Leaving Japan

August 2009

I'm leaving Japan soon and I have a lot of things I would like to take with me back home. Do you have any advice or suggestions about shipping options and companies?

Taking stuff with you is always expensive, so my first advice would be to take a hard look at the things you have accumulated while in Japan and ask yourself if you really need to take it with you. Take only what you absolutely can't bear to leave behind and sell or give away the rest.

When you have decided what to send you basically have three options; take it with you as excess luggage on the plane, sending by post office or use shipping companies. Which is most economical depends of course on the size and weight and also of the contents as well as where you are going.

Taking it with you on the plane may be the best way sometimes. The airlines have information about excess luggage on their WebPages, please have a look.

Using the post office, surface mail is the cheapest but will take longer to arrive. The maximum weight is 30kg but some countries only accept 20kg parcels so be sure to check before packing. There is also a limit on the size of the parcel.
Please have a look at the Japan Post Service useful webpage for details.

Also notice the cheaper option for books and printed matter. Such parcels are checked at the post office so don't seal it beforehand. Also be careful about which post office you go to since some small offices don't know how to handle international parcels and it will save you time (and frustration) to directly go to the main post office in your city.

After all that throwing away, you still have a lot of heavy/bulky things, your best option is probably shipping. Shipping companies usually have both air and sea freight services and you can often get an estimate for free.
Here is a list of some shipping companies.

Some other things to remember when leaving Japan

Cancel your apartment
If you are living in a rented apartment you should inform the housing agency at least one month prior to the expected moving out date. If you forget to do so, the agency may very well charge you rent for one month even if you move out earlier. Please read the "moving out" section of the Anna Hotline "Finding a Place to Live".
Cancel your National Health Insurance
2 weeks prior to your departure, please go to the city office and inform them the date that you are leaving. They will change the valid period on your card and recalculate the total cost of the health insurance premium. If you have already paid too much they will reimburse you, however it is a bit complicated and takes time, so my advice would be to not pay the latest insurance bill but wait until after the total final cost has been recalculated. (if you need more detailed information about your case, please call JISTEC and we will explain.)
Cancel your bank account, credit card
Closing your bank account is best unless you need to keep it for paying some bills that will come after you have left. There is no penalty to having an account that isn't used so in principle you can just leave your account as it is but having a lot of "sleeping accounts" isn't very good for a bank, so if possible, please close your account before leaving. If you got a Japanese credit card that is paid from your Japanese bank account, you may want to cancel that too.
Pay your bills!!
  • Electricity, water/sewer and gas bills, a convenient way is to request that they come to your apartment on the last day to disconnect the services and settle the last bills in cash.
  • Mobile phones can be cancelled on the spot so please go to the retail shop of your mobile phone company. You have to go in person and be sure to bring your Alien Reg. card and your phone with you.
  • A land line phone or internet services can be cancelled but the bill won't come until later so you may have to ask a colleague or friend to help you.
    Please call NTT English line 0120-364-463 (toll free) Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm for more details.
  • Local taxes

    If you had income in Japan the previous year you are eligible for local taxes. The payment bill will come in June but even if you leave before that it doesn't mean that you don't have to pay! If you were in Japan on January 1st you are required to pay the local taxes that come in June. Unfortunately, you can't pay in advance since the exact amount won't be decided until June. It is your responsibility to go to the local tax office and find out how you can arrange to have your tax paid after you have left Japan.

Remember to give your Alien Registration card to the immigration officer at the airport.