An aircraft is seen getting ready for departure at Narita airport. Photo: REUTERS file
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Japan to start collecting ¥1,000 departure tax from Monday

50 Comments

The Japanese government will begin collecting a departure tax on Monday, under legislation enacted by the Diet last April. All travelers leaving Japan by plane or ship must pay 1,000 yen each. Children under the age of 2 and transit passengers will be exempt.

Revenue collected from the new levy will be allocated to improving infrastructure and services to handle the projected increase in the number of visitors to Japan toward and beyond the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The government expects 40 million tourists will be coming to Japan annually by 2020. The transport ministry estimates the levy will bring in about 6 billion yen between January and March next year, Kyodo reported, with part of the money going toward the installation of facial recognition gates.

© Japan Today/Kyodo

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50 Comments
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Are they applied to the ticket automatically or do we have to literally line up and buy a stupid stamp before boarding like they did 20 years ago!?

18 ( +19 / -1 )

Just wanted to check a few things though...

If your travel was issued before this date, I've heard you are exempt?

Is this rolled into the price of ticketing instead of being manually collected at the airport?
4 ( +5 / -1 )

Honestly I have no problem whatsoever with charging tourists. We live in an unprecedented age of mass tourism. If you have a beautiful country and you've cultivated a uniquely interesting culture which millions of people around the world can't get enough of, why not monetize this for the benefit of all citizens who contribute to making Japan such a popular destination? I think ¥5,000 to 10,000 per person is a fair price and it should go to funding schools, hospitals and other general expenditures rather than just being used for improving tourist infrastructure. In other words, let's have everyone in Japan benefit a little from mass tourism rather than just private enterprises running tourism related businesses who use public infrastructure to make their profits and often create negative externalities for ordinary residents.

Are they applied to the ticket automatically or do we have to literally line up and buy a stupid stamp before boarding like they did 20 years ago!?

It'll be baked into the price of your ticket. The only people actually liable to pay the tax are airlines and cruise ship operators.

Moderator: Please note the tax is not just for tourists.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Great. Japan, a G7 country, now joins other progressive countries such as Bangladesh, Cambodia, Guyana, Tunisia and Sri Lanka in charging tourists a departure tax. Economically, are things really that bad Japan?

13 ( +21 / -8 )

They used to charge $15 departure tax when leaving Vancouver. They have dropped it in recent years though. I wonder why they decided this wasn't necessary anymore.

I also wonder what happens if you refuse to pay it - do they not let you leave?

And finally, why don't they just bake it into ticket prices instead of annoying tourists, and creating a system where they have to figure out how to pay.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Also, do we residents and citizens have to pay?

Moderator: Yes.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The photo caption says the plane is getting ready to depart. I'd have expected to see a tug pushing the plane back from the stand in that case. Maybe the plane is arriving?

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

And finally, why don't they just bake it into ticket prices instead of annoying tourists, and creating a system where they have to figure out how to pay.

Individuals will not have to pay the tax. Only companies transporting passengers are liable to pay on a per passenger basis. Presumably these companies will add it to the cost of the ticket, but they are not obliged to.

Also, do we residents and citizens have to pay?

It'll be levied on every passenger since it's not a tourist tax. The money will be used to improve things like airport infrastructure which even residents and citizen travelers will benefit from.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Sounds easy and cheap to collect, which is good.

With a wife and three kids, I have to pay five times (residents pay too, right?), but so be it. Air travel is a privilege, not a right. It should be taxed more to reflect the fact that planes use tons and tons of untaxed fuel.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Are they applied to the ticket automatically or do we have to literally line up and buy a stupid stamp before boarding like they did 20 years ago!?

I had forgotten about those stamps - that was ridiculous.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Thanks for the info M3*3

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Most western countries charge airport levy including UK. Just ask or check airport departure tax is.

I don't what is the fuss when US charge you $14 for ESTA! Still US airports look shambolic with fire facilities

Obviously the airline companies collect passenger taxes

5 ( +6 / -1 )

@/kohakuebisu

your opinion seems to infer that you believe that the state knows better than you, what to do with your money.

I find that slightly incredulous....

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

Once all the Olympic tickets are sold, ramp it up to ¥2000. They will no choice but to pay.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

¥1000 seems quite low. Australia charges an $AUD60 departure tax ("Passenger Movement Charge") on all passengers leaving the country, about ¥4,500 at the current exchange rate. If the money's to be used for the reasons stated in the article, fair enough.

As someone hoping to visit Japan again this year, I don't have a problem with it. Certainly no deal-breaker.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

The money will be used to improve things like airport infrastructure which even residents and citizen travelers will benefit from.

Were already charged with airport utilization fee for this.

New Tokyo International Airport collects 1980 yen for #3 terminal and a whopping 3050 yen for #1&2 terminals.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

KIX is 2650, I believe, and still sinking into the bay...

