counterfeits, obscene materials, and certain plant varieties. It's vital to review this list meticulously, especially if considering sending unique plants.

Grasping the intricacies of customs duties is another essential aspect. For those unfamiliar, 'customs duties' denote the taxes imposed on imported goods. These rates fluctuate based on the item type and its declared value. A crucial recommendation is to ensure that the provided invoice is precise and corresponds with the shipped products, as this can significantly down import duties and streamline the customs clearance process.

When shipping a a package from the us to Japan, understanding the customs duties and exemption thresholds is vital. Customs duties in Japan are calculated based on the CIF (cost, insurance, and freight) value, which includes the total value of the goods, the product cost, shipping charges, and any insurance fees. The specific customs duty rate can vary depending on the product category. For instance, electronics might have a different rate compared to apparel or food items.

Customs duty and other fees

a person making a payment to Japan for customs-related fees

Additionally, a consumption tax, which stood at 10% as of 2022, is applied to the combined CIF value and duty amount. Importantly, shipments with a total value below the de minimis threshold, historically set at around 10,000 JPY, might be exempt from duties and taxes. However, for a detailed breakdown of average tax rates for different product categories and the most up-to-date threshold values, it's recommended to consult the Forwardme Japan country page.

Shipping to Japan from the US

Navigating the complexities of international shopping can be daunting, but with Forwardme, the process becomes seamless. Our Personal Shopper service is designed to assist those who encounter challenges when purchasing from US stores, for websites like Mercari, etc., ensuring that desired products are acquired without any hitches. Beyond procurement, Forwardme prides itself on offering affordable shipping rates, and reliable international shipping and services, handling all the paperwork for you such as Commercial Invoice making cross-border shopping not only accessible but also cost-effective. But what truly sets us apart is our commitment to high-quality customer service. Every query, concern, or feedback is addressed promptly, ensuring that our clients always feel supported and valued throughout their shopping journey.

In conclusion, the journey to ship from the US and navigate the intricacies of shipping to Japan can be streamlined with the right knowledge and resources. Whether it's understanding customs regulations, finding the best deals, or utilizing services like Forwardme, ensuring you get the cheapest way to ship your package safely and efficiently is paramount. As you venture into bringing your desired goods to Japan, always remember the importance of being well-informed and choosing reliable partners for shipping internationally. With the insights provided in this guide, you're well-equipped to make the most of your cross-border shopping experience.

Questions about shipping to Japan from the US

Article written by

Ayberk Onat

Ayberk Onat
Ayberk is always eager to dive into new and intriguing subjects that catch his attention. That's how his current passions entered his life: rock climbing, photography, playing the guitar, digital art, and traveling. The last two are what he's focused on at Forwardme.More links