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Visiting America from Japan

Yakobu

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I'm living in Japan on a work visa and I'm planning on visiting my family in America this Christmas (I'll be back before I have to renew my visa) and I just wanted to make sure there would be no complications with my leaving and reentering the country. I've never done anything like this before so I wanted to make sure there aren't any special catches or anything. Of course, I'll need to have my passport and Japanese residence card with me, but are there any potential complications in leaving for a simple visit in America and then coming back into Japan? I'm also curious if I can bring my Lexapro with me (I brought it into Japan with no problems and it is sold in America too, of course, but do I have to "declare" it? And if so, how?), and how I "declare" food items (I wanted to bring some fruits and vegetables as souvenirs but it sounds like that isn't allowed, so I'm thinking of bringing sweets instead).
 

nice gaijin

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When I was an exchange student, I needed to get a "re-entry stamp" to allow me to leave and come back on the same visa. Not all visas require this, so check for your own visa and make sure you don't need one. If you do and you don't get one, you'll have a hassle when you try to come back.

Lexapro is your personal medication, prescribed to you? shouldn't be an issue, I reckon. Agreed on sweets, fruits and vegetables will most likely get confiscated.
 

mdchachi

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Back in my day you needed a re-entry permit on your visa which I had to purchase separately at some government office. You could purchase single-entry or multiple but I think it expired yearly so it was a regular pain in the rear. Hopefully things have improved.

If you are bringing only personal quantities of a drug that's legal in both countries it should be fine. No need to declare. Generally speaking there is no need to declare personal items. There are limits on importing things like cigarettes or liquor. But just declare what you have and be aware of the rules. Take some umeshuu home with you. Yum. :hungry:

Generally fresh foods are not allowed. You may be able to get by if you don't declare them and are just waved through. But if you're pulled side for a random check they'll get taken and discarded. I've never heard of anybody getting penalized beyond that. One time I brought a back of delicious bag mikan back and it got discovered. Bye bye mikan. Pickled, packaged etc foods are not a problem. I've had them pull out jars of umeboshi for examination but they weren't confiscated. Just declare them on the U.S. customs form if appropriate. I've marked Yes I have food on the form and listed stuff like "packaged cookies" on the back. Or I've put No without bothering to list anything if I don't have anything of significance. Their main focus is fresh items.

Returning to Japan you have the same issues. No fresh fruits/veggies. Plus things like meats (beef jerky) are frequently not allowed depending on their origin. The one time I got tripped up returning to Japan is when I shipped a year's worth of disposable contacts and the postal office flagged it and called me in and I had to pay duty on it. It turns out if I had just declared it as an unaccompanied personal item when I came into Narita, I wouldn't have had to pay anything.

Oh and try not to look suspicious when you are traveling from the baggage area to customs check. :nailbiting:
 

cez

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Look here: To all foreign nationals residing in Japan Beginning on Monday, July 9, 2012, Start of a new residency management system! | Point 3 The re-entry permit system will be changed/ Point 4 The alien registration system will be abolished

If you have a residence card (在留カード, zairyuu kaado) there is no need anymore to apply and pay for a re-entry permit at the immigration office. You just fill in a form for the special re-entry permit (みなし再入国許可, minashi sai-nyuukoku-kyoka) at the airport (before you go through passport control).

Also when you come back from abroad you don't have to fill in the immigration form that you usually get on the plane. Just the customs declarations form.
 
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