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Ultimate Guide to Japanese Post Office

By Shiho Motomiya | July 25, 2022 

Sending packages from other countries can be difficult, especially if there is a language barrier between you and the staff. Especially when it is your first time to send packages. You may not know how to write address on a Japanese format and how to pay for your packages. To make your visit smooth, here are some guides for you to make your experience in a Japanese post office easier.

This article is part of our extensive series on living in Japan and online Japanese lessons.

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    Japanese Post Office Logo

    How to Send Packages at a Japanese Post Office

    It can be complicated to send packages at a Japanese post office, especially with the language barrier, but once you get used to it, it will not take a lot of time. There are a lot of choices you can use to send packages. 

    For sending international packages, you have 5 choices to ship the packages.

    Shipping Options Japanese Post Office Offer

    Shipping Options

     

    EMS

    EMS is the fastest option you can get to send international packages and is the top priority among the others. It usually takes 2 - 4 days to deliver.

    Airmail

    Airmail is the second fastest option on the list, the post office will be using planes to deliver them faster but the fees are relatively high. It approximately take 3 - 6 days

    Surface Air Lifted (SAL) (Economy Air)

    SAL is cheaper than Airmail but is faster to arrive than the Seamail option. There are only a few nations and areas where it is accessible. It will take approximately 6 - 13 days, but it may take longer because of the destination's handling system.

    Sea Mail

    The Sea Mail option is the cheapest option you can have but the delivery takes a month to 3 months.

    UGX (ゆうグローバルエクスプレス)

    This option does what EMS cannot do. They deliver oversize packages. The payment method for this is also different from others. 

    How to Write Addresses in English

    The order on how to write addresses are somewhat different in other countries, this is how you should write the addresses in the label for your packages. 

    1. Sender’s documents
      1. Name
      2. House / room number and street name
      3. District/town/city and prefecture
      4. Postal Code 
      5. Phone number or FAX number

    Example:
    John Switch
    1-2-1 Azabudai
    Minato-ku Tokyo
    111-1111 Japan
    08012345678

    1. Recipient’s documents
      1. Name
      2. House / room number and street name
      3. City 
      4. Country 
      5. Postal code
      6. Telephone number / FAX number

    Example:
    Sarah Switch
    111 Clawson Street APT. 2
    Staten Island, New York USA
    11111
    (800) 123 3456

    Online Labels

    It is important to remember how to write an address in a Japanese format. However, Japanese post offices don’t accept handwritten labels when sending packages, they have announced that in order to make labels, the customers will need to do it online on their website or download their app.

    Here are the steps on how to make the labels:

    1. Go to their website or download their app.
    2. Make an account (this will make your next sending process easier).
    3. Put your information (name, address, phone number).
    4. Put the recipient’s information (name, country, address, phone number).
    5. Put the shipping type and shipping option. 
    6. For parcels you will need to register the contents of the box (unit value, quantity, and total value).
    7. Fill in the shipping information
    8. After filling all the information needed, they will send you a QR code via email.
    9. Print the QR code on their designated printer or go to the information window and ask them to print.

    After printing the QR code, you just need to pay for the fee and you’re good to go! 

    As you already have an account on the post office’s website or app, you can save your address and the recipient’s address for next time. You are allowed to save multiple addresses.

    Japanese Post Office Parcel

    How much does it cost to send…

    Prices for sending packages change upon the continent, and the weight of the packages.

    Letters

     Letters Sending Fees

    Continent

    Shipping option

    Weight

    Price

    Asia 

    Airmail

    25g~

    ¥90~

    SAL

    20g~

    ¥70~

    Seamail

    100g~

    ¥90~

    Oceania, Central America, Near East, Europe

    Airmail

    25g~

    ¥110~ 

    SAL

    20g~

    ¥75~

    Seamail

    25g~

    ¥110~ 

    South America, Africa

    Airmail

    25g~

    ¥130~ 

    SAL

    20g~

    ¥80~

    Seamail

    20g~

    ¥90~

    USA

    Airmail

    25g~

    ¥110~ 

    SAL

    20g~

    ¥75~

    Seamail

    20g~

    ¥90~

    International Parcels

    International Parcel Sending Fees 

    Continent

    Shipping option

    Weight

    Price

    China, Korea, Taiwan 

    Airmail

    1kg~

    ¥2,050~

    SAL

    1kg~

    ¥1,900~

    Seamail

    1kg~

    ¥1,800~

    Asia (excluding China, Korea, Taiwan)

