MUST READ! Get VAT refund in Japan

My mom, loves to buy brand name product in Japan. Why ? Because, first the exchanging rate is low right now. Secondly it is TAX FREEEEEEE, which means you don’t have to pay  8% GST.

Yes, Japan has approximately 29,000 stores offer tax refunds, especially in big cities like Tokyo have even more tax-free stores. Moreover, tax-free procedure are also available at some of the small local souvenir stores apart from department stores and shopping malls, as long as the stores display the TAX-FREE SHOP logo.


tax free
Shops that offer tax-free is marked with this sign



You as a tourist ARE ELIGIBLE to get your taxed refund while enjoying shopping in Japan but with the following Terms and Conditions applied.



From May 2016,  term and condition of tax free shopping has changed. You can now enjoy tax free shopping with purchase more than 5000 yen.

Reference : JNTO



Tax-Free Terms and Conditions:


1) Your visa status must be Temporarily Visitor (Student Visa is not eligible).

2) Purchase good must be for personal used out of Japan.

3) Tax refunds procedure must be done on the same day of purchase at the purchased store or tax-free counter.


*Here are the list of licensed tax-exemption store >>> [Here]


4) Items which is eligible for tax refunds such like ,

(a) Consumable items ( foods, drinks, cosmetics,cigarettes and medicine & etc ) with total purchase amount more than 5,001 yen and less than 500,000 yen (excluding tax)

(b) General Items ( clothes, household electronic products, accessories & etc ) with total purchase amount more than 5001 yen (excluding tax) (update 2016/07/05)

*Note: Tax-free service is not applicable to the total amount of both (a) & (b) items mentioned above.


2015-10-16 (1)
tax free cashier counter at electronic store


For Tax free items


***For shops that offer TAX free such as some drug store, boutique and electronic stores, you don’t need to pay the full amount with VAT. Just go to tax free cashier and pay the amount with VAT deducted.

Be sure to bring your passport. Shop assistants will need it to check your information (receipt will be stapled to your passport).


Tax refund

If you go to shopping mall or department store, you will need to pay the full amount for that products with VAT then collect the receive and apply for tax refund at the counter.

Detailed explanation below;

Japan Shopping Mall’s Tax Refund Counter


What are the procedure to get back your VAT refund; 

Step 1) Pay the full amount (Including GST) of your tax-exempted eligible item.

Step 2) Make sure you have all these following items with you before heading to the Tax refund service counter / foreign costumer service counter / costumer service counter. [It varies from shops / stores.]

(a) Your purchased items

(b) Your Passport

(c) Receipts of purchased items (handwritten receipt are not acceptable)

Step 3) Present the above 3 necessary items and sign a document stating your purchase.

*Note: apart from the above mentioned items, please bring your credit card if you used it for purchase.

Step 4) Receive your tax refund back in cash! 

Some IMPORTANT things that you should take note of:

  1. Tax refunds services can’t be done in any airport of Japan.
  2. You have to do it once you bought the items (on the same day of items purchased).
  3. You have to bring your passport with eligible visa status.
  4. The tax refunded items must be kept in the specified bag and are not allowed to open until you leave Japan. This is to proved that you are using these products in your home country. If failed to do so, once you being check by the custom officers in the immigration counter, you might be asked to pay the GSTs.
  5. Online purchase are NOT ENTITLE  for tax refunds.


Comments from blogger,


The procedures of getting back your taxes in Japan is slightly different from other countries. But thinking of the low exchanging rates and the the extra 6% discounts ( Such as you pay with Union Card – China, Master / Visa Cards *With terms and condition apply), it is actually quite value for money.

Therefore dear foreign shoppers in Japan, please at least have a main ideal of how does the tax refund works in Japan. And I can assure you that you will have a wonderful time shopping and scooping around for nice, value for money quality branded stuffs in the SHOPPING PARADISE !

By the way some of the convenience stores in Japan are also fax-free for items suitable for souvenirs such as cosmetics and sweets 🙂

I hope you enjoy and shop smartly in Japan!


Disclaimer : The information above is based on personal experience and thoughts, please forgive if there’s any wrong information.

Information credits to : Japan. Tax-free Shopping Guide

For optional tour reservation and inquiry, please contact or visit one of our Tourist information center in Tokyo.

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5 thoughts on “MUST READ! Get VAT refund in Japan

  1. I totally is confused now about 5,000 yen no more then 50000 yen and why must it take. Out of the country in 30 day why and how do I tax refund in Japan in a small store after shopping


    1. I think explanation is quite clear… but let me elaborate, meaning if you buy less than 5000 yen you will not get any tax refund/tax free. When you buy from small shop for 100-200 yen, you can’t get a refund.
      If you plan to use it in Japan (do not bring it outside of Japan within 30 days) you can’t get tax refund. Same rule applied with any tax refund in any country.


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