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Shit is expensive

"Public" services

EMS (express mail service), SAL (surface air lifted) ("""""temporarily""""" suspended without ETA of return due to COVID), airmail and surface mail/seamail. These are handled by the national postal service of the country a package is in (Canada Post, United States Postal Service, Royal Mail, etc.). These services are generally weight based and subject to some size restrictions. SAL and EMS cannot ship to APO or AP addresses (PO Box addresses are OK).

Q: Registered mail?

A: EMS is registered; SAL, airmail and surface mail have registration options. That means you get a tracking number and some insurance. The package must be signed for by you, someone you live with, your neighbors or your post office if you have a PO box. If you miss the delivery, you can arrange a redelivery online in some countries and leave your signature outside, or pick up your package at the post office.

Q: How much does it cost to ship X and Y?

A: There's no way of telling for sure until the store actually packs the box with your things in it, and also dependent on the service you choose. Some stores will give you estimates if you ask. The most you can do is estimate the weight of your products based on things you've bought before and add in a couple hundred grams for the shipping container and packaging. If your order is large enough, there's also no guarantee that the store won't split it into two or more shipments because it exceeds their maximum box size even if it's just by a few millimeters.

Average 1/6-1/8 figure: 1.0-1.75 kg Small size poseable figure (Nendos, figmas) 0.5-0.75 kg Books: Varies wildly, but generally heavy.

You can use the Japan Post postage calculator for some estimates. Here's the unnecessarily long version with air/surface mail (EMS rates are outdated).

International ePacket was a discounted registered airmail small packet service where the sender creates a shipping label through the Japan Post website. Discontinued as of Saturday, September 30, 2023. Registered and Unregistered Airmail Small Packet still exists and is offered.

International ePacket Light (E-Packet Lite) is a similar service for registered SAL small packet. Note that this service is available even for countries that normally don't support registered SAL small packets (Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Poland).

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Some insignificant trivia:

*SAL: '"Surface Air Lift." It's sometimes called "ISAL" for "International Surface Air Lift." It's basically economy air mail. The packages are carried over the ocean by air cargo, but when they're not on the plane, they're treated as surface mail (sea mail) shipments. At the airport, they also fly "standby," only getting loaded on the plane if there's space. Otherwise, they wait for the next plane.' Small packet and printed matter have the same rates, but the weight limit is higher for printed matter. Parcels are more expensive.

*Surface/sea Travels by ocean between continents if there's space on ships, that's why it takes so long.

Q: Where do I track registered packages?

A: Enter the provided number at the following websites

While the package is in Japan Japan Post

After you see "dispatch from outward office of exchange: Your country's postal service website (USPS, Canada Post, Parcelforce/Royal Mail, and so on and so forth).

If you're dumb, use this, this or this
Note: Updates can take 24+ hours to show up online. Updates for EMS packages are generally pretty fast, and updates are faster on the website in the same country as the package.

For registered SAL packages, Japan Post sometimes won't update after the package leaves Japan. Use your country's website instead.

Q: Is the registered version faster than unregistered?

A: In some cases, yes. According to anon,

They do give priority to RSAL Packages, basically this is how it works: 
Packages are piled together, then start filling labeled bags with the registered packages keeping track of the packages in. Once they are done with them they fill the rest of the huge bag with the untracked leftovers. At each "stop" read customs, and postal offices, the packages are reprocessed depending on the delivery address, so the process is repeated numerous times. Now, since they have   been keeping track of the trackable packages and what bag they are in they may know if a certain package is lagging behind, and they want to avoid that. While the untrackable ones might lag behind without anybody noticing, so, 3 or 4 bags can be processed and since your package is not tracked there's no way to know if it has been left behind until they clear completely the package queue.

That said, if the postal service has too many packages the SAL packages will lag way more than RSAL ones, while if the postal service has little work load the speed should be the same."

Private companies

It’s illegal to ship flammable items such as batteries by normal mail options above (some people buying PS Vitas may have run into this problem), but some private couriers may be cleared to mail them. Contact the merchant for details.


It's fast (1-5 days usually) and has tracking, but pretty expensive and you probably will get taxed for it if your country rolls that way. Cost depends on the type of item you bought and the total number of items in your order.

Amazon Japan use it for all their international shipping and is calculated on a flat rate per order based on the type of items plus 300 yen per item. It's great if you're buying a lot of heavy items at once. This is also one of the options at Mandarake if you buy from the Nakano store.

It's at least as fast as EMS, and can be cheaper in some cases. DHL is size based, so small and heavy items like books generally are good deals.


There are a lot of options depending on the store. Fedex has their own customs office to speed up processing so you'll probably have to pay customs taxes outside the US. One limitation though--they can't ship to PO Box, APO, or AP addresses.

  • HLJ uses International Priority which is based on the box size, not weight. For Americans, it's awesome for small and heavy things (i.e. books), not so great for figures. Speeds are comparable to EMS and for small boxes, Fedex is often a lot cheaper. All packages have online tracking and e-mail delivery notification, and you can choose to divert them to the nearest Fedex office if you know you won't be home at delivery time. More expensive in other countries. Similar services offered at CD Japan (use their pricing calculator before checkout).
  • Otacute has Fedex available, but for the most part it's more expensive than EMS.
  • Some American stores offer Fedex and Fedex Smartpost for big and/or heavy packages. Overnight/2-day options available.


Very uncommon shipping method but is used by some proxy/forwarding companies. AmiAmi uses UPS Ground for the final leg of Surface (Premium) orders to the US, Toylet uses UPS Priority Ground for larger domestic shipments (pretty expensive by domestic shipping standards). Probably likely to be taxed outside of the US.

OCS bk1 offers this. Prices on par with EMS, other details unknown. Probably likely to be taxed outside of the US.


Normally lower cost services where one carrier picks up and transports the item from the origin point then takes it all the way to the destination area/country and then passes it onto another carrier (normally postal services within that country) to make the final delivery to the customer.

  • Within the United States services such as Smartpost (FedEx), Surepost (UPS) and Smartmail (DHL) are considered multi-carrier which are used by numerous dealers such as Amazon, BBTS and more.
  • For shipments originating from within the USA but being delivered overseas, there are more limited options as dealers must have arranged high-volume custom contracts with carriers who will pickup and deliver parcels to destination post offices worldwide, who then handle customs and deliver to the local customers in that country directly. An example service would be IMS (International Mail Service) which is available to over 100+ countries, is for items weighing under 10 lbs, at it's base level contains no tracking outside the USA and can take 14-45 business days to be delivered. Select countries have premium and enhanced versions of IMS available which arrive faster and/or have tracking all the way thru to the final destination (see dealer/s for more details on which countries these options are available for).

How do I avoid paying customs taxes?

Apart from using the Country specific information page, try the following:

  • Use (unregistered) SAL services.
  • Small packages.
  • Some stores will mark your items as gifts and lower the declared value. However, if your insured package is lost, you can only be reimbursed up to the declared value.
  • Buy from stores in your country.
  • Live in the US.

Shipping disruption

With COVID and now the Ukrainian war some of the shipping methods listed in this section may not be available to you. To see the status of JP Post service to your country see here. Private couriers should be available without disruption.

General domestic shipping

Check the shipping FAQ of the store you're buying from or consult your post office.