    Airmail

    1kg~

    ¥2,500~ 

    SAL

    1kg~

    ¥2,300~

    Seamail

    1kg~

    ¥2,100~ 

    Oceania, North America (excluding USA), Near East, Europe

    Airmail

    1kg~

    ¥3,850~ 

    SAL

    1kg~

    ¥2,800~

    Seamail

    1kg~

    ¥2,500~

    USA

    Airmail

    1kg~

    ¥4,200~ 

    SAL

    1kg~

    ¥2,900~ 

    Seamail

    1kg~

    ¥2.600~ 

    Latin America (excluding Mexico), Africa

    Airmail

    1kg~

    ¥4,550~

    SAL

    1kg~

    ¥3,500~

    Seamail

    1kg~

    ¥2,700~

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    EMS

     EMS Sending Fees

    Continent

    Weight

    Prices

    China, Korea, Taiwan

    500g~

    ¥1,450~

    Asia (excluding China, Korea, Taiwan)

    500g~

    ¥1,900~

    Oceania, Canada, Mexico, Near East, Europe 

    500g~

    ¥3,150~

    USA

    500g~

    ¥3,900~

    Latin America (excluding Mexico), Africa

    500g~

    ¥3,600~

    UGX

    UGX Sending Fees

    Continent

    Weight

    Prices

    East Asia

    500g~

    ¥4,600~

    South East Asia

    500g~

    ¥5,100~

    West Asia

    500g~

    ¥5,200~

    Oceania

    500g~

    ¥6,800~

    Europe 1*

    500g~

    ¥7,000~

    Europe 2*

    500g~

    ¥7,700~

    North America

    500g~

    ¥6,900~


    1* Ireland, Italy, United Kingdom, Austria, Netherlands, Greece, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Finland, France, Belgium, Portugal and Luxembourg

    2* Estonia, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Russia


    Planning on sending Japanese gifts for your loved ones? Jump to our Ultimate Guide to Japanese Omiyage

    Air vs sea in a Japanese Post Office

    Air vs Sea shipping from a Japanese Post Office

    One thing we probably know about the difference in shipping by air and by sea is the time of delivery. Of course, shipping by air will make the packages more quicker to deliver than seamail.  And the prices of these shipping options are also vastly different. However, there are some items that cannot be sent by air, such as batteries and liquids, but can be sent by sea. Since customers tend to avoid such items, just having sea mail as an option will broaden your product selection. For items that have a large actual weight compared to their volume, it is better to send them by sea, as sending them by air can be quite expensive. When using sea shipping it is important to remember to use cardboard boxes that are thicker than normal for packing packages. This is because thin cardboard can have holes during the long transportation period.

    Important Phrases at a Japanese Post Office

    Things you will say

    This sentence is very important to remember when you want to send a package, the type of packages will be listed below.

    If you want to ask how much the cost of your transaction;

    How much is it?
    いくらですか?
    Ikura desuka?

    If you want to ask how long it will take;

    How long will it take?
    どのくらいかかりますか?
    Dono kurai kakarimasuka?

    If you want to tell them what are inside your packages;

    The package contains…
    パッケージの中身は…
    Pakke–ji no nakami wa…

    If you want to know the payment options;

    Can I pay by card?
    カードでのお支払いは可能ですか?
    Ka–do de no oshiharai wa kanou desuka?

    How do I pay?
    支払いはどうすればいいですか?
    Oshiharai wa dousureba iidesuka?

    Things the staff will say

    I have introduced you to what you can potentially say to the staff who takes charge of your sending matters above, here are some question that may be likely asked to you by the staff:

    What are you sending?
    何を送りますか?
    Nani wo okurimasuka?

