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I am planning on visiting Japan from the UK and was looking at the customs forms which mentioned "unaccompanied baggage" or luggage.

  • Checked baggage has ALWAYS been classed as accompanied in all the countries I've been to. It's on the plane with you. It's accompanying you. – Armstrongest Feb 24 '17 at 18:13
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It counts as "accompanied". You pass through customs after you've collected your bag, so at that time you will be accompanying the bag.

There is often an airport staff member walking along the Foreigners' passports queue checking forms, and in my experience they are friendly and happy to answer any questions you have.

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    If the bag is delayed and delivered separately, you presumably won't know that at the time you fill out the form, since you fill out the form before you arrive at the baggage claim to discover your luggage has been lost. Still, in my experience, airlines can typically work some behind the scenes magic to get your bags through customs without you if they get delayed, perhaps with extra scrutiny though. – Zach Lipton Jan 15 '17 at 18:18
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    @pnuts In my experience, I was only ever asked to fill it out once out of maybe a dozen lost bag reports. Maybe they think I'm not carrying anything valuable :) – Calchas Jan 15 '17 at 19:30
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    @ZachLipton I think you're right because the customs form is given into the passport people before baggage claim, not the customs people. I'll delete that sentence. – Calchas Jan 15 '17 at 19:36
  • @ZachLipton as far as you're concerned, the luggage is accompanied. – Armstrongest Feb 24 '17 at 18:14
  • @Armstrongest Yes. Unaccompanied baggage would be if you've sent something ahead by mail. – Zach Lipton Feb 24 '17 at 18:18
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For the Japanese customs, "Unaccompanied Luggage" refers to items you send through the post or other delivery service. It's always odd to me since posted items require their own customs label anyway.

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    This is also true for those pieces of luggage that arrive after you have (for example, they got delayed at the transit point - or - got bumped to the next flight); in which case an airport baggage services person collects the bags, and then escorts you to customs where you clear them. In this case, the baggage is also considered "unaccompanied". – Burhan Khalid Jan 16 '17 at 5:00
  • Stuff through the Post has a different process, with a notification called Notice of Assessment for International Mail: customs.go.jp/english/c-answer_e/kokusaiyubin/6101_e.htm – mikek3332002 Jan 16 '17 at 6:02
  • @BurhanKhalid JAL just deliver late bags to your Japanese address, no escorts needed. I expect ANA does the same but no experience. – Calchas Jan 16 '17 at 9:24
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For the Customs Form that you fill out on your flight, the question about "Unaccompanied Articles" refers to any personal effects you have sent by other means for use while in Japan.

For locals this refers to items mailed home or sent by other means, intended to keep folks from exceeding their import limits by sending some items by alternate means.

For tourists this refers to items, like golf clubs, bicycles or other bulky items you may have sent by a baggage service or post. Again so that they are aware of everything that you are bringing in.

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