Importing and Prohibited Items

There are items that are prohibited from being imported. This article covers stolen cultural property and counterfeit/imitation products which fall under this category.


Stolen Cultural Property

Importing stolen cultural properties is effectively prohibited under the Law on the Prohibition of Illegal Import and Export of Cultural Properties1. In other words, although the Law requires that specified foreign cultural property2 be approved for import under the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Law (Article 4 of the Act on the Prohibition of Illegal Import and Export of Cultural Property, etc.), since property is stolen, it will not be approved and will be returned to the rightful owner3.

Counterfeit and Imitation Products

Importation of counterfeit or imitation products such as coins, stamps, and postage stamps are prohibited.


Import Restrictions


Act on Control of Imitation of Revenue Stamps

(i) Items that have a confusing appearance of government-issued stamps (imitation stamps)4

(ii) Items that have a confusing appearance of tax stamp5 impressions

(iii) Devices that may produce impressions that have a confusing appearance of tax stamps


Import is prohibited without a permit (Law 1 article). An import permit issued by the Minister of Finance. 

[Tax stamp]

Act on Control of Imitation, of Postal Stamps

Items that have a confusing appearance as postage stamps or other postage related vouchers.



Import is prohibited (Article 1 of the Law). Import is exceptionally allowed with the permission of the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications, but permission is usually not expected.

Criminal Law

Counterfeit or altered coins, paper money or banknotes

Import is prohibited (Article 148 of the Law). 

Counterfeit or altered foreign coins, paper money or banknotes

Importation for the purpose of enforcement is prohibited.

1 The official name of the law is the “Law Concerning the Control of Illegal Import and Export of Cultural Properties”.
2 The term “designated foreign cultural property” refers to cultural property designated by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology as cultural property when notification is received from a foreign country that cultural property has been stolen in accordance with Article 7 of the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. Specified Foreign Cultural Properties are introduced on the website of the Agency for Cultural Affairs.
3 If the importer (or the client) is a bona fide acquirer, the victim is to recover the cultural property after compensation (Article 6 of the Law).
4 Refer to Article 128 of the Basic Circular on the Stamp Tax Law for the criteria for determining whether or not imitation stamps are used.
5 A “tax stamp” is a seal stamped on a certificate or ledger to certify that the tax has been paid when the taxpayer has paid the amount equivalent to the stamp tax in cash instead of affixing a stamp. It is stamped with a tax stamp stamping machine.

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