    Where are you sending it to? 
    どこに送りますか?
    Doko ni okurimasuka?

    Would you like to send it by sea or air? 
    船便か航空便で送りますか?
    Funabin ka kuukoubinn de okurimasuka?

    Please pay X amount.
    X円を支払ってください。
    X yen wo shiharatte kudasai.

    Are you sending any of these (prohibited) items?
    これらの(禁止)品物を送りますか?
    Korekano (kinshi) shinamono wo okuraimasuka?

      

     

     

     

     

    Post Office Vocabulary worth remembering

    Here are some Japanese Vocabulary for your post office visit.

    Kanji

    Hiragana/Katakana

    Romaji

    Meaning

    小包

    こずつみ

    kozutsumi

    Parcel or Package

    手紙

    てがみ

    tegami

    Letter 

    国際小包

    こくさいこずつみ

    kokusai kozutsumi

    International Parcel

    葉書

    はがき

    hagaki

    Post Card

    ラベル

    ラベル

    raberu

    Label 

    お支払い

    おしはらい

    oshiharai

    Payment

    国際スピード郵便

    こくさいスピードゆうびん

    kokusai supi–do yuubin

    EMS

    航空便

    こうくうびん

    koukuuyubin

    Airmail

    船便

    ふなびん

    funabin

    Seamail

    エコノミー航空

    エコノミーこうくう

    Ekonomi– koukuu

    SAL

    切手

    きって

    kitte

    stamp

    If you want to learn more easy Japanese for when running some errands, read our Ultimate Guide to Easy Japanese


    List of things you ABSOLUTELY cannot send through the Japanese Post Office

    Lists of things you cannot send via EMS throughout the world

    • Spray Cans
    • Perfumes
    • Fireworks / Firecrackers
    • Sun Block
    • Nail Polish
    • Items that contains over 24% of alcohol
    • Electronic Cigarettes 
    • Power Banks / Portable Battery Charger

    Lists of things you cannot send

    Depending on the destination country:

    • Liquor 
    • Tobacco 
    • Meat

    In cases where countries prohibits meat;

    • Instant cup noodles
    • Curry
    • Instant consomme etc…

    UGX

    UGX prohibits these items:

    • Gold, silver, white gold, other precious metals, precious stones including diamonds and semiprecious stones, currency of all countries (banknotes and coins), various jewelry goods, other valuables
    • Marketable securities
    • Correspondence and communicative means defined as correspondence under current law
    • Living animals
    • Body remains, memorial tablets and ashes
    • Items that can easily transubstantiate or decay
    • Small firearms' explosives and firearms
    • Explosive substances
    • Compressed gas
    • Inflammable liquids and solids, combustible solids
    • Photoflash lamp
    • Magnetic substances
    • Mercury
    • Acids and other putrefactive substances, bases and acids
    • Oxidants
    • Poison
    • Radioactive materials
    • Vaporizing materials

    Other items deemed inapplicable by their company (including the items below):

    • Credit and cash cards
    • Passport
    • Examination admission slips
    • Bills of loading
    • Animal products
    • Plants (including herbal products)
    • Pharmacological materials, medicinal drugs, medical samples (i.e. diagnostic samples, blood, tissue samples)
    • Guns, weapons, swords, ammunition and their parts
    • Liquids
    • Antiquities, art objects and artifacts
    • Collectibles and rarities
    • Industrial diamonds

    It is easy to say that you do not have these items on your packages, but after taking your packages, they will be checking them on X-rays before sending them to their destinations. If your package happens to have items that are prohibited, you will be notified and it will be shipped to your nearest post office for you to take. Make sure to double check your package and the lists of the prohibited items in your recipient’s country when sending international packages.

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    Payment Methods

    Here is the list of payment methods you can use in a Japanese post office.

    • Credit / Debit / Prepaid Cards
      • They accept JCB, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club International, and UnionPay
    • Electronic Money
      • They accept iD, WAON, and QuicPay
      • They also accept transportation cards people normally use, PASMO, Suica, Kitaca, Toica, etc. 
    • Smartphone Payment
      • They accept Yuucho pay, PayPay, au pay, dharai, rakuten pay, line pay, etc. 
    • UGX 
      • UGX payment is different from other shipping options, when you deliver using UGX the post office will be sending you an invoice including your full shipping fees and handling charges the following month.

