Navigating Japanese Imports

Choosing Between Importer of Record (IOR) and Attorney for Customs Procedure (ACP)

When entering the Japanese e-commerce market, understanding the roles of Importer of Record (IOR) and Attorney for Customs Procedure (ACP) is crucial. Both play vital parts in ensuring a smooth and compliant import process.

Understanding IOR and ACP

  • Importer of Record (IOR): The legal entity responsible for ensuring imported goods comply with all Japanese import regulations. The IOR handles customs filings, duty payments, and record-keeping. 

  • Attorney for Customs Procedure (ACP) (Customs Broker): A licensed professional authorized to represent importers (or exporters) during customs clearance in Japan. 

Choosing the Right Approach

When entering the Japanese e-commerce market, understanding the roles of Importer of Record (IOR) and Attorney for Customs Procedure (ACP) is crucial. Both play vital parts in ensuring a smooth and compliant import process.

Understanding IOR and ACP

The best approach depends on your business's resources and risk tolerance. Here's a breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages of each role:

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Importer of Record (IOR)

Attorney for Customs Procedure (ACP)

Advantages

Direct control over the process

Expertise and efficiency in customs procedures 

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Potential cost savings (handling duties directly)

Reduced risk of non-compliance

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Maintains all import records directly

Frees up internal resources

Disadvantages

Complexity of regulations

Additional cost of hiring a broker

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Full legal and financial responsibility

Reliance on an external party

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Time-consuming process (managing imports)

Potential communication delays

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Higher risk of errors without expertise

Less direct control over customs process

Additional Resources

For in-depth information on Japanese import regulations, consider these resources:

  • Japan Customs: customs.go.jp - This website is the official Japanese Customs website and offers a wealth of information on import procedures and regulations in English

  • International Trade Administration: trade.gov/japan - This website provides a U.S. perspective on importing to Japan, including an overview of import requirements and documentation

  • Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO): jetro.go.jp/en - A Japanese government agency that offers resources and support for foreign companies entering the Japanese market, including information on import regulations

How DefDevice Can Help

We specialise in Japanese e-commerce and can assist with the import processes:

  • IOR services: We’ve worked with a lot of vetted IOR companies that we can vouch for.
  • ACP services: DefDevice can connect you with trusted, licensed customs brokers.
  • End-to-End Support: DefDevice provides comprehensive support throughout the import journey, from planning to delivery.

Conclusion

Choosing between acting as your own IOR or using an ACP is a strategic decision. Carefully consider your resources and risk tolerance. This guide provides a starting point, but further research into specific import regulations for your products is highly recommended. Consulting with a trade lawyer specializing in Japan can also be beneficial.

Additional Notes:

It is important to note that recent changes (as of October 1, 2023) to Japanese import regulations may require foreign e-commerce sellers to use an ACP. (Source: COVUE, Understanding ACP and IOR in Japan) Be sure to confirm the latest regulations that apply to your situation.

FAQs: Understanding Importer of Record (IOR) and Attorney for Customs Procedure in Japan

1. What is an Importer of Record (IOR)?

An Importer of Record (IOR) is the entity responsible for ensuring that imported goods comply with all applicable laws and regulations in Japan. The IOR handles customs documentation, pays import duties and taxes, and maintains records of the importation process.

2. What are the main responsibilities of an Importer of Record (IOR)?

The main responsibilities include ensuring legal compliance, preparing and submitting customs documentation, paying import duties and taxes, and maintaining records of the import transaction.

3. Who can act as an Importer of Record (IOR)?

The IOR can be the buyer, the consignee, or a third party such as a customs broker or logistics company acting on behalf of the actual importer.

4. What is an Attorney for Customs Procedure?

An Attorney for Customs Procedure, commonly known as a customs broker, is a professional authorized to act on behalf of the importer to handle the customs clearance process in Japan.

5. What are the main responsibilities of an Attorney for Customs Procedure?

The responsibilities include representing the importer before customs authorities, preparing and submitting required customs documentation, advising on compliance with customs regulations, and assisting in the calculation and payment of import duties and taxes.

6. What are the advantages of acting as your own Importer of Record (IOR)?

Advantages include having direct control over the import process, full legal authority to make decisions, potential cost savings by handling import duties directly, and maintaining all import records directly.

7. What are the disadvantages of acting as your own Importer of Record (IOR)?

Disadvantages include the complexity of understanding local import regulations, bearing full legal and financial responsibility, the time-consuming nature of managing the import process, and a higher risk of compliance errors without professional guidance.

8. What are the advantages of using an Attorney for Customs Procedure?

Advantages include access to professional knowledge and experience in customs procedures, a streamlined customs clearance process, reduced risk of non-compliance with customs regulations, and saving time by handling complex documentation.

9. What are the disadvantages of using an Attorney for Customs Procedure?

Disadvantages include additional costs for hiring a licensed customs broker, reliance on an external party for customs clearance, less direct control over the customs process, and potential communication delays or misunderstandings.

10. How can DefDevice help with importing to Japan?

DefDevice can provide expert guidance on both IOR and customs procedures, connect businesses with trusted licensed customs brokers, offer end-to-end support from planning to delivery, and help achieve cost efficiency through experience and established networks.

11. Why should I choose DefDevice for my Japanese e-commerce needs?

DefDevice specializes in Japanese e-commerce and offers comprehensive support, including regulatory compliance, customs brokerage services, Amazon account management and logistics management, ensuring a smooth and efficient import process into Japan.

 

12. How do I get started with DefDevice?

To get started with DefDevice and learn more about our services, you can contact us directly for personalized advice and support tailored to your specific business needs.


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