The Japan Post: Understanding the Shipping Procedures

The Japan Post: Understanding the Shipping Procedures

Apr 08, 2021 Tags 

You've ordered from Japan but are worried that they might not be delivered? Or you’re thinking about treating yourself to some ZenPop boxes and are now wondering where your pack is? Your pack has not arrived, and you are seeking a refund?

Ordering from overseas can be stressful, so we’re going to explain how the Japanese postal system works for you to get a better feeling for your pack’s journey. The Japan Post has a very straightforward 5 step shipping processes, which include: 

  1. Parcel collection
  2. Transfer to overseas shipment station
  3. International transfer
  4. Customs clearance
  5. Transfer to local postal services

In this article, I will guide you through each of those steps one by one, so let’s get started.


1. The parcel collection 引受


Parcel colleciton


The moment a letter or a parcel is placed within a post box, or handed directly to an office, the Japan Post takes custody and the responsibility for the goods. The moment when they scan a parcel into their system is also the time its tracking number becomes active.

For them to be able to handle everything in the most efficient way, it is the sender’s responsibility to provide all the required shipping information on the label prior to the collection.

At ZenPop, we print out our labels one by one and stick them on your box by hand. The information on the label is directly pulled out from our system, which reflects the information that you’ve given us when you placed an order.

The Japan Post regularly changes their rules. And by rules I mean methods of shipment, prices, and country availability. They do so with little prior notice, otherwise everything would be too easy, don’t you think?


2. Transfer to overseas shipment station 国際交換局に到着    


Photo credit: Magic Mary on Unsplash


International mail is handled differently to domestic shipments. Once handled by the local postal office, all international mail will be transferred to a dispatch office located at major airports, such as Tokyo’s Narita, or Haneda airport, and occasionally Kansai’s international airport.

In these new offices, the teams from the Japan Post will separate all mail based on the country it is going to be shipped to. Every pack is handled individually, and the information from the pack’s label is again the one that will guarantee a safe journey.

The list of the countries they are able to ship to is available here.


3. International transfer 国際交換局から発送


International cargo
Photo credit: ANA


That’s just the time your parcel spends on the plane, ready to reach you! 


4. Customs clearance 国際交換局に到着


Photo credit: Dragosh Co


Your country’s customs will need to inspect the parcel. Not every pack is being checked by customs. About this, some countries are stricter than others. As checks are selected randomly, it might happen that a product is being seized in one box, but not another.

The regulations on this are tricky. In fact, the Japan Post has their own regulations in regards to what they are allowed to ship. However, each country has different rules concerning what they are allowed to import. These do not always overlap.

This means that it might be possible to legally ship a product to one country, but not legal to import it in that same country. In this case, the customs officers will usually seize and destroy the parcel.

To avoid that, make sure to check your country’s import regulations. Those can change as well, and it is therefore impossible for us to keep track of each country’s do’s and don’ts.

The customs clearance process can take between 1 to 4 weeks depending on the country. I know, it’s long. I feel your distress.


5. Transfer to local postal services 国際交換局から発送    


Local post office
Photo credit: M_Agency


After a pack has been cleared by customs, the Japan Post will no longer be in charge of the delivery. The local postal services of your country will take over, and be responsible for the final stretch of the journey.

You have tracking and there has not been any update for days or weeks? This is often where miscommunication happens. As the Japan Post no longer is in possession of the parcel, it is up to your local postal services to update the tracking information in their system.

If they do so, the information is usually transferred, and updated in the Japan Post’s tracking system too. However, that’s not always the case.

Let’s be honest for a second here, how good do you feel about your local postal services? I thought so. And so it is common to see long gaps with no update on your pack’s tracking.

It’s really annoying, I get it. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do about it except wait.


6. Delays, losses, and claims


Post Box
Photo credit:


Now, it’s been weeks and your parcel still has not arrived? Well, without tracking, there is no possibility to locate it. It would be like finding a needle in a haystack, except we would have to find the haystack first.

However with the tracking option, we can make an inquiry with the Japan Post, usually 6 weeks after the pack has first been scanned in their system. 

Although we’re in 2021, the claim still has to be filed in paper by regular mail. Once the Japan Post receives this, they will once again enter the information into the system, and trace back the journey your box has been on, step by step, until they find the place where it went missing.

This whole process can take up to two month. Yes, 2 months. Once they find out what happened, they will provide us with an update:
Either the pack was stored somewhere, and they will forward it.
Or, the parcel is nowhere to be found, and they will provide us with a refund.

What do they actually refund? Remember the label that I keep mentioning? This label also includes a value declaration. This will define whether or not your order might be subject to further taxes. For our ZenPop boxes, we declare 1,500 JPY.

Therefore, to the Japan Post, the box has a value of 1,500 JPY too, and this is what they will refund should it be lost. 




Japan Post
Photo credit: Olivier Guillard


Now you know. That's how the process from the Japan Post works. It’s pretty straightforward, and without any big surprises. They pick up the parcel, dispatch it, ship it overseas, and transfer it to your local postal services after it was cleared by customs.

They are one of the most reliable shipping services available today, at a still reasonable price. Of course, you may be inclined to think that FedEx, UPS, DHL are better alternatives, but they are options that might double the price of your order from Japan.

For ZenPop to keep delivering you some of the best Japanese Ramen, Snacks, and Stationery at an affordable price, we decided to keep using the Japan Post as our main mailing service. And every day we hope that the process unfolds smoothly for every pack that leaves our warehouse.