International Freight Forwarder and Customs Broker Based in China

🥇Shipping from China to Japan | Air & Sea freight [2022]

What is the best way to ship goods from China to Japan ?

Because China and Japan are the biggest economies in Asia, trade flows between the two countries have become very important. As a freight forwarder in China, a big part of our clientele is composed of Japanese importers. Basing ourselves on our decade of experience between the two countries, we observed that the same questions are regularly asked to us, on the customs clearance procedures, the most appropriate freight method… We decided it will be a great solution to build a dedicated article on the topic. No matter of the quantity, the category and the volume of the products you want to transfer, this article will probably answer most of the questions you’re asking yourself. Without regarding your experience in trades between the two countries, you will surely find new information helping you to start your import process or put it on the next level. We also putted several links and interesting advises that will help you avoid mistakes.


ou can directly reach us, if you want to start your trade process asap. Our sea and air freight services from China to Japan enables us to transfer a full container (FCL) or less than a container (LCL), for normal, hazardous or perishable products. You’ve never been much closer from your Chinese supplier with SINO Shipping.

In a first part we will talk about the two freight methods linking China to Japan, sea and air freight. After, we’ll move on the customs clearing process and the trade relationsbetween the two Asian giants.



Can I be exempted of duties and taxes for an import from China to Japan ?

As there isn’t any Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between both countries, and that the China-Korea-Japan FTA is still under negotiations, it is almost impossible for you to benefit of a duties and taxes exemption. This is resulting in important paperwork and further customs clearing steps. Our great experience with customs in Asia is enabling us to take the process fully in charge, if you’re asking us, to ensure a quick clearance of your goods.

Necessary documents

Import permit in Japan

The whole clearance process is starting when your goods are entering the territory of Japan. You will be sent an import permit, that you should complete. Then you will present yourself to the Director-General of Customs, with the import permit joined in the import declaration file. The import declaration must detail the precise value and quantity of the items you’re importing. It must be issued to the corresponding customs desk, while your goods are already held in the customs warehouse. Also, the import declaration must be provided in 3 copies.

The Certificate of Origin (CO)

As you imagined, the CO is the official document certifying of the origin of your goods. It is witnessing that your shipment is composed of goods produced in a particular area of China. A notary public or a government must issue this document to make it valid.

The Bill of Lading (BL) or Airway Bill

After the Certificate of Origin, the Bill of Lading is the second most important document for your goods’ clearance. The CO is providing necessary details about your goods, while the BL is giving information about the cargo. It is also testifying of the payment process between the importer or freight forwarder to the carrier. A Letter of Credit (LC) will be issued after. The Airway Bill and the Bill of Lading are basically the same documents, but one is issued for an Air freight and the other for an Ocean Freight.

This example is detailing you what information a BL is providing:

1 = Shipper
2 = Consignee
3 = Notify party
4 = Vessel No.
5 = Port of loading / discharge
6 = Place of receipt / delivery
7 = Containers No.
8 = Goods description
9 = Net weight
10 = Dimensions / volume

Other documents

  • The Licenses, Certificates… (if any)
  • The customs duty payment slips
  • The Insurance certificate (if any)
  • The commercial invoice
  • The packing lists

Duties and taxes in Japan

Like most of the countries in the world, Japan is working with the Harmonized System (HS) of tariff nomenclature to classify traded goods. It is a combination of words and numbers used worldwide as a standardization scheme. All the products, no matter of their type are identified with a HS code.

The picture below is explaining the logic construction and the information contained behind a HS code number

SINO Info: The first step that you must accomplish, is to determine the corresponding HS code of your product, if it isn’t done already. You can find it using this valuable website: Find HS code.

You have the necessary information now to see what tariff barriers are applicable to your goods. Go to the website of the Tariff finder of the Japanese customsto know it.

You will normally find this result for pineapple :


You will normally find this result for pineapple :!

Customs contact in China

Official name: General Administration of Customs of China

Official Website: Chinese Customs Website

Customs contact in Japan

Official name: Japan Customs

Official Website: Japanese Customs website

Customs process

When your products have arrived into the Japanese territory, the shipping company will notify you. If your importing goods for commercial purpose, your shipment will be designated as a “general cargo”. As soon as you receive the news, you should complete electronically and send the file containing all the documents quoted above to the corresponding customs office. Customs will use it as a base to clear your goods.

Here is below the custom clearance scheme in Japan:



Trade relations between China and Japan

A long time common history, with recent years of cooperation.

Historically, China and Japan have been more rivals or enemies than partners through times. But in a new era of cooperation, both countries are showing efforts to get rid of their common past and establish cordial diplomatic and economic bonds. Although there is still disputes about the claimed property of several territories, the two countries multiplied the meetings and negotiations to implement a Free Trade Agreement.

