Travel Guide: The One about Tax-Free Shops in Japan

In Japan, especially in Tokyo, in major foreigner-friendly shopping areas such as Akihabara, there are logos showcasing “Japan Tax-Free Shop”.

It’s important to for people traveling Japan to know that shops will NOT give you tax-free if you don’t ask for it.  Afterall, how would they know if you are a foreign traveler versus a person who lives in Japan?  The rule is all temporary visitors (less than six months stay in Japan) such as foreign tourists are eligible.  Japanese nationals who live overseas and plan to do so for two years or more may benefit if they are visiting Japan temporarily.

Quite often, there is a limit to get tax-free and most of the time, it’s merchandise that exceeds Y5,000 yen on items that qualify and bought at the store at the same day.

To get the Tax-Free, look for the logo or sign that says “Tax-Free” and once you get your item, ask first before you pay.

The reason being is that you may need to go to another counter to get your items for Tax-Free.

Have your passport ready (always carry your transport safely along with you while traveling) and display it to them, so you can purchase your merchandise without the 8% consumption tax.

There are two ways of how tax-free works in Japan:

METHOD A: Present your passport upon purchasing the goods and pay the price minus the consumption tax.

METHOD B:  Pay the consumption tax and then show your receipt, your passport and documents at a separate service counter to get a refund (you may be subject to a service charge).

That is why I recommend METHOD A.  Ask about Tax-Free first before paying and they may direct you to another cashier counter who will take care of you, as that cashier may not be able to do it.

It’s not difficult but it can be a little of a hassle, especially if you waited in line for a long time (especially at a busy store) and find out you need to go to another cashier.

I admit that sometimes I felt it wasn’t worth the hassle and just paid the 8% consumption tax.  But it’s really up to you and also if you have the patience.  Good luck!