Since 2015 back when Kurasu was born, international shipping has been a lifesaver and a headache at the same time.
International courier services available throughout the world is the one that made us possible- that enabled us to introduce the beauty of Japanese crafts and coffee culture yet to be discovered by the world. However, it is also true that international shipping costs a lot, and it could also be a reason we cannot introduce Japanese coffee culture as freely as we wish. While we are out for a quest of improving our shipping service, we wanted to talk about what kind of options we currently offer for shipping internationally, how they work and pros and cons of each methods. Currently, we offer 1) Post office delivery and 2) DHL delivery.
1. Post Office Delivery
Pros: Relatively cheap, less possibility of custom charge
Cons: Takes time, sometimes unreliable
<How it works: overview>
Japan Post is the official postal service of Japan- it used to be a public service, now privatized. They are still under the regulation of having a partnership with official post offices world-wide, and any international parcel sent out by Japan Post will be handed over to an official postal service of the destination country (ex. USPS for the USA, Parcel Force/Royal Mail for the UK, Singapore Post for Singapore.)
<How it works: procedure>
Parcels that is sent out from Kurasu will be handled by Kyoto Central Post Office, and they will be transferred to an international parcel center in Osaka located at the Kansai International Airport (KIX). These processes usually take 2-3 days, and once the parcel fly out of Japan, they should arrive in the destination country’s hub airport on the next day. If the tracking says it has left Japan but not saying it’s received at the destination country, it usually means that the parcel is physically at the destination country’s airport, but still waiting to be scanned by the local post office and registered on their system. After that, the local post office will be in charge of the parcel and will deliver it to your door.
<Types of shipping>
With Japan Post, EMS, e-packet, Post-parcel, and more are available. Here are the details of each type.
-EMS, or “express air”, is the most secure and the fastest method Japan Post provides for international shipping. It automatically comes with a tracking, and a signature will be required at your door to receive the parcel. EMS usually takes 1-2 weeks to complete the delivery. *Although EMS should come with a tracking in all the destination, some countries do not provide tracking regardless of the shipping method.
-e-packet is also an airmail but in a lower price range. It can deliver parcels up to 2kg for a cheaper price. Tracking service is available in some countries. For example, parcel to Australia will NOT be tracked once it arrives Australia. The delivery usually takes 1-3 weeks.
Both EMS and e-packet can be tracked up until the parcel leaves Japan, and once the parcel arrives in the destination country, any tracking and updates will be under the responsibility/control of the local post office.
-Post-parcel (economy air, SAL) is the most economical method. They are less prioritized, and the parcels will be put on a flight whenever there is a space left. It usually takes about a few weeks to deliver. To check if the service is available for your country, please check here.
<Most frequent issues>
While it is probably the cheapest method to ship things out from Japan, since the parcel will be handled by two different companies (Japan Post in Japan and any official post office in the destination countries), communication issues and delay in information updates can sometimes happen.
We provide our customers a delivery update via e-mail- we use a service that draws a tracking information from Japan Post’s tracking system. Although, Japan Post relies solely on the updates they can get from the destination country’s post office to update the sender, unless the destination country’s post office does not update Japan Post, we cannot get any update either.
We have heard from several customers in the past informing that their local post office does not have the best reputation, but since the post office partnership regulation limits the option for Japan Post to choose who to partner with, it is unfortunately something that is out of our control.
<How to deal with it?>
We recommend our customers to also track the parcel’s information on the local postal service’s website, as they tend to have more up-to-date and detailed information compared to what they give to Japan Post. It is also recommended to directly contact your local post office if there are any queries regarding the delivery (including arranging a re-delivery etc).
<Higher possibility of dodging the import duty?>
Another headache of international shipping is the custom duty. It can be sometimes up to nearly 20% of the total price of the item, and unfortunately sometimes people have to give up receiving the items after waiting for it to arrive all the way from Japan.
Custom duty and its regulations are all individually different to each country, but it is usually calculated based on the price of the contents and the type of contents.
While we do not know 100% about what is actually happening on-site, it is known that custom only check randomly picked parcels, but not all of the parcels that go through custom, due to the sizable number of parcels they receive every day. As a result, compared to DHL (later mentioned), there is a chance that you do not get charged for import duty.
If there is a custom fee to pay, you will get a notification from your local post office, and you would usually need to go to the post office and pay the fee, then receive the parcel.
2. DHL Delivery
Pros: Fast, Secure, Reliable
Cons: Relatively expensive, Custom charge 100% applicable
Since we started working with DHL a couple of month ago, more and more customers are choosing DHL for the delivery. The biggest benefit of choosing DHL would be the quick delivery and accurate and up-to-date tracking. Only downside of it would be its cost, and if the total price of the items is higher than each country’s custom threshold, getting charged with import duty is unavoidable.
<How it works>
We have a partnership with DHL, and they come and collect parcels from us 3 times a week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. After the collection, parcels usually leave Japan within a day or two, and will be delivered to the destination countries usually within 5 days. Since the entire journey will be handled by one company with timely update, delivery is smooth, quick and tracking is always up-to-date and accurate.
When there is a custom fee to pay, the delivery driver will come with the parcel and a custom fee invoice, and you can pay the fee at the door and receive the parcel.