Traveling to/from Japan During COVID-19
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on travel to and from Japan and is likely to have an ongoing affect on life here for some time yet. The following page is intended to provide accurate and relevant information for people planning to visit Japan from aboard, along with those already here and planning to travel between prefectures for tourism purposes.
The information provided on this page is intended for travelers and foreign nationals entering Japan for tourism purposes. This page includes the following information:
The situation remains fluid and the information provided is accurate as of time of publication. We will endeavour to update the information to reflect any change as quickly as possible.
1 / LATEST NEWS & UPDATES
The following recent developments may be of interest:
Apr-30 2021: the government has again commented that Japan will introduce some form of ‘vaccine passport’ in the form of a smartphone app that will facilitate movement of people in and out of the country. It is believe digital passport will record evidence of having had a COVID-19 vaccination along with negative test results, potentially allowing persons who have not yet been vaccinated to travel. While nothing concrete has yet been announced, it’s a positive step toward re-opening the international border. or further information, see our ‘Japan’s COVID-19 Vaccination Passport’ page.
Mar-21 2021: it’s official. Japanese officials have announced that international visitors will not be permitted to enter Japan as spectators for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. Scheduled to start on July 23rd 2021, the Games look set to go ahead however it will unfortunately be without any international visitors in the stadiums. All tickets already sold to international visitors will be refunded in full. There is no official word yet about entry of the teams and supporting staff. For further information, see our ‘Tokyo 2020: Traveling in Japan During the Olympics & COVID-19’ page.
Mar 21 2021: the ‘State of Emergency’ (SOE) has been lifted from the last four prefectures – Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama – meaning that no region of Japan is under a SOE at this time. There is yet to be an announcement about the resumption of travel arrangements including the residence and business streams. Once an announcment is made and that information is avaialbe, we will update this page.
Mar-15 2021: trials of a proposed ‘Common Pass’ have taken place at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. Five participants underwent COVID-19/PCR tests which were transmitted to a laboratory with all five participants receiving negative test results to their phones within two hours. Those results are then displayed as a ‘universal digital certificate’ which can then be used to satisfy entry requirements of a travelers’ destination country upon check-in in their country of origin. For further information, see our ‘Japan’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program’ page.
Feb 03 2021: following the announcement of extension of the ‘State of Emergency’ (SOE) in ten prefectures in Japan, it has also been announced that the suspension of travel arrangements will be extended until the SOE has been lifted. At this time, the SOE is in effect until at least March 7th therefore we can expect that entry for foreign nationals – other than foreign residents of Japan – will continue until at least that date.
Jan 13 2021: the government has announced the temporary suspension of arrangements – including the ‘Residence Track’ and ‘Business Track’ – for nationals of 11 countries, effectively banning entry to Japan by all foreign nationals – other than those with an existing residence visa – until at least February 7th 2021. The decision is in response to the increasing spread of COVID-19 and in order to prevent the introduction of new variants to Japan. Japanese citizens and foreign residents of Japan with a valid entry visa are still able to travel however are required to undertake 2-weeks quarantine upon arrival and may be asked to provide a negative COVID-19 test result prior to departure from their country of origin.
Jan 07 2021: in response to the increasing spread of COVID-19 in Japan and following discussion of suspending entry for all foreign nationals, the government has announced that the 11 nationalities eligible to travel under the ‘Residence Track’ and ‘Business Track’ can continue to apply to travel to and enter Japan. Foreign residents of Japan with a current entry visa and Japanese citizens are also still able to enter. The situation continues to develop and the government’s decision may well be reversed should circumstances demand it. We will update this page if further information becomes available.
For complete information regarding COVID-19 in Japan including a timeline of events, please see our ‘COVID-19 Update’ page.
2 / ENTERING JAPAN – IS JAPAN OPEN FOR TRAVEL?
For most foreign nationals, travel to Japan is currently banned – see below for information regarding affected countries passports. There is no definitive advice on when this is likely to change however the government continues to push for ‘travel bubbles’ between specific countries deemed to be low-risk in terms of COVID-19. Also referred to as ‘travel corridors’, ‘travel bridges’ and ‘travel free zones’, it is hoped that such agreements are the first step to opening the border to more fully around spring 2021.
For the time being, there are two categories of foreign nationals who can enter Japan:
1 / Long-term residents of Japan with an eligible visa i.e. foreign passport-holders who are dependents of Japanese nationals, international students, residing in Japan for work, etc. are now able to return to Japan as long as they meet and follow certain requirements – see ‘Residence Track’ information below for details.
