Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
The global site for cruising sailors
Sections
You are here: Home / Countries / Japan
By No owner — last modified Mar 31, 2016 09:36 AM

 Japan - Formalities

Clearance

Initial entry into Japan must be made at an official Port of Entry.

The JCG (Japan Coastguard) requires all vessels to report at least 24 hours before arrival with the following details: name, type and flag of vessel, port of registry and gross tonnage, details of captain and crew, port of entry and ETA, subsequent ports within Japan, previous 4 ports of call with dates and details of radio call signs, and phone numbers for communication with JCG.

This should be done preferably by phone or fax. The form can be downloaded (in English) from  http://www.kaiho.mlit.go.jp and faxed or emailed to the relevant JCG office.

On entering the first port in Japan, it is advisable for a yacht to change its status from 'special ship' to 'coastal ship'. This change then exempts the yacht from having to register with Customs when moving from one regional division to another on each entry and departure. It is important to register change the status back to 'special ship' with Customs at the last port of departure from Japan.

Ports in Japan are divided into closed ports and open ports. Closed ports are not normally open to yachts, however. there are 5 such closed ports where yachts may enter with prior permission.

Here is a website with information for yachts wanting to visit closed ports: http://www.mlit.go.jp/en/maritime/specialpermission.html

For more useful information on Port Clearance procedures for foreign yachts see http://cruisingjapan.org.

If entering a port without prior notice, then it is important to report to the nearest JCG office immediately.

The formalities are time-consuming as there are lots of forms to fill in, but this is mostly routine and officials are always very friendly and courteous. On entry, inspections will be carried out by Quarantine, Customs and Immigration, and maybe also the Maritime Safety Agency (coastguard). A de-ratting certificate must be shown. If there is not a de-ratting certificate, then the yacht is checked by inspectors.

The Customs, Immigration and Quarantine offices are normally in the same building in the main harbour - sometimes one can tie up to their jetty to complete the formalities. They will advise on the best berth or anchorage. Sometimes they will come to the yacht, if not the captain should go to their offices.

If the yachts status is not changed to 'coastal ship' then clearance with Coast guard, Customs and Immigration must be carried out at every port, although this is routine and a question of filling out a lot of forms. The last port may telephone ahead to the next port to notify them of a yacht's arrival.

Alternatively, the number can be obtained from the last Customs office and telephone yourself on arrival. If arriving at a weekend officials may decide only to come on Monday, but it is best to attempt to arrive on a weekday as Immigration cannot be done on weekends.

If a place does not have a Customs office, check in and out at the local police station (Koban); in these places the Maritime Safety Agency may check the yacht themselves. The Maritime Safety Agency office can often be a useful source of local information.

It is not necessary to use an agent, although they can assist with entry to ports and marinas, clearance, plus overcome the language barrier. There is just a lot of form-filling.

See this Noonsite report for the details of what is required if wishing to visit a closed port.

See this useful website on various ports suitable for yachts.

Last updated March 2016.

Immigration

All visitors require a passport valid for the duration of their visa.

Many nationalities will be given a 90 day visa on arrival. Citizens of Brunei, Indonesia, and Thailand are allowed 15 days. Nationals of the U.K, Austria, Germany, Ireland and Switzerland are allowed to stay for 6 months.

A full list of the countries whose citizen do not require a visa can be seen on www.mofa.go.jp/

Citizens of other countries require a visa in advance of arrival.

It may be possible to leave the boat in Japan and re-enter for another period.

Last updated March 2016.

Customs

Firearms and ammunition must be declared on arrival and the penalty for non-declaration is imprisonment. Arms will be sealed on board or kept in custody ashore.

Cruising yachts can get tax free fuel by filling out the Customs form C1260 at any Customs office. Give it to the company you buy the fuel from and you should have all taxes removed (including the road tax).

It is illegal to bring into Japan some over-the-counter medicines commonly used in other countries, including inhalers and some allergy and sinus medications unless prescribed by a doctor.. Specifically, products that contain stimulants (medicines that contain Pseudoephedrine, such as Actifed, Sudafed, and Vicks inhalers), or Codeine are prohibited unless prescribed by a doctor.

