Do we need any license if we want to import wine from Spain to Japan?

We have been running a Spanish restaurant in Tokyo for about 5 years, and now we are thinking about importing wine and beer from Spain to Japan. Do we need to obtain any license in order to start importing alcoholic beverages?

If you are thinking about to import wine and beer, then just serve it at your restaurant by pouring in glasses, you won’t need to get import or retail license.


However, if you are planning to sell your imported alcoholic beverages to retail stores, other restaurants and consumers (retail or online selling) by bottle, you will need to have your license BEFORE selling. Actually, I would say BEFORE going through the import customs, you will need to have your license, pay duties and stick back labels in Japanese. (You can ask exporter to stick Japanese labels before ship out too.)


So please be careful with your business idea. If you want to import wine and beer for only your restaurant, I’m sure you can select whatever you want to serve, BUT you also need to consider logistics costs, duties and other necessary preparation to import. You may end up paying more than you thought if you are importing small quantity. As you can guess, usually you can reduce costs when you deal with a large quantity.


Again, whether you will need to get the license or not depends on who you are going to sell it to. Retail stores are license holders, and if you want to sell alcoholic beverages to them, you must obtain import wholesale license first. If you only get a retail license, you CANNOT sell wine or beer to other retail stores. This is kind of confusing, but in order to wholesale to retail stores (license holders), you will need to get an import wholesale license. In addition, if you want to sell your imported alcoholic beverages to consumers by bottle, you will need a retail license too.


If you come up with further questions, feel free to ask. We are willing to help your project.



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