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Japan’s eased entry restrictions: What incoming travelers need to know

Posted by Japan Hana on November 29, 2021

For those who have been worried about when they can travel to Japan, the recent decision by Japan to ease entry restrictions on foreign nationals is a welcome development.

However, since the government began accepting entry documents Monday, it has become apparent that the process isn’t that seamless, since the companies and organizations handling visitors have to go through a number of hoops.

What does an individual traveler need to be aware of?

  • Who can visit Japan?

The country is now open to business travelers staying for less than three months as well as long-term residents, including international students and technical interns.

They will not be able to travel unless they belong to a company, organization, or school that will be responsible for their trip.

The government is not accepting those arriving for sightseeing purposes yet. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno has said the government will consider accepting tourist groups after inspecting the practicality of monitoring their activities by year-end.

In addition, those wishing to visit their families and friends cannot do so unless it is an urgent humanitarian need.

  • Do individuals need to apply for entry by themselves?

The company or organization that is inviting visitors need to apply some application and be guarantors for the visitors , and visitors should prepare a few documents. These include their passport, a COVID-19 test result showing abstinence and proof of vaccination.

  • Is it necessary to provide a COVID-19 test result?

Proof of a negative test result taken within 72 hours before departure is required. After arrival, the traveler will be tested again.

  • Is it necessary to be vaccinated to visit Japan?

No, but unvaccinated travelers will need to quarantine for 14 days in principle after their arrival.

To be treated as vaccinated, travelers need to be inoculated with vaccines approved by the government: Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca.

Original proof of vaccination is not needed, but a copy or electronic version is required. Whether it is an app, digital image or photo, the document is acceptable as long as it meets the government’s criteria, such as the certificate having been issued by a designated government or region and it showing that the individual has been inoculated at least twice.

  • How long is the quarantine period for vaccinated travelers?

The period can be as short as three days if approval is granted by the relevant ministries examining the application.

The three-day quarantine will only be granted to short-term business travelers and returning Japanese and foreign residents whose travel is backed by a company.

Foreign students and technical interns will need to undergo a 14-day isolation period. If they are vaccinated, it can be shortened to 10 days.

  • If the three-day quarantine is granted, will the travelers be completely free after the third day?

Not exactly. If they test negative on the third day, the quarantine period will be over, but they will still need to follow their activity plans for the next seven days, which are submitted beforehand to the government.

They will still be limited in their activities during those seven days.

On the final day of the quasi-isolation period, the 10th day after arrival, they will be released.

  • Will it still take some time to actually visit Japan even after an entry application is approved?

Probably. Japan currently accepts up to 3,500 travelers each day, both Japanese and foreigners.

Around 370,000 foreign nationals have already received their residence permits but are stuck in their home countries due to the entry ban. About 70% of these people are international students and technical trainees.

Although the government is considering bumping up the daily maximum number to 5,000, many will still have to wait for months to apply and fly to Japan.

The government has set time frames for foreign students and technical interns to apply for new entries.

Source: The Japantimes

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