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Japan - Customs

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Length of Stay:

A foreign boat can be left in Japan indefinitely, with no special paperwork or fees required. As a result, foreign cruisers often leave their boat in Japan while they go to Korea or some other country at the end of their 90-day visa and then return to get a new 90-day visa. Similarly, many foreign cruisers leave their boat in Japan over the winter and then return the following spring to continue cruising Japan and/or to go to North America.


At your first port of entry, be sure to request from Customs a “Naikosen” to change the boat’s domestic status for Customs purposes (it does not change the boat registration). With that in hand, it is not required to do Customs paperwork as your cruise Japan (and that includes no requirement to advise Customs of your planned route/ports).

Superyachts over 24m can now also apply for a Naikosen.

See Clearance for more details.

Customs officials often approach visiting yachts when entering a new port, however, as soon as you present the Naikosen, they will almost certainly not bother you anymore.

Unfortunately, some Customs offices seem increasingly reluctant to issue a Naikosen, but be persistent as it will make your time cruising in Japan so much easier. If you don’t get one, then Customs will approach you in every port and want you to fill in copious forms.

It is important to cancel the Naikosen (returning the boat to “foreign” status) before leaving Japan. Once it has been cancelled, you can fill up with tax-free fuel before leaving Japan.

All Customs procedures are explained and relevant forms available at:

Duty-Free Fuel

Foreign cruisers that do NOT have a Naikosen are, technically, eligible to buy duty-free fuel, but only in large commercial ports (not smaller commercial ports and fishing ports). The specific procedures vary by Customs office (some of which are more co-operative than others) and different fuel companies have different procedures and fees. So it is best to contact the local Customs office for guidance on how to get duty-free fuel.

In any case, the hassles and challenges of cruising Japan without a Naikosen are FAR greater than the modest savings realized through getting duty-free fuel.

Boats leaving Japan are eligible to get duty-free fuel after cancelling their Naikosen status with the local Customs office. Customs offices and fuel facilities at ports that handle a lot of departing foreign cruisers (such as Kushiro, Naha, Ogasawara), usually make getting duty-free fuel relatively easy.

The Customs form to fill out for tax-free fuel is at Declaration of Loading of Ship’s ( Aircraft’s ) Stores of Domestic Goods(C-2160). This should be given to the company you buy fuel from.

See Yachting Essentials for more details on fuel.

Fresh Produce

Fresh fruit and vegetables and meat are banned from being brought into Japan. They will be confiscated by Quarantine when clearing in and complicate one’s request for a Naikosen.

Prescription Medication

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. The name on the prescription must match the name on the passport of the individual in possession of the medicine.

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; unfortunately, a comprehensive list of specific medications or ingredients is available only from the Japanese authorities, difficult to obtain and subject to change.

For more detailed information see the Japan Customs website here.


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.

Last updated:  August 2023

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  1. August 4, 2023 at 12:45 AM
    Rob Hurlow says:

    We have just finished a second cruising season in Japan, having taken CAPAZ from Fukuoka up the west coast to Otaru Marina, in Hokkaido adjacent to Sapporo.

    We were able to harbor hop the entire way with no overnight passages. In May the weather and wind conditions were mostly fine as the southern monsoon winds had started. We found the small harbors and towns very welcoming. Most of the tie ups are to a harbor wall and free. Large fenders are strongly advised.

    We were able to leave our boat in Fukuoka between cruising seasons under the excellent care of Kirk Patterson, Konpira consulting. He also was a great help in obtaining services, repairs, haul outs, and dealing with local coast guard and customs officials. We were able to get the equivalent of a Japanese cruising permit and were not required to check in to any ports along the way.

    Otaru Marina in Hokkaido is a wonderful marina. We are leaving CAPAZ there for another off season. The marina manager, Akira Kadano, was able to help us winterize the boat and source a local boat guy to watch over us, also has helped us with repairs. A good yard and haulout option is there for boats under 20 US tons.

