Translated by Jay Issei Karslake
Shopping Guide: How To Use Duty Free Shops In Japan
When traveling abroad you can enjoy duty free shopping. We have compiled how the duty free shops in Japan work, the details regarding the paperwork required, and information on some of the shops that are duty free.
Written by OsawaKimie
What is a Duty Free Shop?
People naturally want to avoid wasting money and have fun while out shopping in Japan. If there’s something that you’ve had your eye on but been putting off buying during your stay, why not head to a duty free shop where you’ll likely find exactly what you were looking for, for a discounted price. Duty free shops, located in airports and around town, are stores where those shoppers who met certain requirements (like staying in Japan for less than 6 months) can be excluded from paying the standard 8% sales tax on goods in Japan.
This article features various duty free shops located throughout Japan, in both airports and shopping centers. If you need to buy many souvenirs, why not take a look at the household appliances that Japan prides itself on, or some of the delicious regional foods available? Travelers planning on buying numerous souvenirs or wanting to make a large purchase would do well to take advantage of Japan’s many duty free shops and shop smart.
What Fits Under "Duty Free" in Japan?
The items sold at duty free shops are sold with the intent of being used outside of Japan. If the intent behind your purchases is not everyday or personal use, but for business or resale purposes, you may not use duty free shops. The products available are broken into two main categories: general items (household electronics/appliances, clothes, jewelry, folk crafts) and consumable items (food, drinks, cosmetics, perfume, medicines/personal supplies).
An important point to remember is that your purchase will not count as duty free unless you reach a certain price point. For general items in the majority of shops this level is over 5000 yen in one location. If your purchase total exceeds 1,000,000 yen the store will make a copy of your passport.
On the other hand consumable items become duty free if your purchase total is over 5000 yen and under 500,000 yen. If you intend to purchase more than 500,000 yen in consumable items, duty free loses its effectiveness, so please shop carefully. It is important to note that if you open the seal on a consumable item before leaving the country there is a chance that you will be taxed when departing Japan. You must not open these products until you leave Japan - for consumable items, this must be within 30 days for consumable items. General items and consumable items cannot be combined in order to meet the price limit for duty free whatsoever.
* Duty free information: August 20016-now
How to Sign-up for Duty Free and Cautions
How to sign up for duty free varies from place to place and store to store. In some places the duty free sign-up is done at the counter where you will be then exempt from paying sales tax. At other places, you will need to pay full price at the register and then go to a duty free counter/center within the shop where you will fill out the necessary paperwork and have the sales tax that you paid returned to you.
Please check below for more information on filling out duty free paperwork.
Step 1: Submit your passport
A passport is necessary in order to fill out the duty free paperwork. When you arrive at the duty free counter you will be asked to present your passport. In the case that you have purchased your products at the register and are coming to the center to reclaim the sales tax, you will need to present your passport as well as the sales receipt for your purchase as well as the purchased goods themselves.
Step 2: Sign the Contract
Sign your name on the purchase contract that you are handed.
Step3: Have them Affix a Purchase Record Seal
After signing the contract, they will place a purchase record seal on your passport and confirm that you have received a tally stamp between your passport and purchase record seal.
Step 4: Finishing the Paperwork
When leaving Japan, customs will take your purchase record seal and your duty free signup will be complete.
Where to Find Duty Free Shops
Duty free shops in Japan are located in airports and downtown areas. Lately there has been an increase in the number of shopping centers, department stores and major clothing stores with duty free counters inside. Look for the red symbol that says ‘Japan Tax-Free Shop’ to find the duty free store nearest you.
Take advantage of the red mark shown below, issued by the Japan Tourism Agency, so that you can find duty free shops in Japan. For more information on duty free shop locations nationwide and signing up for duty free, please look at the Japan Tourism Agency site.
When traveling abroad it’s great fun to get out and go sightseeing, but sometimes it’s just as nice to head out shopping for a break. How about creating some new memories and getting the most out of your money by shopping at duty free stores in Japan?
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