Why haven’t you moved to Japan yet? When are you relocating overseas? Are you still going? We get asked some variation of these questions all the time. It’s frustrating because we don’t really have answers. The adults in our family are fully vaccinated, but the little kids aren’t. Plus, navigating the Japan COVID travel restrictions and quarantine rules is tricky for a large family.
We’re going to cover the current guidelines in this blog post with a word of caution. Things are changing all the time, so please check with your airline or official government websites before booking a flight or leaving for the airport. Also, if you’re traveling to Japan, don’t wait until the last minute to get prepared. Give yourself plenty of time to avoid complications.
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Entry Requirements for Japan
Whether you’re relocating, traveling for business, or as a tourist in Japan, you will need to adhere to the entry requirements. There’s just no way around this (nor should there be). Japan has some of the strictest COVID travel restrictions in the world. This may not appeal to some, but we personally love it.
Who can enter Japan?
Japanese citizens and permanent residents can travel to Japan. People with valid visas who are traveling for work, study, or to be with family can also enter the country. These rules change all the time, though, so you definitely need to look at the most current information.
According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA) website, “All foreign nationals who wish to newly enter Japan need to apply for a visa except for those with re-entry permit.” They’ve also explained that the visa approval process may take longer than usual, though, due to the pandemic.
Do I need to take a COVID test?
You will need to provide proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of traveling to Japan. If you’re connecting through different cities or countries, please note that the test must be provided prior to your original departure.
It can’t just be any old test. The collection and testing method must be among those approved by the Japanese government. You can find these on the Certificate of Testing for COVID-19 document. You must have it signed and stamped by the laboratory where it was taken.
Do I have to quarantine in Japan?
You must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Japan. You must submit a signed Written Pledge declaring that you will adhere to policies implemented by Japan’s Minister of Health, Labour, and Welfare (MHLW).
Here are some simplified details about the process:
- You can quarantine at a hotel or at a private residence.
- Officials will ask for the address of where you are staying.
- You cannot use public transportation.
- Officials will ask for proof of how you will commute.
- You must have a Japanese phone number and smartphone.
- You must download several tracking and communication apps.
If you request a PCR test when you arrive in Japan, you could skip the quarantine if it’s negative. You can’t use public transportation. Your movements will be monitored. Also, if you don’t have a smartphone, you may be able to rent one from the airport when you land in Japan.
Will I need to be vaccinated?
As of July 2021, Japan started accepting applications for vaccine passports. These allow fully vaccinated individuals to travel internationally to specific destinations without needing to quarantine when they return to Japan.
The Japanese vaccination passport will include the following information:
- Date of birth
- Passport number
- Type of vaccine
- Dates of inoculations
- The municipality where it was issued
While government documents are typically only available in Japanese, the vaccine passports will also include English. To obtain one, you’ll have to submit an application to the MHLW. You’ll need to provide the following details:
- Vaccine passport application form
- Proof of vaccination
- Vaccination voucher
For now, the application must be submitted by mail or in-person, but a digital system may be implemented in the future.
Helpful Websites for Japan Travel
We’ve already mentioned some resources, but it’s always better to create a list. For additional details about the Japan COVID travel restrictions and quarantine rules, read more at the following links:
Japanese government sites
- Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan
- Minister of Health, Labour, and Welfare
- Japan National Tourism Organization
- U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Japan
You may not be arriving by JAL or ANA carriers, so please check with your airline. It’s also a good idea to check the information at both your departure and arrival airports for additional information. If you start feeling stressed out, be sure to read our ultimate guide to traveling with anxiety. It might help you navigate this process with less frustration!
How Safe is it to Travel to Japan Right Now?
It’s tough to answer this question because everyone has found their own level of comfort during the pandemic. Some people aren’t concerned about being exposed to COVID. Others, some with underlying health conditions that put them at greater risk, are taking major precautions. We’d fall into that latter category.
Here are some questions to consider:
- Do you have any pre-existing medical conditions?
- Have you been fully vaccinated?
- Are you traveling with unvaccinated kids?
- Do you have friends or family in Japan who can help, if needed?
- Will following Japan’s travel restrictions and quarantine rules be too difficult?
- Are you willing to wear a face mask (a long-time, common practice in Japan)?
It’s currently very tough to even get into Japan for foreign nationals, so most people couldn’t even travel there if they wanted. It’s important that you carefully weigh the seriousness of the situation before making plans.
Japan is a country of rule followers. Please don’t go expecting them to make exceptions for you. When it’s finally our turn to book flights and find a home, we’ll be so excited. Until then, we’re going to keep planning and dreaming!