Recently I released my blog post on International Shipping Through Japan Post in hopes of making it easier for home based businesses to know how to ship back to the states without using our APO system, which is not allowed. Today I want to help explain the process of shipping anywhere IN Japan, in hopes that military home based businesses throughout Japan will be able to start shipping to the various bases and areas in the country.
Side note, if you are a military member, dependent, or contractor stationed in Japan currently, please join our business network on Facebook here!
There are several awesome and affordable options for shipping your goods anywhere within the county (Mainland and Okinawa.) And the best part? With Japan being such a small country geographically speaking, the shipping is usually FAST, FAST, FAST.
Some options will allow you to do all of the shipping 100% from your home until the moment you drop it into a collection box, and others will still require a trip to the Japan Post office.
Before I dive into the different methods, I should also mention that while our base offers Japan Post shipping directly to your door, some bases will still take the Japan Post mail to your BASE post office. If you have tracking on your package, you should be able to see which place it is delivered to. At Misawa, Japan Post delivers direct to your HOME.
Again, thank you SO much to my sweet friend Saaya for helping me understand all of this!
First, here is a list of things you will need for shipping domestic within Japan, especially if you want to do your label printing or even just price estimating at home.
- A postage scale that weighs in GRAMS/KG.
This is the one that I have been using since 2017 for any sort of package mailing even in the states, and it has always been accurate for me. I will be purchasing this slightly bigger option (for wider packages) this week though.
- Regular packaging/mailing supplies for securely sending your products. (Some shipping methods require using Japan Post materials, others will require you to use your own.)
- A printer or access to somewhere that you are able to print your customs forms or labels.
- Click Post will require an Amazon Japan or Yahoo Japan account that can link to your account as a payment method if you choose to send items this way.
- Measuring tool from Daiso or Seria for measuring package thickness (Japan Post is EXTREMELY strict on package sizes, so I highly recommend buying one of these.)
And that’s basically it! Now let’s dive into the ways you can send mail domestically.
Lastly before I go into shipping methods, I want to send a quick reminder to make sure you are charging sales tax/VAT taxes as they are required.
I personally am using the ETSY platform for my selling and shipping online. Etsy collects the correct necessary taxes based on the buyer’s location (including overseas VAT taxes) and remits them to the correct jurisdictions on your behalf. I visited the legal office at Misawa to ensure that my using of the off base post office would be legal if I were to open an Etsy shop for my hair bows and other creations, and that SOFA would not be violated somehow. I was given the go-ahead by legal. I believe that Shopify functions similarly, and other platforms may as well. Be aware that when selling to an international address, often VAT taxes need to be charged and sent to the correct jurisdictions. Because of this, I would recommend against selling independently, and would lean towards using a platform like Etsy.
If you’d like to open an Etsy for the first time, clicking on my referral link here will give you your first 40 listings for free!
ALL OF THIS TO SAY, I CANNOT GIVE YOU LEGAL OR TAX ADVICE AND THIS BLOG POST IS NOT MEANT TO BE SUCH. If you are concerned about your own business and the legalities behind it, PLEASE visit your legal office or consult a tax professional.
Includes tracking | One Flat Rate | Inexpensive
Click Post is arguably the best option for domestic shipping, especially for smaller and lighter items. At the very least, it is the most convenient. Click Post will allow you to ship anywhere within Japan for 198 yen, and will include tracking for your package at the same rate! Even better yet, Click Post allows you to pack your own items, print your own label, and drop your package off at any collection box. (If you are located in Misawa, there is a collection box outside of our own APO post office, which is collected from daily.) I.e. if you don’t want to visit a post office, you don’t have to!
For this shipping type, your packages will fall under these restrictions:
Length should be no less than 14cm, and no more than 34cm.
Width should be no less than 9cm, and no more than 25cm.
The thickness of your package cannot surpass 3cm.
The weight should be under 1kg.
If you send a package bigger than any of these measurements, it will be returned to the sender, so be sure to use your measuring tool from Daiso, as mentioned earlier.
Much like ClickNShip in the states, you will create an account here in order to begin making labels on your online account for printing out at home.
When signing up for a new account, the personal information entry page will ask for your name (frigana), meaning your Japanese pronunciation of your name. You can use this link to enter your name and get the Japanese kanji for that box. The rest of the boxes are fairly self explanatory, just enter your Japanese address vs your American address. Your on-base Japanese address (for Misawa Air Base residents) will read as follows:
House #, Street name
Misawa Air Base
Of course other bases will have similar addresses, just swap out your zip code, prefecture, city, chome (base), and actual house # and street name. Sometimes it takes a small amount of trial and error to make sure you get every part of your address in the form.
Everything on the ClickPost site will be in Japanese-even Chrome does not translate all of it. Unfortunately there is no way to turn this part into English without completely leaving the ClickPost part of the site. Do all of your registration on Chrome, and choose to automatically translate, and most will translate for you. For those parts that don’t, I used my Google translating app on my phone and simply pointed it at the screen, and it is fairly easily navigated that way.
After entering your own shipping address, you will hook up your Amazon account or Yahoo account to your Click Post account in order for Amazon/Yahoo Pay to function as your payment method! I feel that Amazon Japan is the easiest option to hook up. If you need an Amazon Japan account, it is super easy to make one. Click this link here to begin the process- you should also get a free trial of Amazon Japan Prime if you would like it. (Prime is an awesome way to order your HBB supplies within Japan and have them delivered straight to your door.) Once you link your account, you will begin signing in via either your Amazon or Yahoo account.
Create your account, confirm your email address, and then you may begin creating your labels for shipping!
