ACP stands for, Attorney for Customs Procedure. In principle, foreign entities cannot become the Importer of Record – IOR. However, if the entity appoints an ACP, the foreign entity can become the IOR. Let’s look at the steps of how you import your goods by appointing ACP. 1st step is “Regulatory check”. “ACP registration” is the second step. And lastly “start shipment of the goods to Japan”.
As a first step, we need to check the eligibility to handle the goods, especially by looking at import regulations of the goods. ACP is not capable to handle all kinds of goods. If the goods are subject to specific regulations such as Food Sanitation Act, Act on Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices, or PSE/PSC, the non-resident entity shall not be allowed to import by appointing ACP. So, we always check the eligibility as a first step. We can support you to make a decision whether your goods is regulated item or not.
The second step is to proceed with ACP registration. The foreign entity and ACP together, need to submit ACP application documents to a respective Japan Customs Office. ACP can lead the preparation of the application documents on behalf of the foreign entity, but some information is necessary to provide by the foreign entity such as Company Registry, Power of Attorney, etc. Under the application process, ACP has a series of discussions with Japan Customs. At this timing, we should also discuss with Customs Officers regarding how to set a proper customs value of the import goods. In total, it takes 2 weeks to complete the ACP registration on average.
Once we obtain the acceptance letter from the Japan Customs Office, now you’re entitled to become an IOR. You can start shipping your goods to Japan by using one of the logistics providers. In the meantime, ACP leads the preparation of the documents required for the import clearance, such as invoices and evidence materials of the customs value to be used. When the products arrive in Japan, ACP will coordinate these documents with the designated logistics provider, so that the logistics provider can proceed with import clearance in Japan. Once the import clearance has been done, the logistics provider can deliver the goods to the destination where the foreign entity would like to send them, such as the Amazon FC warehouse in Japan.
YouTube – The steps of how foreign entities can import to Japan by using ACP
- Professional of Customs and International Trade – The CEO, as a Certified Customs Specialist in Japan – Mr. Sawada has been providing consulting services in the Trade & Customs area for many years. He was in a management position at KPMG, then started with his own company – SK Advisory to continue the customs-related services to the international clients.
- Fully compliance in accordance with Japanese Customs Law – Maintaining the service quality with full compliance with Japanese Customs Law. ACP Japan is capable to manage all the necessary import compliance issues, including the classification of HS code, and setting of the appropriate Customs Valuation of the import goods to Japan.
- Experienced and credible partner – As ACP Japan has been providing ACP services to many clients as demand has increased, you can totally rely on us as a credible partner. We registers 40+ ACP customers every year, the customers from around the world. In this way, all customers successfully became non-resident IOR – Importer of Record in Japan. You can see a list of our customers in here “Experiences”.
- Qualified ACP service provider in Amazon SPN (Service Provider Network) – ACP Japan has officially become a qualified ACP service provider in Amazon’s Service Provider Network (SPN) under the Compliance category.
How the Japanese New Invoice System affects? – Advantage of using ACP –
Recently, many companies register JCT (Japanese Consumption Tax) because the new invoice system for JCT will start in October 2023. The concept of the new invoice system is very similar to the EU’s VAT invoice system.
Your Japanese customer can’t claim input tax credits unless the sellers(suppliers) issue a qualified invoice that is written a JCT number. To issue a qualified invoice, sellers(suppliers) need to be a taxable entity and get a JCT number.
Since the seller becomes a taxable entity, the seller is obligated to file JCT tax returns on a regular basis.
For the case of a non-resident entity, when you import and sell to customers in Japan
(1) Pay import JCT to a customs office, 10% of the import customs value when you import
(2) Collect JCT from a customer in Japan, 10% of the sales price when you sell
(3) Submit JCT tax return to a tax office periodically
(3-1) If you paid (1) as IOR = Importer, which means you appoint ACP, then you’re required to pay only the difference amount (2) – (1)
(3-2) If you paid (1) but you were not IOR = Importer, then you’re required to pay all the amount of (2). You can’t deduct (1).
Please be careful that only the IMPORTER can deduct the import consumption tax at the time of tax filing. In other words, if another IOR service provider became the IMPORTER when you import, basically it would not be possible for the non-resident entity to deduct the import consumption tax. Therefore, you have to pay all the amount of (2) to a tax office.
On the other hand, if you import with ACP, means that you became an IMPORTER thus you can deduct the import consumption tax, when you do JCT tax return. Therefore, you only need to pay the difference amount (2) – (1) to a tax office.
This is one of the significant advantages to use ACP service, not IOR service.
For this reason, we strongly recommend using ACP so that you can become IOR.
Guidance by Amazon
According to the seller central website in Amazon, there is a guidance by Amazon that non-resident entity needs to appoint an ACP or IOR. You may check on this link:
A Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) seller who lives outside of Japan (non-residents) and would like to import goods into an Amazon Japan fulfillment center for storage and order fulfillment must first designate an Import of Record (IOR) and /or Attorney for Customs Procedure (ACP). This must be accomplished in advance of any importations. In general, any person who is a resident of Japan can be appointed as an IOR and/or ACP. Neither Amazon nor any of its entities in Japan may act as the IOR/ACP on the customs declaration, only the FBA seller or their designated IOR/ACP. Amazon, Seller Central, Japan Tax and Regulatory Considerations
Also, you can check the document developed by Amazon “Understand ACP and IOR guidance”.
Understand ACP and IOR
If you do not have a Japanese entity to act as the importer of record, it is mandatory that you appoint an Attorney for Customs Procedure (ACP). Overseas Sellers, as non-resident importers, can generally rely on a program called ACP to help bring their inventory into Japan. An ACP is a resident Japanese entity who registers with Japan Customs as your agent to help with entries and communications. Please note ACP does not fully take over the whole responsibility of an importer. You must ensure that your goods comply with the local laws and regulations as a part of your responsibility. Amazon, Understand ACP and IOR guidance