International Moves FAQs


What documents do you need from me?
To clear your shipment through Japanese customs, we will require a copy of your passport, a packing list describing the contents of each package you are shipping and a copy of your e-ticket. Packing list forms, including an example form, will be provided when you make a reservation with us. We suggest that you start noting the contents of each package as soon as you start packing. When you contact us to tell us that you would like to use our moving services, we will send you an application form.

How long will the delivery take?
Below are average shipping times from pickup in Japan to final destination, assuming that there are no irregularities and that we receive all necessary documents on time.

Air 7 to 14 days
Sea West Coast (USA) & Vancouver 4 to 5 weeks
Inland and East Coast U.S. & Canadian cities 4 to 6 weeks
Europe 5 to 8 weeks
Australia 4 to 6 weeks


How far in advance should I make a reservation?
Please give us at least 1 or 2 weeks’ notice. Longer notice would be even better. If you would like us to arrange a pickup on a notice shorter than a week, in some cases it may be possible under certain conditions, however, please start making arrangements as soon as possible.

Can I send suitcases?
In some cases, you can. However, they should at least be wrapped in vinyl sheet or bubblewrap to keep them from getting scratched during transportation. Plastic containers are also acceptable, however, in this case too, it would be best if you wrap them as described for suitcases. Please note, however, that nowadays there are quite a few airlines or ocean freight carriers who do not accept suitcases that are not packed further. For more information, please contact us.

I am not going home directly. Can you arrange storage while I am traveling?
No problem. In fact many of our customers do travel before they go home. If you are shipping by air, we will try to arrange a flight that will arrive at the destination airport shortly before (or after, if you prefer) your arrival. If shipping by sea, we will try to arrange a ship that will arrive after certain date.
The storage is 250 to 500 yen per cubic meter per DAY for sea shipments and 100 yen per kg per WEEK for air shipments if prior arrangements have been made. Hint: Storage is far less expensive at the origin (Japan) than at the destination. If you know in advance that you will be unable to pick up the shipment soon after its arrival or will not need it for some time, it would be better to arrange storage with us on the Japan side as the storage is less expensive at the origin than at the destination.

I noticed in your rate tariff that airfreight charges are sometimes based on the volume and not always on the actual gross weight. What is this "volumetric weight"?
For air shipments, the volume is considered as well in calculating the freight charges. This is a regulation of IATA (International Air Transport Association), the worldwide controlling body of airlines. This is to ensure that the airlines receive reasonable amount of charges even if they carry a shipment that takes up a large space but weighs little, such as products containing feathers and the like. Volumetric weight is likely to apply especially if you are shipping something that is very low in weight density, such as blankets, a boxed bicycle, an acoustic guitar and the like.Volumetric weight is also known as "dimensional weight"

What about shipments by sea? Does the weight matter?
There is a weight limit per cubic meter; however, it is one ton! Unless you are shipping something extremely heavy, such as industrial precious stones or metal, the weight will not need to be taken into consideration.

Is there a weight limit per box?
There is no particular weight limit per box; however, no box should be excessively heavy. Ideally, it should be light enough for one man to lift. Heavy items such as pieces of furniture can be accepted as long as there is no problem loading them on the truck at the time of pickup from your residence. Note: We normally send one man (a driver) for pickup. Pickup by two men is available at additional cost (subject to conditions). It will be acceptable if you or someone else assists the driver with such items to avoid additional charge for an extra person as the charge can be rather expensive. Note that recently airlines do not accept packages that are approximately over 40kgs to protect airport handling staff from getting injured. In such cases heavy packages would have to be placed on pallets or skids.

I'm having trouble imagining how big a cubic meter is. Can you give me some idea?
One cubic meter roughly equals 35 cubic feet and is equivalent to 20 to 25 fruit cartons or 5 to 7 medium-sized suitcases.
For example, the volume of a box with dimensions of 30 x 40 x 50 cm is 0.06 cubic meter. If you have 15 of them, the total volume will be 0.9 cubic meter. You may have better idea if you measure a few boxes or pieces of furniture around you.

How can I send a large item such as a tansu (Japanese chest of drawers)?
If you are unable to find a box large enough to pack such items, we can provide custom-made crating at extra cost. This service is, however, limited to customers residing within about 50 km from the ports of Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka and Fukuoka, where we can arrange crating.

Will I have to pay any duties or taxes at the destination?
This differs by country. However, in most countries in North America, Oceania and Western Europe, there is no duty or tax if the goods have been owned for more than one year and have been used for more than six months for returning residents. Please be aware that this might not apply to some countries and that, depending on the commodity, there may be duties or taxes.

Who measure the boxes to calculate the charges? (sea)
After your packages are picked up from your residence, they will be delivered to the port where they will be measured by government-authorized impartial organizations who specialize in measuring the packages shipped internationally e.g., Nippon Kaiji Kentei Kyokai or Japan Sworn Measurers' Association. Our freight charges are based on the official measurements reported by such organizations.

How much is insurance?
Insurance costs 1.5% of the value you declare on your packing list. The minimum is 3,300 yen. For example if the total of the items on your packing list has a declared value of 300,000 yen, then you will pay 4,500 yen.

Can a friend or a family member custom clear and pick up my shipment on my behalf while I am travelling?
For example, in Australia, a representative like a friend or a family member can custom clear a personal effects shipment ,however, the Australian Customs website says that you or your representative should contact them in advance to seek an advice. Canadian customs regulation stipulates that the owner of the goods must be in the country to custom clear the shipment. In the U.S. while the customs does not allow a professional customs broker to clear a personal effects shipment prior to the actual arrival of the owner of the goods in the USA, many of our clients have had their family members or friends custom clear their shipments before their arrival in the US. We recommend that you contact the US customs office for confirmation if you would like to have a family member or a friend custom clear your shipment while you are still travelling. Remember – the customs requirements/regulations are different from country to country.

How detailed should a packing list be?
Generally speaking, it is unlikely that customs will say something if you do not declare, for example, some pairs of socks, a shirt or if thirty pieces of clothing are found when your packing list says there are twenty five of them. Descriptions such as dress shirts, jackets, T-shirts are good while descriptions such as clothing are acceptable. However, note that descriptions that are too general such as “miscellaneous”, “personal effects”, “household goods” or “electric appliance” are not accepted. If you declare some small items which are almost impossible to count, specifically photos and documents, you may want to write 1 packet or 1 set for quantity. For example, one packet (or one album) of photos. Detailed packing lists would give customs officers an impression that you are honest and care was taken when preparing it. In fact comments are often made by our clients that customs clearance at the destinations went smoothly because of the good packing lists they had made following our instructions.

Generally speaking, how much does an average personal effect shipment of one cubic meter weigh?
This also highly depends on what sort of thing would take up majority of the space of your consignment but normally personal effects shipments are mixture of wide variety of things, both light items like winter clothing and heavy items like books or eclectic appliances. From our experience an average personal effects shipment weighs somewhere between 170kg to 260kgs. We have some customers shipping used analogue(vinyl) records regularly and such shipments only containing vinyl records has a weight density of about 700kgs per cubic meter. On the other hand if you are shipping boxes with much dead space such as when shipping bikes in boxes then the shipment may weigh less than 100kg. 1 cubic meter of fresh water weighs 1,000 kg and 1 cubic meter of sea water weighs 1,020 kg.


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