Trade with  Japan

How  you import from and export to Japan. 

The UK signed a free trade agreement (FTA) with Japan on 23 October 2020. This Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) maintains the benefits of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with enhancements in areas of mutual interest.

This guidance provides information on the key terms of trade for UK businesses trading under the CEPA.

For Japanese businesses trading with the UK, see information on exporting to the UK.

Find out which provisions each chapter of the CEPA covers.

For the full CEPA text and other key documents, see the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement collection page.

Tariff rates on goods

Commitments on tariffs for the vast majority of products traded between the UK and Japan have been transitioned in CEPA without changes.

In some cases, the tariff rates may be lower than the EU-Japan EPA. 21 industrial goods have their duties eliminated in the CEPA tariff schedule. Tariffs on 2 tariff lines covering electrical control units often used in cars are also eliminated.

In Japan’s tariff schedule, 9 tariff lines covering certain leathers and hides will become duty free in 2026. One tariff line covering industrial ethanol has had duties eliminated.

Online tools

You can use online tools to check product-specific and country-specific information on tariffs and regulations:

These tools are regularly updated to reflect any changes.

Tariff rate quotas

Access to products covered by tariff rate quotas (TRQs) differ in the CEPA compared to the EU-Japan EPA.

Under the CEPA, the UK will continue to have access to the same preferential tariff rate as in the EU-Japan EPA for 10 TRQs:

  • TRQ 1: wheat products
  • TRQ 2: mixes and doughs and cake mixes
  • TRQ 3: food preparations made primarily of wheat
  • TRQ 8: food preparations of barley
  • TRQ 11: coffee, tea mixes, food preparations and doughs
  • TRQ 12: food preparations
  • TRQ 15: food preparations containing more than 50% of sucrose, and cocoa powder
  • TRQ 19: food Preparations containing cocoa
  • TRQ 20: food Preparations containing cocoa (for the preparation of chocolate)
  • TRQ 25: cheeses

See the high level summary of agri-food market access. This summary also covers arrangements for access to products covered by TRQs in the EU-Japan EPA.

The quota available to Japanese importers for British products will be the entirety of any unutilised EU quota in that year.


For malt, the UK will continue to have duty-free access to Japan’s market for malt via the existing Global TRQ.

Before Permit (BP) scheme

The CEPA arrangement uses Japan’s BP scheme.

This scheme temporarily suspends the need to pay tariffs at the border. The importer must provide a guarantee to the customs authority. One way of doing this is via a Banker’s Guarantee. This means that at the point of import, Japanese importers only need to register the import under the BP scheme.

Japanese importers can register an import under the BP scheme through Japan’s digitalised system for customs procedures. Find detailed information on how the new CEPA arrangement operates.

The Japanese government provides information (in Japanese language only) on the EU-Japan EPA allocations and returns of TRQ quotas throughout the year. They will also publish information on the availability of quota for imports from the UK.

To find out more about the arrangements, see Annex 2-A of the CEPA.

Rules of origin

Finding the correct rule of origin for export

Depending on the type of good you are seeking to export, in order to claim preferential treatment it will need to be either wholly obtained or sufficiently processed.

To be considered sufficiently processed your good will need to meet the relevant product specific rule (PSR). The PSRs for this agreement use the 2017 version of the Harmonised System (HS) nomenclature. You should apply the PSR for your good using the code in which it was classified under this nomenclature.

In a limited number of cases the code for your good may have changed during HS revisions. We are currently updating our online services to reflect these changes. In the interim correlation tables tracing these changes have been made available by the World Customs Organisation and the United Nations

Claiming preferential rates for your exports from the UK

The requirements for claiming preference remain largely unchanged. A claim should be based on a statement of origin by the exporter that the product is originating, or the importer’s knowledge that the product is originating.

Further guidance on the requirements for importer’s knowledge is available.

