Shipping from Japan to USA副本

Shipping from Japan to USA: The Ultimate Guide

Most importers need guidance on how to get their goods from port to port without running into difficulties.

This guide provides you with all the information you need to successfully ship from Japan to USA.

Cost of Shipping from Japan to USA

Shipping from Japan to USA can either be done by air freight or sea freight.

The cost incurred depends on which of these two methods you decide to use.

Of the two shipping methods, air freight is the more expensive because it takes less time for your shipment to get to you.

The size of your package, as well as the weight of your shipment also determines how much it would cost you to ship.

The more valuable the content of your package, the more shipping would cost.

How to Reduce Cost of Shipping from Japan to the USA

As stated earlier, the cost of shipping from Japan to USA depends on different factors.

You can reduce the cost of shipping by considering these factors and tweaking them a bit. Below are some of the ways through which you can do this:

  • You can use the cheaper of the two freight options if your shipment does not contain perishables.

If you do not mind it arriving at a later date, you should opt for sea freight shipping.

  • The size of your shipment is also another factor that determines the price.

Splitting your shipment into smaller sized parcels could reduce your shipping costs.

  • Choosing a shipping company that offers deals and promos is also a way to reduce shipping costs.
  • Some e-commerce sites in Japan also offer deals on domestic shipping fees.

This means you would only have to pay for customs clearance, thus reducing your shipping cost.

Documents you Need when Shipping from Japan to USA

The documents required when shipping from Japan to USA include:

Bill of Lading

This document contains information like; the customer’s name, name of the shipping vessel, types of container you ship with.

It also contains the port of departure, the arrival port, and the date of departure of shipment.

The company that ships your goods, issues this document on the day the vessel containing your shipment leaves the port.

The customer, however, would not receive the document until several weeks later because it goes through customs first.

Deregistration Certificate of Export

Document is a requirement for those shipping cars from Japan to USA.

The shipper (customer) applies to the road police office for this document.

It usually contains details of the former owner of the car, and also the engine specifications of the car.

This document is usually issued in Japanese, but you also need a copy in English. That’s two copies, one in English and the other in Japanese.

Commercial Invoice

This invoice contains the name of the customer, the customer’s address, type of goods, and how much the goods cost.

Importer Security Filing

This one is required by the customs in the US.

You should submit this file to customs, not less than 72 hours before your shipping vessel leaves the port.

It contains all information about the customer and the goods shipped.

Packing List

This is perhaps the most detailed document you would need when shipping from Japan to USA.

Also, the packing list usually contains a description of the contents of the shipment.

The net and gross weight of the content of each package, the model numbers, the number of items, should be included in the packing list.

Without the packing list, you cannot get a bill of lading.

Transit Time when Shipping from Japan to USA

Shipping from Japan to USA normally takes about 11 days, but when you consider some unforeseen circumstances, it takes almost a month.

Taking into consideration factors like customs clearance, loading time, and how soon important documents were submitted to the US customs for verification.

When the shipment leaves from the port of Tokyo/Yokohama, its destination is usually Los Angeles port.

If your shipment’s destination is not Los Angeles, it takes a few more days for it to get to you via train or truck.

Below is a list of how long it takes your package to get to you from Los Angeles, depending on your city:

  • For San Francisco and San Diego, it takes about 7 days from Los Angeles
  • For cities like Austin, Denver, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City it takes 8 days
  • Places like Atlanta, Portland, and Houston would get their shipments 10 days after the ship’s arrival in Los Angeles
  • Indianapolis, New York, Cleveland takes about 13 days
  • Shipments with Richmond, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Jackson, and Orlando as their final destination take anywhere from 15 to 19 days.

This website offer a useful tool you can use to estimate the shipping type – Sea Route.

Courier Shipping from Japan to USA

Courier companies are also a good means of shipping your goods from Japan to USA.

Benefits of courier shipping from Japan to USA include

  • You can ship almost anything including perishables if you find the right courier service.
  • There are lower chances of your goods getting lost or missing in transit when you use courier shipping.
  • Courier shipping is a very fast and trustworthy means of shipping from Japan to USA
  • Japanese courier services are usually highly efficient and reliable
  • The transit time for courier shipping from Japan to USA can be determined exactly
  • Courier shipping from Japan to USA gives you a more personalized service
  • Cost of service for courier shipping is somewhat affordable.

