Moving from Japan

Some quotations I gathered are here and tips about money transfer are here.

Only a few of us are lucky enough to have a permanent position here in Japan. For the others one day will come where they will have to think how to move to another country. How much does it cost to move from Japan to another country? Here are a few answers...

The question is often sent on the TAIRA mailing list (or on other mailing lists): what is the cheapest way to send your belongings to another country? There is no universal answer, but one things is sure: it is not cheap!

The two most common solutions are shipping by plane and shipping by boat. When you ship by plane billing is proportional to the weight of your shipment whereas if you ship by boat it will be proportional to the volume (with a minimum of 1 cubic meter = 35 cubic feet). Thus if your shipment is much less than 1 cubic meter, the plane will be the cheapest option, else it will probably be much more expensive than the boat. If speed matters, you must know that shipment by plane usually take a few days whereas a shipment by boat will take a few weeks to reach its destination.

Another important parameter to consider is that there is no airport nor harbour in Tsukuba and that might be the same in your destination city. Thus you will have either to bring your shipment to the airport (or harbour) or to pay for its transportation which can add several tens of thousand yen to the bill.

Finally, billing systems differ from one company to the other: some will measure the volume of your shipment in cubic meters whereas some will measure it in 0.1 cubic meters. For the same rates, this can make 50 000 yen difference.

So to be sure to get the best deal, do not hesitate to ask for an evaluation of the cost of your shipment before deciding which one best fits your needs (but with some companies such estimates are not easy to get and not speaking japanese can be a limitation here). To help compare quickly different solution, I have gathered a few evaluations of shipment cost at if you have heard of other deals, please let me know.

To ship by plane one of the cheapest deals I have found is Japan Luggage Express (Bilingual customer service: 0120-48-0081) which charges ~700yen/kg for Europe & Australia and 900 yen/kg to the States. By boat Economove seems to be cheaper with deals around 70 000 yen for 1 cubic meter shipped from Japan to Europe.

To these fee you will have to add the cost of custom clearance (proportional to the value of your belongings; note that if you return to your home country these fee may be partly waived if you have the appropriate documentation provided by your consulate) and insurance (also proportional to the value shipped)...

If you have money left after paying for your shipment, you will need to transfer it abroad. Here are a few advices.


Last modified: Mon Aug 23 23:05:49 JST 2004 Page made by Nicolas Delerue