Generally, up to one month's supply of allowable prescription medicine can be brought into Japan. Visitors must bring a copy of their doctor's prescription as well as a letter stating the purpose of the drug.

If wishing to carry more than one month's supply (except prohibited drugs and controlled drugs), or are carrying syringes (pumps), are required to obtain a so-called "Yakkan Shoumei", or an import certificate in advance, and show the "Yakkan Shoumei" certificate with your prescription medicines at the Customs.

Decisions on what medications may be imported legally into Japan are made by the Japanese Government, and unfortunately, a comprehensive lists of specific medications or ingredients is available only from the Japanese authorities, difficult to obtain and subject to change.

Check this Japan website for the best detailed information.

There is no restriction on how long a yacht may remain in Japan.

Last updated March 2016.

Health

The mosquito-borne disease Japanese encephalitis is found throughout many regions of Asia.

Medical facilities across Japan are of a high standard. In most major cities, facilities with English-speaking staff can be located. Medical care in Japan can be expensive and payment is required in full at the time of treatment, or concrete proof of ability to pay, before a foreigner is treated.

Documents

To cruise the Inland Sea (Seto Naikai) a cruising permit must be obtained from the Department of Transportation in Hiroshima. One must present a planned itinerary, first checking which ports are off limits.

The local tourist office can provide a map of the area which shows all the attractions.

Fees

There are no charges for clearance or overtime.

Restrictions

A number of ports are closed to yachts, such as Urakawa (in the SE of Hokkaido), and these can only be entered in an emergency.

VHF Channel 16 is primarily a shipping communications channel and should only be used in an emergency.

Navigation Day-sailing is recommended along the Japanese coastlines due to the very high concentration of shipping and the innumerable fishing boats, nets and aquaculture projects. Along the Hokkaido coast a hazard are the salmon nets, up to 1000 m long and lying very close to the surface.

Currents can be very strong in the Inland Sea, especially at the entrances, where they may reach 6-8 knots.

In some parts of Tokyo, including Chiyoda-ku, smoking on the streets is prohibited. Those caught are liable for an on-the-spot fine.

Rubbish Disposal

Most prefectures in Japan separate their rubbish prior to disposal. To save yourself a very messy job on arrival, try to organise your rubbish into the following categories en route; 
- plastic PET drink bottlers; 
- tin cans;
- aluminum cans; 
- general waste.

Whilst the exact categories may vary slightly from prefecture to prefecture, sorting as you go into these four groups should make things easier on arrival.

Clearance Agents

The Long Distance Voyagers Association in Japan (LVAJ) - a group of Japanese circumnavigators - are developing a support website for foreign yachts visiting Japan. The address is http://cruisingjapan.org but currently is only in Japanese (March 2016)

Kazuo Furuno
Interocean Shipping Corporation
Tel:81-3-3570-5196
This agent was recommended in 2009 by cruisers visiting Japan.

Pets

Dogs and cats entering Japan from the United States must be quarantined for at least 14 days. A Health Certificate is required verifying the dog is not infected nor suspected of being infected with Leptospirosis. Dogs require a Rabies Inoculation Certificate valid at least 30 days prior to arrival and if for 12 months after arrival, date to be shown. Dogs may be inspected on board after 14 days. Cats also need a certificate and must have had the necessary cat injections at least 30 days ahead of arrival. Otherwise animals must be confined on board. Japan's official "Guide to the Animal Service Service" has all details.

Share |
batogustin
batogustin says:
Aug 30, 2015 11:13 PM

A useful website to get the contacts of the various marinas where you can stop in Japan is www.umi-eki.jp (English version available). They do not all speak English on the phone though...

Paul tudor-stack
Paul tudor-stack says:
Feb 09, 2015 12:28 AM

Regarding notice of arrival to Japan Coast Guard: The email addresses for the Ogasawara Coast Guard Station in Chichi Jima is jcg3ogasawara-9q3p@mlit.go.jp and for Kawayama Coast Guard on Honshu is jcg5wakayamakotsu2-7g2d@mlit.go.jp.