The disadvantage of Courier Shipping from Japan to USA

It is harder to ship large items using courier shipping.

Courier Companies to use when shipping from Japan to USA

The different companies you can use to ship from Japan to USA include:

Products you can Ship from Japan to USA

The following products can be shipped without restrictions and hindrance from Japan to USA.

  • Canned food items
  • Toys
  • Clothes
  • Gadgets
  • Cars
  • Home Appliances
  • Some cosmetics
  • Non-flammable products
  • Stove cookers that are not fueled by gas
  • Timber
  • sugar

Restricted and Prohibited Products for Shipping from Japan to USA

While you are allowed to import different products from Japan to USA, some products have restrictions placed on them due to health, and safety reasons.

They include:

  • Alcoholic beverages containing more than 24% alcohol. Examples of this are: brandy, dry gin, tequila, whiskey, etc.
  • Personal effects such as hair dyes, nail polish, nail polish remover, hair spray, and perfumes
  • Materials and essential oils for aromatherapy
  • Household items like bleach and glue
  • Life jacket
  • Radiators
  • Phone case with chargers, rechargeable batteries
  • Any shaving kit or item that contains shaving oil. This is due to the ethanol present in shaving oils
  • Single lithium batteries that are not attached to any phone
  • Packages that contain more than a couple of devices with lithium batteries
  • Perishable foods like rice, fruits, etc. the only exception is if you have an immunity certificate
  • Electronic cigars
  • Stoves that are fueled with gas
  • Water heaters that are fueled with gas
  • Anything containing flammable gases like air freshener and antiperspirants
  • Objects containing magnets, because magnets could interfere with the plane radio equipment
  • Car spare parts like engines, shock absorber, etc
  • Decorative grass carpet
  • Animal meats that have been processed but not canned
  • Any goods that violate international laws protecting endangered species of wildlife and plants
  • Explosives like fireworks, firecrackers, and ammunitions
  • Drugs, pesticides, and chemicals like chloroform
  • Corrosive substances like mercury and wet batteries
  • Radioactive materials
  • Pornography, both written materials, audio, and visuals
  • Money vouchers
  • Any type of tickets. For example, concert tickets, airline tickets
  • Credit cards
  • Precious jewels and diamonds ( even faux diamonds)
  • Living animals
  • Swords
  • Currencies of any country at all
  • Corpses and ashes from corpses
  • Acids
  • Fake or pirated goods/ products
  • Pychopharmaceuticals
  • Medical samples e.g blood samples
  • Asbestos
  • Passports

Types of Containers to use when shipping from Japan to USA

Shipping containers are containers used for keeping and transporting goods.

They are especially necessary when shipping goods through a long distance.

You do not need to bring out the goods to transfer them to another vessel.

Shipping from Japan to USA is a very long distance and the shipping vessel stops at different ports to rest and refuel.

Thus the use of containers is very important in this instance.

When it comes to containers, the various types differ based on their size, structure, and the type of material they are made with.

The types of containers that you can use to ship your goods from Japan to USA are:

  • Dry Storage Container: these are the most widely used containers for shipping.

Dry storage containers are available in lengths ranging from 10ft to 20 ft.

They are most suitable for shipping dry goods.

They are not suitable for shipping perishable goods, and goods that need to be kept at a particular low temperature.

This makes them an excellent option for shipping from Japan to USA.

 dry storage shipping container

dry storage shipping container

  • Flat Rack Container: unlike other types of containers, the flat rack container is like a convertible, with an open top and two sides.

This container is suitable for carrying huge and heavy-weight goods that are too bulky for other container types. Goods like buses, pipes, boats, and heavy machinery.

The material used in making flat rack container is steel because it is strong and very durable.

Flat rack containers are usually between 20ft to 40ft large.

There are two types of flat rack containers; the one with collapsible walls and the one with fixed walls at both ends.

