Overseas moving from Japan

Interestingly, as far as moving from Japan is concerned, moving overseas is synonymous with international moving. This would be the case for some island countries such as Australia or New Zealand. However, for people in most countries around the world, international moving is not synonymous with overseas moving. If someone is relocating from France to Switzerland, it would be an international move but not an overseas move. For Americans, emigrating to Canada would be a move across the border, but relocating to parts of the world other than Canada and Mexico would be an overseas move.

Shipping your personal effects from Japan

To move your personal belongings internationally from Japan, you will first have to collect them from your residence and clear them through Japanese customs.

Deciding what to ship

It is generally recommended that you ship only those personal items you can pack. Some people may think about shipping large household goods such as beds, refrigerators, sofas, or washing machines; however, when they think about the cost of moving large items, they realize that it is actually cheaper to buy new ones at the destination. The reason it is expensive to move large items is because they must be placed in custom-made crates and more than one man would be required at the time of pickup. Other large household goods that may be expensive include dining tables, chairs, and chests of drawers. That said, some household goods that are available only in Japan may be worth shipping. Examples of these are “kotatsu” and Japanese “tansu”.

Customs clearance

Custom-clearing your shipment through Japanese customs is not difficult for unaccompanied personal-effect shipments as long as you have the necessary documents. The documents required for customs clearance are a packing slip, a copy of your passport bio pages, and a copy of your e-ticket.

 ■ A packing slip is also required at the time of customs clearance at your moving destination. Make a detailed list. The packing slip is also used for insurance purposes.

 ■ The destination of the e-ticket must be the country where you are moving.

I'm not quite sure why a flight details/ticket is required.

There are typically many customs regulations when shipping (exporting) goods from Japan, and documentation must be prepared in certain ways to meet customs requirements.

“Parameter sheets” are required for many electrical goods. Because of the Washington Treaty, you will need to learn the *academic names* of materials if animal skin or wood is used for some products.

If you are moving products containing chemicals (such as cosmetics, toothpaste, etc.), you must indicate all the ingredients. If you don’t indicate them, it will not be possible to clear customs unless you are an exporter specializing in those particular products.) If you are shipping textiles such as clothing, the fabric materials must be indicated.

These regulations work well for people and organizations shipping commercial goods; however, this would be too much to ask of people who are moving unaccompanied personal belongings, which are often a mixture of a variety of goods. Therefore, Japanese customs has decided not to ask for very detailed information (such as tariff code, percentage of textile materials, etc.) if the goods are proven to belong to someone who is moving from Japan within a six-month period of time or someone who has moved out of Japan in less than the past six months.

Naturally, though, they need some proof that a shipment is qualified as unaccompanied personal effects, so Japanese customs decided that when a shipper (i.e., a person) can show his e-ticket and/or boarding passes and passport page with departure stamp, these can serve as proof.

You can ship all sorts of personal effects if there are no customs or transportation restrictions. However, it would not be possible to ship a large number of certain items that are considered too numerous for personal use. For example, if you are moving 700 CD’s or 500 vinyl records, they could be your personal collection. If you are a scholar, it would make sense for you to move hundreds of academic books. However, if you are moving five rice cookers, it would be hard to believe that they are for your personal use. This would be considered shipping commercial cargo from Japan.

How do I pack my belongings?

We would like your moving boxes to arrive at the destination in good shape. Use new, sturdy moving boxes. Cardboard boxes and other packing materials such as bubble wrap can be purchased on this website and delivered to your residence C.OD. Used cardboard boxes are not recommended. Do not ship boxes that are too heavy or too large.


Do not ship foodstuff even if you are certain that there will be no associated problems at the country of destination. Shipping of foodstuffs to European countries is not allowed because the carriers do not accept them. (Even if there is no problem at the destination country, the whole container is subject to customs inspection at the country of transit if shipping to an European country.) Note that vitamins, medicines, Chinese traditional medicine, tea/coffee are all considered as foodstuff. In Australia and NZ, they allow import of some foodstuff although they are normally extremely strict on import of foodstuff. Check with customs/quarantine office for more details. Some foodstuff can be shipped to the US if the client checks with the US customs and found that import of such foodstuff is allowed. The carrier offering services to Canadian destination does not accept foodstuff.

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