It's been a long time coming, but Japan is finally opening up to tourists.
As of June 10, tourists are now allowed to visit Japan — but only as a part of guided package tours arranged by travel agencies.
If you're interested in visiting, we've put together this quick summary (based on the latest available government sources) to help you understand what is required and what to expect.
This information comes directly from the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO). JNTO is the general outreach and publication arm of the Japan Tourism Agency, part of Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT).
To get the full detailed overview, we recommend reading JNTO’s comprehensive guide called "COVID-19: Practical Information for Traveling to Japan".
To see the MLIT announcement regarding the "Resumption of Accepting Overseas Tourists from June 10 2022 (which covers official mask wearing guidelines as well as other general etiquette and safety precautions).
COVID-19: Practical Information for Traveling to Japan (JNTO)
Resumption of Accepting Overseas Tourists from June 10 2022 (MLIT)
Before we dive in, here’s a quick recap of the major announcements regarding foreign visitors from the past few months.
● April 10: Japan raised its daily foreign arrival limit from 7,000 to 10,000. Tourists are excluded.
● May 24: Japan held its first small-scale tourism test tour.
● June 1: Japan raised its daily foreign arrival limit from 10,000 to 20,000. Tourists are still excluded. Testing and quarantine requirements are removed for people arriving from “low-risk” countries. Negative test results, however, are still required.
● June 10: Japan allows tourists (on guided tours only).
Who can come?
At this time, you are only allowed to visit Japan as a tourist if you are coming from a country classified as low-risk (blue).
The Japanese government has created three country risk classifications — blue, yellow and red.
98 countries are classified as blue including Australia, Korea, Thailand, the U.S., the U.K., and Canada.
103 countries are classified as yellow and red including India, Viet Nam, Ukraine, Portugal and Pakistan.
Grouping of the country or region of your stay before arriving in Japan (MHLW)
If you’ve determined that you are coming from a country on the blue list, then the next thing you must do is book a tour with a tour agency.
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Book a Tour
Before you book a tour with a tour agency, remember that the agency is required to explain all the necessary terms and conditions to you. You must agree to them before you purchase the tour.
These terms and conditions include:
● Wearing masks
● Sanitizing hands
● Buying travel insurance with adequate COVID-19 coverage
● Paying your own medical expenses if you test positive for COVID-19
● Registering your information online with immigration and customs
Summary of the “Guidelines for Accepting Overseas Tourists (MLIT)
Apply for a Visa
Once you purchase the tour, the agency will provide you with an ERFS certificate.
ERFS stands for "Entrants, Returnees Follow-up System". It is the certificate provided by the organization in Japan which will receive you when you arrive.
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Once you receive the ERFS certificate, you must use it to apply for a visa at your local Japanese embassy.
Test Negative for COVID-19
Once you receive your visa, you must test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours before your scheduled departure time.
Photo by Maskmedicare Shop on Unsplash
It is important to remember that the 72-hour window starts from the time your sample is taken, not from the time you receive your results.
When you receive your negative test certificate, you must register it using the Japanese government’s MySOS application.
Your negative test certificate will be reviewed and the application’s screen will turn blue. You must show this blue screen at the quarantine office when you arrive in Japan.
MySOS application (MHLW)
Register your Information with Immigration and Customs
Before you get on the plane, the last step you need to take is to register your immigration and customs information using the Japanese government’s online “Visit Japan Web” portal.
When you complete this step, you will receive QR codes that you will use to present at immigration and customs when you arrive in Japan.
See this page for an overview and explanation of “Visit Japan Web”.
Visit Japan Web Portal Site
An overview and explanation of Visit Japan Web
That’s it! Once you have completed these steps, you are ready to board your flight.
Arriving in Japan
When you arrive in Japan, remember that because you are coming from a country on the blue list and you have completed the steps above, you are no longer required to take a COVID-19 test or quarantine when you arrive.
Simply present the MySOS app blue screen and the QR codes mentioned above to make it through immigration and customs.
Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash
Once you’ve made it through, look for your tour conductor, follow their instructions and be mindful of all safety guidelines and social etiquette to enjoy your visit to Japan!
As a reminder, you can read the full detailed JNTO guide titled “COVID-19: Practical Information for Traveling to Japan.
JNTO has also created a simple one-page flow chart which summarizes all the information above.