2 / Short-term business travelers from specific countries can or will soon be able to enter Japan to undertake business-related activities, also dependent on entrants meeting and meeting certain requirements – see ‘Business Track’ information below for details.
In 2019, 31.9 million foreign visitors entered Japan – the seventh successive year that set a new record. Building on this strong trend, the government targeted 40 million arrivals in 2020. That however was prior to the emergence and dramatic impact of COVID-19. As COVID-19 has spread around the world, Japan has announced bans for specific foreign nationals/passport on entering Japan. As a result, arrivals have dropped sharply with only 2,900 foreign passport holders arriving in Japan in April 2020 – a drop of 99.9% from the previous year.
Japan has four major international airports: Narita (Tokyo), Haneda (Tokyo), Kansai (Osaka) and Chubu (Nagoya). Regardless of which airport you intend to fly into, the same requirements apply. Given the impact of COVID-19 on entry to Japan, the first question every traveler needs to ask is, will I be allowed to enter?
3 / WILL I GET A VISA/ALLOWED TO ENTER JAPAN?
At this time, a ban applies to 159 countries including non-residents who have entered or transited the affected countries in recent weeks. We recommend referring directly to the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan for the up-to-date list of countries/passports affected by the current travel ban. If you are affected by the ban, you will not be allowed to enter Japan.
Recent steps taken by the government mean that some foreign nationals can travel to Japan under the following tracks:
1 / Residence Track: foreign passport-holders with longer stay/residence visas are able to return to Japan. This covers (but is not limited to) dependents on Japanese nationals i.e. partners, international students, people resident for work, etc.
In order to enter Japan under the ‘residence track’, the passport-holder must have an eligible visa to enter Japan, fulfill certain requirements prior to departing for Japan, and continue to meet certain requirements upon arrival. Importantly, people entering under the residence track will be required to quarantine/self-isolate at a designated location for at least 14-days after arrival. It is important to note that – somewhat confusingly – some short-term business travel between certain countries may also be process through the residence track.
For further information, see our ‘Who Can Travel to Japan & What’s Required?’ page.
2 / Business Track: through negotiation with other governments, nationals of a limited number of countries can travel to Japan for short-term business trips.
In order to enter Japan under the ‘business track’, the passport-holder must have an eligible visa, fulfill certain requirements prior to departing for Japan, and continue to meet certain requirements upon arrival. Importantly, people entering under the residence track will have to submit their intended itinerary of activities in advance for approval and while not quarantined in Japan, they will effectively be restricted to their hotel and/or places of business. The important thing is that while movement will be very restricted, visitors under this track aren’t required to quarantine in Japan.
For further information, see our ‘Who Can Travel to Japan & What’s Required?’ page.
4 / WILL I BE QUARANTINED IN JAPAN?
In response to the changing nature of the pandemic and who can entry Japan, rules around quarantine also regularly change. We will endeavor to keep this information up-to-date. As of June 2021, only Japanese citizens and foreign residents of Japan are able to enter. In order to do so, any person seeking to enter Japan must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of their departure for Japan. All persons are currently also required to self-isolate for 14-days upon arrival during which time they must also report their location and health status and they are not permitted to use public transport in that time.
At this time there are different types of quarantine depending on the travel history of the entrant starting with:
1 / MUST SPEND FIRST 10 DAYS IN A GOVERNMENT FACILITY
Japanese citizens and foreign residents who have visited Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Pakistan or Sri Lanka in the past 14-days must spend the first 10 days of isolation in a government facility where they will be tested multiple times. If all tests are negative, after 10 days then can leave the facility and complete their 14-day quarantine at home.
2 / MUST SPEND FIRST 6 DAYS IN A GOVERNMENT FACILITY
Japanese citizens and foreign residents who have visited Malaysia or Vietnam in the past 14-days must spend the first 6 days of isolation in a government facility where they will be tested multiple times. If all tests are negative, after 6 days then can leave the facility and complete their 14-day quarantine at home.
3 / MUST SPEND FIRST 3 DAYS IN A GOVERNMENT FACILITY
Japanese citizens and foreign residents who have a long list of countries and region in the past 14-days must spend the first 3 days of isolation in a government facility where they will be tested multiple times. If all tests are negative, after 3 days then can leave the facility and complete their 14-day quarantine at home. The list of affected regions is long and constantly changing but at this time applies to most European countries and others including Brazil, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Nigeria, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Tunisia, the UAE and multiple states in the United States. Please refer to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for the latest information.