Recent statistics are showing that Japan is the second biggest trading partners of China, in both import and export, after South Korea. In 2016, 6 % of the goods and products exported from China were destined to the Japanese market. In value it represented a total transfer of 130 billion of USD. In the other way, China is the first import partner and the second export partner of Japan. During the same year 18 % of the products exported from Japan reached the Chinese market, representing 114 billion of USD in value.

This great numbers will only keep rising, if the China-Korea-Japan FTA is finally established in the next years.

To resume, despite a difficult common past, both countries are moving forward to better economical and political cooperation in the future. Even if a trade agreement is in negotiation between both parties for more than 15 years now, there is great chances for its establishment before 2020. Although no shared trade policy is existing between the two countries, huge flows of goods and investments are going from one to another. It will take the needed time, but both countries are on the way to be partners, due to their closeness and common challenges and interests. All this is explaining why trading between the countries will be gainful for you, in spite of some difficulties in the beginning.

Our expertise and our great network between the two countries can help you avoid mistakes in the beginning of your process. For further details about prices, timing, customs, or any other topic, contact one of our dedicated staff member!


Prohibited & restricted items

Remark SINO : If you have one of the following item, you should check directly with our SINO Experts. Some of those items are restricted or even totally prohibited, it is important to anticipate such shipment to avoid any problem.

Drug Contraband
Counterfeit Notes

SINO Shipping - Dedicated freight forwarder in China

Due to our attractive pricing & dedication, many customers trust our services and we thanks them. Stop to overpay the services and save money with our tailored package matching will all type of shipment, from small volume to full container, let us find the best and cost-effective option.



Ocean freight will be the best deal for you if :

  • Your suppliers are located near a major Chinese port
  • Your goods are bigger than 2 CBM
  • You’re not in a hurry to receive them

To find the perfect solution to transfer your goods via ocean, please contact one of our SINO Sea Experts. Fill our online form in 1 min and get an answer within 48H !

Remark SINO : Ocean freight between China and Japan is the most common transport method. If you’re interested to know more about sea freight from China, visit our dedicated article on the topic: Sea Freight China.

Japan is one of the largest world archipelagos, composed of more than 7,000 Islands. It is located in north east Asia, in front of Russia on the north, Korea on its centre, China and Taiwan at its southern extremity. The biggest area of Japan is composed by 4 Islands from south to north, Kyushu, Shikoku, Honshu and Hokkaido. A long and thin archipelago called Okinawa/Ryukyu prefecture is representing the country on its extreme south. The majority of the Japanese population, and the biggest cities and metropolis are on the Honshu Island. It is also where the biggest ports of the country are.

Thanks to a tradition of water navigation, and an obligation to find natural resources out of its own territory, vessels and ports infrastructures have always been something well developed in Japan. Nowadays, the country is the third maritime power in the world, slightly beaten by its Chinese and Korean neighbours. The busiest ports in Japan are Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Kobe and Osaka. Tokyo and Yokohama are welcoming a huge part of the imports in Japan, while Osaka is more focused on the exports. Tokyo Bay is the main port structure of the country which aligns 4 ports, Kisarazu, Yokohama, Chiba, Kawasaki and Tokyo. Terminals dedicated to the management of oil and chemical products are present in Chiba. Tokyo and Yokohama are the busiest container ports, far above the others.

*This is why in 2017, the volume of foreign freight by ocean was of 1,056 million tons, one of the biggest in the world.

SINO Note : Our great presence in all the Chinese major ports enables us to provide you a complete range of sea freight possibilities to the international ports of Japan. Thanks to our numerous collaborators, we can plan on your demand Full Container Load (FCL), or Less Container Load (LCL) cargos for 20’, 40’ and 40’ HQ containers. We can provide reefer container, bulk cargo or roro transfer if your goods must be carried under monitored environment.

Major ports of Iran

Tokyo Yokohama Osaka Kobe Nagoya
Guangzhou Shenzhen Hong Kong 10 days 7 days 7 days 8 days
Ningbo Shanghai 6 days

Sea freight rates

*As the two countries are particularly narrow, sea freight will almost be your all-time best option.

To be clear, ocean freight is well appreciated by international traders because you can transfer great shipments, for a very low cost. You will surely choose it if you’re planning regular cargo through times with large volume of products.

SINO Advice :  Contact one of our SINO Shipping Specialists to have precise transit times and rates for your maritime freight between China and Japan. Based on what you’re asking us in terms of services, your shipment cost will be calculated individually to stick the most to your demand!



