The tea industry in Japan has particularly benefited from such global restructuring, with tea export value increasing to the US, UK, and Netherlands by 130%, 133%, and 142% respectively between 2019 and 2020, according to theJapanese Tea Export Council. Globally Japanese tea export value has increased by 111%.

Trends and Opportunities in Japan’s Tea Sector 2021

By Maxim Tvorun-Dunn,

How Importing Japanese Tea Customs Duty Works:
Tea has been a popular drink all over the world. One of the more significant markets would be the United States and Europe. Let us show you how Japanese Tea Customs Duty works, either if you want to import as a seller or you just want to have the first hand of your Japanese tea for consumption. However, selling by importing tea in another country is not easy. You usually buy in bulk for shipping or bring it with you when you return to the destination country. Together with the sale cost of the tea comes underlying expenses such as customs duties.

The importation of Japanese Tea is for Clearance by the Country’s FDA

The importation of tea, coffee, spices, or any food for that matter, is subject to the scrutiny of a country’s Food and Drug Administration or its equivalent. Still, usually in most countries, they call it such, or the FDA. The FDA takes into consideration the admissibility of the product in its country. This requires the filing of a Prior Notice with the FDA to be registered to import their products. 

Upon identification by the FDA, the products to be imported, and some of their ingredients may be subject to restrictions or special duties. These ingredients are usually restricted or limited for importation because the country protects the very same product domestically. In detail, for example, an importer would import products the ingredients of which are locally available in the importing country. Then the government would impose restrictions to let the imported product enter the country to protect the local manufacturers of the same product or the ingredients therein. Because of this, governments would impose customs duties on the said importation.

Knowing the Limit in Importation as to the quantity of Japanese Tea and the Special Duty Rates

For example, in the United States, there are no restrictions or quotas on the amount you can import. However, some products which contain restricted items may be subject to some special duties.

However, this policy is without exemption. Usually, countries enter into trade relations treaties or agreements with other countries to give the same rights to both importers. For example, suppose an importer from one country could be duty exempt. In that case, the country party to an agreement could also seek duty exemption for importing the said country. While they do not give exemptions, others would provide special duty rates lower than other importing countries, not a party to such agreement.

The most general agreement among countries regarding customs duty rates and exemptions would be the World Trade Organization or the WTO Agreement. This sets out all the rules for products to be imported to qualify for an exempted or lower customs duty rate than other importation of the same products. The countries and the parties to the agreement must respect the rules stated herein to give the same and equal treatment agreed upon to the other member countries’ importers. The lower special rate offered to member countries is what we call preferential tax rates. For example, the importation of tea would fall under agricultural products. This would have a different category for the applicable preferential rates that the member countries in the WTO Agreement are entitled to.

On the other hand, non-member countries may also benefit from the rates stated in the WTO. For example, suppose a member country has a bilateral agreement with a non-member country. In that case, the customs duties rate stated in WTO will apply. This rule is according to the principle of the “most favored nation clause.” This clause means that the most favorable customs duty rate is the customs duty rate stated in the WTO. Therefore, this rate should apply to the other country as a party to the bilateral agreement since this rate is the most favorable customs duty rate compared to regular and different rates.

Japanese Green tea - Kagoshima, 88th Night

Can I import Japanese tea without paying any Customs Duty?

However, suppose these are imported as commercially imported goods in a small package only for personal consumption. In that case, the importation is usually customs duty exempt. This importation is what we call “duty-free.” For example, buy tea from your Japan travel as a souvenir, or you just want to take home Japanese tea for your consumption. While this is technically an importation as you brought an imported product from the country of origin to another country, this would not be subjected to customs duty if this came in a small package. 

How much then should you pay for that Japanese souvenir that you bought from another country? For example, in the United States, the duty-free amount would be 800 US dollars. On the other hand, suppose you do not want any customs duties to be paid for the Japanese tea you bought upon going home to the United States. In that case, you may bring home Japanese tea free from any customs duty to the United States up to the amount of 800 US dollars.

This would be the same case in other countries, such as France. It allows tax-free up to 22 euros worth of imported goods. You may import goods free for up to 150 euros worth of imported goods for customs duties. This means that when you bought imported goods and brought them home to France, you will not be imposed any tax if the goods would be 22 euros or less, and customs duty if the goods would be worth 150 euros or less. If the goods would be worth more than the said amounts, then that is the time that you have to pay.
It must be remembered that the purpose of customs duty is to impose taxes on goods destined to be on international borders. These custom duties are charged for the protection of a sector, economy, environment, or jobs in the destination country.

