Japan Officially Reopens Borders: Here’s Everything You Need to Know
Updated: Oct 31, 2020
The government has started lifting its entry ban on 159 countries and regions, which means foreign nationals can now visit Japan again. This decision comes after months of locking down Japan’s borders that started in April due to the coronavirus pandemic.
There’s a caveat, though. Not all visitors will be allowed to re-enter Japan.
Business travelers, students, international talents, and those who are seeking residency in Japan will be allowed. Tourists, unfortunately, will not be allowed. The announcement came as Japan gears up for the Tokyo Games, which have been held off until next summer.
Everyone has to apply for a visa and meet a list of requirements to be granted permission to enter Japan. In addition, every foreign traveler’s employer and sponsor will face additional requirements too.
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Am I Eligible to Enter Japan?
Those who seek an entry clearance can now do so. But who is qualified?
All foreign nationals who want to relocate to Japan for any reason other than sightseeing. Acceptable reasons include work or study.
Those without Japanese passports who are meaning to join their families in Japan under dependent visas can also get entry clearance.
Unlike the travel advisory set in April, there will be no more preconditions for foreign travelers like urgent humanitarian reasons whatsoever.
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Do note, however, that not all foreign travelers from 159 countries and territories have the same entry requirements. Those who come from places with higher numbers of coronavirus cases will be subject to stricter requirements. Also, a limited number of entries will be allowed from these places per day.
Meanwhile, countries that have the coronavirus infections under control and those that have reciprocal cross-border travel agreement with Japan will be free from stricter conditions. These include Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Brunei.
Note also that the number of entries allowed per day is subject to the testing capacity at international airports. At press time, it’s currently set 10,000 tests per day across three major airports in Japan.
Back on September 1, foreign nationals with legal residence status in Japan were allowed to travel in and out of the country.
What Are the Requirements for Entering Japan?
Before, during, and after arrival in Japan, all travelers will have to meet strict conditions. What are these?
Travelers need to keep track of their health conditions for 14 days before departing for Japan. They will be required to test negative for the virus within 72 hours prior to their flight.
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Documents confirming the test have to be written in English and signed by a licensed physician from the medical institution that conducted the test. You can use the certification form for COVID-19 tests on the Justice Ministry’s website. Note that only negative results for molecular diagnostic tests done through a nasopharyngeal swab or saliva samples using the real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction method — the so-called LAMP and CLEIA methods — are valid.
Only travelers from 35 countries not subject to the entry restrictions will not be required to submit pre-entry test results.
Travelers will also be required to undergo a 14-day self-isolation at designated locations. It could be a hotel, company quarters, apartment, or private accommodation. Before arrival in Japan, all travelers will be asked to fill out a health questionnaire and report so authorities would know where they are self-isolating after arriving in Japan.
They will not be allowed to use public transportation during this period, including when leaving the airport.