Effective January 7, 2019, visitors to Japan will pay a 1,000 yen (about $9 USD) departure tax when leaving the country, regardless of nationality. The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) reported that the tax is expected to expand and enhance the country’s tourist infrastructure.

Revenue from the International Tourist Tax will be allocated to:

  • Create a more comfortable, stress-free tourist environment.
  • Improve access to information about a wide variety of attractions of Japan.
  • Develop tourist resources taking advantage of the cultural and natural assets of respective regions.

This International Tourist Tax applies to both international and Japanese travelers who leave the country via plane or ship. Children under the age of two, travelers in Japan for less than 24 hours and those leaving Japan on or after January 7 using an air ticket issued before that date are exempt from the tax.

The Japanese parliament passed the legislation last April 2018 and according to The Japan Times, it is expected to increase revenue 50 billion yen ($461.6 billion USD) in fiscal 2019.

Japan has had an increase in visitors the past few years, hitting 30 million arrivals in 2018 for the first time, according to the JNTO. This new tax is being implemented in time for the anticipated surge in visitors expected for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo according to multiple reports.

The money is expected to go towards adding cashless payment terminals for public transportation, the introduction of additional facial recognition gates of air and seaports and to offer more information in multiple languages at attractions and national parks. Other countries including Australia, Bermuda, Cambodia, Sweden, Panama and the Philippines also charge some type of departure fees that either include the tax as part of the airfare or require passengers to pay in cash at the port of departure.

The tax is common around the world, Rochelle Turner, World Travel & Tourism Council Research Director told Yahoo Finance. And she notes that since its incorporated into a travel ticket, many visitors may be unaware of them. More insights from Turner are available in the article from Yahoo Finance.