Tourism agency wants to make food, cosmetics duty-free


The Japan Tourism Agency will propose adding food and cosmetics to the list of duty-free items for foreign travelers as part of its fiscal 2014 reform plan, agency sources said Sunday.

The proposal is aimed at attracting travelers to mitigate the impact of the first stage of the sales tax hike planned for next April.

According to a survey by the agency, food and cosmetics accounted for two of the three most popular types of Japanese souvenirs in 2012, with 58.2 percent of foreigners buying confectionery, 51.4 percent other food products, alcohol and cigarettes, and 38.5 percent buying cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

Of the ¥1.09 trillion spent by foreign visitors last year, 31 percent was allocated to shopping, the survey said.

The 5 percent sales tax is still levied on food because stores cannot be sure whether the items will be consumed in Japan or taken abroad.

In many parts of the world, including members of the European Union, all products bought by foreign travelers are tax exempt and the refunds are made on departure.

The tourism agency will also propose making the procedure for conducting tax-free purchases easier.

The final decision would be made by the Finance Ministry.

  • Jack

    All food should be made tax free for everyone in Japan.

  • The above is not quite correct. In The EU not all goods or visitors are entitled to a Tax Refund. Firstly, intra- EU travellers, not finally departing the EU nor can permanent EU residents obtain refunds. Secondly, in the UK certain goods are excluded… if they have been or are likely to have been consumed in the country, before departure. i.e Perfume or chocolates or perhaps a mobile phone, which you activated before departure. Another ambiguity is liquors or tobaccos, which have both tax and excise duty levied on them. So, all products, bought “foreign” travellers, are not exempt in all EU territories as stated above. It is about residence and not nationality.