Skip to main content
  • 24 Aug 2017
  • Japan
  • Japan
  • eManifest
  • AFR
  • Advance Filing Rules
  • Japan AFR
  • Logistics

Japan Import Management Process

Japan import management process greatly simplifies customs processing and improves compliance with Japan trade regulations, especially for large businesses and high-volume importers. Before doing business in Japan, it’s important to understand documentation requirements for imports and exports. Working with a local representative, freight forwarder or customs specialist is recommended to ease customs compliance and facilitate the clearance of shipments. A local broker or agent should be up-do-date on Japan import requirements and help facilitate the import process.



Japan Import Management Process

Individuals or businesses planning to import goods into Japan must report the imports to the Director General of Customs, have the goods examined, and obtain an import permit. The process starts when the importer submits an import declaration and ends when the importer obtains the permit after examination of the goods and payment of taxes.


More than 90 percent of import processes are automated in Japan, including the submission of import declarations. Import declarations are typically submitted after the goods have been taken to a Hozei area or designated zone. For goods that need to be approved by the Director General of Customs, the import declaration must be made while the goods are on board the ship/barge or before they are taken to the Hozei area.


The declarant (importer, customs broker or authorized agent) is responsible for submitting the import declaration. The declarant must provide a detailed description of the goods, along with the quantity and value, when submitting the declaration and duty payment. The import declaration form (Customs form C-5020) must be completed in triplicate and submitted to Japan customs with the following documents:


·        Commercial Invoice

·        Bill of lading or Air Waybill (original and signed)

·        Certificate of origin (if WTO rate is applicable); shipments from the United States are assessed using WTO or temporary rates without a certificate of origin.

·        Generalized system of preferences

·        Packing lists

·        Insurance certificates, if applicable

·        Required licenses and certificates for restricted goods

·        Statement of exemption or reduction of duty and excise tax

·        Customs duty payment slips


Like many countries, Japan requires all imported products to be properly packed, marked and labeled.

Shipments transported by air valued at more than ¥100,000 (about $910) must have a commercial invoice. The commercial invoice must be as detailed as possible for each item in the shipment, while the packing list must show exact contents and measurements, including gross and net weights in Metric System values.




Certain goods are restricted from being imported into Japan because they are potential threats to the health and safety of citizens and to the Japanese economy and industry. These include plants, animals, perishables, hazardous materials, and certain high-value items. Japan prohibits the import of narcotics, cannabis, counterfeit currency, firearms, explosives, pornographic materials, and items that violate intellectual property laws.  


Restricted goods require permits and approvals and are subject to inspection. Products subject to quota also require an import license, which is typically valid for four months from the date of issue. The importer or broker must submit a certificate of application for a permit and approval to Japan Customs.




Japan’s Advance Filing Rules (AFR) require shipping companies or Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier (NVOCCs) to electronically submit shipment information to Customs no later than 24 hours before the departure of the vessel from the port of loading. This requirement has been mandatory for all maritime container shipments since March 2014.


Cargo, Crew and Passenger Pre-Arrival Filing Rules


The captain of the vessel/aircraft or an authorized agent is responsible for filing advance cargo, crew, and passenger information to Japan customs.




The information must be filed 24 hours before arrival at the destination port in Japan. If the vessel arrives at the destination port from another Japanese port, cargo information must be filed 12 hours before the vessel arrives. If the vessel arrives at the destination port via multiple Japanese ports, the earliest submission timeframe will apply. Passenger information must be filed two hours before the vessel arrives at the destination port.


Required data elements in the advance filing include:


  1. Cargo: Place of shipment, place of destination, marks and numbers, cargo descriptions, quantities, consigners and consignees of goods, bill of lading number, time of departure from the port of loading, and container number for containerized cargo


  1. Crew: Name, nationality, date of birth, identification number documents, and rank


  1. Passengers: Name, nationality, date of birth, passport number, place of embarkation, and final destination




The submission deadline for cargo information transported by air carrier depends on the flight duration. For flights longer than five hours, cargo data must be submitted three hours before arrival. For flights between three to five hours in duration, cargo data must be submitted one hour before arrival. For flights shorter than three hours, cargo information must be submitted before arrival.


Passenger and crew information must be submitted within the following timeframes: a) more than 2 hours flight duration: 90 minutes before arrival; b) 1-2 hours: 30 minutes before arrival; c) less than 1 hour or entering via other airports in Japan: Before arrival


Required data elements in the advance filing include:


  1. Cargo: Origin airport, destination airport, marks and numbers, cargo description, quantity, and AWB number.


  1. Crew: Name, nationality, date of birth, gender, and passport number of crew members



  1. Passengers: Name, nationality, date of birth, gender, passport number, place of embarkation, and final destination




The Japanese government introduced the Advance Filing Rules (AFR) for maritime cargo to enhance border security measures, prevent terrorism and organized crime, and raise security up to international standards. Similar to the U.S. and Canada’s advance electronic manifest requirement, the advance filing rules for maritime cargo allows Japan customs officials to screen container cargo early on in the supply chain to better plan for contingencies.


All maritime container cargo loaded on any vessel headed to Japan must be reported to Japan customs. Exceptions are empty containers and cargoes loaded on ISO type code “P0” platform containers and container cargoes that will not be discharged in Japan.


Shipping companies and NVOCCs are responsible for filing the cargo information to Japan customs. Shipping companies and NVOCCs must provide complete, accurate and timely cargo information based on the master and house bill of lading, respectively, at the time of departure from the foreign port. Filers who fail to comply with the advance filing rule requirements may receive penalties from Japan customs. Individuals may also be imprisoned for one year or receive a fine not exceeding JPY 500,000.




Filers may send cargo information via service providers who are authorized to connect directly to Nippon Automated Cargo and Port Consolidated System (NACCS). Global eTrade Services (GeTS), a leader in global trade facilitation, offers advanced import management software for Japan, Singapore, Canada, and the U.S. Japan import management software from GeTS helps vessel operators and NVOCCs streamline customs processing and cargo clearance.


GeTS is an authorized service provider providing host-to-host direct connectivity with the NACCS, allowing filers to submit electronic cargo information to Japan customs quickly and easily. Vessel operators and NVOCCs simply use GeTS’ system to submit AFR information and receive responses from customs. For high-volume filers, GeTS supports system integration with existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or Freight Management Systems (FMS).


Visit our Japan AFR page to learn more about Japan Import Management Software.



Related Pages:

Japan AFR: Japan’s Customs Law Changes and New Requirements

Japan AFR

Japan Advance Filing Rules: What You Need to Know

eManifest Processing



Japan Import Management Process