Small consignments and waivers

Goods do not require a statement of origin if they are:

  • entering Japan from the UK and below 200,000 yen in value
  • entering the UK from Japan and below £1,000 in value

Using EU materials and processing in your exports to Japan

For exports of products that currently rely on EU inputs to access preferential tariffs, you can continue to use EU materials or processing in your exports to Japan. The working or processing you do in the UK must go beyond the minimal operations listed in the trade agreement. The other relevant conditions must also be fulfilled. A list of all goods covered by this arrangement can be found in Annex 3-C of the CEPA.

Changes to product-specific rules for exports to Japan

Find out about the changes to product-specific rules.

Sending your goods to Japan through the EU and other countries

Goods transited through third countries (including the EU) still benefit from preferential treatment.

For example, you can split a consignment in the EU when exporting goods to Japan. The goods comprising the consignment must not have cleared customs in the EU.

Transit through any other country is possible provided your goods remain under customs surveillance and do not undergo operations other than:

  • unloading
  • reloading
  • any operation designed to preserve them in good condition

You can find the provisions on rules of origin in Chapter 3 and Annexes (3-A to 3-E) of the CEPA.

Customs procedures

For information on Japan’s customs procedures, see the export/import guidance from the Japan Customs Agency (website in English).

You can also read information on customs declarations for goods you send out of the UK or EU.

You may prefer to use customs clearance services to help your business with customs procedures.

You can find the provisions on customs matters in Chapter 4 of the CEPA.

Product testing, standards and regulations

Commitments related to standards, regulations and conformity assessment remain largely the same as under the EU-Japan agreement.

The CEPA includes annexes covering a range of sectors:

  • motor vehicles and parts in annex 2-C
  • facilitation of shochu export in annex 2-D
  • facilitation of wine export in annex 2-E

Conformity assessment: mutual recognition protocol

The CEPA (page 376 of volume 3) replicates the effect of the EU-Japan mutual recognition agreement (MRA) for conformity assessment, through a new Protocol on Mutual Recognition (MRA Protocol).

The MRA Protocol provides measures to simplify the process of demonstrating compliance with product safety.

It covers:

  • electrical products
  • good laboratory practice (GLP) for chemicals
  • good manufacturing practice (GMP) of pharmaceuticals
  • telecommunications and radio equipment

Currently, testing against the other country’s regulations can take place in the following sectors:

Search the UK Market Conformity Assessment Bodies (UKMCAB) database to source UK government appointed CABs.

Food safety and animal welfare

Commitments related to sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS) and animal welfare remain largely the same as under the EU Japan Agreement. Nothing in the UK-Japan CEPA prevents the UK from continuing to uphold its high environmental, food safety and animal welfare standards.

You can find the provisions on SPS in Chapter 6 of the CEPA. For the provisions on animal welfare, see Chapter 18 Section B of the CEPA.

Trade in services

The CEPA replicates commitments for preferential guaranteed market access and fair treatment for services suppliers and investors from the EU-Japan EPA. UK businesses should consult the relevant CEPA Annexes (8-B-I and 8-B-II) for the level of guaranteed fair treatment and market access for their sector.

If you’re a UK business providing services in Japan, you’ll need to follow Japanese regulations, including on:

  • getting an authorisation or licence to provide a service
  • complying with local business regulations
  • Japanese nationality requirements which could prevent you from providing services in some sectors

Consider appointing an English-speaking lawyer in Japan to help you comply with specific regulations. You can also contact your local chamber of commerce for advice.

The Government of Japan provides advice on setting up a business and investing in Japan.

You can find the provisions on trade in services in Chapter 8 and Annexes (8-B-I and 8-B-II) of the CEPA.

Business mobility

The CEPA takes all the commitments on business mobility from the EU-Japan EPA and builds on them to provide additional opportunities for the UK and Japanese suppliers in the following areas.

The CEPA provides for the availability of visas for highly skilled professionals to work in Japan. An employee transferring from their UK HQ to the Tokyo office will be able to bring their spouse and dependents and stay for up to five years. The Government of Japan has information on applying for Japanese visas.