These types of containers are also great at saving space as they can be piled on top of one another when empty.

 Flat Rack Container

Flat Rack Container

  • Open Top Container: this type of container is most suitable for carrying heavy goods. The top of the container is open but it has a tarpaulin sheet to protect the goods from weather elements.

Also, the open-top makes it easier to lift and drop heavy-weight goods into the container.

Besides, the roof (tarpaulin sheet) can be attached with ropes when it is raining.

This container could be mistaken for a flat rack due to their similarities.

The difference between an open-top container and a flat rack container is that a flat rack has only two sides and no top.

While the open-top has complete four sides but topless.

open top Container

open top container

  • Tunnel Container: this container has similarities with the double doors container because it also has two doors.

The doors of the tunnel container are at opposite ends of the container, just like a tunnel, hence the name.

It is suitable for carrying dry goods just like the dry storage container, but it is more efficient and time-saving.

Tunnel container is especially useful when you need to load two different goods in one container at the same time.

tunnel container

 tunnel container 

  • Double Doors Container: this type of container is similar to the tunnel container and is sometimes erroneously referred to as tunnel container.

The doors of the double doors container are not at opposite ends like those of the tunnel container.

One door is at the side, while a smaller door is at one end.

 double doors container

double doors container

  • Open Side Storage Container: as the name implies, it has one side that can open completely.

One large side opens completely as though made of two swinging doors.

 open side container

open side container

  • Tanks: although mostly used for transporting liquids, you can lo use tanks to carry sugar.



  • Cargo Storage Roll Container: this container is most suitable for transporting rolls of materials.

The material used in making this container is the foldable wire mesh material, and it has rollers under it for mobility.

cargo roll container

cargo roll container

  • Half height Containers: this type of container is usually not as tall as the other types of containers.

It is literally half the height of a standard container.

Half height containers are suitable for goods that need easy loading and offloading.

 half height container

half height container

  • Car Carriers: these container types are made especially for shipping cars.

Their sides are usually detachable to allow easy loading and offloading of the car without damaging it.

Car Carrier container

Car Carrier container

  • Intermediate Bulk Shift Containers: these containers are like the “middle-men” of containers.

They are used to ship goods for a certain fraction of the journey.

The goods are then transferred to another container till their final destination.

intermediate bulk shift container

 intermediate bulk shift container

  • Drums: these containers are drum-like in shape and are most suitable for transporting large quantities of liquids.

Shipping Drums

Shipping Drums

  • Dress Hanger Container: these are containers that are built for transporting clothes.

The container usually has rows of hangers on the top to hang clothes while transporting them.

Also, the hangers prevent rumpling or damages to the clothes

 Dress Hanger Container

Dress Hanger Container

  • Exclusive Containers: these are containers that service only one person at a time. The container usually contains just goods meant for one person.
  • Shared Containers: shared containers transport goods communally i.e more than one customer’s shipment at a go.

Most people use this when transporting goods that are too small to occupy one whole container.

You can follow this link to watch different types of shipping containers

Labeling Requirements when Shipping from Japan to USA

Shipping from Japan to USA is a very long distance and cross-continent transportation of goods.

This means that the shipping company could transfer the goods from one vessel to another during the journey.

If you do not label your consignments properly, they could get lost in transit, not clear customs, or just misplaced. Proper labeling also ensures that your package is treated right.

For example, if you are shipping fragile goods and do not label them properly, they might not arrive in good condition.

Some of the things you need to include in your product labels are:

  • Country port you are shipping from, which is Tokyo Port in Japan
  • Country where the goods were manufactured
  • Port your goods are to arrive at, that is Port Los Angeles in USA
  • Weight of your shipment. This could be in either pounds or kilogram
  • Number of products in each package and their sizes, that is, weight.
  • Pictorial signs to explain what type of product your package contains
  • Name and address of the manufacturer in Japan
  • Direct address of the receiver in USA
  • A full description of your product

Ensure you send the file for your labels to your supplier/manufacturer in .ai or .eps format.

Also, specify exactly what you want your product to be like.

Packaging Requirements when shipping from Japan to USA

There are no specific requirements for packaging your goods when shipping from Japan to USA.

