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Importing/Exporting and Customs queries and advice


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Current as of 23/08/2017


I could not find the original post to update, but thought that I would share this with my fellow Aussies. Sadly free ownership of almost any kind of 'weapon' is non-existent here, so it is important to know the laws.


This information is obtained from the police of each state, or legal databases, not Whirlpool forums or someones 'but I heard' hearsay. I am in no way presenting legal advice or qualified to be interpreting the law, so please read yourselves:




Do I need a licence or permit for a Sword?


"In general, swords such as a sabre, cutlass, samurai sword, katana, etc fall outside the scope of the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 and you do not need a licence or permit to own one and there are no specific safe storage requirements."


"However, if a sword is concealed or appears to be something other than a sword, for example if it's concealed in a walking stick, it is classified as a prohibited weapon and you will require a special permit to possess it."






Prohibited weapons


"Prohibited weapons are items considered inappropriate for general possession and use without a Chief Commissioner's Approval or a Governor in Council Exemption Order (GIC Exemption)."


"Prohibited weapons are specifically listed in the Control of Weapons Act 1990 and Control of Weapons Regulations 2011."


Prohibited weapons include swords as per the link to a full list of prohibited weapons found here:






In a media release “Mr Prince said controlled weapons were mainly those articles which were designed as weapons but used in lawful sports and activities such as martial arts.


“It will also be illegal to carry or possess without a lawful excuse a controlled weapon, which includes a baton flail (nunchaku), crossbow, spear gun or sword,” he said.


Swords are a controlled weapon, not a prohibited one.






Prohibited weapons


"Prohibited weapons are a risk to public safety. You cannot possess a prohibited weapon without an exemption.


Exemptions are issued for specific purposes only and conditions apply for each weapon."


Swords are NOT listed as a prohibited weapon.






Firearms licences, permits and forms – Weapons forms refer only to the purchase of Prohibited weapons




Lists of prohibited and controlled weapons. Note that swords are a controlled weapon.






​​​​The Weapons Licensing section of the QPS website.




Sword is not listed under any of the weapons classifications




Under FAQ


"Can I buy a sword from overseas and import it into Queensland? What do I need to do? Do I need a licence to keep the sword in Queensland?


"Swords (katanas etc) are not classified as weapons in the Weapons Categories Regulation 1997. Therefore, there is no requirement to have swords registered to licence issued under the provisions of the Weapons Act 1990 (the Act).


"However, persons who possess swords must be mindful of the misuse provisions (sections 57 through 59) of the Act as these provisions will apply to persons who possess swords in Queensland.


"To lawfully import swords into Australia (Queensland) a Form B709B (Importation of Weapons – Police Certification) is not required, as swords are not classified as prohibited imports under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956. Swords may be imported without the approval of the Queensland Police Service."






Pretty scant information here… list of prohibited weapons which doesn’t include a sword




Online forms to possess a prohibited weapon





NOTE: I cannot stress enough that there are often additional storage requirements, record keeping and the like that accompanies ownership!!


The best advice is to call the police and discuss with them the full requirements, or contact a reputable club/society. The police are typically a pretty good mob doing a bloody tough job. They recognise the difference between a clown with a Chinese 'samurai sword' and a collector wanting to do the right thing. Societies and clubs care about members and maintaining the good reputation of the fraternity, so want to see the right thing done.

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  • 2 months later...

One small addition. The Dutch Tax system will be changed a few percent higher.
Basically VAT is 21%  for normal items, for Antiques it is 6% which will go up to 9%.

Asking the person shipping the item to write down the Tariff code in large letters on the invoice or parcel might at times help.
Dutch customs however are quite sharp on any Ivory items which do not have a CITES declaration with it as well as for instance turtle shell items (My turtleback shaped Jingasa was opened just for that reason).

From 22 Euro onward you pay VAT on any imported item, from 150 Euro onward you pay Duties (Customs fees).
Plus any other handling costs the Postal agencies deem fit.