Air freight will be the most efficient solution if :

  • Your goods are smaller than 2 CBM and 200 kg
  • You’re in a hurry to receive/send the good

Remark SINO : Air freight is not the most common freight method but has one main advantage: Transit times.

China and Japan are well connected by air. China Cargo Airlines is providing direct flight to the Airports of Tokyo Narita and Osaka Kansai, from numerous Chinese cities. China Southern Airlines is also linking directly Japan to China. On the other side Nippon Airway and Nippon Cargo Airlines are deserving Chinese cities like Shanghai and Guangzhou. 

Airports in Japan are well-developed and effective, even if they aren’t numerous. There are only 6 international airports for the whole country of Japan, and five of them are situated in the Island of Honshu. They are serving as intermediaries between the other 45 airports of the country. All the international goods and passengers are passing by these 6 airports before landing to their final destination in Japan. Here are the cities owning an international airport:

  • Tokyo; Narita and Haneda
  • Chubu
  • Osaka; Kansai and Osaka
  • Nagasaki

Air freight transit times

6 hours door-to-door are necessary for a plane to reach Japan from China. You will receive your products within 3 days, with an express freight (courier), while with a regular air freight they will be transferred in less than 8 days.

Remark SINO : It is hard to estimate as it mainly depends of the budget: a direct flight available within a day is possible, but will probably be more expensive. In average, you can expect 5/8 days (export/import process included)

Air freight rates

*Two methods must be employed to find out the chargeable weight of your shipment

You must calculate the chargeable weight with the two methods, but the highest value should remain. It is the one that will serve to charge you.

SINO Plus :  After great negotiations with international cargo airlines, we built a great partnership agreement aiming to provide you quality air freight services at interesting prices. Regular air freight, courier freight (express), office delivery or delivery at the airport terminal… Possibilities are huge with SINO Shipping.


* Your products will be differently charged for express services. The volumetric weight ratio will be 200 kgs = 1 CBM

SINO Plus : It explains our choice to quote each of your request on case by case way! The transparency is total, as well as the respect of your budget.

Inland trucking in Japan

*As your office or residence isn’t located near a major port or airport, you may ask for a trucking solution to deliver your items. 

SINO Shipping is honoured to provide great trucking services in the most of the Japanese territory. On your demand, your goods will be delivered everywhere you are. All the airports and ports where we are in Japan, have a trucking hub to keep your shipment flowing.

Freight insurance

There is always a part of risk involved in a cargo. A ship accident, a theft or a storm are occurrences that should never be neglected. SINO Shipping teamed up with the greatest freight insurers in the market to cover your goods in any circumstances. With your subscription, your cargo will be refunded in case of any damage on your goods. It will only cost 1-3%, depending on your goods’ category, of the transport + shipment value.

A missing of supplies can be fateful for most of the businesses. Avoid this situation by providing further security on your products with our insurance policy.

SINO Info : For further information on the topic, we wrote a dedicated article detailing the different freight insurances and their benefits: Freight Insurance.

Recurrent questions regarding the shipping from China to Japan

LCL: 60 USD /cbm FCL: 200 USD /20’: 300 /40’ Express shipping door to door (10kg): 330 USD
Average transit time by sea: 7 days Average transit time by airfreight: 8 days (daily direct flight) Express shipping door to door (10kg): 3 day
There are only 2 options, by sea or air, it depends on how big the volume and the weight are, and then you will decide which shipping methods is more adequate. You must calculate the ration time/cost
As there isn’t any Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between both countries, and that the China-Korea-Japan FTA is still under negotiations, it is almost impossible for you to benefit of a duties and taxes exemption. This is resulting in important paperwork and further customs clearing steps. Our great experience with customs in Asia is enabling us to take the process fully in charge, if you’re asking us, to ensure a quick clearance of your goods.
No, they don’t immediately open your package without any reason. … They will only instantly check what’s inside of your package if: Your package has been damaged when it reached the Customs office or desk. The damages can include broken seals or plastic or any cover of your package.
-Negotiate with multiple carriers -Get suppliers to use your shipping account number -Use packaging provided by your carrier -Consider a regional carrier -Use online shipping -Invest in prepaid shipping -Buy insurance from a third party -Factor in all shipping fees before billing customers -Consider hybrid services -Ask about association discounts
-Negotiate with multiple carriers -Get suppliers to use your shipping account number -Use packaging provided by your carrier -Consider a regional carrier -Use online shipping -Invest in prepaid shipping -Buy insurance from a third party -Factor in all shipping fees before billing customers -Consider hybrid services -Ask about association discounts

Interested in our logistics services? Need further assistance & dedicated information?

Our SINO experts answer within 48h !