The packaging of your goods depends on the type of goods, what shipping company you ship them with, and your choice.

Some people opt for customized packaging for their goods, to have more aesthetic appeal.

You should use strong packaging material for your goods when shipping from Japan to USA, due to the long distance.

How to Track Goods when Shipping from Japan to USA

Most shipping companies assign a tracking number to your package when you ship.

This tracking number allows you to know where your consignment is at every given time.

The tracking number also allows the shipping company to monitor the progress of your package.

The tracking of goods is done online.

You just input your unique tracking number and the system does all the tracking work for you.

Quality and Safety Standards when Shipping from Japan to USA

Maintaining quality and safety standards is the duty of the importer.

The importer has to ensure that their products are in total compliance with safety regulations.

Some of the standards and regulations you need to know are:

1. It is compulsory to put the name of the country of origin on the product.

That is, all products that you are shipping to USA from Japan must have “Made in Japan” written on them.

It is illegal to label “Made in USA” on products that are manufactured in Japan but assembled in USA.

The only exception to this rule is wristwatches.

You can label them “Made in Japan” even if they were coupled in China.

2. Clothing items must have a description of the type of material it consists of.

For example, on some clothes, you see things like “80% cotton, 20% silk”.

The labels on clothes should also include instructions on how to care for the cloth i.e washing instructions, ironing instructions, etc.

The care instructions could also be depicted with pictures.

 pictorial representation of care instructions

pictorial representation of care instructions

3. When shipping toys, you have to submit a sample of the product to a CPSIA accredited lab, for testing.

You also have to attach a permanent tracking label on each toy and its packaging.

You also need to get a CHILDREN’S PRODUCT CERTIFICATE to indicate that your goods are meant for kids.

The regulatory body responsible for children’s products in USA is the CPSC (consumer products safety commission).

4. Electronic equipment that you ship from Japan to USA has to meet the standards and regulations of the FCC.

One of these standards is that they must have an FCC label attached.

5. Kitchen appliances like blenders must be made of materials that do not affect the taste or smell of food they touch.

The appliances should also be free of metals or chemicals that transfer to the food during/after use.

6. Products that are not restricted or checked by specific standards or regulations, should be harmless and consumer-friendly.

This means that you should not ship untested products from Japan to the USA, for public safety reasons.

Endeavor to check which product regulations apply to your products.

Complying with these standards and regulations ensures that your products will not be confiscated by customs.

It is also important, to avoid lawsuits regarding flouting safety laws.

How to Handle Customs Clearance when Shipping from Japan to the USA

Customs clearance is a necessary process that every importer has to follow.

Before your goods can be allowed into the destination country, you must clear with customs.

Shipping from Japan to the USA is no exception as every shipment must pass through customs.

Asides from documents like commercial invoice, packing list, bill of lading, there are other documents you need to make customs clearance easier.

  1. The first one is the CUSTOMS BOND. This document has to be issued by a third party company.

The document serves as an assurance to the Custom and Border Patrol that their fees will be paid, regardless.

If the trader fails to pay his custom duties, it falls to the surety to pay.

Shipments worth less than $2,500 may not need a customs bond.

Customs bonds are of two types: the single entry bond and the continuous bond.

The single entry bond is valid for only one shipment at only one port of entry that the importer chooses.

This bond must be the same cost as your goods.

Except in cases where the goods have a different agency that regulates them.

In such cases, it has to be worth three times as much as your shipment.

The continuous bond is valid for multiple shipments within a year at all ports of entry in the U.S.

The continuous bond costs a fixed price of $50,000 and is more beneficial to importers who have multiple shipments per annum.

  1. You also need an already completed CUSTOMS RELEASE FORM once your goods arrive at their destination port of entry.

You need to submit this document electronically to customs at the port.

The document contains your product HTSUS codes and BOL number of your product too.

The form should contain pertinent information about your product to enable customs officials to make a quick decision about the release of your goods.

If the customs officials decide to release your goods, they give you ten days to get a CUSTOMS ENTRY FORM.

You also have to pay all duties and taxes your shipment requires within these ten days.

