Japan food import regulations

One of the burning topics for any person moving to another country is what you can and cannot take with you. Dealing with custom clearance is something you always need to think about – and when you are moving internationally this can be quite a hassle. Not only do you need to think about the items you are “exporting”, but you need to respect the laws of the land you are “importing” to. Take Japan, for example. There are a lot of Japan food import regulations that you need to worry about – both when you are moving and when you are a company importing food to this colorful country. In this article, we will take a look at some of the most important things you need to remember when importing food to Japan.

Why you need to know about Japan food import regulations

The first thing you need to know about is the International trade law. This is a law that controls the transport of certain goods when exiting one and entering another country. There are many reasons why respecting this law is a must. First, it will protect your interest – whether you are buying food from Japan or selling it to the country. However, the law is also there to ensure the safety of a country and protect its interests. If the Japanese government deems some food items dangerous, they will use Japan food import regulations to ban them. This, they can, for example, protect their economy.

apples ready for import
There are a lot of things to now before importing your goods.

This way, a country can influence the International trade law by adding additional food import procedures into their import chain. Food is usually included in these regulations because it directly affects the health of the country’s citizens. Luckily, the whole Japan food import regulations process can be split into three parts:

  1. first, you submit the import notice to the officials;
  2. then, the inspectors in Japan will take a look at your cargo and decide its future;
  3. finally, if your cargo meets Japan food import regulations, then you will receive a certificate that lets you continue with your import.

This way, importing food into Japan is easy to understand and apply when importing food. Now, let’s take a look at each of the steps separately.

Submitting the import notice to Japanese officials

The first thing you will need to do, as we mentioned, is to submit the import notice. It doesn’t matter which commercial cargo export services you used. When it arrives in Japan, either by plane or a boat, the process still remains the same. First, you need to respect the Foreign Trade Act. Then, you will need to take Japan food import regulations into account.

Even before your goods reach the customs clearance office, you will need to submit the import notification. Article 27 of the Food Sanitation Law requires this to take place immediately after your goods hit Japan. Without customs clearance, you cannot sell your items. You will not even be able to use them for marketing or business purposes! A thing to note is that this doesn’t only apply to food. Food additives and the apparatus and packaging are included in Japan food import regulations as well!

signing papers
There are some forms that you need to fill up!

So prepare your notification, and send it to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. You can find the form online, but you can also do it in writing. Keep in mind that you might need pertinent sanitary and phytosanitary certificates for some types of food, too. If they don’t have it, they will be put in storage units Japan under quarantine which you cannot affect.

An inspection is an important part of Japan food import regulations

After they receive your notification, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare will send inspectors to check your cargo. This will usually be someone from the customs office. They will check for the compliances of your food items with the Food Sanitation Law. You will need to present all the paperwork you have at this time.

The inspectors will look for multiple things in accordance with Japan food import regulations:

  • the country of origin;
  • the place of manufacture;
  • who the manufacturer is;
  • the ingredients within the food;
  • materials and additives you might have used;
  • the manufacturing process as a whole.

They might even check for the manufacturing standards in Japan as well as substances that might be poisonous. Another thing is whether or not you have had any incidents of sanitation problems in the past during the manufacturing problem.

Getting the notification certificate

Once you are done with the inspection, it’s time for the notification certificate. No company can import food into Japan without it. Once you have it means that your items are as the Food Sanitation Law requires, and you have no forbidden custom clearance items in your cargo. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare will issue this notification in the quarantine that holds your items.

man holding quality sign
Your food needs to be of the highest quality!

However, not receiving the notification certificate means your goods don’t comply with the Japan food import regulations. You will still get the notification about this, and then you will need to correct your shipment. For starters, you will need to make sure they follow the Food Sanitation Law.

Luckily, this doesn’t have to be as long and as exhausting as it seems. There are processes you can use to make the whole thing easier. Two of these are the Prior Notification System or the Import Planning System. These are more efficient than the standard one. You might even be able to use other inspection agencies if you are importing from a certain country. Explore these options together with Japan food import regulations before shipping your items.

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