On average, the applied tariff rate in Japan is one of the lowest in the world. In addition, import duties on many agricultural items continue to decrease, and tariffs in many major sectors, such as autos and auto parts, software, computers, and industrial machinery are zero. However, certain products including leather goods, certain processed foods and some manufactured goods have relatively high tariff rates. While Japan's import tariffs are generally low overall, the nation’s average agricultural import tariff (roughly 19 percent) is among the worlds highest for industrialized countries. By comparison, the average agricultural import tariff is 9.7 percent in the United States and 16.3 percent in the European Union.
The Customs and Tariff Bureau of Japan's Ministry of Finance administers tariffs. As a member of the Harmonized System Convention, Japan shares the same trade classification system as the United States (limited to six-digit code). Japan's tariff schedule has four columns of applicable rates: general, WTO, preferential, and temporary. Goods from the United States are charged WTO rates unless a lesser "temporary" rate exists. Japan assesses tariff duties on the CIF value at ad valorem or specific rates, and in a few cases, charges a combination of both. Japan's preferential system of tariffs grants lower or duty-free rates to products imported from developing countries.
A simplified tariff system for low-value imported freight valued at less than ¥100,000, such as small packages for personal imports, simplifies determination of tariff rates. This system also eliminates the extra time necessary to classify the product and its precise value, and thereby minimizes customs brokers' handling charges. Importers can choose either the normal rate or the simple tariff, which could be higher or lower depending on the product.
Japan Customs can provide advance rulings on tariff classification and duty rates. A summary of Japan’s customs procedures, including its customs valuation system, import procedures, temporary admission procedures, refunds and duty drawback payments, as well as relevant customs forms can be found on the Japan Customs website noted above.