The Japanese government recently expanded a range of consumption tax exemption to all items purchased by foreign tourists. This new initiative has made shopping in Kyoto easier. The new law recently came into effect, with many licensed tax-free retailers in Kyoto already witnessing significant increases in sales.
According to the Japan Tourism Agency, there were previously a total of 4,622 tax-free shops throughout Japan, out of which 1,767 were in Tokyo and only 152 were in Kyoto. However, since the new law was passed number of tax-free retailers in Kyoto has increased rapidly, with more than 100 additional retailers obtaining tax-free retailer certificates.
As per the law, international tourists are exempt from paying consumption tax if they follow certain procedures at licensed tax-free agencies such as department stores, home appliance stores, and discount stores among others.
In order to avail of consumption tax exemptions visitors must present their original passports at the licensed tax-free retail outlets at the time of purchase. The items must not be consumed in Japan and must remain in their original packaging until leaving the country. In addition, visitors must be a foreign national who stayed in Japan for less than six months.