How much are customs fees in Japan for a Nintendo DS Lite?
March 31, 2007 3:37 AM   Subscribe

Is it worth it to have a Nintendo DS Lite shipped halfway around the world and back?

I'm an American living in Japan, and would like to get a Nintendo DS Lite, because I've seen that there are some great games for practicing reading and writing kanji. The problem is that they are so popular here that I can't seem to find a place that has them in stock.

However, I am considering an interesting option. I was given a nice big Amazon gift certificate that I could use to buy one (unfortunately I can't use it on What I was thinking was I could ship it to my family in the states, and then have them ship it to me. I assume this is legal, but that I need to pay some customs fees or something. I've looked on various shipping companies' sites, but I can't seem to find out how to figure out how much these would be. Does anyone have experience in this area? How much would I have to pay, or how do I find out?
posted by greasepig to Law & Government (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, yes, to be clear I guess I should mention that won't ship it to Japan. And the 'halfway around the world and back' refers to the fact that they are manufactured in Asia.
posted by greasepig at 4:01 AM on March 31, 2007

I know this doesn't really answer your question, but I had a hell of a time trying to find a DS Lite last Christmas season in Tokyo so I feel your pain. However, I've seen lately that the smaller game shops and the toy section in places like Ito Yokado have them in stock now, if you're not picky about the color. From my experience, most of these places get their stock at the end of the week, like on Fridays and Saturdays, so you should have a better chance if you go then.

Now if I could only get my hands on a Wii somewhere...
posted by misozaki at 6:08 AM on March 31, 2007

If you can buy it at and have it shipped to your family, have them remove the packaging and shrinkwrapping, repack and send it to you.

It can then qualify as a 'used' item and the declared value can be set lower - usually countries have a value threshold for used/private/gift items, I'd guess around $100-150.

Stay below this limit (which you might find on JP customs' web pages) and you should be ok.

Disclaimer: Have never done this to from either of the countries mentioned, but have worked with customs and international express shipping for years.
posted by jonmartin at 6:46 AM on March 31, 2007

You may want to wait a week or two before doing anything. Rumor has it that Nintendo cut back Wii and DS shipments earlier this year once they hit their financial goals for the fiscal quarter. Now that a new quarter begins next week word has it that Wiis and DSs will be back in stores in greater numbers (in all regions).
posted by Servo5678 at 7:05 AM on March 31, 2007

I refused to buy one here in France due to the obscene prices on electronics. So, I had it shipped to family in the US. They removed it from its box, put it in a padded envelope, and put "used book" on the customs form, with a value under $35. Had no problems with customs. YMMV, of course, and you'll have to use regular USPS mail without insurance.
posted by DefendBrooklyn at 7:29 AM on March 31, 2007

This might be inappropriate, but I have a brand-new pink DS with an extra stylus, adapter, etc, plus a DS-Xtreme modchip. I don't want it anymore and I wouldn't mind shipping to your location.
posted by fake at 7:32 AM on March 31, 2007

Have your family check for dead pixels before shipping it all the way to Japan. I shipped one from Japan to Canada a few months back (Nintendo solved our shortage by creating yours, I guess) and had no problems with shipping them out of Japan.
posted by Gary at 1:58 PM on March 31, 2007

Assuming you're living near the bigger cities, you could go looking around at some specialty used gaming shops. The made-for-Japan DS's sell out very quickly, but some shops will have 'imported' DS Lites on sale that were manufactured for the US market. I'm talking about stores like Geo, A-too, etc... saw several of these things while I was walking around in Nipponbashi (near Osaka), and I'm sure you could find similar offerings @ Akihabara if you're over in Tokyo.

They do come at a premium (I think it was ~17,000 yen), so having your parents send the system to you will probably be cheaper. I don't recommend you keep looking around in Japan for too long, as I'm sure you know that the demand for the system is ridiculous enough that Nintendo likely isn't holding back on much (if they had the systems available they could easily sell double what they're selling now).
posted by Muu at 6:56 AM on April 1, 2007

I've had my family ship plenty of games and an XBOX from America to Japan with no problem. However, my co-worker had his family ship him a laptop and had to pay an extra 10,000 yen or so.
posted by ejoey at 6:20 PM on April 1, 2007

Also, Play Asia rocks for getting US version games shipped quickly to Japan.
posted by ejoey at 7:21 PM on April 1, 2007

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