Shipping to Japan From the USA

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Japan is attracting a lot of attention from ecommerce players thanks to its growing urban middle class, developed economy, and strong logistics infrastructure. 

There are a wide range of products exported from the US to Japan, from cereal to electronic equipment, making it easy for fast-growing US-based brands to expand into Japan.

Ready to sell and ship product to customers in the third largest ecommerce market in the world?


This guide provides information on how to ship a package from the US to Japan, plus tips on how ecommerce brands can better plan international shipping logistics with ShipBob.

Cost & delivery speeds for shipping to Japan from the US

The Japanese ecommerce market is highly evolved, where fast and free deliveries and top-class postal services are a hygiene customer expectation. This is why your business needs to find a shipping partner that ships within a day or two, while charging affordable rates.

USPS offers flat rate box shipping to Japan ranging from $40.55 to $106.55 for delivery within 6 to 10 days. And we calculated the following rates using each courier’s pricing calculators for a consistent example of a 2.2 lbs package in November 2021. Exact prices are subject to change. 

Note: These are general options for consumers shipping orders. To know what ShipBob offers when shipping to other countries like Japan, please request a quote here.

ShipBob’s exact rates for customers will vary as we charge an all-in ‘total fulfilment cost’ that includes picking, packing, and shipping, among other factors.

ServicePriceDelivery Time
USPSGXG Envelopes$132.801-3 business days
USPSPriority Mail Express International$75.653-5 business days
USPSPriority Mail International$60.556-10 business days
UPSWorldwide Expedited$143.473-5 business days
UPSWorldwide Saver$153.131-3 business days
FedExInternational Priority$162.132-3 business days
FedExInternational Economy $149.28 4-5 business days
DHLInternational Standard$57.978-14 business days 

How to choose a shipping courier

Apart from delivery time and costs, when choosing a shipping partner, you also need to assess whether they can provide flexible payment options to Japanese customers.  

Four major US couriers fit this bill and ship goods to Japan. 

Here is a simple table that highlights the benefits and challenges of using each shipping service provider:

Couriers

Pros

Cons

USPS
  • Offers flat rate shipping
  • Allows for drop off at several locations in the US 
  • No pickup fee
  • Levies fewer surcharges 
  • Works best for less fragile parcels
  • Isn’t as reliable as the other three couriers
  • Not preferred for urgent shipments
  • Does not offer good last-mile tracking support
FedEx
  • Offers greater shipping reliability and last-mile delivery tracking
  • Offers significant US presence making drop offs much easier
  • Guarantees fast delivery
  • Comes with insurance for international shipping
  • Accepts parcels weighing up to 150 lbs for shipping
  • Offers discounts on bulk shipping
  • Higher rates of shipping
  • Charges a pickup fee for one-time shipments
  • Fewer options for free packaging
UPS
  • Thanks to its large domestic footprint, picking up packages is easier
  • Deals with multiple shipping partners to reduce logistics costs
  • Picks up packages from your doorstep
  • Best services large shipments
  • Offers additional discounts to small businesses that use their services regularly 
  • Relatively higher shipping costs as compared to USPS
  • Charges a pickup fee
DHL
  • Has a greater international focus 
  • Does not charge pick-up fees
  • Employs environmental-friendly practices
  • Comes with insurance for international shipping
  • Offers door-to-door courier services
  • Difficult to locate drop-off points, owing to the limited presence in the US
  • Shipping costs are quite high as compared to FedEx, UPS, and USPS 
  • Levies higher surcharges

Shipping to Japan from the US with USPS

USPS offers courier services to 180+ countries, including Japan. This independent agency of the executive branch of the United States federal government has a great network in the US, which makes drop-offs of packages much easier.

When to use USPS to ship from the US to Japan

Choose USPS when you are on a tight budget and flexible on the delivery timeframe. The courier offers a flat rate for parcels of different dimensions, which makes it economical to send heavier goods to Japan. 

Priority Mail International is the most affordable option available and it ensures delivery to Japan within 6 to 10 working days. Whereas, USPS GXG Envelopes guarantees delivery within 1 to 3 days at a higher cost.

Shipping to Japan from the US with UPS

This 114-year-old package delivery company connects businesses and people in 220+ countries. It is slightly more expensive than USPS but is considered to offer far more reliable and on-time services.

When to use UPS to ship from the US to Japan

UPS Worldwide Saver is the cheapest international option from this courier. Pick this one if you wish for our parcel to be delivered to customers in Japan within 1-3 working days.

Shipping to Japan from the US with FedEx

FedEx is a US-based courier that has a huge presence in its home country, which makes courier drop-offs quite convenient. At the same time, its international shipping services are very reliable. While it does levy a premium for its services, you also get to enjoy discounts on bulk shipping.

When to use FedEx to ship from the US to Japan

Online businesses that are very particular about last-mile shipping tracking, fast delivery, and having their parcels insured should choose FedEx. 

FedEx International Economy is the courier’s cheapest option to Japan for delivery within 4 working days. Meanwhile, choose its fastest option (International Priority) that ensures delivery within 2 days.

The courier has also collaborated with Japan Post to better manage the logistics once the package reaches the destination country. 

Shipping to Japan from the US with DHL

DHL with its large international network, of over 220 countries worldwide, is perfect for long-distance shipments to Japan. This German courier doesn’t have much of a domestic presence but is a trusted partner for cross-border pick up, delivery, and ecommerce returns solutions.

When to use DHL to ship from the US to Japan

If budget isn’t too much of a constraint and you want to ensure that your shipment reaches Japan quickly and with minimum disruptions, then you might want to consider DHL.

As one of the most recognised and reliable shipping services, it offers shipping insurance and door-step courier services. It also doesn’t charge pick-up fees.

