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Who can come to Japan now and what you have to do to get in

Woodbock print of American black ship

Japan has just announced that the borders will be opened to some new classes of foreigners as of March 1, 2022: vaccinated* business travelers and students who have already been accepted at a school (i.e. already have approved study visas).

I’m just going to give a summary of what’s new, since it doesn’t apply to most people yet (you have to have more than the usual 90-day “tourist” visa to get in) but I think it’s likely that there will be similar procedures and restrictions once 90-day visas are being issued again, so, forewarned, forearmed, etc.

I got the information from this TimeOut article, so you can head over there if you want the nitty gritty.

*You have to be fully vaccinated (two vaccines) with Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson, or they won’t accept you. Those who have also had booster shots are exempt from some quarantine restrictions (see below).

What we don’t know

How the heckin’ heck do you qualify as a business traveler? (There’s mention of some arcane “business visa” you have to apply for before coming, but in order to find out how to get one, you have to call the consulate.)

How do you make sure you’re one of the 5,000 travelers they’re going to let in every day? (Are ya feelin’ lucky? Do they just shut the booths and make you camp in line at Narita until 12:01 the next morning if you’re #5,001? Nobody is saying.)

What we do know

Here’s what you need before you get on the plane:

  • A Covid-19 test within 72 hours of departure and a certificate saying you’re negative
  • A signed copy of the Written Pledge (available in English and Japanese
  • A completed digital questionnaire (available in multiple languages) 

Here’s what you need to get past Immigration at the airport:

How long do vaccinated visitors need to quarantine?

Woodbock print of foreigners on shore with black ships in background

Fully vaccinated + boosted visitors from non-designated** countries: No quarantine

Fully vaccinated (but not boosted) visitors from non-designated** countries: Seven day self-quarantine at home, and if you test negative on the third day, you’re done

Fully vaccinated + boosted visitors from designated*** countries: Seven days self-quarantine at home

Fully vaccinated (but not boosted) visitors from designated*** countries: Three days at an airport government facility, plus four more days self-quarantine at home once you test negative

**Which countries (as of 2/25/22) are the lucky non-designated ones?


***There’s a list of designated countries here.

There’s a complete list of countries and their various visa restriction statuses on Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website here.

In the meantime, guess what was just released as an audiobook?
If you’d rather listen than flip pages, now you can!

 The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon

“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.” —Booklist

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

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