0016063 Grey market iPhones and iPads now legal in Japan thanks to iOS 4.2When Apple releases hot gadgets like the iPhone and iPad, the release schedule often has to be staggered across the world to enable production to be ramped up and to give Apple time to ensure that the products comply with local laws.

Invariably when this happens, a healthy grey market in illegal imports rapidly develops.  This was the situation in gadget hungry Japan with the iPhone and the iPad.

Most countries have their own laws regarding wireless transmission devices such as mobile phones or wifi enabled computers.  The manufacturers are legally bound to comply with these laws and, often,  have a legal requirement to display this compliance on the devices before they can sell them on the local market.

This usually takes the form of a tiny engraving on the back of the device or a sticker in the battery compartment.

Of course, iPhones and iPads imported to Japan on the grey market do not carry this engraving and, even though they may comply with the law technically, have been considered illegal because they don’t display that compliance information.

In March, Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) announced a small change in the law stating that it is acceptable for devices to display their legal compliance electronically.

Last week’s release of iOS 4.2.1 by Apple was the final piece in the jigsaw.  Apple’s iPhones and iPads, now carry that compliance notice within their software and are therefore now officially legal in Japan, no matter where they were imported from.

So, if you’re in Japan with an iPhone or iPad imported from overseas, upgrade to iOS4.2.1 now for that warm fuzzy feeling that you’re now officially legal.