Using the tax exemption privilege, you can benefit from shopping while travelling in Japan. At tax-free stores, you can shop without paying sales tax or customs. Such stores in airports are called “Duty Free” stores, where customs, and liquor and tobacco taxes are exempted. The ones in downtown areas are known as “Tax Free” stores, where you are exempted from paying the sales tax. Here’s how the sales tax exemption works.
Since the sales tax rate in Japan is 8%, the discount rate is also 8%, with some exceptions where handling charges may apply. The detailed conditions are as follows:
The items purchased must be for personal consumption. General goods must be taken outside Japan within six months of your arrival in Japan, while consumables must be taken outside Japan in the original package within 30 days of purchase.
Tax-free items are divided into general goods and consumables. General goods include home appliances, watches, clothes and general merchandise; and consumables include food, beverages, medical products, and cosmetics. The total amount must be 10,801 yen or more per day per store including tax for general goods, and 5,401 yen and more per day per store including tax for consumables. You are not allowed to combine the totals from these two categories. To be tax exempt, you must be a non-Japanese visitor whose stay in Japan is less than six months, a non-Japanese national holding a diplomatic passport (the six-month limits does not apply), or a Japanese national who has lived outside Japan for two years or longer. You must make the purchase in person to receive tax exemption. Non-Japanese nationals working in Japan and Japanese nationals are not eligible to make tax-exempt purchases.
You will be required to present your passport to receive tax exemption. At some stores, the exemption is applied upon purchase – show your passport, sign the purchase agreement, have your purchase record attached to your passport, and receive the official stamp across the record and your passport. At other stores, you need to go to a separate service counter with purchased items, your passport, receipts and credit card (if paid with it) to sign the purchase agreement before being refunded with the paid taxes. Handling charges may apply.
In both cases, the purchase record forms are collected by the customs before you leave the country.