As of 11th October 2022, Japan has opened to tourists and travel entry requirements have been greatly simplfied. Regardless of your origin and citizenship, you will still need either proof of SARS-Covid-2 vaccination status, or a negative PCR test within 72 hours of travel.

Disclaimer

We try to be accurate, but we do not have all the facts about the requirements and procedures regarding re-entry to Japan. There may be different requirements depending on your circumstances, port of departure, port of arrival, etc. Also, the situation is changing from day to day and week to week. If you are concerned about anything regarding your arrival, do not rely on this article, contact your nearest Japanese consulate or embassy.

If you need some expert advice on visas and entry requirements, we’ve teamed up with Japan immigration lawyers to answer your enquiries. This isn’t free, but if you fill out our form, they will give you professional advice. For more general, free arrival advice, try our community forum.
Narita Airport mid-pandemic. | Photo by Friend of TC

Do I need a visa to enter Japan?

Japan has resumed visa waivers for most countries that had them in place prior to March 2020. If you are a citizen of a visa waiver country, you can enter Japan without applying for a visa and stay up to 90 days (depending on which country you are a citizen of).

International students

International students with eligible Certificates of Elegibility (COE) from Japanese immigration are now permitted to enter Japan.

Applications must be sent to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) by their educational institution. This means that even if you are eligible to travel to Japan, with the applications having to go through your educational institution, you will probably have to wait for your institution.

Business Travellers

Business travellers from visa waiver countries no longer need a visa for temporary visits. Certain activities are restricted (the same as they were pre-covid), so check with an immigration lawyer if you need clarification. You’ll need a suitable work visa if you are entering Japan for work.

Proof of vaccination status

Your vaccination certificate must meet the following requirements:

  • Certificate issued by a public institution in a country or region on the approved list
  • Be one of the following vaccines
    • COMIRNATY by Pfizer
    • Vaxzevria by AstraZeneca
    • Spikevax by Moderna
  • Includes your name, date of birth, vaccine name/manufacturer, date of vaccination, and doses of vaccines administered
  • At least 14 days must have passed since your second vaccine dose

The Visit Japan app accept electronic certificates, but if you haven’t pre-registered it would be sensible to get or print out a paper certificate. For more detail, including the list of approved countries and regions, see the latest information on proof of vaccination certificates from the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

Predeparture testing

Without the correct proof of vaccination travellers (foreigners, Japanese citizens and foreign residents) are required to get a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure and to bring the certificate of negative test result during their travels. You can print out a PDF version of a form on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) website that should be signed by the medical professional providing the test result. In many countries, the government runs free COVID-19 testing centers. Although “free” is great, we strongly recommend you look for a specialist “pre-departure testing” clinic that can comply with the requirements. The unavoidable downside of this, is that the fees are very expensive, although not as expensive as having to change all your travel plans. If the testing center can’t comply, the Ministry of Justice states that when the test result uses a different format, the written information should be the same as that on the document in the prescribed format (linked above). However, not all countries and territories are able to comply with these requirements, so check this FAQ document to find what exceptions (if any) may be available for your country.

Passengers are routinely refused check-in by airlines if any information is missing from the test result certificate. According to an airline staff member, the most commonly ommitted detail (that results in people being sent home) is failure to fill out the sample collection date and time that proves the test was taken inside the 72 hour pre-departure window.

Depending on where you are, getting the test result may take 1 to 2 days. You should get tested as soon as the 72-hour window opens so that you aren’t scrambling to get the certificate right before departure.

The test can be one of the following methods: Nucleic acid amplification test(any of RT-PCR, LAMP, TMA, TRC, Smart Amp, or NEAR), Next-generation sequence test, or a quantitative antigen test (CLEIA/ECLIA). The way that the test is administered is also important—check the sample test certificate for details of the acceptable sampling methods. Some entrants were forced to return to their countries of origin after arrival because their test was administered incorrectly. Also, note that a Quantitative antigen test is NOT a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT). A RAT is considered to be a qualitative test.

Top tip: If you are flying in from London, see our guide on where to get a “Fit to Fly” COVID certificate before your departure.

Arrival, testing, and immigration procedures

Arriving in Japan is once again a simple process, and faster than pre-covid times if you pre-register with the Visit Japan app.

Visit Japan Web

One of the few bonuses of COVID-19 has been the improvement in digital services by the Japanese Government. One such service produced by the Digital Services Agency is Visit Japan Web. Visit Japan Web is a web based app (ie. you don’t need to install it, just open it in a web browser on your phone) that allows you to upload your pre-departure SARS-Covi-2 vaccine certificate or negative test result certificate, as well as input your information for customs and immigration. After you’ve input your info, you will be able to display certificates and QR codes to theoretically speed up procedures.

Visit Japan App
Visit Japan web app is available in multiple languages

Where can I get more information?

Aside from the consular services section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, and the Ministry of Justice, one of the best resources is the Return to Japan Facebook group. As mentioned, procedures and requirements are in a constant state of flux, so it is very useful to hear the experiences of those who have recently arrived or returned.

Social distancing sign at the bus stop in terminal 3 of Narita International Airport with a shuttle bus
You can’t use these shuttle buses—they’re for departing passengers only. | Photo by iStock.com/kuremo

This article was first published on August 21, 2020 and is regularly updated. Last update: November 9th, 2022.

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