When printing labels, if your printer messes up and does not print correctly, you will have only 30 minutes to print the label correctly. After this amount of time, the reprint option will no longer be available, and you will have to cancel the label and start over. Labels can be printed in either black and white or color. Also good news-if your label messes up, no worries, Japan Post does not charge your account until the package is actually scanned in at the Post Office!
Once you have printed your label and stuck it to your package, you may drop your package off at any collection box!
The website states that most packages will arrive the next day, sometimes the day after that. The only time it should take longer than 2 days would be if you are shipping to the islands instead of mainland. In which case it will add only a day or two more to the delivery time.
While there aren’t many downsides to ClickPost, unfortunately you are not able to add any “extras” to this shipping method, including express shipping or insurance. If you absolutely need insurance, I would recommend shipping your item via Yu Pack/Yu Mail.
Includes tracking | Two Flat Rates | Relatively Inexpensive
Letter packs are decent sized envelopes that are postage prepaid upon purchase, and ready to ship the moment you purchase them and fill them out. Letter packs may be purchased directly at the post office, or at some convenience stores. They come in two types: letter pack plus, and letter pack light. Letter packs unfortunately do not include insurance.
You will be allowed to fill the pack with as much as you would like, as long as you are able to seal the envelope, the thickness is under 3cm without needing to be squished, and the weight is under 4kg. Tracking is included with the letter pack- before you send the package, you will simply have to peel off your part of the tracking number. Letter packs can also be totally packed and shipped without stepping foot in a Post Office. Just seal it, and drop it in a collection box. The same price applies to these envelopes, no matter where you are shipping from or to. Essentially, it functions like a flat rate envelope does in the states- but instead of paying when you send the package, you are paying for your postage when you purchase the envelope itself.
The difference between a letter pack light and a letter pack plus is only a few key points. 370 yen is the price for letter pack lights, which are delivered to mailboxes and may be left. 520yen is the price for the letter pack plus, which will be delivered in-person to the recipient. If the recipient misses attempted delivery, they will have to pick up the item from their local post office. Letter pack plus will also allow you to go over the 3cm limit, as long as the envelope is able to be sealed.
You can buy these envelopes at the post office and most convenience stores. Letter packs are also available at the “stamp shop” which is JP’s online site for purchasing different shipping materials. if purchasing online, you must purchase the packs in sets of 20 though, so unless you are doing some serious shipping, purchasing in person is likely your best bet.
(If you are located in Misawa and have had a newborn on base, the “letter pack” is the way you send all of your documents to the Embassy, and it is the way they send your passport back to you! This is why they have you purchase two envelopes- you are sending them a prepaid letter pack inside of the letter pack you send them in order for them to be able to ship your documents back to you.)
Yu Pack Parcel:
Includes Tracking | Insured
Yu Pack is another great option for domestic shipping, though it is somewhat trickier to do than Click Post. While a little pricier, the dimensions of acceptable packages are also larger than the Click Post option, it will allow for heavier packages, and will also include insurance. Expect to spend at bare minimum around 800 yen within your own prefecture, usually around 1200-1500 yen for shipping to other prefectures. Prices will vary based on shipping destination and package size.
There are 7 sizes for Yu Pack, all determined by the total added cm of the package. See the diagram below for how the package size is added in order to decide which category your package falls into. If a package is heavier than 25kg, you may choose to send it via “weighted Yu Pack.”
Yu Pack parcels must be sent from a certified Yu Pack counter, which can be found at the post office, or at some convenience stores. Your first few times sending this way, I would HIGHLY recommend using the Post Office vs the scanning system at the convenience store.
Yu Pack also does has its own app that you may download for shipping discounts. Unlike the ClickPost process though, you will ONLY be printing a label, not paying for postage. This means that your package still must be taken to a certified Yu Pack location after printing your label. It cannot be dropped into a collection receptacle.
(Also, the app is fully in Japanese, so you will have to have a way to translate it the whole time you are using it. Once you accept the terms and click “new registration” there is a button at the top to switch to English, though not everything in the app will translate. It’s probably a personal preference on whether or not the hassle is worth it for the discounts.)
Once you have registered and entered all of your information including your Japanese address, you will have to confirm your account via your email for your registration to be final.
Several discounts are available for the Yu Pack service. A few include: using the app to register your packages (-180yen) or taking the package directly to the post office instead of another counter (-100 yen.) If shipping multiple items, thresholds also exist for discounts on multiple packages sent at once.
Yu Pack parcel offers a long list of specialized shipping services, including services for airport luggage, golf equipment, snowboarding/skiing, and baggage delivery. (We also commonly use Black Cat for larger packages or luggage like these, but that’s another story for another post.)
Refrigerated Yu Packs are also available for a very small added fee on top of the regular shipping fee.
You may visit this page to get a charge estimate on the type and size of Yu Pack you are looking into sending.
Inexpensive | Add-ons Available
While this method is the one that I probably understand the least, to my understanding, Yu Mail is the basic (very small package) shipping option you will get if you simply bring your package into the post office to hand write your label. Using this method you will be allowed to ship items up to 1kg.
Sizing for packages will be as follows: A = 34 cm, within B = 3 cm, within C = 25 cm
Fares will be the same nationwide, just based on weight. Remember to always weigh your packages once fully packed. Leave your package unsealed upon bringing it to the post office, or bring in a sample of what you are sending with you.
Basic Yu Mail will also allow for express sending, registered mail, and proof of delivery. For these added services, you can calculate your cost here.
And that is pretty much it! Personally, I will likely never use a method other than ClickPost, because it is just SO dang easy, but Japan Post really does offer a long list of affordable options for their domestic shipping.
Please of course feel free to message me if you ever have any questions- and if I don’t know the answer, I will try to find you somebody who does!