Sending goods with DHL and FedEx is a little easier than the regular Postal service in the Netherlands since the Postal services (TNT and PostNL) work with C.O.D. for the taxes. FedEx at least just delivers the goods and later sends an invoice for tax due.

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  • 7 months later...

Adding this from the recent article here

How Do You Bring a Sword In and Out of Japan? All About Japanese Sword Laws

Japan is famous for its martial arts such as Karate (空手), Judo (柔道), Kendo (剣道), Aikido (合気道), Jujutsu (柔術), Sumo (相撲), and others. Some of these martial arts, especially Kendo, involve swordsmanship which makes them interesting activities. Many people practice using a bamboo sword or a plastic sword at a training school since it is illegal to carry swords in Japan, including a spear or a dagger-like object that could easily hurt anyone. One must have a valid license or permit to possess or carry these dangerous objects. If you are interested in bringing home a Japanese sword as a souvenir or to practice martial arts, then this article is for you.

The Japanese Firearm and Sword Possession Control Law


Japan has a tough law that prevents homicide effectively, namely the Japanese Firearm and Sword Possession Control Law (銃刀法剣類所持等取締法). According to this law, any sword, even a fake replica, whose length is above 15 centimeters is strictly prohibited to either be possessed or carried in Japan. Failure to report a recovery or loss of a sword can lead you to hefty fines, and sometimes jail depending on the circumstances. This law applies not only to carrying but also importing of swords, so you need a permit to perform any kind of activity involving swords in Japan.

How to Get a License for Possession

Remember, if you have a blade, it needs to be registered first at the Prefectural Board of Education aka Kyoiku Iinkai (教育委員会) by submitting an application. A review committee, comprising of sword experts and public safety officials, examines the sword and issues the license called “torokusho (登録証).”

A torokusho is issued for the sword, not the applicant. It takes some time to obtain a license as the sword meetings at the Board of Education are only held once a month. To obtain this license without any hassle, there are some requirements you must keep in mind:

  • The sword must be a Japanese sword aka Nihonto (日本刀); no foreign swords are eligible.
  • It must be either an antique (not the WWII ones) or a new one made by a modern smith who holds a license/certificate from the Bunka-cho (Agency for Cultural Affairs).
  • If you are buying a rare sword designated as a national treasure or a cultural property, you cannot take it outside of Japan.
How to Export

For export or import of any kind, you need a torokusho for the sword. After obtaining one, you should approach the Agency for Cultural Affairs and request an export permit (Kobijutsuhin-yushutsu-kansa-shomei; 古美術品輸出監査証明) by submitting documents, especially the license and photos of the sword.

Usually, an export permit is valid for just a month; you can either carry the sword personally through customs or send it via courier within that period. Packaging and carrier confirmation are usually done under the supervision of the customs.

How to Import

Importing swords into Japan is a bit risky as it could take plenty of time and paperwork. If you have a license already, the process would be much simpler. All you need to do is get the import permit (Hikiwatashi-sho; 引渡証) from the port police after landing and going through customs.

Do not forget to declare the sword on the Customs Form and present it at customs without fail. If you do not comply with the customs, it might land you in imprisonment for smuggling or possible threat. You can bring up to three swords into the country if you are personally bringing them with you.

In case you are bringing the sword into Japan via mail, it would be stored at the International Post Office. Do not use UPS, FedEx, or any other international courier service providers as they won’t be familiar with the sword laws in Japan. Your sword might just get destroyed by the port police if you do not have a torokusho. It is better to use Japan Post as they will inform you about the licensing and send it to your address after a “shinsa (審査).”

“Shinsa” is the sword examination that takes place in order to issue torokushos for the swords. You can attend a shinsa, and once your sword gets accepted, you have to pay a small fee to get the torokusho. There are also brokers who can help you get your license for a fee. Be prepared to wait for weeks or months to get your license.

