How to Become an Amazon Seller in Japan – FBA, Account Set-up, Logistics and More!

Updated by Jim Kersey on 01/03/2021

Posted By Caylon Neely

Amazon lets you reach millions of customers with your products while offering several services that make it easier for you to market your products and handle basic ecommerce logistics, like shipping, customer service, and returns.

As such, it’s the logical choice for most foreign merchants who are new to Japan – especially those who are not familiar with Rakuten or Yahoo! Shopping and already have seller accounts in other markets like the US or the UK.

For those of you who are just about to get started on the set-up process, are still considering it, or simply want to know how selling on Amazon in Japan will differ from using the platform in other countries, we’ve created a practical breakdown that should guide you through the major steps of the process.

Is Your Product Suitable for Amazon in Japan?

As part of your preparation for selling on Amazon in Japan, the first and most important step is figuring out whether your products are actually suitable for the consumer market here. Obviously, some extensive market research and analysis is prudent before any market entry strategy, but it’s also crucial that you check safety and compliance regulations before you launch.

This is because some products are prohibited in Japan, and others may need you to receive permission first before you are able to list your products on the marketplace. Understanding distribution rights and major differences to your home market will help your business meet important legal obligations.

As a cursory check, you can research similar products to your own and current best sellers on to get a general idea of what is accepted. You can also review the platform’s recommended product categories on Amazon Seller Central.

If you have doubts about your products’ compliance in Japan, concerning category, product type, or content restrictions, it is advised to consult with the platform directly first. You can also review its extensive resource bank and product registration rules, which should give you a good idea of any issues your product will face when you move to the listing stage.

HB Pro Tip: Large sellers will first need to get permission from Amazon to list products in certain product categories. Also, smaller independent sellers handling specific product lines will require listing permission too. We’ve had some experience supporting ecommerce businesses in Japan, so we may be able to shed some light on this situation if you get in touch. 

Tax And Import Regulations

It is a seller’s responsibility to comply with all Japanese customs laws and regulations. This includes import duty and tax requirements. All goods imported to Japan are subject to Import Consumption Tax and some are subject to customs duties.

The amount of consumption tax payable is based on the customs value of the goods, plus customs duty payable and, where applicable, other excise taxes payable. Understanding the requirements for your product is a necessary step before you start selling on Amazon in Japan.

HB Pro Tip: If you’re selling “sensitive items” like Alcohol, we would suggest collaborating with professional translators to make sure the translation to Japanese of your product descriptions and labels follows regulation. If there are mistakes in your bot-translated product descriptions or labelling, you may be flagged by Amazon regulators or the Japanese authorities.

Setting Up Your Account

Screenshot of official promotional page for becoming an Amazon seller in Japan

Just like in other markets, Amazon lets you choose between two selling plans. These are:

  • The Basic plan – For merchants selling fewer than 50 items per month. This requires you to pay Amazon a 100 JPY fee when you sell each item, plus referral fees, which vary by category. However, there are no ongoing membership/subscription payments necessary.
  • The Professional plan – For ecommerce businesses who sell more than 50 items per month. This plan is available for a 4,900 JPY monthly subscription fee plus per-item referral fees, which vary by category. This also lets sellers list products in certain categories that the basic plan doesn’t allow, as well as add new products to the Amazon catalogue.

What You’ll Need

Amazon has made the actual process of setting up online quite seamless, in that a registration wizard will guide you through each necessary step of the process once you click ‘Sign up’, ‘Get started’ or any other relevant CTA you’ve landed upon.

