When any person living abroad conducts customs clearance, the importer shall designate a customs manager to do the work by proxy, filling in and submitting a predetermined form to the competent customs office, in advance.

In this case, the customs manager shall file the export/import declaration, witness inspections, pay customs duties etc., and receive documents and tax refund from the customs office on behalf of the person living in abroad.

The customs manager shall be a person who has address or residency in Japan (in the case of a corporate person, headquarters or major branch office in Japan). In the case where clearance procedures performed by a customs manager corresponds to the operations stipulated in Article 2 of the Law of Customs Brokerage, the customs manager shall be required to obtain a brokerage license.

(Article 95 of the Customs Law, Article 2 and Article 3 of the Law of Customs Brokerage)

The ownership to the product does not shift to the buyer at the point of import.  It only gets transferred to the buyer after the goods are purchased.

What is an ACP?

What is an ACP?  Why Do I Need One?

Attorney for Customs Procedures(ACP) is equivalent to IOR in the US.

When you export goods to Japan, you need an importer located in Japan.  In some cases, however, exporters do not have importers, which includes cases as below;

a.  The buyer requests the trade term DDP(Delivered Duty Paid) and the buyer refuses to be a consignee, in which the buyer receives the goods after they have cleared the customs.

b.  The shipper sends their own property that they are not going to sell, such as exhibition displays or IT products set in Japan for their own global network (servers, routers, hubs, switches etc.).

c.  The goods will be sold after they are imported into Japan.

d.  Consignment sales such as FBA.

In such cases, the exporters do not have importers in Japan, and therefore, they have to conduct the customs procedures and be responsible for the goods as non-resident importers.

Whilst importers basically have to have an office or location in Japan, overseas companies and persons are granted the status to perform the above responsibilities by appointing an ACP and notifying to the customs office under Article 95 of the Customs Law, and Article 2 and Article 3 of the Law of Customs Brokerage.

What does an ACP do?

Article 95 of Japan Customs Law sets forth that an ACP is responsible for instructing the non-resident importer to declare at a fair price and properly pay the duties and taxes.

On the operation level, ACP works to assume the following tasks in order to perform the above responsibility.

  • Submit ACP applications to the customs office.
  • Explain the rules and calculation of invoice prices for fair price declaration.
  • Answer questions from the customs office on behalf of the importer when the goods arrive in Japan.
  • Keep the import documents for 5 years, and communicate with the customs officer in case of audits on the importer’s behalf, which involves answering customs’ questions regarding the declaration values and tariff codes, and proving the duties and taxes paid correctly.

Regulated Items Not Allowed under the ACP System

Some items are only allowed to be imported by resident importers.  The reason is that non-resident importers cannot be fully liable for products regulated by some laws.  Here are the major laws that may affect import procedures;

a) Food Sanitation Act 

Food, Beverage, Dietary Supplement, Dishware, Food Containers, Cooking Utensils, Infant Toys, etc.

b) Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices Act (PMD Act) 

Medicines, Drugs, Cosmetics, Healthcare Products, Medical Device, etc.

c) Electrical Appliance and Material Safety Act(PSE Act)

Certain home appliance categories that pose the high risk to consumer safety require third-party assessment or must be tested for conformity for self-declaration and come with PSC marks.  Those items include home appliance with AC adapters, mobile batteries, lithium ion batteries, etc.

d) Consumer Product Safety Act (PSC Act)

Certain product categories that pose the high risk to consumer safety require third-party assessment or must be tested for conformity for self-declaration and come with PSC marks.  Those items include cribs for infants, laser pointes, bathwater circulators, lighters, pressure cookers, riding helmets, mountain climbing ropes, oil stoves, etc.

These regulated items can only be imported by Japanese importers, and some require licensed importers in the applicable categories.  See this page to learn how to import these regulated items.

Please also note that any item prohibited to import to Japan cannot be imported in any way.

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