Shipping Options for Sending Packages Home from Japan
Returning to your home country? Sending a package to a loved one? Wondering what the cheapest options are for sending something from Japan?
Finding the best way to ship something from Japan depends mostly on your budget and the type of goods you wish to send.
This article covers the most popular and trusted options for sending items from Japan to your home country.
The Japan Post Office
The Japan Post Office’s international parcel post service allows you to send up to 30 kg per box with a 10 percent discount for 10 to 49 parcels. And a 20 percent discount for over 50 parcels shipped at one time.
When sending your parcel via the post office, you can choose between the following types of international parcel delivery:
Express Mail Service (EMS): most costly; delivery approx. 2 to 4 days
Airmail: higher-end price; delivery approx. 3 to 6 days
Economy Airmail (SAL): mid-range price; delivery approx. 6 to 13 days
Surface Mail: low-cost option; delivery 1 to 3 months
To calculate how much your parcel will cost, use their online calculating system (English) to find the price you will pay per box.
One factor to keep in mind is the size of your parcel. There are two standard sizes that countries will accept via post. The following image shows the two acceptable sizes:
(Source: International Parcel Post, Japan Post Office)
To find the applicable dimensions for a country, check out the downloadable PDFs here (Japanese), or keep your box under the B dimensions listed above—a total size not exceeding 200 cm, with the longest side under 105 cm, and total weight not exceeding 30 kg.
Sending items through the Japan Post Office is a safe bet for those who are shipping souvenirs to loved ones or who are shipping small-scale personal belongings home. The benefits include a discount for multiple boxes, plus thorough English documentation on how to send your items, the option to insure the goods you send, and free pickup service (allowing you to avoid an awkward line-up at the postal counter). This article gives you a step-by-step guide in English.
However, if you are looking to ship an item home that exceeds the permissible dimensions or weight (such as golfing equipment, furniture, or an appliance), you will want to choose one of the next options.
Yamato Transport’s International Moving service
Also known as “Kuro Neko” (black cat), Yamato Transport is Japan’s leading delivery service company that also provides international moving services that include the relocation of furniture and appliance shipping. Here are the various door-to-door moving plans that they offer:
Standard Plus Plan. All-inclusive relocation services; will ship furniture; will help pack and unpack. Shipment by air or sea. Must request an estimate.
Standard Plan. Their most popular plan includes everything in the Standard Plus except for the unpacking of small items and only provides shipment by sea. Must request an estimate.
Basic Plan. An economical plan for those who can manage the packing of their goods by themselves. Yamato will pick up your goods to be shipped and then deliver them to your destination. Shipment by sea. Must request an estimate.
Tanshin Plan. A plan in which you get a specified number of boxes, depending on the course you choose within the Tanshin Plan. Shipment by sea. An online calculator on the Tanshin page (scroll down) allows you to look at the prices for their various courses. In one simulation, shipping to Washington DC from Japan will cost ¥160,000 for 9 boxes using their Minimum Course; ¥190,000 for 14 boxes using their Regular Course; and ¥220,000 for 18 boxes using their Extra Course.
Yamato Transport promises ease and peace of mind. With their pickup services and communications handled in English, this is a good option if you don’t mind the higher price tag and are mainly interested in convenience.
Yamato Transport’s International TA-Q-Bin service
If you are just looking to ship single boxes (e.g., this isn't a full-on move), you can use Yamato Transport’s International TA-Q-Bin service that allows you to ship parcels up to 160 cm and up to 25 kg, with rates divided by region. Use this online calculator (English) to find out the price of your parcel.
Here’s a rough idea of how much you can expect to pay for delivery to countries in Zone 1 and Zone 2:
(Source: International TA-Q-Bin, Global Yamato)
For other zone rates, go to this page and scroll down. Please note that Yamato Transport will not ship suitcases. You must pack all items in a box that conforms to size guidelines. This service is separate from Yamato Transport’s International Moving service, but they have an English language contact/pickup request form here.
Other delivery options for you to consider
DHL provides services shipping from Japan to 200 countries worldwide, an option to consider if you have a pallet’s worth of items to ship home. (Pallet dimensions 120 x 120 x 160; maximum pallet weight 300 kg.
An unexpectedly decent option for those returning home is paying excess baggage fees on your return flight. This will allow you the benefit of staying in step with your belongings and might prove less costly than some of the options listed here. If you choose this option, Yamato Transport provides an airport delivery service, allowing you a seamless pickup and drop off when checking in for your outgoing flight. (See JAL’s excess baggage fee chart or ANA’s excess baggage fee chart.)
Recommended reading: "Leaving Japan For a Month or More? Your FAQs Answered," TokyoMate
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