Foreigners must know: Japan tax exemption program | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan

Foreigners must know: Japan tax exemption program

By Guidable Writers Jun 9, 2017

Do you know the tax exemption program in Japan? It is really a big appeal to the foreign shopaholics. Today, I will introduce the basic knowledge of the Japanese tax-free services.


Know about “Consumption Tax Exemption Program”

In order to trigger further expansion of tax-free shops and meet the increasing demand for shopping by foreign visitors, the “Consumption Tax Exemption Program” was revised by the government of Japan on October 1, 2014. According to the program, all the consumable products, including foodstuffs, beverages as well as the cosmetics, have been newly listed as the tax-exempt goods. Meanwhile, more flexible documentary procedures have been introduced. For example, the official logo has been designed, which enables the tourists to identify the tax-free shops more easily. Also, distribution-related associations, airline companies as well as the credit card companies have played a great role in promoting this program. That’s why we can often see the pamphlet of tax-free shops on the plane. Also, owing to this, sometimes we can enjoy a discount from the certain credit card companies if we use their cards to enjoy tax free service.

And then, since May 2016, general products such as clothes and household electronics are also available to be exempted. However, precious metals such as gold and platinum are not eligible for tax free.


Key points of the tax exemption program

The tax exemption program allows the foreigners to enjoy the tax-free service, which means that all the products they have bought will be exempted from 8% consumption tax. Of course, there are some requirements you should be met.


  1. The target object of the tax-free service

First of all, the tax exemption program is merely available to non-residents and Japanese citizens residing in foreign countries. Non-residents are used to refer to foreign visitors who have temporarily stayed in Japan for less than 6 months since entering Japan. This means that, as a foreigner, if you want to enjoy the tax-free service, you have to leave Japan within 6 months since the entry date. Otherwise, you have to pay the tax. Also, if you are a foreign student, no matter how long you intend to study in Japan, you are also allowed to enjoy the tax-free service as long as you have left Japan within 6 months since the entry date.


  1. The requirements of the total purchase amount

Secondly, the minimum purchase amount of the items should cost 5,000 JPY (not including tax) or more, which means that the combined amount of the general items should above 5,000 JPY, or the combined amount of the consumable items should be above 5000 JPY. You have to be careful that the amount of general items and consumable items cannot be added. Even if the total amount is above 5,000 JPY, the tax-free service is still not available. In one word, the amount can only be added when the products are in the same category. Besides, the tax exemption procedure must be done on the day of purchase at the store or the tax- free service counter.


  1. The importance of the passport

Furthermore, you should bring your passport and show it to the shop assistants, since they have to check whether you are allowed to enjoy this service. And then, they have to attach the tax exemption proof on your passport. The proof of the tax exemption purchase will be checked by the customs when you leave the country.

  1. Other requirements

Finally, bear in mind that all the tax-free items should not be open and must be taken out of Japan with 30 days since the purchase date. Usually, the tax-free items would be packaged and put in a specified closed bag. However, there are some stores that just put the item in the plastic bags without sealing it. Please do not open the package of the item, otherwise, you have to pay the consumption tax.



Try to use the tax exemption program

Let’s take the following steps to enjoy tax free service since we have known the basic points about the tax exemption program.

  1. Look for the tax-free shops

How to identify the tax free shops? This might be the first question that comes into your mind. Actually, most of the tax-free shops have the similar logo, which shows that the tax free service is available there. Therefore, all you have to do is to open your eyes wide to look for the tax-free logo.

      2. Bring the necessary items to the tax-free service counter

After you enter into the tax free shop, you can enjoy your shopping right now. Usually, in small shops, such as drug stores, the tax- free procedure is quite simple. All you have to do is to bring the products you want to buy to the tax-free service counter at the shop, and then show your passport to the shop assistant. However, in large shopping malls, things may be a little bit complicated. Since the tax-free counter may be on a different floor, you have to bring the items you purchased, your passport (with a valid entry stamp) as well as receipts (handwritten receipts unacceptable). If you want to pay by credit card, you should be careful that the credit card must be opened in your name. Only when the name on the passport, receipts and the credit card matches, the tax free procedure will be available. What’s more, in large shopping malls, procedure fee will be charged to process your tax free. For instance, the procedure fee of Isetan, one of the famous shopping malls in Japan, is 1.1% of the total tax-free purchases.

       3. Following steps

After checking the necessary items, you have to sign a document stating your purchase. Then, the consumption tax will be refunded to you in cash on the spot. Finally, the items you have bought will be placed into a specified bag. Do not open the bag until you leave the country. And the final step is to submit your tax-free purchase proof to the customs when leaving the country. Hope you will have a great shopping experience in Japan!




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