Must-read for tourists! Japan’s tax exemption system

Shopping – one of the pleasures of traveling in Japan. You’d like to buy things for even a little cheaper. Then you need to go through the tax exemption procedure! Let’s check this out before traveling.

Tax exemption target

  • Those who do not have an address or residence in Japan, and who have not yet passed six months since entering Japan, general foreign tourists, etc.
  • Person who takes on the official work of a foreign government or an international organization (if your status of residence is “diplomat” or “Official”)

Tax exemption targets

  • “General item”

Household appliances, watches, clothes, shoes, bags, miscellaneous goods, jewelry, etc.

Tax exemption requirement: For personal use only (excluding for sales and business use). Must be taken out of Japan within 6 months following the date of your entering Japan.

  • “Consumables”

Food, beverages, medicines, cosmetics, tobacco etc.

Tax exemption requirement: For personal use only (excluding for sales and business use ). Must be taken of Japan unopened within 30 days after purchase.


Item purchase price in order to receive tax exemption

Tax exemption is available if the total purchase price per store per day is 5,000 yen (excluding tax) or above. For consumables, up to 500,000 yen is the upper limit of tax exemption.

If you purchase general items and consumables together, the total purchase price per store store per day must be between 5,000 yen and 500,000 yen in order to receive tax exemption.

※ Whether or not general items and consumable items can be combined for a tax refund depends on the store.


Major stores where you can receive tax exemption service in Japan

If there is a “TAX FREE” sign such as at the stores below, then you can purchase proceed with a tax exemption procedure.

Tax exemption is available at most stores where many tourists visit such as Uniqlo, Bic Camera, Don Quijote, major drug store chains (such as Matsumoto Kiyoshi), large shopping malls (such as Aeon), department stores, etc. Some convenience stores nowadays also offer this service.


How to get tax exemption

There are following two ways to get tax exemption.

(1) Present passport at the time of purchase and pay in the price with consumption tax deducted. After paying the consumption tax, present the purchased item, receipt, and passport at the customer service desk in the store on the same day, and receive a consumption tax refund

Both above require an original copy of a passport, so make sure you bring it with you. (Copies of passports not allowed)


There are two types of tax exemption stores – “duty free” and “tax free”

“Duty free” means free of tariffs, while “tax free” means free of consumption tax (value-added tax). At “duty free” shops, consumption tax is exempted along with alcohol tax, tobacco tax, and tariffs.

Take advantage of these tax exemption stores and enjoy your shopping!