Import Procedure

Outline of Import Clearance
Any person wishing to import goods must declare them to the Director-General of Customs and obtain an import permit after necessary examination of the goods concerned. The formalities start with the lodging of an import declaration and end with issuance of an import permit after the necessary examination and payment of Customs duty and excise tax.

In this way, measures are taken to ensure the fulfillment of the requirements for the control of foreign exchange and other regulations concerning the importation of goods. The basic procedure for submitting declaration documents to Customs is explained below. More than 90 percent of import procedures is currently computerized.

Import Declaration (Customs Law, Articles 67 through 72)

  1. Completion and Submission of Import Declarations: Declaration must be made by lodging an import (Customs duty payment) declaration describing the quantity and value of goods as well as any other required particulars. This import declaration must be made, in general, after the goods have been taken into a Hozei area or other specially designated zone. However, in the case of specific items which need the approval of the Director-General of Customs, the declaration may be made while they are aboard a ship or barge or before they are taken into a Hozei area.
  2. Declarant: Import declaration must be made, in principle, by the person who is importing the goods. Usually, a Customs broker files the declaration as a proxy for importers.
  3. Documents to Be Submitted (Customs Law Article 68): An import (Customs duty payment) declaration form (Customs form C-5020) must be prepared in triplicate and submitted to Customs with the following documents:
    1. Invoice
    2. Bill of lading or Air Waybill
    3. The certificate of origin (where a WTO rate is applicable)
    4. Generalized system of preferences, certificates of origin (Form A) (where a preferential rate is applicable)
    5. Packing lists, freight accounts, insurance certificates, etc. (where deemed necessary);
    6. Licenses, certificates, etc. required by laws and regulations other than the Customs Law (when the import of certain goods is restricted under such laws and regulations);
    7. Detailed statement on reductions of, or exemption from Customs duty and excise tax (when such reduction or exemption is applicable to the goods);
    8. Customs duty payment slips (when goods are dutiable).

    In principle, Customs requires only those additional documents necessary to ascertain important considerations for permission.

Prohibited Articles:
The following articles are prohibited by law:

  1. Heroin, cocaine, MDMA, opium, cannabis, stimulants, psychotropic substances, and other narcotic drugs (excluding those designated by Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare Ordinance);
  2. Firearms (pistols, etc.), ammunition (bullets) thereof, and pistol parts;
  3. Explosives (dynamite, gunpowder, etc.) ;
  4. Precursor materials for chemical weapons;
  5. Germs which are likely to be used for bio-terrorism;
  6. Counterfeit, altered, or imitation coins, paper money, bank notes, or securities, and forged credit cards;
  7. Books, drawings, carvings, and any other article which may harm public safety or morals (obscene or immoral materials, e.g., pornography);
  8. Child pornography; and
  9. Articles which infringe upon intellectual property rights.

Verification of Other Laws and Regulations
Some imported goods may have a negative effect on Japanese industry, economy, and hygiene, or on public safety and morals. Such goods fall under “import restrictions” as provided by various domestic laws and regulations.

In the case of restricted imports for which the importer must have a permit and approval relating to the import of goods under the Customs Law, requirements for inspection or other requisites (hereinafter referred to as a permit and approval) must be met.

Therefore, when goods for import require a permit and approval under laws and regulations other than the Customs Law (called other laws and regulations), a certificate of application for a permit and approval under other laws and regulations must be submitted (Article 70 of the Customs Law).
(1) Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Control Law
(2) Laws and Regulations Related to Banned Goods

  • Law Concerning Wildlife Protection and Hunting
  • Firearms and Swords Possession Control Law
  • Poisonous and Harmful Substance Control Law
  • Pharmaceutical Affairs Law
  • Fertilizer Control Law
  • Law Concerning Sugar Price Stabilization
  • Explosive Control Law
  • Law Concerning Screening of Chemical Substances and Regulation on their Manufacture, etc.
  • High Pressure Gas Safety Law

(3) Laws and Regulations Concerning Quarantine

  • Food Sanitation Law
  • Plant Quarantine Law
  • Domestic Animal Infectious Control Law
  • Rabies Prevention Law

(4) Laws and Regulations Concerning Narcotics

  • Cannabis Control Law
  • Stimulant Drug Control Law
  • Narcotics and Psychotropics Control Law
  • Opium Law

Source: Japan Customs