The UK definition of investor now focuses on investment in UK industry and jobs, rather than the amount of capital. Japan has expanded the scope of their intra-corporate transferee category.

The UK has also provided certainty that partners and dependent children of intra-corporate transferees can accompany them to the UK. Both the UK and Japan have committed to ensuring that the process for applying for visas will be clear, transparent, and with an aim that they be processed in 90 days.

You can find the provisions on business mobility in Chapter 8 and Annexes (8-B-III, 8-B-IV and 8-C) of the CEPA.


The CEPA contains measures aimed at supporting e-commerce between the UK and Japan.

The measures within this section are aimed at:

  • prohibiting the application of customs duties to electronic transmissions and their contents
  • preventing the forced transfer of source code as a condition of market access
  • administering measures of general application affecting electronic commerce, such as the collection of information, in a reasonable, objective, and impartial manner
  • making an effort to avoid requirements (for example: a permit, licence, or approval) that need to be obtained prior to an economic activity being allowed to start where such activity is done via electronic means
  • protecting the legal effect, validity, and enforceability of an electronic contact
  • protecting the legal effect or validity of an electronic signature (or the authenticating data resulting from electronic authentication) against discrimination resulting solely from its electronic form
  • facilitating parties to a particular electronic transaction to mutually determine the appropriate electronic authentication methods or electronic signature for their transaction
  • facilitating the use of electronic authentication or an electronic signature in electronic transactions in compliance with the applicable legal requirements
  • encouraging the use of interoperable electronic authentication and electronic signatures
  • facilitating access to and use of services and applications of a consumer’s choice
  • connecting the devices of a consumer’s choice to the internet
  • accessing information on the network management practices of a consumer’s internet access service supplier
  • protecting consumers online by prohibiting fraudulent and deceptive commercial activities online
  • protecting online consumers’ personal information
  • protecting users from unsolicited commercial electronic messages (spam)
  • encouraging the release of anonymised government datasets where appropriate with a view to enhancing and generating business opportunities, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • cooperation on a broad range of e-commerce areas such as emerging technology (including artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things)
  • banning unjustified impediments to the free flow of data between the UK and Japan whilst maintaining the highest data protection standards
  • upholding the UK’s robust data protection laws for individuals’ personal data when data is being transferred across borders
  • prohibiting unjustified data localisation requirements
  • preventing unnecessary requirements for encryption service providers to transfer details about their software, or other proprietary information, to state authorities as a condition of entering the commercial market

The government has published a summary of the CEPA provisions related to digital and data. Find out more about how your data is protected under the CEPA.

You can find the provisions on digital in section F of Chapter 8 of the CEPA.

Financial services

The CEPA maintains the level of market access granted to financial services suppliers under the EU-Japan EPA.

The CEPA also provides additional enhancements to strengthen commitments on:

  • cross-border financial data flows to prohibit financial data localisation
  • the ability to supply new financial services and on regulatory transparency for authorisation processes

The ability to supply financial services in the Japanese market will continue to be governed by Japan’s financial regulatory authorities.

The CEPA also creates an annual dialogue between His Majesty’s Treasury, UK financial regulators, and the Japanese FSA that will explore ways to further reduce regulatory friction.

You can find the provisions on financial services in Chapter 8 and Annex 8-A of the CEPA.

Geographical indications

Geographical indications (GIs) protect the geographical names of food, drink and agricultural products.


