Visas for Japan: What Travelers Need to Know

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In the excitement of finding cheap flights and planning trips to temples and sumo matches, it's easy to forget mundane things like checking your visa requirements for your trip to Japan.

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Japanese young woman looking at Kyoto Hyakumanben Chionji Temple Garden Photo © iStock/Kavuto

For most nationalities gaining entry to Japan as a tourist is quite straightforward, but the coronavirus pandemic is still causing complications so it’s important to be informed.

Japan's new entry requirements 

Japan was closed to tourists for two years due to the coronavirus pandemic, and when it reopened there were strict tourist arrival quotas, and entry requirements. But as of October 2022 it has become much simpler for travelers from many countries to enter Japan, especillay if you’re from a country which has a Japan VISA exemption (most Western countries do, read below for further details), or you have a valid Japan Tourist VISA.

The Japan Government no longer requires you do a pre-departure Covid-19 test to gain entry if you have a valid, Government-issued vaccination certificate, which shows you’ve had three or more doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. But make sure to check your airline’s rules regardless, as some carriers may require you present a recent, negative Covid-19 test to be allowed to board the plane.

Also, before you fly to Japan, you must first register at Visit Japan Web (VJW), create an account, then add your personal information, flight schedule, and customs declarations.

The VJW will then issue you with two different QR codes to show to show on arrival in Japan. The first code is labelled “Immigration” and is to be shown to Immigration officials and the other is labelled “Customs” and must be presented to Customs officers.

To make things easier, on the VJW site you can register for a Fast Track entry pass by uploading a copy of your official Government vaccination certificate. This will then earn you a third QR code, labelled “Quarantine”, which airport staff will scan instead of needing to inspect your vaccination certificate.

Note that if you display symptoms typically associated with COVID-19 infection during your flight, or on arrival in Japan, you may be tested at the arrival airport. And if you test positive to COVID-19, you will be required to complete a mandatory quarantine period at a Government facility.

Most nationalities don't need a visa to travel to Japan

Citizens of 68 countries qualify for visa exemption, including the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and most European nations. The full list of nations can be found on this Japan Government website

This means visitors from those countries can arrive in Japan, show their passport at Immigration and gain visa-free entry to the country for a certain period of time. Tourists from most of those 68 countries can stay for up to 90 days in Japan thanks to their visa exemption. Visitors from Brunei only get a 14-day entry, travelers from Indonesia and Thailand get a 15-day entry, and visitors from the UAE get 30 days.

You'll need an e-Passport to be granted this visa exemption for Japan. Now standard issue now across most countries, e-Passports contain an electronic chip, which stores the same personal identifying information printed on your passport, as well as some of your biometric data.

Don’t panic – e-Passports have been issued by most Western Governments for more than a decade, so chances are you already have one. If you don’t have an e-Passport, your passport must be very old and in need of renewal anyway. So do that now and your Japan entry will be simple.

What you need for a Japan Tourist visa

If you are not a citizen of one of the above 68 nations, and you want to holiday in Japan, you’ll need to secure a Temporary Visitor visa before you land in the country. Fortunately, in most instances you do not need to visit an embassy or visa office to submit this application, which can instead be done online. First, check the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for details.   

To complete this visa application, either online or in person at an embassy or consulate, you’ll need to submit a range of documents. These include a completed Japan Temporary Visitor visa application form, a passport photo, a copy of your passport photo page, a basic itinerary of your daily travel plans, return flight bookings, hotel bookings, and a three-month bank statement with your full name, home address and current bank balance.

If you intend to stay with friends or family during you holiday in Japan, rather than in a hotel, you must submit an original copy of a letter signed by this person confirming the arrangement. That must be accompanied by a photocopy of their Japan Residence Card, and include their address in Japan and contact phone number.

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