Whether you’re shopping in Tokyo, temple hopping in Kyoto or skiing in Hokkaido, you’re sure to hear the familiar Singaporean accent somewhere or other. But visiting Japan just got a bit more expensive – two new rules pertaining to departure taxes and Airbnb in Japan have kicked in, impacting all incoming tourists.
Here’s how you’ll be affected.
Departure “sayonara” tax in Japan
Beginning in 2019, all travellers to Japan will need to pay a departure tax of 1,000 yen (12.23 SGD) when they leave the country.
Dubbed the “sayonara tax”, the levy must be paid regardless of whether you are leaving the country by air or sea.
It must be paid by all visitors, whether they are there for work or pleasure, unless they are in transit or under the age of two.
The tax will be tacked on to the price of your air or boat tickets when you depart from Japan.
For Singaporean travellers, that means more expensive airfares to Japan.
What to do: When planning a trip to East Asia, avoid entering and leaving Japan multiple times if you can help it, as you will be charged an extra 1,000 yen (12.23 SGD) each time. So if you want to combine your trip with visits to South Korea, China or Taiwan, it might be cheaper to plan such that you enter Japan only once.
New restrictions for Airbnb in Japan
Hotels in Tokyo are notoriously expensive. But thanks to Airbnb, travellers were able to stay in impeccable apartments at reasonable prices, thereby avoiding those coffin-like capsule hotels.
Until now, that is.
Under a new law (June 2018), Airbnb hosts must register their homes with the government and display their registration number on their listing. They are also only allowed to rent out their homes for a maximum of 180 days a year.
Alternatively, hosts must apply for a hotel licence and display their licence number on their listings. Not all Airbnb hosts will qualify for a hotel licence, such as if their buildings forbid home-sharing.
Already have a booking? Time to double-check – Airbnb is obliged to cancel all bookings in cases where the regulations are being flouted.
So, how does this affect you as a tourist?
- It limits the supply of available Airbnb listings. Less to choose from could mean higher prices.
- Your existing Airbnb booking might be cancelled if the host does not comply with the regulations. It really sucks to have your accommodation cancelled at the last minute, especially if you are in an expensive city like Tokyo where hotels cost a bomb.
What to do: To be safe, always make sure your Airbnb host has indicated their registration number on their listing, otherwise there is a high chance your booking will be unceremoniously cancelled. There’s no way to check whether your host has already exceeded his 180 day quota, but it can’t hurt to ask (politely, of course).
How do you think the new rules for departure tax and Airbnb in Japan will affect you? Tell us in the comments.