Immigration & Customs

Landing card

During your flight to Japan, usually a couple of hours before we land, you have to fill out a landing card handed to you by a flight attendant, on which you have to state some details about yourself. Please do this during flight; this saves time at Immigrations and helps to pick up your Rail Pass in time and catch an early train. Please do not forget to mention Holiday for the reason of your stay. If you fill out anything else, you will get a different permit in your passport. This means that you can’t get a Rail Pass, and you will not be able to travel without paying for your JR-tickets as well. As for your occupation; keep away from potentially harmful jobs.One of our previous travellers was a chemical analyst and said so on the card. He was questioned briefly by Japanese officials as they thought he might be a potential terrorist. Keep within the thicker lined areas on the card; the area on the lower half of the Embarkation-part will be filled out by Japanese officials. The back of the card has some basic questions. Not hard to answer; just tell the truth and say No. The amount of cash you have on you doesn’t need to be known down to the yen/cent/penny; just count the larger coins and bills. End with the date and your signature, and you’re ready. Ask one of the guides or a flight attendant for guidance if you are not sure on how to do this or assurance whether you did it the right way. If you screw up while filling this out; don’t worry; the flight attendants have spares, just ask for a new one. The 90-day Landing Permit is given after the new fingerprint, photograph and interview-procedure to the residents of a number of countries throughout the world. The new Immigration procedure

Immigration procedure

You are required to be fingerprinted and photographed under the new law. If you should refuse to submit to these new provisions, you will not be permitted to enter Japan, and will be required to leave the country immediately. All foreign nationals entering Japan will be subjected to the new provisions, regardless of their nationality. The Immigration Procedures will be performed as follows:

  • You submit your passport to the Immigration Officer.
  • Once the Immigration Officer has explained the procedures, you will be asked to place your index fingers of both hands on a digital fingerprint reader.
  • The fingerprint will be read and stored digitally.
  • A facial photograph will then be taken, using the camera located at the top of the digital fingerprint reader.
  • The Immigration Officer will then conduct a short interview.
  • On completion of the procedures, you will receive your passport from the Immigration Officer.

Surprisingly enough, this whole procedure takes only 30 seconds to a minute. Hooray for Japanese efficiency. Remember to smile and cooperate. The Immigrations Officer tends to be more cooperative as well in that case.

The people at Customs

The person at Customs will always ask you if you have something to declare and he/she will at least want to see your ticket and passport. Our treatment at Customs depends on a few factors:

  • The personality and mood of the customs officer that day; Some people like their job, others don’t.
  • Your nationality and flight origin; as we’re all (flying) from Europe, this should go smoothly.
  • Your sex, appearance and attitude; If you come up with an attitude or looking like some bum who has his bed under a bridge, you may have a full body and luggage search. Just smile and be cooperative.
  • How busy they are at that moment; it’s worth a try for us all to go through Customs at the same time, as they’ll probably will not want to get through all of our luggage and maybe not even through some.

The current Japanese Customs Allowances for Nothing to Declare are:

  • Alcohol: 3 bottles up to 760ml each.
  • Tobacco: 400 cigarettes, or 100 cigars, or 500g other tobacco products.
  • Perfume: 2 ounce (±56ml)
  • Money: 1 million yen worth (regardless of form or currency)
  • Gifts and others: Up to 200,000 yen value (items under 10,000 yen do not count)

Two things: do not take pictures at Immigrations or Customs, and we hope it’s needless to say that (soft)drugs are very unwelcome and that you will be put in jail and deported afterwards if they catch you with stuff like that. It will definitely mean the end of your holiday. Note that if you bring in video’s or DVDs, customs may ask to view them. Any below the waist frontal pornographic images will be confiscated.