The Right Way to Pay for Shipping in Japan

Has this ever happened to you? You buy a shiny new can opener on Amazon in anticipation of enjoying that 缶詰かんづめのギフト your coworker gave you. But when it arrives, it’s broken! Fortunately, these online stores let you send back defects, and they pay the return shipping. All you need to do is take it to your closest convenience store, fill out the right クロネコヤマト form, and hand the package to the very convenient worker.

There are many colorful Yamato waybill forms to choose from. Which one is the correct one? I pleaded my frugality with the 7-Eleven staff member. 「わたしはらいません。このはこをもらう会社かいしゃはらいます。」 If you aren’t yet fluent in Japanese, don’t worry, because what I said makes no sense whatsoever. In truth, I was relying on my charming personality instead of my language skills. Imagine my surprise when, after filling out the form in kanji, I was asked to pay shipping of around 800 yen. It was a really heavy can opener.

After getting the right form, filling it out again in kanji, and turning in the updated parcel paperwork, the counter worker took my package without taking my money. やった!

I don’t know if Yamato is your delivery service of choice, but if so, here’s the secret to the waybill colors.

  • The purple waybill is the regular form for delivery within Japan. You will be charged for shipping.
  • The orange waybill is the “cash on delivery” variant. Amazon will pay, assuming you send your package to Amazon.
  • There is also a yellow and blue form. This is used for Yamato’s “TA-Q-BIN” small package delivery service.
  • If your box is really big, use the green form.

That’s everything they had at my local store. If you want to ship internationally, there is a special A4-size green “invoice waybill” that you need instead. If you call Yamato, they will bring you one, often on the same day. This handy web page describes the various waybills in English.

If you want to ask the convenience store employee for the correct waybill in Japanese, here are some useful sender and receiver words that can come in handy.

  • 依頼主いらいぬし = You, the sender, the person making the delivery request.
  • とどさき = The recipient, Amazon in this case.
  • 宛先あてさき = The addressee, the same as the recipient.
  • 着払ちゃくばらい = “Pay on arrival.”
  • おくじょう = The waybill form, the paper you fill out for delivery.

Instead of fumbling with entry-level Japanese, I could have just asked for the pay-on-arrival form directly.

着払ちゃくばらいのためのおくじょうください。

It’s only a matter of time before you encounter a broken can opener. But now you’ll be ready.

[Image Credits: FineGraphics/photo-ac.com]

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Tim Patrick

Tim Patrick is an author, software developer, and the host of Japan Everyday. He has published a dozen books and hundreds of articles covering technology, current events, and now life in Japan. Find his latest books at OwaniPress.com.

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