The following UK GIs include ‘cross-border GIs’ that relate to the territory of both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The UK food and agricultural products listed for protection in the CEPA are:

  • Anglesey sea salt/Halen Môn
  • Arbroath smokies
  • Blue Stilton cheese
  • Conwy mussels
  • Cornish clotted cream
  • Cornish pasty
  • East Kent Goldings
  • London cure smoked salmon
  • Lough Neagh eel
  • Lough Neagh pollan
  • Melton Mowbray pork pie
  • Orkney Scottish island cheddar
  • Pembrokeshire earlies/Pembrokeshire early potatoes
  • Scotch beef
  • Scotch lamb
  • Scottish farmed salmon
  • Single Gloucester
  • Staffordshire cheese
  • Stornoway black pudding
  • Traditional Ayrshire Dunlop
  • Traditional Cumberland sausage
  • Traditional Grimsby smoked fish
  • Traditional Welsh Caerphilly
  • Welsh beef
  • Welsh lamb
  • Welsh laverbread
  • West Country beef
  • West Country farmhouse Cheddar cheese
  • West Country lamb
  • White Stilton cheese
  • Yorkshire Wensleydale

The UK alcoholic beverages listed for protection in the CEPA are: 

  • English wine
  • English regional wine
  • Herefordshire cider
  • Herefordshire perry
  • Irish cream
  • Irish poteen
  • Irish whisky/Irish whiskey/Uisce Beatha Eireannach
  • Kentish ale
  • Kentish strong ale
  • Scotch whisky
  • Somerset cider brandy
  • Welsh wine
  • Welsh regional wine

You can find the provisions on GIs in Chapter 14 and Annexes (14-A and 14-B) of the CEPA.

Protection for additional GIs

The UK government is also continuing work to secure protection for further products. The GI additions have been split into two tranches running in parallel to aid processing time, and the UK government will continue work to finalise the completion of UK and Japanese processes for the second and final tranche.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has contacted GI producers to confirm whether they would like their GI included in the agreement. Find out how additional GIs will be protected under the agreement.

Government procurement

Commitments made on government procurement between the UK and Japan have been transitioned in the CEPA without changes.

This means that the CEPA retains guarantees on non-discriminatory access to the Japanese government procurement market. This includes additional market access beyond Japan’s offer under the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA).

In the Japanese market, UK businesses now benefit from:

  • access to regional level procurement opportunities, including procurement by Core Cities
  • access to contracts across a wide range of services including business services, insurance, telecoms, translation, photography, specialist design, food and beverage serving services
  • improved standards for the publication of procurement opportunities across all levels of government
  • a commitment to publish procurement notices for Japanese procurement covered by this agreement on the Japanese Government Procurement e-portal
  • a commitment that the ‘Keishin’ business evaluation procedure will not be used in a manner that discriminates against UK businesses

You can find all additional procurement coverage that goes further than the GPA schedules in Annex 10 of the CEPA.

Small and medium-sized enterprises

Read guidance on the provisions for SMEs.

For information about import of goods by SMEs, see: information on exporting to the UK from Japan.

Further information

Find out about moving goods into, out of, or through Northern Ireland.

Freight forwarding may save you time and money if you’re exporting large volumes of goods or high value items by sea or air freight. Find out more about moving goods and using freight forwarders.

You should consult your legal advisers if you wish to ensure you understand the legal implications of trading for your business.


If you have queries about trade, contact the Department for Business and Trade (DBT).

If you wish to speak to someone directly, we have local trade offices based around the UK. Within each office, you can contact an international trade adviser. Find your local trade office.

Published 23 October 2020
Last updated 24 May 2024 + show all updates
  1. Removed reference to conformity assessment bodies (CABs).

  2. Mutual Recognition Protocol section revised and renamed to Conformity assessment: mutual recognition protocol. UK appointed conformity assessment bodies database link and UK legislative links added to section.

  3. Product added to the Geographical Indications list.

  4. Added guidance on finding the correct rule of origin for export.

  5. Updated 'Small consignments and waivers' information with UK waiver limit.

  6. Updated statement of origin value threshold after Japan notified the UK of their waiver limit under Article 3.20.2 of the CEPA.

  7. Added link to UK-Japan CEPA: guidance on importer’s knowledge.

  8. Updated with details of how trading with Japan will change from 1 January 2021.

  9. First published.