Japan
Gotto Retto Archipelago
Inland Sea (Seto Naikai)
Kyushu
Mainland (Honshu)
Okinawa
Osaka Bay
Other Islands
Profile
Facts
Security
Weather
Main Ports
Formalities
Clearance
Immigration
Customs
Health
Documents
Fees
Restrictions
Local Customs
Clearance Agents
Pets
General Info
Time Zone
Yachting Essentials
Opening Hours
Money
Communications
Transport
Diplomatic Missions
Events
Emergencies
Publications
Links
Update History
Countries
Albania
Algeria
American Samoa
Angola
Anguilla
Antarctica
Antigua & Barbuda
Argentina
Aruba
Ascension Island
Australia
Azores
BIOT (Chagos)
Bahamas
Bahrain
Barbados
Belgium
Belize
Bermuda
Bonaire
Bosnia
Bouvetoya
Brazil
British Virgin Islands
Brunei
Bulgaria
Cambodia
Canada
Canary Islands
Cape Verdes
Cayman Islands
Channel Islands
Chile
China
Christmas Island
Cocos Keeling
Colombia
Comoros
Cook Islands
Costa Rica
Croatia
Cuba
Curacao
Cyprus
Denmark
Djibouti
Dominica
Dominican Republic
East Timor (Timor Leste)
Easter Island
Ecuador
Egypt
El Salvador
Eritrea
Estonia
Falkland Islands
Faroe Islands
Federated States of Micronesia
Fiji
Finland
France
French Guiana
French Polynesia
French Subantarctic Territory
Galapagos
Gambia
Georgia
Germany
Gibraltar
Greece
Greenland
Grenada
Guadeloupe
Guam
Guatemala
Guinea-Bissau
Guyana
Haiti
Hawaii
Heard, McDonald & Macquarie Islands
Honduras
Hong Kong
Iceland
India
Indonesia
Ireland
Israel
Italy
Ivory Coast
Jamaica
Japan
Jordan
Juan Fernandez Islands
Kenya
Kiribati
Kuwait
Latvia
Lebanon
Libya
Lithuania
Macau
Madagascar
Madeira
Malaysia
Maldives
Malta
Marion & Prince Edward Island
Marshall Islands
Martinique
Mauritania
Mauritius
Mayotte
Mexico
Monaco
Montenegro
Montserrat
Morocco
Mozambique
Myanmar (Burma)
Namibia
Nauru
Netherlands
New Caledonia
New Zealand
New Zealand's Subantarctic Islands
Nicaragua
Niue
Norfolk Island
Northern Marianas
Norway
Oman
Palau (Belau)
Panama
Papua New Guinea
Peru
Philippines
Pitcairn Island
Poland
Portugal
Puerto Rico
Qatar
Reunion Island
Romania
Russia
Saba
Samoa
Sao Tome and Principe
Saudi Arabia
Senegal
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Singapore
Sint Maarten
Slovenia
Solomon Islands
Somalia
South Africa
South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands
South Korea
Spain
Spanish Virgin Islands
Sri Lanka
St Barts
St Helena
St Kitts & Nevis
St Lucia
St Martin
St Pierre & Miquelon
St Vincent & the Grenadines
Statia
Subantarctic & Southern Ocean Islands
Sudan
Suriname
Sweden
Syria
Taiwan
Tanzania
Thailand
Tokelau
Tonga
Trinidad & Tobago
Tristan da Cunha
Tunisia
Turkey
Turks & Caicos
Tuvalu
US Virgin Islands
USA
Ukraine
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
Uruguay
Vanuatu
Venezuela
Vietnam
Wallis and Futuna
Yemen
Add/Update Your Business
If you would like your business to be listed, or the details are wrong, please update your business
Related Reports
Sail into the heart of Japan with the Setouchi Yacht Rally 2017

Sail into the heart of Japan with the Setouchi Yacht Rally 2017 (17 Nov 2016)

Report Icon

The Pacific Crossing Guide - 3rd Edition (17 Oct 2016)