Both new users to Amazon as well as existing sellers expanding their Amazon base beyond their home markets, can use the simple walk-through of all the steps needed to complete registration, with prompts for information and documents along the way. Before you go ahead, we recommend collecting the following:

  • Company registration details (Company name, Business email address, Business license)
  • Key information about owners and key team members
  • Credit card
  • Phone number (in order to also receive PIN verification)
  • Bank account details (to receive sales)
  • UPC/ EPN for your products

HB Pro Tip: If you already have an Amazon seller account, you can easily expand to Japan through Linked Accounts. The best way to do this is to find the ‘Sell Globally’ page or ‘Expand Globally’ CTA within your country’s seller account. While you’ll need to complete the same set-up as any new Amazon seller, this will help to ensure your accounts are actually linked and give you access to any additional features unique to both your regions. However, it may be more advantageous to launch a new account if you want to implement any significant variations to your Japanese-facing products.

Account Settings

Amazon Seller Central is where you’ll handle most of your core account and business settings, so it’s a good place to familiarise yourself with. You can review information about your business, listings status, and plans.

Identity Verifications

Amazon seller in Japan completing online verification

After you register, but before you start selling, you’ll be asked to verify your identity. This will involve providing specific documents and details for the primary account holder, such as:

  • A document proving national identity (Driver’s license, birth certificate)
  • Bank account or credit card statement

Your documents should also meet the following requirements:

  • Scanned in color on both sides
  • Clear and legible
  • The name on documents should exactly match the name used on your Amazon account during registration
  • Documents are still valid (not expired)

Add Product Listings

Amazon seller in Japan adding product listings to the platform

Sellers can easily list a small number of products using the ‘Add-a-Product’ tool or use pre-prepared inventory file templates to list your products in bulk. You can create a template to suit your needs and list different types of products in multiple categories if necessary.

Build International Listings (BIL)

The Build International Listings (BIL) tool lets you create and update offers from a single marketplace to one or more target marketplaces. This means you can manage your Japanese inventory through your US marketplace, aligning your offers and prices based on the settings that you specify and currency exchange rates. However, this is only possible if you have successfully linked your accounts from two separate regions.

BIL is a great tool for saving yourself time when managing inventory across different geographic locations. You can use it to adjust prices periodically to reflect currency conversion fluctuations in the target marketplaces, as well as synchronize the prices and deals in target marketplaces based on the price you have already set in your primary marketplace, based on set price rules.

HB Pro Tip: In theory, international listings should help to propagate ratings and reviews across all your geographic markets. This is achieved by using the same ASINs in different marketplaces. However, the reality is not so rosy. For instance, when you are targeting different customer bases, it’s often beneficial that you use different product images which potentially have different models, local sizing charts, and even text — all within the images. But, if you’re selling with an international listing, you will only be able to choose one set of images and this can reduce your localization and customer experience potential for your target markets.

Product Pages And Images

Adding high-quality listings is always important in Japan, regardless of the platform you are using. Japanese web preferences dictate that you pay extra attention to what your local consumer base will and won’t like, in regards to product description, images, and models.

This is also a key part of good Amazon ecommerce SEO, where great listings help your products be seen by more people. Things like, size, manufacturer part numbers, materials types, technology, and practical descriptions about how products can be used, will all help customers find and appreciate your listings.

Do you need to adapt your products and brand for Japan? We explore this topic in our popular blog: Branding in Japan – How to Impress Your New Audience

Ship And Fulfill

Shopper receiving delivery from courier and amazon seller in Japan

You can ship products you sell on Amazon in Japan from your own local inventory, or from a base in Japan, with the help of international shipping services and local couriers. However, you can also opt for Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA).

HB Pro Tip: Be careful about what handling shipping yourself actually involves in Japan. In a nation where standards are incredibly high for delivery times and services, you will be responsible for the whole customer experience from shipping to returns. If you are not able to guarantee prompt deliveries and customer support in Japanese, it’s better to leverage some Amazon’s FBA service so you don’t undermine your reputation among customers.


You’ll automatically be registered for FBA when you sign up as an Amazon seller in Japan. All you need to do is send your inventory to one of Japan’s many fulfillment centres and they will organise, select, pack and ship your items to customers as and when needed.

The FBA service also comes with a few additional features, like basic customer service in Japanese, as well as help handling refunds, requests and returns. However, you must understand that this service is not a complete localization service, and they’ll only be able to handle so much on your behalf.

