The Japan Departure Tax

Image result for kinkakuji
Image of Kinkakuji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion taken from japan Guide

While catching up with some travel news for 2019, I came across an article detailing Japan’s new departure tax. This really surprised me and is something I thought was interesting since I wondered why Japan’s airfare prices have been more expensive than usual lately.

What is This Tax?

Enacted last week, if you are leaving Japan by aircraft or ship you will have to pay a 1,000 Yen tax per person. This is charged on top of any tickets, hotels or other travel fees. Even Japanese citizens are not exempt from this. 1,000 may sound like a lot, but it’s about $9.50 US Dollars. There are about 107 to 110 Yen to the US dollar right now. It can add up quickly, though.

What if you are traveling through Japan as a stopover or traveling with kids? From what I’ve been able to research, if you will be staying in Japan for 24 hours or less or are traveling with kids under the age of 2, you will be exempt. The 24 hour clock begins at your first point of entry into Japan. If you have tickets that were purchased and issued before January 7th, you’re exempt.

Why is Japan Charging This Tax?

The official answer is to expedite the customs and immigration technology used at airports, for better multi lingual signs in public transit areas and for more free wifi on public transit. Japan is set to host the 2020 Olympic Games and has been pouring billions or Yen into tourism and improvement projects focused mainly in Tokyo.

Being able to host the Olympic Games is one of the most costly expenditures out there. Several cities in the past have been also bankrupted by them (ie: Sochi, Athens, Rio de Janeiro, Pyeongchang). According to the Japan Times, this tax will give Japan about 50 billion Yen in additional revenue this year.

Wrapping Up

This tax is one most people won’t even think about when they are purchasing their airline tickets or cruise packages. It is something I think is a good way to capitalize on the amount of tourists Japan is expecting in the next year or two in the lead up to the 2020 Olympics. So the next time you’re wondering why the taxes on your airline ticket seem higher, this is just one of the reasons. On a side note, I haven’t written enough about Japan lately; one of my 2019 goals will be to change that and write more about Tokyo, Kyoto and many other destinations. What would you like to see Happy travels.