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How to Become a Costco Member in Japan

A step-by-step guide to becoming a Costco Japan member. Find membership types and costs, pros and cons of being a member, and how to use Costco Online.

Want to become a Costco Japan member but don’t know where to start? This article will give you everything you need to know to create a Costco Japan membership (even if you don’t speak Japanese).

In this guide we will cover:

  • What types of membership are available
  • How much a membership costs
  • Is a Costco Japan membership worth it?
  • How to create a membership
  • How to start using Costco Japan Online
  • What to do if you’re a Costco member in another country

Benefits of Being a Costco Japan Member

If you’re reading this article, you’re probably already familiar with Costco and the great selection of items you can find inside.

As a Costco member, you get:

  • Access to any Costco location
  • Access to the Costco Japan online store
  • An extra membership card for a family member (your children can come in with you at any time)
  • The ability to bring up to 2 guests into the store

Costco is known for having great deals on bulk items, and you can save a lot of money. Plus, you get access to Costco’s Kirkland brand, which has a lot of great products (we always buy the microwave popcorn, maple syrup, and spices).

These are great benefits, and if you shop smart, you can save a lot of money.

You also might be wondering, what does Costco Japan have that other Costco locations don’t?

Besides all of the usual products that you see around the world—pizzas, rotisserie chicken, and Kirkland products, among other favorites—Costco Japan has unique items that you likely won’t find anywhere else.

You can buy deli trays of Japanese sushi, for example, or buy Japanese seasonings and ingredients in bulk. There’s a large selection of seafood, both fresh and frozen. And you can also find Japan-exclusive flavors on the fast food menu in the store. (Right now, they’re selling sweet chestnut-flavored ice cream for fall.)

Downsides to a Costco Japan membership

Here are a few things you might want to consider before becoming a Costco Japan member.

  • Costco Japan warehouses are usually located away from main train stations. You’ll likely need to use a car or take a bus to get to your closest store.
  • If you’re planning to move to Japan, be aware that Japanese homes and apartments tend to be small and short on storage space. It can be difficult to store lots of bulk items from Costco. (To solve this problem, many people split up their purchases with friends and family.)
  • Costco Japan locations only take cash or Mastercard as payment methods.

Membership Types and Prices

Costco has 3 membership types:

  • Gold Star Members
  • Business Members
  • Executive Members

Gold Star Members

This is the basic membership level for individuals who shop at Costco. This gets you into any Costco location around the world. You can get a second card made for free for another adult family member.

At the time of writing, a Gold Star membership costs ¥4840 per year.

Business Members

This is for business owners. It doesn’t matter if you shop for your business or for personal use. As long as you have a business, you can apply for a Business membership.

I applied for this one because I have a business, and it’s slightly cheaper than the Gold Star membership. I was able to show my business’ website as proof of my ownership.

You can also add additional people to a Business membership.

At the time of writing, a Business membership costs ¥4235 per year.

Executive Members

Whether you’re a business owner or an individual, you’re eligible to sign up for an Executive membership.

The Executive membership gets you the same benefits as the basic levels, plus 2% cash back rewards on your purchases up to ¥100,000 per year. You also get exclusive deals and discounts only for Executive members.

At the time of writing, an Executive membership costs ¥9,900 per year.

How to Sign Up for a Costco Japan Membership

Getting your membership card

To become a member, all you need to do is fill out an application, pay for your first year of membership, and set up a payment method for your annual payments. You can do this online or in-store.

If you sign up online, you’ll be asked to pay with a Mastercard. If you don’t have one, you can also sign up for a Costco Global Card through the Japanese credit card company Orico.

If you don’t have a Mastercard, you can also sign up for a membership card in-store at the Membership counter.

In my experience, there are usually English-speaking or foreign staff that can help you. You can also fill out a pre-registration form online to save you time.

Make sure to bring a photo ID with your address printed on it for your application. And if you’re applying for a Business membership, you’ll need proof of your business, too.

After you’re approved, you’ll get a membership card with your name and photo on it that you can use to enter Costco stores around the world.

Signing up for Costco Online

Costco Online gives you the added benefit of being able to order Costco products online for home delivery. There are also some online-only products for serious shoppers. (While browsing through the online store, I found a PacMan arcade game, a telescope, and an official-sized futsal goal.)

After you get your membership card, you can apply for an online account through this registration form.

Using an overseas membership

If you have a Costco card from overseas, you can use it to get into Costco Japan as well. But if you want to shop online, you’ll need to convert your membership into a Costco Japan membership first. You can contact Costco Customer Service to find more details about converting a membership.

It’s not difficult to become a Costco Japan member. By following the steps in this guide, you can quickly create a membership and get access to stores across Japan. Now go forth and enjoy all the sushi you can eat!

Amanda Horiuchi is a freelance writer, toddler mom, and productivity nerd based in Tokyo. Her blog is called Productive Mom Life.

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