If customers are directed to seek information from you directly, you must be prepared with sufficient Japanese language capabilities to answer any questions, field any complaints, and arrange any further shipping requirements yourself.


With FBA in Japan, you only pay fulfillment and storage fees for the services you use. This is based on the volume of goods as well as size. Once you’ve registered, you should be able to use the FBA fees simulator, which will calculate the estimated fees you’ll be expected to pay for inventory. You can also take a look at the fees and rate structure of the Japanese FBA information page.

Cross Border Shipping To Japan

For FBA to work, you’ll first need to get your items to Japan. While the platform doesn’t help directly with this, they may have some recommended third-party providers you can work with. Alternatively, you can seek quotes from international shippers who can handle the delivery of your goods to the relevant Amazon warehouse.

Regardless of who helps you with shipments to Japan, you will need to provide an importer of record (IOR) and use delivery duty paid (DDP). This will relate to who is responsible for paying the fees for import duties and taxes. Some shipping services and third-party solutions providers may be able to handle this for you, but Amazon will not act as the IOR for FBA shipments in Japan.

HB Pro Tip: Unlike other regions, Japanese Customs does not permit foreign entities to act as the Importer of Record (IOR). So, to utilize Amazon FBA Japan, you will need to find a company/person that will act on your behalf. If you’re looking for someone who can help in this area, we might be able to refer you to someone in our network.

Managing Your Business And Core Operations

How to Become an Amazon Seller in Japan - FBA, Account Set-up, Logistics and more! Hero Image

When you choose to fulfill customer orders yourself, Amazon requires that you handle all aspects of customer support. To maintain a healthy standing, both in the eyes of customers and the platform itself, you will need to have a diligent customer service team who understands your products well and will be able to respond to questions and concerns within 24 hours.

This team, as you might have guessed, must be proficient in Japanese. In a country with one of the highest standards for customer service, anything short of amazing communication skills from your customer service team will leave you looking sloppy and unprofessional.

When you use FBA, Amazon will provide 24-hour customer support on your behalf in Japanese. This can be critical to selling in international stores successfully and overcoming any trust and reputational issues customers might have when buying from foreign brands and sellers.

Amazon will also handle local returns on your behalf for any FBA orders, so you don’t have to worry about providing a local return address, implementing restocking fees, or offering partial refunds (all things you must do if handling fulfillment yourself).

HB Pro Tip: When contacting Amazon JP for seller support, be mindful that you may get a “patchy” service. It can sometimes take multiple tries to find someone who can help you with a specific problem. We would recommend persevering even if you receive a “no, we can’t help you” from one person. Also, the process is much smoother if you or your staff have good Japanese language skills.


When listing in an international store and fulfilling items on your own, you must either provide customers with a local return address within the country of their Amazon store website or offer them free shipment.

HB Pro Tip: For non-FBA sellers, third-party International Returns Providers might be able to help you with product returns and refunds. This may help you to reduce the costs you incur when customers in other countries return your products. However, we strongly recommend you consider the overall burden and cost of handling customer support yourself, when considering alternatives to FBA. Even the most straightforward logistic strategies will require constant oversight and management from a team in Japan.

Marketing Your Products

Product shoot for marketing arranged by Amazon seller in Japan

Great product listings should be followed up with a robust marketing strategy on Amazon in Japan, not least because of the sheer volume of goods sold on the platform each day. Various options for advertising on Amazon can help you appear prominently in search results.

Sponsored Products

Sponsored Products can help your products get discovered by searchers looking for specific items and using specific search terms to look for them. You will only pay for the clicks your ads receive, and as long as your strategy is tight, any traffic you get to your pages will be primed for conversion. You can easily measure your performance within the seller account and adjust your bids for specific keywords.

