How To Do Duty-Free Procedures
When you are in Japan, you might want to take advantage of duty-free shopping. Here is some information to help you when shopping for souvenirs and other items to bring back home.
What is duty-free?
Duty-free status means that no sales tax is charged to you when you buy something. This saves you from paying extra money that could be used on something else.
You want to look for the sign that says ‘Japan. Tax-free Shop.’
In Japan, the sales tax rate is 10% on non-food items; food items are at 8%.
With duty-free status, you do not pay either tax on your items.
What I Can Buy Duty-Free
In general, the there are 2 categories for duty-free. One is for general goods; the other is consumables.
General goods include: clothing, accessories, and electronics.
Consumable goods include: food products, drinks, skin care products and medicines.
There is a minimum requirement of 5,000 yen (45 USD/32 GBP/39 EUR) for both categories.
The amount has to be from the same store AND on the same day. If the total does not equal 5,000 yen, you cannot get the tax back.
More importantly, each category is considered a separate duty-free type; you cannot mix general goods and consumable goods in one purchase to get the tax refund.
How It Works
At a store that has a duty-free counter, you can purchase your goods there with the tax taken off the price.
If the store does not have a counter, you can still go to a tax-free counter with your purchases and receipts. You will have to pay the full price of the product.
To get the tax taken off or refunded to you, you will need to show your passport (no copies).
You will be asked to sign a document where you promise to not sell the goods and that you will show them when you leave Japan.
You will be given a Record of Purchase which is similar to a formal receipt. You will need this to leave Japan.
At the airport, you will be asked at customs to show the following:
- Your passport
- Your Record of Purchase
- The packages/goods you are bringing back to your country
If you do not have your receipts and papers, you will have to pay the tax before you can leave.
What To Remember
Consumable goods are packaged in plastic wrapping. You cannot open the packages up before leaving Japan.
Duty-free does not apply to anyone working or living in Japan for more than 6 months. If your passport is not stamped with a tourist entry, you will not be able to take advantage of tax-free shopping.
Where To Do Duty-Free
One of the biggest places to do duty-free is at the airport.
Both Haneda Airport and Narita Airport have duty-free shopping areas past the security checkpoints, near the gate areas. They offer a wide range of products for everyone.
Most domestic airports do not have duty-free shopping.
Outside the airports, some drugstores such as Daikokuya and Matsumoto Kiyoshi have a tax-free counter. Most department stores have a tax-free counter as well where you can get a refund for goods purchased in the store.
Clothing stores may or may not have dedicated tax-free counters. You can check for the sign outside the shop.
A few department stores have a duty-free shopping floor.
To get a tax refund, you can visit Tax-free Counters. Tokyo Station has one near the Nihombashi exit.
Please check your country’s custom regulations on what you can and cannot bring in.
Even if you decide not to use duty-free, there is plenty of shopping in Japan for you to enjoy.