So this means that Japanese tea may be imported from one country to other parts of the world. The customs duties will again depend on the importer’s bulk order or personal consumption according to the customs duty laws in the country of destination. Thus, if Japanese tea is to be brought to the United States, or France, depending on the quantity and the amount of the imported goods, it could be dutiable.
Most countries would rely on the amount and quantity of the goods to be imported to decide whether it is dutiable or not. For example, If you would import Japanese tea in bulk, most countries would impose customs duty because, by default, the quantity is not merely for personal consumption. That is why you cannot simply hoard in bulk while getting away with payment of customs duty.

However, suppose customs officials would be dubious about the amount of item you have brought, even if the quantity seems to be personally consumed. These are called luxury items such as high-end bags or pieces of jewelry or even cars. In that case, the customs authority might still impose customs duty for your importation even if you purchased one item.

While most countries would custom duty exempt small importation of small value, other countries would give special rates based on different factors. For example, since France is a member of the European Union’s Common Customs Tariff, it offers preferential rates to imports from countries with which the European Union has signed agreements. On the other hand, as mentioned earlier, custom duties are for a sector’s protection. Therefore, even if imported is in small quantities, it would still be imposed with custom duties. For example, the sectors of fabrics and items of clothing and foodstuffs still experience protection measures. In Europe, the dairy industry, sugar and confectionery, meat, fruit and vegetables, and fish and fishery products are given the highest tariff protection. This means that even if you import these items in small quantities back to Europe, specific duties may still be imposed as these are protected sectors in the continent.

Since customs duties laws of countries vary depending on the quantity, amount, rates, and the item to be imported, some sellers offer hassle-free importation of Japanese tea. They let you pay all the customs duties, fees, and charges upon checkout right away. This would let you know the total cost of the shipping without going into a surprise for additional expenses. The customs duties will depend on the destination aside from the quantity of the orders. The customs duties will depend on the destination aside from the quantity of the orders. Some countries do not impose taxes and duties for importation, such as Hong Kong as it is a duty-free destination.

However, some countries do not have a tax and customs-free cap for every importation such as Adorra, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Bangladesh, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, India, Jordan, Kenya, Morocco, Monaco, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Switzerland, Ukraine, and Venezuela, to name a few. Other countries would impose taxes and duties if the number of goods imported exceeded the stated limit in their customs laws. For a more precise amount per country, you may want to check the official customs websites of the country where you are planning to bring Japanese tea.

What if I Want to Import in Bulk for Japanese Tea Business Purposes?

Suppose you intend to import in bulk for commercial purposes. In that case, it is better to coordinate with the customs authority of the country of destination. This advice would help you in the long run in planning and assessing how much it would cost you the importation.

Upon the arrival of the goods in the destination country, a declaration must be needed regarding the item’s description, the amount involved, and quantities, among others. A declaration form is usually filled up for this procedure to be assessed by customs officials before making the necessary payment for customs duty if you are liable. Upon payment of all the required fees, including customs duties, is the only time that the customs officials will issue an Authority to Release Imported Goods or “ATRIG.” This document must be shown to the warehouse keeper where the imported goods are temporarily kept. Do take note that there is a toll of delaying the procedure for releasing your goods as warehouses are for a rental basis.

Duty is assessed based on the product’s price and does not yet include other charges such as freight, shipping, and insurance. So, make sure that you attend to all these necessary costs when importing tea into your country.

Need Assistance with Japanese Tea Importation?

You may want to collaborate with shippers that handle importation from your specified country to make the process smoother. Usually, these shippers would send you shipping computations or links for a shipping calculator to have estimates as to the total amount of fees and customs duty you have to pay for the importation depending on the bulk or quantity of the Japanese tea to be imported. You may also include other items for importation alongside your imported Japanese tea, and it will all be considered as one shipment. 

This shipping and importation of Japanese tea in your country have been a long-standing service that we offer. Therefore, if you are interested in Japanese Tea importation either as a business or you simply want to have a taste of quality, authentic Japanese tea, you may contact us through this website, and we are more than happy to assist you. Contact us here