The past few years have been marked with some very strict travel restrictions imposed on those coming into Japan and making it difficult for those already here to leave and come back. Going into the New Year, can we assume those travel restrictions are a thing of the past? Let’s find out!
The New Rules
With the information available on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Website it can be confirmed that travel restrictions have loosened almost entirely. However, there are still some measures in place to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 virus and its many variants.
All visas are being issued again including regular tourist visas without the need to book through a travel agency. There are no countries where denial of entry is enforced when trying to enter Japan. Most of the previous measures ended in September or October of last year and have remained that way going into the new year. Quarantine requirements have also been lifted. The only rules that remain in place (as of January 2023) are the ones involving Covid-19 vaccinations and tests.
Having a Covid-19 Test or Vaccination Certificate is Still Mandatory
As of January 2023, it is still required to submit either a vaccination certificate or negative Covid test upon entry or return to Japan from abroad. However, unless you are coming from China, a Covid test at the airport will not be conducted unless a traveler displays Covid-19 symptoms. To restate, only one document is required, not both. The requirements for either are as follows:
For travelers vaccinated at least three times against Covid-19, you can choose to use a vaccine certificate to pass the entry requirements. The certificate must follow three guidelines as stated on the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare website.
- The certificate must be issued by a government or public medical institution
- The certificate must have your name, date of birth, vaccine name/manufacturer, date of vaccinations, and number of doses administered in either English or Japanese
*A passport number instead of a date of birth is also valid
*A Japanese or English translation must be available for any documents not originally in one of those languages
- The type of vaccination must be approved by the World Health Organization (see the image below or the website for the full list of valid brands)
*Each of the three vaccinations does not have to be from the same brand, as long as the total number is three
Negative Test Certificate
As with the vaccination certificate, using a negative test certificate to enter Japan has some stipulations. These rules are also laid out by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, but they will also be listed below:
- The certificate must include your name, date of birth, the type of test used, the type of sample taken, the date and time of sample collection, the result, the name of the medical institution, and the date of reporting the results
- The above items must be written in either English or Japanese
*There are downloadable forms on the website with translations in 18 different languages that are also valid
- The test must be a Nucleic Acid Amplification Test or a Quantitative Antigen Test
*A qualitative antigen test is not valid
- The sample collection must be a nasopharyngeal swab, saliva, oropharyngeal swab, or, only in the case of a Nucleic Acid Amplification test, a nasal swab
- The time of the test must be within 72 hours of the flight departure
*There is some forgiveness in the case of delayed flights as long as the time between the test and the new departure does not exceed 96 hours
Whichever method you use, there are guidelines involved, but overall they have been greatly reduced from what they have been in the past several years. Traveling into Japan is now easier than it has been during the entire pandemic. Japan is still very conscious of the dangers of the pandemic, and there is no guarantee some of these rules won’t change if there is evidence of any newly emerging dangerous variant. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is constantly monitoring and assessing risks, so its website will have the most up-to-date info available. New information will usually be displayed in bold red text, so be sure to give the website a skim when planning any international traveling to or from Japan. Then, hopefully, all of your 2023 travelings will go smoothly!
-Written by Mallory Jenkins, master’s student at International Christian University