Tax refunds become easier for Japan visitors

Tax refunds become easier for Japan visitors
Visitors to Japan apply for tax-exemption status at a duty-free counter for Lumine Est Shinjuku mall in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward on May 11.

TOKYO - Shopping centres and other commercial retail facilities in Japan are creating more centralized duty-free counters to handle tax exemption procedures for tenants and shoppers to attract more international visitors.

The move followed government easing of restrictions in April, allowing commercial facilities with many retail tenants, such as shopping centres, to operate the counters.

Previously, visitors to Japan were required to apply for tax exemptions at each individual store at shopping centres, a procedure cumbersome for both customers and stops. However, in department stores, they could apply for tax refunds on purchased goods in one place.

The new service allows overseas visitors to apply for tax exemptions on purchases made within the shopping centre, even if purchases from one store do not reach the lower limit of 10,000 yen (S$110.16) set for tax refunds on general goods including clothes.

For shops, the new counters enable their operators to rely on the property manager to find staff able to speak languages other than Japanese and familiar with duty-free procedures. Also, the service can help lure more international customers inclined to buy less.

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