Furthermore, it is recommended to submit the value of the sword bought outside Japan, including the details of authenticity, for a smooth process at customs or at a shinsa. You will get your license if the imported sword is a Japanese sword made by a smith recognized by the Bunka-cho or other notable agencies. Fancy swords bought from eBay which you cannot prove the authenticity will most likely be rejected for a license.

  • Usually, sword parts such as fittings and mountings do not need a permit or a license to be brought in or out of Japan, or to simply own them.
  • Training swords (Iaito; 居合刀) made of aluminum do not require a torokusho for it to be carried or used; however, be prepared for questions by airport officials if you are carrying one in or out of the country.

To get more information on bringing a sword in or out of Japan, you can visit the Japan Customs website here. If you need a broker to help you out, you have to search on Google or contact the online seller for more details. If you are visiting Japan for just a few days, it would be very difficult to own or bring a sword as the entire procedure takes weeks or months to complete.

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  • 2 years later...


I'm going to be receiving a menpo I purchased in Japan and am wondering what to ask the seller to use for a description. The value is around $1500, over the de minimus $800. 

I'm pretty sure it's over 100 year old; don't think many were made after 1820 and the facial hair has broken off. That said, I won't have any documentation to that effect, especially as it will be shipped by a proxy rather than the original seller. (Any suggestions?)

Was thinking of:

Samurai face guard, over 100 years old: tariff code: 9706.00.00.60 / 9705.00.00.40 (ethnographic)

What do people think?

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Just going to add some additional information for exportation of swords from Australia. 


I had a lot of difficulty sending a sword to the U.S. The Australia Post requirements for packaging are onerous and greatly increase the cost of shipping. However, exportation of sword is allowed to most countries (Aus Post staff can check individual countries for you).


This information was sent from Australia Post after a sword was returned:


The packaging for sharp-edged or pointed item must comprise:
Primary wrapping with the sharp edges or points wrapped in or protected by cork, polyurethane foam or similar material.
An outer rigid container of metal, wood, strong plastic or other rigid material.

Scabbards do not count as fulfilling these requirements. A Type 95 in a wooden lined, steel scabbard with a steel retaining latch. It is not considered 'safe' to transport.


Always get tracking, always pay for insurance, always get signature on delivery. Ask for the yellow 'fragile' tape to be added to the package, for whatever good that does.


Longer swords may exceed limits for parcel length (the limit is determined by the length of shipping crates). Some officers are happy to 'make it fit' for you (Basically the just put it diagonally in the crate), but that's on an individual basis. For importation there seems to be no issue with length, but a silly rule for exportation. 

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  • 11 months later...
On 10/14/2020 at 9:05 PM, Ken-Hawaii said:

Wow! I thought that only the U.s. was craxy.


Per Brian's post above, it is apparently nearly impossible for ordinary Japanese citizens to import swords. Several years ago my mother had been contacted by her nephew in Japan about returning a katana to Japan, that her father (his uncle) had given to her and her husband when they were married and moved to Hawaii. Her nephew had wanted to organize a dedication or memorial to her father who had been a Sensei. I trained a little with sensei when we were stationed in Japan; he was in his 80's at the time and I was in junior high school. Her father's Sensei in turn had apparently been Emperor Hirohito's trainer or one of them. This is what I am told. Anyway, the Japanese government rules and regulations are so strict and burdensome that her nephew just decided to give up trying to bring the katana back to Japan.

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  • 1 year later...

France is the horror, before the customs were quite flexible for small parcels, for 2 years, it has already become impossible not to be asked to pay customs duties and VAT. And moreover they are weak for parcels from Japan, there are quite a few examples where parcels are returned, I unfortunately suffered this injustice because customs simply do not have the necessary documents. or not enough translated or that the sender does not answer the questions asked and presto, the package leaves.

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  • 7 months later...

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