Shipping items home
Shipping items, be it to somewhere in Japan or overseas, this page will help keep you informed on your options.
Sending things through the mail obviously carries some risk. Here are some tips to help you keep all of your things in one piece!
- Packing your items in a cardboard box is generally sufficient…but don’t forget to select a STURDY box. Cardboard tears easily when wet, so think ahead to possible disasters that could arise en-route.
- Buy an ample supply of bubble wrap, duct tape (or other strong, waterproof tape) and waterproof markers. Pad everything with the bubble wrap, tape items closed that could open, use plastic bags to wrap the items that you wouldn’t want getting soiled or soggy and pack fragile items in smaller boxes to be placed in the big box. Tape the final box with several layers of duct tape.
Sending things home
You realize you’ve accumulated a plethora of treasures from Akita you just can’t seem to part with…so what’s the best way to move it all out? There are limits to baggage allowance when you fly home. For North and South America it is two pieces not to exceed 32 kilos each, while pretty much the rest of the world is 20 kilos TOTAL! Going over is expensive (call your airline for details). The most important thing is to plan EARLY. You’ll have to sift through everything to decide what you’d like to keep and what you really don’t need in your next place of residence. If you have a pile of unwanted items, check out the section in this guide listing places that accept donations. Good luck with your packing and remember, what you don’t take with you; you can always sell or give away. Here’s the low-down on how to send things back to your home country safe and sound.
When returning home, some things you should be taking with you to the airport as luggage. Incredibly heavy things would be better in your carry on or personal item than in your check-in luggage or in your items you ship home as they can add to the weight and price. It is also recommended that you take your fragile and expensive things to the airport as international shipping can be costly.
If you want to send you bicycle home with you, it is worth noting that you can take it as luggage on flights. This carries a few additional benefits, including the possibility of fitting other things into the bicycle bag alongside the bike itself. If you are traveling to Tokyo by train or bus, Kuro Neko will ship bikes ahead to the airport as part of their standard airport Ta-Q-Bin service.
Sending luggage to the airport in advance
Yamato Takyubin (kuro neko)
- Call free dial 012-31-5095 at least 2 days ahead (3 days in some locations), and your luggage will be picked up from your home and delivered to the airport hand luggage holding counter. The prices vary depending on the dimensions of your luggage. They will not take luggage exceeding 25 kg or luggage with combined dimensions of over 160 cm. Sports equipment such as golf bags, snowboards and bicycles may exceed the dimensional requirement, but may not exceed the weight limits.
Nihon Tsu-un (Pelican-bin)
- Free dial 0120-41-0202
- Same as above (home to airport) \1,980 per piece
Remember that each country has its customs requirements as well as restrictions on items that can be brought into the country. As customs fees vary from country to country, you’ll need to inquire about the restrictions ahead of time.
Japan Post is perhaps the most economical and convenient way to ship things back home. There are four ways to ship packages at Japan Post. They are Surface Mail, Economy Air Mail (SAL) Air Mail, and Express Mail Service (EMS). Those methods are listed from slowest to fastest, as well as cheapest to most expensive. Surface Mail takes roughly one two three months, as it will be shipped without airplanes, but is cheap. Economy Air Mail uses open spaces on planes to give you a two week but more expensive option. Air Mail takes three to six days for delivery, but can be expensive. Express Mail Service is top priority and will be shipped within two to four days. More details can be found here.
The post office may want to inspect the contents of your items if you send it via surface mail. To avoid having to unwrap your parcels at the post office, take the box in unsealed, allow for inspection, then wrap it up there. For all items, you will need to fill out an “international parcel label” which is a combination invoice, customs declaration & address label.
Inventory everything for customs, insurance and your own piece of mind. To avoid potential extra shipping costs, make sure it is written that the contents are for personal use instead of commercial. If cardboard's weakness is a concern, look into other methods of containment. Clearly label “fragile” in English and “壊れ物” in Japanese on all sides. Don’t overload your box, as this will increase breakage.
Package dimensions for overseas travels are defined by country. Listed here are visual aids and explanations. For people shipping to China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, or England, the length must not exceed 1.5 meters. In addition, is must obey the following formula. Length + (Width x 2) + (Height x 2) is less than 3 meters. For The USA, Australia, South Korea, and Mexico, the formula is Length + (Width x 2) + (Height x 2) is less than 2 meters and the length cannot be longer than 1.05 meters. For weight restrictions, the website lists 30 kilograms as the average, but can change based on country. For more information on other countries, you can check this webpage in Japanese.