Businesses that care about the environment should also know that they are committed to improving their operations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Duties & taxes when shipping to Japan

In Japan, import duties are calculated based on the shipping costs and value of the shipped product, also known as the CIF value. Only if the declared value of the items is more than 10000 JPY will the shipment attract import taxes in Japan.

Additionally, all goods sold in Japan attract a VAT/GST tax of 10% with a tax threshold of 10000 JPY.

Here are some of the products that generally attract import duty:

FeesDescription 
8.1%Fashion
35%Dry food and supplements
3.2%Sports
4.6%Luggage

Japan customs information

Once your international shipment reaches Japan’s customs department, have a customs broker make duty payments (if necessary) and submit all necessary documentation such as invoice and freight statement.

Typically, once these steps are complete the customs personnel will release the goods to your customers.

To find out more about Japan’s customs processes visit their official website here.

Prohibited items when shipping to Japan

Every country has a list of what can and cannot be brought into the country.

Japan restricts the entry of a range of goods including alcohol, dairy products, fertilizer, medicine, sugar, and toys for babies into its borders. You need to apply for a special license from the Japanese government to export these items from the USA.

Also, here are some of the items that are completely illegal to ship to Japan:

Items you can’t ship to Japan from the US

Narcotics
Weapons
Agricultural and meat products
Counterfeit goods
Obscene materials

Be sure to check with the official Japanese customs website before sending your goods, as the list of restricted and banned items tends to evolve with time.

What ecommerce businesses need to know

By 2030, Japan’s cross-border ecommerce market is expected to grow to $5,748 million. After all, 10.2% of the nation’s 76 million online shoppers execute purchases from overseas websites.

Want to capture a slice of this pie? Here are a few tips that will help your business attract more customers and enjoy seamless logistics operations:

1. Offer flexible payment options

Japan still has a sizable population that prefers cash on delivery (COD). More than 60% of shoppers use credit or debit card payment methods. Additionally, you will find a lot of shoppers using convenience store payments, or “Konbinis”, to pay for ecommerce purchases. 

So, it is advisable to offer the Japanese customers varied payment options including COD and credit/debit card, on your ecommerce website.

2. Focus on a mobile-first selling platform

By January 2021, smartphone user penetration in Japan was already 83.1%. And, especially the younger generation of shoppers, are getting comfortable using their mobiles to make payments.  

To make it easier for the Japanese to access your SKUs and execute purchases on the go, it’s best to build your online store on a mobile-first ecommerce platform. 

4. Localize your communication

In Japan, people tend to be most comfortable conversing and conducting transactions in Japanese. This is why it’s really important to localise all your brand’s communication. 

To this end, initiatives that you must take on are translating your website to Japanese and employing Japanese-speaking customer care agents.

5 .Try to acquire deal-seeking shoppers

In Japan, while shoppers spend money on expensive items, they also love a good sale or extreme discounts.

Hence, when expanding your business’ horizons into Japan, be sure to take advantage of the dozens of local festivals. This will give you enough fodder for sales all year round.
Also, to attract the deal-seeking majority of shoppers, don’t forget to offer free shipping on purchases.

Partner with ShipBob: a best-in-class international 3PL

International shipping is a complicated, time-consuming process. It often takes on an entirely separate and complex shipping strategy than domestic shipping.

An international 3PL can help.

ShipBob offers global shipping solutions for fast-growing brands. With ShipBob, you can expand your geographic footprint, provide international shipping rates, and offer best-in-class ecommerce fulfilment and shipping services.

“International shipping is very important to us — not only in terms of costs but also the customer experience. When I found out ShipBob was expanding into both Canada and Europe, I knew we wanted to expand our physical footprint with them.

This offers us the ability to reduce taxes and tariffs that come with international shipping. Now, our Canadian-based orders see a large reduction in shipping costs. We want everyone to get our products in a few days or less with no duties at delivery. Our goal is to remove the barriers to purchase.

Now, our customers can get their packages without spending an extra 25 euros or Canadian dollars on duties and taxes after purchasing. ShipBob has helped us extensively throughout the process and we look forward to accelerating our growth outside of North America.”

Nikolai Paloni, Co-Founder of Ombraz Sunglasses


Ready to start shipping to Japan from the US? Get started with ShipBob. 

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Shipping to Japan FAQs

Here are answers to the top questions people have about shipping packages to Japan from the US.

What’s the cheapest way to ship to Japan from the US?

USPS Priority Mail offers the cheapest option to ship goods from the US to Japan, but the transit time will be 6 – 10 business days. Meanwhile, for about $15 more, USPS Priority Mail Express International will ensure that the goods reach customers in 3-5 business days.

What’s the cheapest way to ship large packages to Japan from the US?

USPS is generally the cheapest way to ship large packages to Japan from the US. The courier’s flat-rate service ensures that you pay only for the size of the box and not its weight.

What’s the fastest way to ship a package to Japan from the US?

USPS GX Envelopes, FedEx International Priority, and UPS Worldwide Saver to get your orders delivered within 1 to 3 business days. You can further speed up the delivery by partnering with ShipBob. We ensure that inventory is distributed to warehouse locations closest to your customer so that last mile shipping is quick and efficient.

Do I have to pay customs duties and fees when shipping to Japan from the US?

If the value of your shipment is more than 10000 JPY, then you will have to pay 10% GST. And customs duty is levied on only goods such as luggage, sports goods, fashion, dry fruits, and supplements.

What’s the easiest way to ship something to Japan from the US?

Choose UPS or FedEx to ship your orders to Japan, as it offers many drop-off locations in the USA, door-step pick-up services, and reliable last-mile tracking features.