    Overall crusing in Japan has been a delight. We have been met with wonderfully kind and curious local people, love the food and affordable prices.

    1. August 4, 2023 at 4:31 PM
      profile photo
      Sue Richards says:

      Rob, thanks for this great feedback on cruising Japan. I suspect more and more boats are going to start heading that way now the officialdom has become alot simpler. If you have a blog about your time in Japan, or similar, please do let us know and we’ll add it to our Japan Links section.

  2. July 25, 2022 at 1:17 PM
    profile photo
    sue-richards says:

    Update from Kirk Patterson of Konpira Consulting, Japan: Japan has just entered a seventh Covid surge, setting a new record in infections since the pandemic started (but fortunately not in hospitalizations or deaths). So far, the national and local governments are not re-imposing any restrictions on activities/movement, but they have postponed the start of a campaign to promote domestic tourism. I had previously thought that Japan might open up to foreign visitors in September, but I think this latest surge makes that unlikely (especially as Japan has been carefully monitoring NZ’s experience of a major surge in infections after it ended its long, strict border restrictions). There are some rumors of an October 1 opening, but I think it will probably be late fall or even January 1. All of which makes it hard for the many cruisers trying to make yes/no decisions on whether to prepare for entering Japan next spring (the normal time to arrive in Japan).

  3. June 24, 2022 at 9:46 AM
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    sue-richards says:

    The announcement that Japan was opening to all foreign tourists from 1 June led to a great deal of misunderstanding: it does in fact only apply to tightly scheduled tour groups with guides. The number of tourists that can enter Japan each month is capped and maritime borders for yachts are still very much closed. Kirk Patterson of Konpira Consulting Japan told Noonsite; “A national election is scheduled for late July, so it is unlikely that any major opening will be announced before then. September is the earliest likely date that cruisers would be able to enter Japan, however there is still a great deal of uncertainty about what visas will be avail-able. In any case, April-June is the time for foreign cruisers to enter Japan so a September opening is too late for cruisers to come to Japan in 2022.” He adds “I do know, though, that a lot of foreign cruisers are wanting to come to Japan. Compared to 20-30 boats in a typical pre-pandemic year, I’ve got a “possible client” list for 2023-2024 of about 30 boats….and that’s just people who have contacted me, so I would guess that the total number of boats seriously con-sidering coming to Japan as soon as it opens is well over a hundred.”

  4. April 23, 2020 at 6:40 AM
    maximum says:

    Hello ? everyone I am an Argentinian living in japan for a while now in Tokyo ! and getting interested in Buying a boat sailing and using the boat as House !
    Can someone advise me place to find cheap used boats for buying ! Websites , suggestions, how to save in getting the license for sailing ! Any public institution? For practicing and taking exam ? Any advise is welcome.
    Messenger Maximiliano Paradiso
    What’s app +5491164166669

    1. April 24, 2020 at 7:38 AM
      kirk says:

      Hi, Maxim…I am a Canadian who has cruised Japan for six years (and lived here for a total of 32 years, 25 in Tokyo). I currently operate a marine-tourism company (see Konpira Consulting ad). For what you want to do, the best way to start is to join the Tokyo Sail and Power Squadron…; the membership chairman is John Marshall — TSPS is a group of foreign sailors n Japan, mainly the Tokyo area. Through them you can learn how to prepare for the Japanese boat-license exam and take it in English, can sail on other members’ boats, and get ideas on how to search for a boat (there are several websites for buying/selling boats, but they are all in Japanese). You can’t technically make a boat your official, registered residence, but you can use it as a floating cottage! To moor a boat within commuting distance of Tokyo, though, is very expensive (some TSPS members actually moor their boats in the Seto Inland Sea and fly there 1-2 times a month for some weekend sailing…cheaper than keeping the boat near Tokyo). Anyway, I recommend that you join TSPS and then take it from there. Feel free to contact me if you have any other questions — Good luck!