The customs release form is known by the code  CBP Form 3461 , and the customs entry form is CBP Form 7501

  1. Getting an arrival notice from your supplier equips you with the necessary information about the arrival of your shipment.

This helps avoid unnecessary hassles at the port of arrival as you’re aware of all payments to be made on arrival.

Once your shipment arrives at the port, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) expects clearing of the shipment to be within 30 days.

Failure to do so results in customs confiscating your goods.

Before your goods can be cleared, especially containers, customs officials carry out a thorough inspection of the containers.

The inspection process usually involves:

  • Making sure that the contents of your shipment match the description on the shipping papers.
  • Checking that the weight of your consignment is not above the maximum weight approved for safety.
  • Inspecting the exteriors and interiors of the container for defects
  • Making sure that the container has the appropriate labels for hazardous materials.
  • Ensuring that no harmful/ potentially dangerous materials were snuck in
  • Checking the product and package labels

Once the customs officials carry out the inspection, check your documents, and pay applicable duties and taxes, your goods are cleared.

If you so desire, you can employ the services of a customs broker to act as a go-between.

While a customs broker is not necessary for every import, their expertise is sometimes a plus.

Using a customs broker ensures that your documents are filed correctly.

Ocean Freight to the United States from Japan

Ocean freight is one of the methods available for shipping goods from Japan to the United States.

Benefits of Ocean Freight from Japan to the United States

  • Ocean freight is a much cheaper method of shipping goods from Japan to USA, especially when compared to air freight.
  • Ocean freight is a dynamic method of shipping. It offers you the option to use a full container load (FCL) or a less than a container load (LCL).

A full container load is more suitable for large shipments because you have a full container to load your goods.

Less than a container load is ideal for those with smaller packages.

You can share a container with other people, and split costs.

  • Ocean freight is the best method to carry bulky or overweight shipments.
  • Your goods are extra safe when you ship via ocean freight due to the safety regulations that are maintained on ships.
  • Ocean freight mode of shipping is more environmentally- friendly. Ships do not produce lots of exhaust fumes, thus making them less hazardous to the ecosystem.
  • The cost for maintaining ocean freight is a lot cheaper than air freight.
  • Ocean freight is a very important part of international trade. Most imports and exports between countries in different continents are done via ocean freight.
  • With ocean freight, you have more options of goods to carry on board. There are fewer safety issues related to the type of goods.
  • Cheaper taxes and duties with Ocean freight

Disadvantages of Ocean Freight from Japan to United States

  • It takes longer for your shipment to arrive. Ocean freight is a very slow means of transporting goods from Japan to United States.
  • Due to the length of time involved in ocean freight, your goods are at risk while on the sea.
  • There is no guarantee that your shipment will get to you in good condition.
  • You cannot use ocean freight in parts of the world that do not have seaports or terminals
  • It is not the best option for shipping small packages
  • After your shipment arrives at the port, you still need to further transport it via road.
  • Ocean freight is more susceptible to delays caused by weather
  • Rigid timetable and travel routes
  • It is difficult to track the progress of your consignment via ocean freight

Shipping Companies from Japan to USA

  • AGS Japan Shipping company
  • Japan Luggage Express
  • DHL
  • Mediterranean Shipping Company
  • Evergreen Marine Shipping Company
  • The Hapag-Lloyd
  • Hanjin Shipping Companies
  • Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL)
  • Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd.
  • American President Lines
  • Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation
  • Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK LINE)
  • Hyundai Merchant Marine
  • Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha
  • Pacific International Lines
  • X-press Feeders Group
  • Yamato Shipping company

Main Sea Ports in Japan

The main seaports in Japan are:

  • Port of Hakata: this is a major port located in the west parts of Tokyo
  • Port of Kawasaki: it is situated in the Keihin industrial one, between Tokyo and Yokohama
  • Post of Kitakyushi
  • Port of Kobe: this is one of the biggest ports with huge container terminals
  • Port of Maizuru: located near Kyoto
  • Port of Nagoya:
  • Port of Osaka
  • Port of Shimonoseki
  • Port of Tokyo
  • Port of Yokkaichi
  • Port of Yokohama
  • Ports of Aomori
  • Ports of Chiba
  • Ports of Ibaraki

Among these seaports, the main ones for shipping goods are the port of Nagoya, and port of Tokyo.