    If you are planning to open a bank account in Japan, check out our Ultimate Guide to Banking in Japan

    Courier

    Courier services vs Japanese Post Office

    Japanese Post Offices have lots of rivals in their services. These are some popular rival companies of the Japanese Post Office.

    Yamato Transport

    The Yamato Group has developed innovations to meet the needs of the times, such as the first regular-route logistics shipping company in Japan and the creation of the TA-Q-BIN, which started as a method for sending individual-to-individual parcels before expanding to support backorders, mail orders, and business-to-business parcels. You can send parcels via phone and online with English support or going to the sales office directly but they only offer Japanese support. They have full English support for their international customers. You can also visit their website in English, Japanese, and Chinese. 

    Yamato Transport also offers sending packages abroad, they offer door to door service to more than 200 countries and regions. Their rates also differ depending on the destination and the size of the parcel. They have 2 methods when sending the package, it’s either they pick the package at your place or you can go to your nearest Yamato Transport Sales Office. Unlike the Post Office, you will need to write the label for the package. However, there are some countries where Yamato transport cannot deliver personal parcels.

    Countries where personal parcels are not available. 

    Continent 

    Countries 

    Asia

    China, Philippines, Mongolia, India

    North / Central America

    Canada, Mexico

    South America 

    Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Venezuela

    Europe

    Portugal, Russia

    Middle East

    Qatar, Saudi Arabia 

    Sagawa Express

    Sagawa Express is the central firm of SG Holdings Group. Sagawa Express seeks to provide comprehensive solutions in partnership with each group firm, in addition to enhancing and expanding delivery operations. They offer tons of services including large size express delivery, global express delivery, air express delivery and other more services. Visit Sagawa’s website in English and Japanese. 

    Just like Japan Post Office and Yamato Transport, Sagawa Express also offers international delivery. They offer door to door delivery services to over 220 countries and regions. The rate also varies by the destination, weight and dimension of the package. They will send a monthly invoice for the payment of the package. Labels are also important to write when sending international packages. After all your parcels and labels are prepared, you need to call for pickup as they do not offer going to their sales office. 

    PO boxes

    PO Box in Japanese Post Office

    PO boxes in Japan Post Office are free. All you need to do to open a PO box is to go to your local post office and register for your PO box. However, the Japanese Post office often rents the PO boxes to big companies only, so you will need to submit a usage request form and they will check the availability if you ever get accepted to use the PO box. 

    There are several conditions regarding the use of this service. The main conditions are:

    • People who receive mail and other deliveries approximately every day.
    • They need to use the P.O. Box for more than 6 months.
    • They need to be able to collect mail and other items on time.

    As the terms of the Japanese Post Office can be difficult there are other alternatives in order to acquire a PO box in Japan. 

    3 PO box companies you can use: 

    • SRS 
      • They are a PO box company that anyone can use. You can register via online, fax, sending mail, or going directly to their retail store.
      • They have 4 stores (Namba, Nagoya, Akasaka, and Shinjuku)
    • MT PO Box
      • They are a PO box company that lets their clients use nicknames for their packages to receive. They advertise safety from stalkers. You can also register via online, fax, sending mail, or going directly to their retail store.
      • They are located in Shinjuku. 
    • PostCast
      • It is a service in which they receive your deliveries on your behalf and forward them to the address you specify or store them at their center.
      • You can register via online and choose their payment option of credit cards or bank transfer payment. 

    Final Thoughts

    There are many and easy ways you can send a package for your family outside of Japan. However, it gets very difficult to process it when there is a language barrier. It is important to be prepared on how to do it, especially when you are planning on settling down in Japan. Hopefully, this article has all the information you need to know when visiting the post office. Now, try visiting the supermarket to get another experience in a Japanese lifestyle!

    Visiting a Japanese supermarket for the first time? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Shopping in a Japanese Supermarket.

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