4 / CAN SELF-ISOLATE AT HOME FOR ALL 14-DAYS
Japanese citizens and foreign residents who have not travelled to any of the above countries and regions in the past 14 days must take a COVID-19 test upon arrival and if negative, can self-isolate at home for the entire 14-day period.
For information about the current situation in Japan, please refer to our ‘COVID-19 Update’ page.
5 / JAPAN’S COVID-19 VACCINATION PASSPORT
Consistent with many countries around the world, Japan has announced its intention to utilise some form of digital vaccination passport in an effort to re-open its international. While the exact details of how this will work and which digital platform Japan will use are not yet confirmed, the government appears committed to rolling-out a smartphone app which travelers can use to satisfy the health requirement and allowing them to travel to Japan. It is hoped that this will facilitate opening of the international border in the near future. For further information, see our ‘Japan’s COVID-19 Vaccination Passport’ page.
6 / WHEN WILL I BE ABLE TO TRAVEL TO JAPAN?
Like all countries, Japan wants to open its borders as soon as possible. Nationals of certain countries are now allowed to enter Japan for short-term business purposes under the ‘travel corridor’ agreed with nations including Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Taiwan, Thailand, Brunei, and South Korea.
Foreign residents and longer stay visitors can now also return. While entry for tourism purposes remains banned, these are steps in the right direction and we hope restrictions on certain countries may soon be lifted. As the borders open for foreign arrivals, it is likely that movement within in Japan will still be restricted. We will update this page with announcements as that takes place.
7 / JAPAN’S COVID-19 VACCINATION PROGRAM INC. VACCINATION PASSPORT
Get the latest news and information about the roll-out of Japan’s COVID-19 vaccination program including which vaccines will be used, when and who will be vaccinated, whether you need to be vaccinated to travel here and development of a vaccination passport.
8 / #TRAVELTOMORROW: WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN PLANNING YOUR VISIT TO JAPAN
With conversation now turning to reopening the borders over the coming months, many people are considering their options for international travel. The booming numbers of international arrivals prior to the onset of COVID-19, attest to the popularity of Japan as a destination. We hope to again be welcoming international visitors to this beautiful country soon.
When planning your visit to Japan, we encourage you to consider the following:
1 / Entering Japan: as discussed above, many countries are subject to an entry ban at this time. A limited number of foreign nationals – long-term residents of Japan and short-term business travelers from certain countries – are able to travel so long as they meet and follow specified requirements. Prior to booking your visit to Japan, ensure that you will be permitted entry by checking the status on your passport on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website (included above).
2 / Quarantine: use the same link to check whether you will be required to undergo quarantine upon arrival. In addition, also check the re-entry requirements to your own country to confirm whether you will be required to undergo quarantine upon your return from Japan.
3 / Movement once in Japan: it is possible that even once you enter Japan, restrictions on your movement may still apply and/or some localities may be closed. Do your research and consider where you want to visit prior to arriving. As much as possible, keep your plans flexible, allowing you to change your itinerary if required. Stay informed by using foreign language services in Japan to check the daily information.
Our ‘Traveling inside Japan during COVID-19’ page provides information and tips on planning your travel in Japan during COVID-19.
4 / Health services in Japan: Japanese enjoy one of the world’s best public health systems and medical facilities. As an international visitor, it is worth considering what you have access to and what will happen, should you need treatment while here. Our ‘Heath Care & Assistance in Japan’ page provides information regarding what to expect and what you have access to while here.
5 / Insurance: regardless of when you come to Japan, travel insurance is a must. While it is a very safe country in terms of personal safety and your possessions, no country is perfect and unfortunate things can happen. Should you require medical attention or hospitalisation during your visit, your insurance will be crucial to avoiding a potentially huge cost. Prior to traveling ensure that your travel insurance has reasonable cover for medical treatment and specifically check what is covered in relation to COVID-19.
6 / Cancellations and refunds: when booking your travel – including your air travel, accommodation, tours, etc. – check their policy regarding cancellation and refunds. Once you are free to travel to Japan, things may yet change again. When booking your future travel, check what happens should a recurrence of COVID-19 prevent you from traveling prior to booking.