Since the beginning of March, border restrictions have been finally lifted for foreign nationals coming to Japan for study, work, or short-term business purposes. This comes after months of protests from business lobbies and academic institutions that pointed out the damages to the economy and the country’s reputation, as the country has kept the harshest border policies among the G7 in a difficult-to-justify move that left stranded around 400,000 foreigners who already had a Certificate of Eligibility. It’s the second attempt to relax border controls since November last year when the entry ban was briefly partially lifted only to close again at the end of the same month when the Omicron variant was discovered. Now that this variant has become prevalent inside Japan as well, keeping the borders closed is pointless. Before that, borders had been tightly shut since April 2020, following the COVID-19 pandemic declaration, and only partially reopened for two months in October 2020 before closing n January 2021, after the Delta variant was discovered. During the whole time, foreign tourists have been completely banned from entering the country. And while tourists are still unable to visit, this is supposed to be the first stage in a gradual border normalization. With the border reopening, it was also increased the daily cap of people allowed to enter the country from 3,500 to 5,000 since March 1, further increased to 7,000 on March 14, and with the possibility of raising it to 10,000 from April onwards. As for quarantine measures, the number of days has been dropped to 3 for most cases. Keep reading for details.

Except for a brief window between October 2020 and January 2021, and during November 2021, the country has remained closed to new arrivals for the entirety of the pandemic except for family visas or exceptional circumstances. Since the beginning of March 2022, new entries for business purposes or long-term stays are allowed. In all cases, everything must be verified with the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and each country’s corresponding Japanese consulate or embassy.

Quarantine measures: Change of self-quarantine period after entry into Japan (New)
Based on the New Border Measure, the self-quarantine period and place of accommodation after their entry into Japan may be changed whether they obtain a valid COVID-19 vaccination certificate, and, they enter/return from countries/regions of 3-days quarantine at specific facilities designated by the chief of the quarantine station.
Please see 3. Quarantine measures are below for further information. For FAQ about Quarantine measures, please see Japanese Border Measures (Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare)

The new measures stipulate that a negative nasopharyngeal swab COVID-19 PCR test certificate must be presented within 72 hours before departure to Japan or else, all airlines will not allow to board the flight. Along with the certificate expedited by the corresponding medical institution, a Japanese certificate following the government’s required guidelines must be presented upon landing.

It’s highly advisable to have completed, before boarding or during transit, an online questionnaire for the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare as it must be shown to airport officials after landing.

After arrival in Japan, a saliva COVID-19 PCR test will be conducted at the airport quarantine stations. If the result is negative, travelers may quarantine for 7 or 3 days or none at all depending on the following circumstances:

  • For those coming from designated countries where Omicron variant is dominant:
    • If no booster vaccination certificate is provided, they must spend the first 3 days at a designated quarantine facility. They may leave the facilities without further quarantining if a negative test is provided on the third day.
    • With a booster vaccination certificate, they may self quarantine at home or their desired accommodation for 7 days. If a negative test is provided at the third day, quarantine will be no longer necessary.
  • For those coming from countries not designated:
    • If no booster vaccination certificate is provided, they can self quarantine at their preferred accommodation for 7 days or shorten the quarantine if they provide a negative PCR test at the third day.
    • With a booster vaccination certificate, quarantine will not be required.

It must be noted that these conditions currently apply only to those who have received the third dose of Pfizer or Moderna. Please check the following link for the detailed guidelines from the Japanese Government regarding vaccine certificates.

As a result of the relaxation of the measures regarding public transportation after landing in Japan, the dedicated charter bus from Narita or Haneda is no longer in service. Users can board the usual Airport Limousine or the normal train lines. In case of requiring a private taxi service, there are services available such as Diolabs or Rakurakutaxi.

During the self-quarantine period, it’s possible to leave the premises as long as it’s only for needed things like grocery shopping, no further than an approximate radius of 15min by foot.

Smartphone configuration and app requirements for all travelers

As of March 18, 2021, travelers must install the following apps on their smartphones before their arrival to Japan. While this can also be done after landing, passengers must take into account their wait may be delayed so it’s highly encouraged to ensure it’s all done before the flight.

  1. Cocoa(iOS and Android), the Japanese government’s Covid-19 contact tracing app
  2. MySOS(iOS and Android), a health and location monitoring app to provide a daily report of one’s health status, confirm location in real-time and answer video calls to check that quarantine is being properly followed.
  3. Google Maps (iOS and Android), to ensure location history is being recorded in case of infection after arriving in Japan.

Please follow the official government guide for all the details on the required setup. Those without a personal smartphone must rent one at their own cost at the airport.