    2. May 11, 2020 at 6:29 PM
      maximum says:

      Hey ? Kirk
      Captain Kirk maybe !? ?
      Thank you ? for the info ! I will do that ! Is ok with the Japanese websites I have Automatic translation, if you can give me some of them I really appreciate!

      Keep in touch

  5. August 15, 2019 at 8:08 AM
    toddst says:

    I just concluded a passage from Portland, OR to Yokohama, Japan, spending about a month moving from a Wakkanai, Hokkaido landfall to Yokohama Bayside Marina where I left my 60’ s/v Elcano.
    I had the excellent assistance of Kirk Patterson of Konpira Consulting for the month I spent in Japan and recommend him most enthusiastically for help understanding and navigating through the complexities of Japan. He knows boats having circumnavigated Japan solo and made numerous offshore passages; he knows Japan and the considerable Japanese marine bureaucracy having lived there for decades; he is fluent in Japanese and he is well known in the marinas and sailing communities around Japan. In addition, he is a valuable source of local weather forecasts, local charts and fishing gear hazards, which are ubiquitous, and the specifics of where to find moorage in ports.
    Kirk can be reached at

    Todd S Thompson
    s/v Elcano

    1. December 28, 2019 at 6:45 AM
      malos says:

      What were the procedures for leaving? Anything special or notice required?

  6. March 13, 2019 at 6:10 AM
    Lynda Lim says:

    Mar 13, 2019 06:10 AM

    Upon arrival in Okinawa from Tahiti (French Polynesia), we were instructed by the Japan Coast Guard (+81(0)98-951-0120) to clear in at Naha harbor. Best to communicate via email (they reply quickly – using on-line translator):

    You can easily get the “pre-arrival procedure form” (to mail to JCG prior to landing) with a simple web engine search. The pre-arrival procedure form is rather long, detailed, and clearly designed for large vessels, thus no worries if you can’t fill in all boxes.

    In your mail to JCG, ask them to arrange landing location with the Naha port authority (+81(0)98-862-2328) as they don’t speak English either.

    Our landing position at Naha commercial harbor:
    Quay 5 – N26°12’34 E127°40’22

    Fee: approx. 300 Yen/night (based on tonnage – 5 tons)

    Customs office at Naha Port: / +81(0)98-862-8529

    All Customs procedures are explained and relevant forms available at:

    For tax-free fuel, you need Customs form C2160 – “Declaration of loading of [your] ship’s stores of domestic goods [i.e. Japanese gas!]”

    Sailing boats can’t stay in Naha commercial port. Shortly after completing all entry formalities, you will be asked to move to Ginowan marina (West coast) or Yonabaru marina (East coast).

    We moved to Itoman fishing port “Fisherina”, where we stayed 1 week at a floating pontoon. The Fisherina office is closed on Wednesday. No English spoken but friendly and helpful staff with whom we could ‘easily’ communicate through real-time voice translation app.
    Mooring coordinates: N26°07’43 E127°39’04

    Tariffs: 1500 Yen/night (based on boat length – our boat is 35′ feet long)
    Gasoil/Diesel: delivery by truck at the pontoon upon request (provider called by Fisherina office)
    Fresh water at the pontoon: 50 Yen/hour (long hose available upon request at the office)
    Facilities: WC, showers (hot water – 200 Yen/shower), beverages (vending machines)

    No Internet / WIFI but if needed, possibility to get connected at the Fisherina office
    Free public WIFI networks widely available in Okinawa (e.g. BeOkinawa, NahaCity, etc.)

  7. August 30, 2015 at 11:13 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

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

  8. February 9, 2015 at 12:28 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    Regarding notice of arrival to Japan Coast Guard: The email addresses for the Ogasawara Coast Guard Station in Chichi Jima is and for Kawayama Coast Guard on Honshu is

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