Will my spice mix get confiscated by Japanese customs?
March 8, 2009 4:43 AM   Subscribe

Will I have trouble with customs bringing homemade Indian food spice mixes (made in Australia) into Japan?

In a week I'm visiting my girlfriend who's over there, and I was planning to bring her some of the homemade spice mixes I use to make Indian food. They're your typical mixture of spices (cumin, coriander, etc) assembled in Australia from spices bought in Australia.

It'd be a shame to go to the effort only to have them confiscated, so for those who have travelled into Japan, how likely is it that they'll get taken away? Is there anything I can do to minimise the chances of this?
posted by teem to Travel & Transportation around Japan (7 answers total)
Whatever you do, make sure you declare it.
posted by carnival of animals at 5:30 AM on March 8, 2009

My wife and I have transferred similar things from Australia to Japan. They were bought at the market, not homemade, and I can't remember whether we brought them in luggage or mailed them in a package, but either way we are always careful to declare everything properly and have never had an issue yet.
posted by No-sword at 6:17 AM on March 8, 2009

Let me verify: you're buying spices here, then mixing them yourself into different combinations?

If you're making your mixes from spices bought in packets, can you just take the packets over, unopened, and do your mixing once there? I'd imagine that you're more likely to get suspicion from carrying baggies you've assembled yourself than you will if you take unopened foodstuff that looks legit and store-bought due to being sealed and printed on with branding.
posted by springbound at 6:19 AM on March 8, 2009

I can't speak to Japan, specifically, so take this with a grain of salt, but I've traveled over other borders with spices, which I have declared, and which the customs people had no interest in whatsoever.

The regulations about importing food in small quantities for personal use are generally directed at fresher things that could fuck up the local food supply, ie, you bring an orange imported from Chile with some kind of orange blight on the peel into California and it gets into a California orange grove and spreads decimating a whole industry. Bringing an orange cake or candied orange peel, not the same difficulty, because you've likely processed out the problem.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:30 AM on March 8, 2009

Never had trouble with packaged or home mixed spices coming from Australia into Japan. You should be fine.
posted by gomichild at 8:51 AM on March 8, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for your advice. I brought my ground spice mix into Japan with no problems. Since the declarable items on the customs card technically didn't include any of the ingredients in my spice mix I brought it in undeclared, and there were no issues whatsoever. And amongst all of that awesome sushi I made a delicious curry!
posted by teem at 5:51 AM on April 15, 2009


Actually this week a friend in Singapore brought in a bunch of fresh frog meat with no problems - they are pretty OK with foodstuffs for personal use it seems.
posted by gomichild at 7:13 AM on April 15, 2009

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