I'm looking into tax free shopping in Japan and I noticed that if I decide to buy consumables tax free then I cannot eat them on the spot. From my understanding, if I buy consumable products at these stores they will give me a sealed bag with my consumables which I have to wait until I leave the country to open it. Why can't I just open up the bag when I leave the store? What is the reason to have that tax free rule implemented?

Edit: I explained the situation more in detail to differentiate between buying from a duty free spot in the airport than tax free shops. If they work the same way let me know.


2 Answers 2


They want to tax goods you consume in the country.

For goods you consume somewhere else you have a real option of buying them somewhere else too; and faced with the possibility that you'd rather do that they prefer letting you not pay the tax and still buy in Japan; at least that will contribute to the local economy.

But for something you use in the country you don't really have an option to go elsewhere, so there's not as compelling an argument you should get out of paying taxes (usually luxury taxes on some kinds of goods).

  • 4
    Although this answer is most probably a correct simple explanation, the underlying question of the OP is really a valid one that buffed me as well for ages. after all - the duty-free area is usually found in an area AFTER the customs / boarder control , which means that you have already legally ( if not physically ) left the country. which is also the reason why it is very very rare to find an ATM in these specific zones ( currency FX outside border ) Commented Oct 24, 2018 at 21:54
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    @ObmerkKronen Even though you passed through exit formalities, you're still on the territory ("soil") of the country and subject to their jurisdiction. For example, if you commit a crime, you are still subject to that country's laws, in fact, until the aircraft leaves their airspace. So you have not legally left the country. The lack of ATMs is likely to do with currency export regulations, since it's harder to inspect you past that point.
    – user71659
    Commented Oct 24, 2018 at 22:05
  • @user71659 Well,That might be the assumption (or even the reality) for some countries, but as the snowden case demonstrated,there is no uniform answer or even agreement on the matter.The airport's transit area seems to be governed by specific country laws and even police personnel can not enter in some cases (only airport police or accompanied by immigration officers for example).in fact it often referred to (correctly or not) as a "no man's land".In case you commit a "crime" it is against airport transit area regulations and in most cases you are accompanied OUT and handed to 3rd authority Commented Oct 24, 2018 at 22:29
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    @ObmerkKronen Again, as this article explains, that's a myth. Once the aircraft enters the country's airspace, it is subject to their laws by international treaty. Your cited case, Snowden, was just Russia playing politics.
    – user71659
    Commented Oct 24, 2018 at 22:36
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    @ObmerkKronen Again, bonded warehouse doesn't mean free of laws. In fact, the very name explains that it is subject to laws and regulations: the importer has to purchase a bond to guarantee to the government that it will re-export the goods.
    – user71659
    Commented Oct 24, 2018 at 23:26

Because the fact that you are exporting the goods is the critical fact that makes them tax free. If you consume goods in Japan, they're no longer legally exempt from tax.

The requirement to pick them up at the tax-free stand makes it less likely that people will circumvent the tax law by buying tax-free goods for improper purposes.

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    Indeed - improper purposes including taking your tax-free goods back out of the airport, which if you do often enough would be worth the sunk cost of a flight you're not actually taking. Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 10:23

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