For international shipping, you can receive a 10 percent discount when you send ten or more items at a time. If you send 50 or more, you get a 20 percent total discount.
Air, SAL and Surface Mail may be insured upon request at the post office, with amounts varying by destination. The cost of insurance cannot exceed the value of the package. The first ¥20,000 value of your package costs ¥400 to insure, and each ¥20,000 thereafter costs ¥50. Although a proof of value isn’t required when purchasing insurance, it’s nearly impossible to make an insurance claim without one. Receipts or photos are valid proof.
For mailing books, special Mail Bags can be sent only from the Akita Chuo Post Office. These M-Bags (M Yutai in Japanese) can provide cheaper rates, but can only be printed materials. Things like things printed on office paper are not included in this, so please be sure to check this page for more details. There is a discount on academic publications. What is considered academic can be confirmed through the English Japan Post customer service.
For more information from the Japan Post, you can contact them at the number 0570-046-111 for English customer service. The phone is active from 8 AM to 9 PM on work days and 9 AM to 9 PM on weekend and holidays.
A shipping company to get your precious cargo back home is a great idea if you have a large volume to send. It’s generally well handled and ideal for sending home those odd-sized items, as long as it fits within the size restrictions. Some companies charge a minimum fee for shipping, so check on this ahead of time. Before you start calling the shipping companies, keep in mind the following advice:
- The shipping companies like to have at least one month’s advance notice (preferably 2-3months notice), as calculations on weight and shipping schedules need to be arranged. Start planning early so you don’t spend a fortune sending everything home by regular mail.
- If you’re sending something especially fragile or bulky, ask the company if a cardboard box is adequate protection. Ask ahead of time about size restrictions…you don’t want to pack up everything nicely only to find that it won’t fit into the crate! Talk to your shipping company to see if they can provide wooden crates to hold your boxes and metal bands to secure the wooden crates. A good rule of thumb is to imagine what might happen to the contents if the box was dropped from hip-height to a concrete floor – an event not as unusual as we would like to believe!
- When shipping items, ask about the insurance policies. Insurance policies can be taken out based on the value of your items and are normally charged at 1.5% of the total value of the contents. Discuss the details thoroughly with the company. It is best to keep a list of what was packed and what condition they were in at the time of packing. This is useful later if you need to claim insurance payments.
- Although your items are usually insured, as a general note, it’s best to send the less-precious belongings ahead and carry the very valuable with you. Shop around a bit, as prices can vary considerably!
List of Shipping Companies
- English URL: http://www.alliedpickfords.com/jp-en/movinghouse/Pages/MovingHouse.aspx
- An International moving consultant comes to your house to discuss shipping methods most appropriate for you.
- Options include (a) a full load container, (b) shared container, (c) fast less-than-container load
- They can also take care of pets and vehicles
- Tel: (toll-free) 0120-150-422,
- URL: http://www.nipponexpress.com/moving/index.html
- Nippon Express offers home moving services, which include a more affordable “self packing” option. Packages moved with this option are comprised of up to 5 boxes with combined dimensions of up to 170 cm each and individual weights up to 30 kg. The estimated price for the continental US and The UK are around 75,000 yen. Australia costs about 92,000 yen, and Canada rests at 97,000 yen.
- Tel (toll-free): 0120-222-111, Email: email@example.com
- URL: http://www.econoship.net/
- Econship appears to specialize in moving people from Japan to other places. English websites and quotes are available.
- http://www.pakmail-ama.com/engl/ (TEL: 052-242-8988 from boxes to furniture)
- PakMail seems to only have one store in all of Japan, located near Osaka.
PreAkitar Worldwide Movers
- http://www.asiantigers-japan.com (Outbound Moves)
Japan Luggage Express
- http://www.jluggage.com/ (Shipping by air and sea)
- Shipping available by sea and air.
- Air shipping is priced per kilogram.
- Sea shipping is available with door-to-door service in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and some parts of the USA
Yamato (Kuro Neko)
- Kuro Neko does offer some international shipping options.
|Leaving JET Checklist|
|Finances||Pension Refund • Pension book • Selling your stuff • Return tickets • Shipping items home|
|Career||Returners Checklist • Preparing your resume • Preparing your Japanese resume • Working in Japan|
|After Leaving||Reverse culture shock|