The port of Osaka, port of Yokohama, and the port of Kobe are also for shipping goods.

  1. The Port of Tokyo: this is one of the biggest seaports in Japan and the Pacific Ocean.

Approximately 100 million tonnes of cargo are shipped from this port yearly.

There are over 30,000 employees at this port to meet the needs of the over 32,000 ships that ship out.

This port has 4 container terminals that occupy a total space of 1,504,718 meter square.

These container terminals have a total of 16 berths. The four terminals located at this port are:

a) The Oi container terminal which has 7 berths and its quay length is 2,534 meters.

b) The Aomi container terminal consists of 5 berths and 1,570 meters quay length

c) Shinagawa container terminal is the oldest terminal in Japan. Made up of 3 berths and 333 quay length.

d) Kamigumi Tokyo container is a private terminal with one berth and 260 meters quay length.

  1. The Port of Osaka is located in Osaka bay
  2. The Port of Kobe has 4 container berths and occupies a space of 3.89 kilometers square. It used to be Japan’s main shipping port but due to an earthquake, it is now the fourth busiest port.
  3. The Port of Yokohama: this port has ten piers and is surrounded by the ports of Yokosuka, Kawasaki, and Tokyo.

Its facilities include Honmoku pier which contains 14 container berths and a total of 24 berths.

Osanbashi Pier is the part of the Yokohama port in charge of international travels, customs, and immigration.

Other piers in the port include the detamachi and the daikoku pier.

  1. The Port of Nagoya: this is the busiest trading port in Japan and accounts for up to 10% of the trade revenue in the country.

This is the major part of car exportation in Japan.

This port is a center of a tourist attraction with the Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium as its main center of attraction.

Main Sea Ports in the USA

The major seaports in the USA are:

  • Port of Los Angeles
  • Port of Long Beach
  • Port of New York and New Jersey
  • Georgia Ports
  • Port of Seattle-Tacoma
  • Port of Virginia
  • Port of Houston
  • South Carolina Ports
  • Port of Oakland
  • Port of Miami

Air Freight from Japan to the USA

The main airports in Japan include:

  • Tokyo International Airport: this is the busiest airport in Japan
  • Narita International Airport
  • Kansai International Airport
  • Chubu Central International Airport
  • Hiroshima Airport
  • New Chitose Airport
  • Kumamoto Airport
  • Sendai International Airport

The Main Airports in the USA are:

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
  • McCarran International Airport
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
  • O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
  • Charlotte-Douglas International Airport
  • Dallas/Fortworth International Airport (DFW)
  • Denver International Airport (DEN)
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

Benefits of Air Freight from Japan to the USA

  • It is the fastest method of shipping there is
  • The times of arrival and departure are usually fixed and inflexible
  • You can track the progress of your goods easily
  • Your goods are safe and more secure
  • You tend to spend less on packaging
  • Insurance policies for air freight are cheaper because the transit time is shorter
  • Air freight takes away the stress of filing documents from you.

Limitations of Air Freight from Japan to the USA

  • It is unwise to use air freight to ship cheap items due to how expensive it is.
  • Its weight capacity is highly limited i.e you cannot transport goods that weigh above a certain amount.
  • Airfreight reliability is usually subject to weather conditions.

Main Airlines to use when Shipping from Japan to the USA

  • Jin Air
  • Jetstar Japan
  • Japan Airlines
  • Etihad Airways
  • Philippine Airlines

Amount of Duty and Taxes to pay when shipping from Japan to the USA

The amount you pay as taxes and for customs depends on the type of product you ship. Customs duties are compulsory for goods of $200 and above.

Some personal effects are duty-free.

You have to pay 3% of the worth of your goods as customs duty for other goods.

At BanSar, we help you in every aspect of the shipping process from Japan to the USA.

Whether you need warehousing services, shipping container, customs clearance, or loading containers, BanSar has a large network to handle you freight forwarding needs – contact us now.

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