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Traveling to/from Japan During COVID-19

Traveling to/from Japan During COVID-19

Last updated: November 30, 2020

haneda-airport

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:

1 / Latest News & Updates

2 / Entering Japan – is Japan open for travel?

3 / Will I get a visa/be allowed to enter Japan?

4 / Will I be quarantined in Japan?

5 / When will I be able to travel to Japan?

6 / #TRAVELTOMORROW: what to consider when planning your visit to Japan

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 development may be of interest:

Nov 30 2020: as of today, nationals of China are eligible to travel to Japan under the ‘Business Track’, joining nationals of Singapore, South Korea and Vietnam. For further details, see our ‘Who Can Travel To Japan & What’s Required?’ page.

Nov-26: the government has signalled that if the nationwide spread of COVID-19 infections is not reduced in the coming three weeks, they will have no choice but to declare a ‘state of emergency’. While no official decision has been made, the announcement puts the country on notice that should the situation not improve, a state of emergency will be reintroduce to at least some regions.

Nov-24: news outlet Bloomberg has released a report into the countries which have handled COVID-19 most efficiently with the least disruption to daily life and their economies.  Ranking 53 countries with economies of over $200 billion on 10 metrics including the overall spread of the virus, mortality rate, the capacity of the health system and affect on the economy, the research ranked New Zealand first,  Japan second and Taiwan third. The report cites Japan’s previous handling of tuberculosis outbreaks and existing facilities and contact tracing which have been effectively redeployed to tackle COVID-19.

Nov 9 2020: the government has agreed to the resumption of short and long-term business travel from China from the middle of November onward, under the ‘Business Track’ currently open to nationals of Singapore, South Korea and Vietnam. The date on which this will come into effect has not yet been confirmed. We will update our pages once that information is available.

Nov 5 2020: Japan has lowered the travel advisory from Level 3 to Level 2, for countries including Australia, Brunei, China including Hong Kong and Macau New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. Japanese nationals and foreign residents of Japan will be able to travel to these countries – at this time, only for business purposes – and have the 14-day isolation period waived upon their return so long as there trip is less than 7-days in duration and other requirements are met.

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.

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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.

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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?


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It depends on your circumstances. Anyone eligible to enter Japan at this time – both foreign nationals and Japanese citizens – who has recently entered one of the countries subject to a travel ban, will likely be required to undergo a 14-day period of quarantine upon arrival in Japan unless your are entering via a travel agreement that does not require you to undergo quarantine – see above for details.

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Unless you are exempt from quarantine under the ‘business track’, it is important to note that even if you test negative for COVID-19 you will still be required to undergo quarantine. Quarantine may occur in-place i.e. at the airport you arrive at or at a hotel provided for you. You will not be permitted to use public transport or visit public areas in that time, and it is likely that even once your period of quarantine is finished, limitations on your movement will still apply including a ban on using public transport.

For information about the current situation in Japan, please refer to our ‘COVID-19 Update’ page.

5 / When will I be able to travel to Japan?


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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.

6 / #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.