How to fill out the Customs Declaration Form for Japan

How to fill out the Customs Declaration Form for Japan

The first steps everyone has to go through when entering Japan – immigration and customs. Being prepared by knowing what documents you will need and what questions you have to answer, will make the whole process a lot smoother.

Especially when planning a long-term stay, this is the place worries can start crawling out of their dark corners, questioning with whispering voices whether you will really get your residence permit or whether they will pick you out at customs to…

It really isn’t half as bad as a vivid imagination might suggest.

So here is the guide to the – surprisingly simple – form that will grant your baggage access into Japan.

Pre-departure checklist

  • ✔ First address in Japan (ideally in paper format if the battery dies)
  • ✔ No prohibited items
  • ✔ Any items that you will have to announce at customs?
  • ✔ In case you are sending any of your baggage separately, do you know what’s inside?

What you can bring and what to better leave at home.

Filling in the Customs Declaration Form

The customs declaration form will be handed out to you on the plane. If you should not receive it, they will have more at the airport before you pass customs.

One thing people tend to forget, and sometimes start searching frantically on the plane, is their address in Japan. Even if it is a hotel and you just stay there for a night as a tourist you need the address, so best have it handy.
Aside from that, it is pretty straightforward.

Top section: Personal Information

In the top of the card, write your:

  • Flight number
  • Date of Arrival in Japan (yyyymmdd)
  • Address in Japan (please not your home address)
  • Nationality and Occupation
  • Date of Birth
  • Passport number
  • Number of dependents

Section 1. Prohibited and restricted items

Carrying around firearms, 1000 cigarettes, or commercial samples?
This doesn’t sound like you – then answer everything here with no.
Otherwise, enter item description, amount and price on the backside of the card.

Steer clear of prohibited items, and don’t forget to note restricted items and items you might have to pay customs for.
The question whether you bring anything per request by another person, does to my best knowledge not apply to bringing souvenirs and the like. I imagine a “please take this bag of mine to Japan with you” a scenario where you should pick yes.

Check out my other article about details on restrictions and allowances for bringing things to Japan.

Section 2. Money and other means of payment

Do you carry more than 1million JPY with you?
Another section most of us should be able to say no to, thanks to credit cards and global banking. If not, you need to fill out an additional form. Best ask the staff at the airport for it.

Section 3. Unaccompanied Baggage

This one could be interesting, especially for anyone who wants to start their life in Japan with more than what fits into a single suitcase. If yes, fill in a second form for you baggage that’s not arriving together with you, so it can be checked without complications once it arrives in Japan.

If you are unsure at any point how to answer a question, check the back of the card for overviews of restrictions and allowances.

Going through Customs

Since everything is written in English as well as Japanese, it is quite easy to fill in. Only the address is something that is frequently forgotten.
You will be asked to hand in your customs declaration form after you picked up your baggage. So at that first counter, where they stamp your passport or hand out your residence card, you will not need the form yet.

Once you have all your baggage, line up at the customs counter.
When it is your turn, show the staff the customs declaration form and your passport. The officers there usually also speak some English and might ask you about something you wrote on the form, your address in Japan, purpose and duration of stay etc.
I was also asked for my university name.

If they ask you it doesn’t mean anything is off, they are just supposed to ask, is all.
Answer and you and your luggage can be on your way to step into your Japan experience in no time!

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After traveling around for a while, I found my home in Tokyo. Now working in Shinjuku and discovering something new about Japan every day.