4 ( +6 / -2 )

It's 1000 yen. If you're complaining about that, then why are you traveling?

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Limited Airbnb service

I don't see why that's an issue. All Japan has done is require people to register. This is a good thing, because it helps protect visitors to Japan and also discourages people letting out residential properties permanetly via Airbnb, which makes it hard for locals trying to find accommodation themselves.

Sure, there's nothing wrong with people letting out a home for a few weeks a year, but in some places it has got ridiculous where there's no Airbnb regulation.

¥1000 is a lot

It's a fairly trivial sum of money given what part of the world we're talking about.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Big Yen : Sorry but the " Departure Tax " in Oz even if it is called a different name is very high compared to other countries. One thousand yen is a bargain , and the utilization charge just keeps the Terminals better than anywhere else in the world , we have the best system in the world and it's not cheap to run . Oh , and the aircraft is taxying and so the push cart had done it's job at the terminal , that's why it is not in the photo .

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It is a ticket surcharge levied on everyone. I would have an issue only charging tourists.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have no problem charging tourists but residents shouldn't have to pay. True, it's a trivial amt. of money but considering how expensive international airfare is to begin with (at least to North America/Europe) and also that our sales tax goes up every few years now... Ditto hotel taxes--charge international tourists and give the locals, lucky enough to find rooms to begin with, a break.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Revenue collected from the new levy will be allocated to improving infrastructure and services to handle the projected increase in the number of visitors to Japan toward and beyond the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics

I’ll believe this when when I see it. Remember how the first sales tax increase was to pay off the public debt? I’ll bet none of this money gets used to increase access for the handicapped or to create more infrastructure for the pending influx of visitors for the games. It should be used to increase translation services for the visitors. However, it will get shuffled into a coffer somewhere and used for something totally unrelated.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

This is part of a neo-liberal trend to lessen the tax burden on business and shift it to regular people. The tourism-transport industry is receiving the windfall, so make them pay.

Never mind that the corporate-tax cut has lessened those businesses' tax bill already. As pointed out, we pay airport fees and other taxes already. Now we have to fund wealthy corporations.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

The U.K. needs to use their departure tax monies on hiring more staff. I arrived at Heathrow on Dec 21st and had to wait in line for 90 minutes, because by 12am only had 4 customs officers working. Came back to Japan on Tuesday and sailed through in minutes being a P.R. You can't beat good,efficient service.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@gogogo, right. It was tacky back then. Eh, ¥1,000 here, ¥1,000 there, before long, you're talking about money.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Daiki Ishikawa:

Big Yen : Sorry but the " Departure Tax " in Oz even if it is called a different name is very high compared to other countries. One thousand yen is a bargain

Yes, I agree with you, Daiki. Did I not make it obvious in my post that I thought ¥1,000 was pretty cheap compared to Australia's charge (which is one of the highest in the world)?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is a great way for the Japanese government to raise revenue.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Economically, are things really that bad Japan?

1 quadrillion yen in governmenet debt, over 7 million yen for every citizen in Japan, and growing, yep things are starting to get bad.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Most countries charge a lot more than this and has been pointed out above a few times now, If you can't afford 1000 Yen, you probably can't afford to fly. Yes - I also remember the ridiculous ticket machines at Narita where you paid your APD at the last moment prior to Immigration.

No reason to start complaining about being a 'resident' here or not, doesn't make any difference anywhere else in the world as, and as I said above charges leaving Japan are a lot less than many other countries. Go and have a look at what Heathrow charge...and that depends on destination - the further you go, the more you pay.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Let me get this straight. On top of paying taxes and air fare, ones required to pay this too? Are the coffers dry already? Isn't this a robust economy albeit third in the world? This is robbery. Plain and simple. An inch has been given. Can't wait for the amount to eventually rise with some soppy reason being claimed and on que masses on here will fawn over how it's an amazing advancement in policy towards development. What's in the water?

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Let me get this straight. On top of paying taxes and air fare, ones required to pay this too?

Yes, you've got it straight. Easy, wasn't it? The airfare is set by the airline. It's not a tax, but it does get you on the plane. The departure tax, as with all other taxes, is at the discretion of the country or region you visit.

In this case, conveniently, the departure tax is now charged at the time of buying the ticket, rather than doing it at the airport, which can be a definite inconvenience to travellers, especially those running low on local currency.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I fly intentionally almost every week for work and do i can afford this 1,000 but its so painful to have to pay. We are already over taxed. A new cow for the politicians and big businessed to milk.

Residents shouldn't pay.

I'm not in the tourism business and if anything, those tourism related entities should foot that bill

And if its not in my ticket fee already, i wont pay

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Let me get this straight. On top of paying taxes and air fare, ones required to pay this too?

Your country charges departure tax too. (From Incheon Airport website).

