Japan To Charge Tourists Consumption Tax and Refund At Departure

Thanks, scammers. Due to some people exploiting the system, Japan will now change how it handles duty-free purchasing by tourists.

Unseen Japan
3 min readNov 30, 2023

By Himari Semans

Woman buying lots of crap

Tourists to Japan have long enjoyed the pleasure of buying gifts for those back home — or for themselves — without paying the country’s consumption tax. But the system’s about to change slightly after some savvy shoppers found they could game it to their benefit.

Officials discuss duty-free changes

The Government Tax Commission will convene today with the Cabinet’s ruling parties, LDP and Komeito, to discuss changes to Japan’s consumption tax exemption system for foreign tourists’ duty-free store purchases.

Under the current system, purchases by foreign nationals at duty-free stores are exempt from consumption tax on the premise that they leave Japan unused. They also can’t be resold domestically.

However, in light of widespread illegal sales of duty-free purchases in 2022, government officials ramped up measures this May by levying businesses and foreign nationals for illegal resales of duty-free products. They’re now planning to revise the system itself.