HB Pro Tip: For greater success, get super detailed with niche ad groups built around very narrow topics. For example, create an ad set with only keywords related to one specific selling point of your product. This setup allows Amazon’s ad algorithm to learn most quickly who to serve your ads to and will assign budget to support the best performing ad sets. We’ve seen this work for a few of our ecommerce clients over the years, so let us know if you have any more questions about maximising the potential of sponsored ads!

SEO and Page Optimization

By using relevant keywords in your product descriptions you’ll have a better chance of your products matching the searches of potential customers, showcasing your products to a wider audience.
Always remember that Amazon is a search engine just like Google. Using proper keywords and content is very important to rank high in Amazon product search results. To add to the challenge, the Japanese language often uses a confusing mix of loan words and traditional Japanese words when describing new products.

Take this example; in Japanese, “miruku,” and “gyunyu,” both mean milk in most cases. “Miruku” is often associated with female fashion and cosmetic products while “gyunyu” is almost exclusively used for actual milk and dairy products. Knowing the difference can save confusion among your customers and also allow you to market more precisely with words that you may not have considered without a grasp of the language.

HB Pro Tip: For the reasons above, it is essential to have a local partner who speaks Japanese and can effectively connect shoppers to your product with the right keywords and product names. Of course, this concept is true for Amazon sellers in any country.

Amazon Points

Amazon Points is a payment method for eligible items on the website. Shoppers earn Points by purchasing items with Point offerings, and can redeem these Points on other eligible items. By offering Amazon Points on listed offers, you can tap into this network of Japanese shoppers who are notoriously invested in rewards and loyalty programs.

Lightning Deals

Lightning Deals are flash sales that feature products for several hours on our popular Amazon Deals page. This can be a great way to move higher volumes of stock, such as last season’s line, or attract new customers with short-term promotional offerings.

Product Reviews

Creating or sourcing product reviews (in Japanese) from day one is highly recommended. This is a huge pull factor in getting potential customers to trust you and commit to a purchase. If pick-up in this area is slow, try reaching out to past customers through the Early Reviewer Program.

If you don’t have any past customers, consider offering products as a “sample” to people in exchange for a review. This can be on any non-Amazon platform you like and some form of incentive always helps.

HB Pro Tip: The Amazon Vine program is one of the best ways to gather good quality reviews. It invites the most trusted top 500 reviewers on Amazon to post opinions about new and pre-release items to help their fellow customers make informed purchasing decisions. Up to 30 products can be applied by a brand, and they are sent for free to those customers. What’s great is that reviews are typically comprehensive, detailed, and come with multiple images attached. They also directly answer many of the product-related questions your customers are probably asking when they browse your offerings. Finally, the special ‘badge’ attached to these reviews can also help to add some credibility.

Discover Some More Marketing Tips for Selling Online In Japan!

Important Considerations And Tips

Amazon seller in Japan considering final aspects of Japanese ecommerce

  • Be sure to cover all technical and legal bases before you start to sell your products in Japan. It could be more costly and damaging to your brand if you enter Japan incorrectly and then have to backtrack due to legal or technical issues.
  • Understand relevant regulations and laws on what kind of products can and can’t be sold in Japan, and check if there are any specific labeling requirements for products in your category.
  • Amazon helps sellers with setup and execution, but copywriting, imagery, and marketing are not a part of their package. In order to properly sell in Japan, it is up to the seller to create product listings that are properly labeled, have compelling content, and use imagery or graphics that cater to Japanese preferences.

Final Word

If you’ve read this article, you’re already on the right track, but don’t forget that market entry in Japan should never be taken lightly. Even after you’re all set up with a fully authorized account and a robust fulfilment arrangement in place, there are many cultural differences, language barriers, and other localization issues you’ll need to keep in mind when selling your products to Japanese buyers.
Get In touch with us if you’d like to discuss what it takes to grow a powerful ecommerce presence in Japan, or take a look at some of our other blog content, aimed at educating, advising and insuring foreign businesses and merchants to succeed in the Japanese market.

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