International passenger airport fee: departing passengers 17,000 KRW per person, layover passenger 10,000 KRW

2 ( +2 / -0 )

if its not in my ticket fee already, i wont pay

If you decide to push that, let us know how it goes.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

And yes I also remember lining up at those stupid machines to pay 2000 yen cash to buy a coupon to leave the country. Now they just will hide it in the fees part of the ticket which is better, I guess.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Don't care what country it's done in, you should NOT be charging your own citizens/residents to leave their own country. Visitors, fine.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Apparently everything is resolved with taxes without regard to income status. Of course it would be difficult to apply and enforce an income-driven tax in this case. Just charge the airlines, which will pass it on to us.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

It is no different that the highway toll (a user tax) in concept except that individuals do not get involved directly at site for the payment.

What I see different and is a major misrepresentation and poor collection system is the "tax" for NHK ... where contracted professional collectors come and bother you at home to sign a "contract" and start paying only because you have a TV in the house. (And they are talking about taxing, computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones and even car GPS systems that have TV capability.) At least here, the airlines or what ever transportation company taking people out of Japan collects only from those departing and not from the general population.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I remember the previously imposed departure fee. It was an inconvenience.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This really is a non issue.....as so many pointed out above its way more in other countries and its not gonna affect anyone who wants to travel.....for those who feel ' burdened ' by this, just remember a decade or two ago Japan had no LCC airlines operating here...the cost of tickets had dropped substantialy if you choose to go with LCC,s .

I fly intentionally almost every week for work and do i can afford this 1,000 but its so painful to have to pay. We are already over taxed.

Honestly mate, if you fly internationally every week for business you are probably not struggling financially. Paying 1000yen per ticket should not gonna make any difference. Besides , surely you can claim it as a business travel expense , cant you? :-)

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Once the system is in, wait till this nice little earner gets ramped up.

Not sure that 'the Olympics' and 'facial recognition gates' as excuses for the charge are going to discourage cynicism.

Best taxes are the one nobody notices (like the extrortionate 'departure taxes' in Australia renamed so long ago and now just part of one-price ticketing). Best, because nobody complains about them till, for instance, some people are bored after a cancelled Jetstar flight and start reading the fine print of their receipts to see how to make a claim about it.

As long as there is no queuing up like about 20-25 years ago to get stamps from machines. But nothing would surprise me about overseas travel from Japan, even now.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

M3M3M3: "The money will be used to improve things like airport infrastructure which even residents and citizen travelers will benefit from."

I think it's worth clarifying that it is what the government CLAIMS citizens will benefit from, and aside from companies selling the tech or building the infrastructure no one else may actually benefit at all. Remember the BILLIONS in SARS detectors that didn't work? The money levied on passengers and companies to build a second runway at KIX, which everyone voted down but they did anyway, and then most direct flights to and from KIX were subsequently cancelled? Besides, we all know how well factual recognition tech has worked so far in this country. I'd like to see a breakdown of where the money will go before I decide it's "beneficial" or not.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Along with Hotel Accommodation tax, a rise in consumption tax to 10℅, and this ¥1000 departure tax, I hope to see something to show for it.

Mind you, as commented ¥1000 is very moderate and offset by duty free shopping, so I would not loose sleep over it.

I just hope that the money is spent wisely by the government.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I can't think of any other airport which is more expensive to use than Heathrow. Absolute ridiculous amount of taxes. And the buildings never seem to be finished.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Great. Japan, a G7 country, now joins other progressive countries such as Bangladesh, Cambodia, Guyana, Tunisia and Sri Lanka in charging tourists a departure tax. Economically, are things really that bad Japan?

Australia charges a $60 departure tax. Germany charges a $63 departure tax. Mexico charges a $65 departure tax. The Philippines charges a $33 departure tax (economy). Sweden charges a $31.50 departure tax. The UK charges $16-$240 depending on class and destination.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Departure_tax

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@marcelito: Well said - a sensible comment. I think you also know that air fares haven't really risen in 30 years, and yes, MUCH more choice.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I just hope that the money is spent wisely by the government.

You're new to the idea of government spending, huh?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I thought we already paid a departure tax...

https://www.narita-airport.jp/en/faq_ask/psfc

Hopefully it's going to be incorporated into the Ticket price, rather than something you have to pay at the airport, since if that's the case, then what happens if you don't have 1000 yen left ? Charged for overstaying your visa... and deported without paying ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Locals pay consumption tax on everything - including Tickets, and worse still the price for the same return flight inbound to Japan is cheaper than the outbound one, furthermore... tourists can claim local tax back as they leave (tax free shopping), so this tax doubly hurts the locals. :-(

Wouldn't be surprised if the Government is found to have mulled over the introduction of a similar tax for Trains...

So what's next, perhaps a Quality of Air Tax - non refundable in times of Nuclear meltdowns ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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