Report Icon

Japan: Detailed Report of a 2 Month Cruise (18 Oct 2015)

Australia to Japan: Melbourne to Osaka Double-Handed Yacht Race Welcomes Cruisers

Australia to Japan: Melbourne to Osaka Double-Handed Yacht Race Welcomes Cruisers (17 Sep 2015)

Report Icon

Japan, Miyakojima: Our experience of Super Typhoon Neoguri (13 Jul 2014)

Report Icon

Phones in Japan (06 Jul 2014)

Report Icon

Tannowa and Wakayama: A brief visit for boat repairs (01 Jul 2013)

Report Icon

Sevenstar Yacht Transport strengthens their commitment in the West Coast, North American market. (04 Apr 2013)

Report Icon

Taiwan (Keeling) and Japan (Ishigaki): Friendship Regatta April 2013 (30 Dec 2012)

Report Icon

A Cruise through Japan's Inland Sea (02 Nov 2011)

Report Icon

Japan Cruising Notes - Kyushu (30 Jun 2011)

Report Icon

Book Review - Cruising Japan to New Zealand (03 Jun 2010)

Report Icon

Victoria, B.C., Canada to Yokohama, Japan (25 Sep 2009)

Report Icon

Japan Cruising September 2009 (22 Sep 2009)

Report Icon

Southern Waters of Japan (25 Aug 2009)

Report Icon

Eastward Route in North Pacific (10 Jul 2008)

Report Icon

Japan to the Solomon Islands (15 May 2008)

Report Icon

Useful Coastguard Fax Numbers (08 Mar 2006)

Report Icon

Cruising Report: Northern Philippines, Taiwan to Japan (24 Aug 2005)

Related News
Japan, Seto Inland Sea: Register your interest for the Setouchi Yacht Rally 2017

Japan, Seto Inland Sea: Register your interest for the Setouchi Yacht Rally 2017  (18 Jul 2016)

The Ocean CleanUp: World's first ocean cleaning system to be deployed in 2016

The Ocean CleanUp: World's first ocean cleaning system to be deployed in 2016  (21 May 2015)

Supertyphoon rivalling Haiyan on course for Japan

Supertyphoon rivalling Haiyan on course for Japan  (07 Oct 2014)

Japan prepares for Super Typhoon Neoguri

Japan prepares for Super Typhoon Neoguri  (06 Jul 2014)

Indian Ocean: Two vessels attacked in four days indicates resurgence of Somali piracy

Indian Ocean: Two vessels attacked in four days indicates resurgence of Somali piracy  (17 Oct 2013)

Great New Service for noonsite users: Get notified of cruising news, reports and country updates as they are posted

Great New Service for noonsite users: Get notified of cruising news, reports and country updates as they are posted  (23 May 2013)

June 8th is World Oceans Day: Create or Join an event near you

June 8th is World Oceans Day: Create or Join an event near you  (17 May 2013)

Is the Indian Ocean safe for yachts?

Is the Indian Ocean safe for yachts?  (07 May 2013)

Report Icon

SE Asia Cruisers Radio Net Now Closed  (22 Feb 2013)

Report Icon

SSCA Clean Wake Project: Monitoring Radiation in the Pacific  (20 Jun 2012)

Report Icon

USA, Oregon: Huge Dock from Japan's Tsunmai Washed Ashore  (15 Jun 2012)

Report Icon

Hazard warning for yachts in the Pacific - debris from Japan's tsunami   (19 Oct 2011)

Report Icon

Massive floating rubbish islands from Japan tsunami spotted on Pacific  (08 Apr 2011)

Report Icon

Japanese Solo Sailor, aged 76, Almost Home After 8th Circumnavigation  (21 Jun 2010)

Report Icon

Missing Japanese Sailor - Updates  (01 Jun 2009)

Report Icon

Brunei Bay Radio Services  (23 Feb 2005)

Report Icon

South East Asian Maritime Net frequency modification  (13 Jul 2004)

Report Icon

Weather Websites for SE Asia  (01 Feb 2003)