Updated on 6 Sep 2021

On entering Japan there are a number of procedures that need to be completed, from getting a pre-flight COVID-19 test, signing a pledge, downloading applications and health questionnaire.

The most recent information from the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare (MHLW) and their official guidelines on entry procedures during COVID-19 are:

Important Notice

In order to enter Japan, regardless of nationality, you will need to do the following

-Presentation of inspection certificate
You are required to present a certificate of inspection within 72 hours prior to departure.
After March 19, 2021, if you are unable to present the certificate, you will not be allowed to land in Japan based on the Quarantine Law.
Only test certificates that contain valid specimens and test methods will be accepted.

-Submission of a written pledge
You will be asked to pledge not to use public transportation for 14 days, to stay at home or in accommodation, to save and present your location information, and to install a contact confirmation application etc.
. If you are unable to submit this pledge, you will be asked to wait at an accommodation facility secured by the quarantine station. If you violate the pledge, in addition to being subject to suspension measures based on the Quarantine Law, you may be subject to the following
(1) 1f you are Japanese, your name and information that may contribute to the prevention of the spread of infection may be publicized.
(2) 1f you are a resident status holder, your name, nationality, and information that may contribute to the prevention of the spread of infection may be publicized. You may also be subject to revocation of your status of residence and deportation proceedings.

-Carrying a smartphone and installing necessary applications
In order to carry out the pledges in the written pledge, you need to have a smartphone that can use the necessary applications (e.g., showing location information).

-Submission of Questionnaire
Contact information such as email address and phone number will be confirmed at the time quarantine for health follow-up during the first 14 days after entry.

Inspection certificate COVID-19 Testing 72hr before departure

ALL travellers to Japan (including Japanese Nationals) are required to provide a negative COVID-19 test result within 72-hours of departure.

The test certificate or lab report should be presented at check-in and to immigration on arrival along with the MOFA form.

The MOFA form can be filled out by the testing clinic or a doctor. As COVID-19 cases have sharply increased with arriving passengers enforcement has become stricter, with some travellers being denied boarding and/or deported on arriving in Japan. Common issues reported include (NHK)

  •  Incomplete paperwork
  •  Incorrect test type
  •  Incorrect method of sampling
  •  Over the 72 hour deadline

Join the Return to Japan Support Facebook Group and see first-hand accounts and shared experiences of being denied boarding, testing with children, and advice on which testing locations will fill out the ‘MOFA form.’ There is also an extensive list of testing sites around the world.

Return to Japan Support Facebook Group

Requirements for COVID-19 Testing to Enter Japan

Only test certificates that contain valid samples and testing methods will be considered valid.

Accepted requirements Examples NOT accepted
Sample type
○ Nasopharyngeal (Swab/smear) /Nasopharynx
○ Rhinopharyngeal/Rhinopharynx (Swab/smear)
○ (Deep throat) Saliva sample
○ Nasopharyngeal() and
oropharyngeal(throat) (swab /smear)
(Naso and oropharyngeal/Rhino and oropharyngeal/oro and nashopharyngeal()) (※Nasopharyngeal/Rhinopharyngeal/Nasopharynx/R hinopharynx)
× Nasal (swab/smear)
× Oral (swab/smear)
× Throat (swab/smear)
× Mid-Turbinate Nasal (swab/smear)
× Nasal and throat (swab/smear)
× Pharyngeal and nasal (swab/smear)
× a nasal and oropharyngeal (swab/smear)
× Nose
× Gargle Water
× Nasopharyngeal and throat (swab/smear)
× Mixture of sample “A” and “B”
“A” and ”B” show all types of sample(except nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal(swab/smear))
Testing Method
< Nucleic acid amplification test >
○ (PCR) Polymerase chain reaction
○ (RT-PCR) Reverse transcription PCR
(real-time (RT-)PCR/Q-PCR/Fluorescence- PCR/Multiplex-PCR)
○ (LAMP) Loop-mediated isothermal
○ (TMA) Transcription mediated amplification
○ (TRC) Transcription-reverse transcription concerted reaction
○ (Smart Amp) Smart amplification process
○ (NEAR) – Nicking endonuclease amplification reaction (e.g. ID-NOW)
<Others>
○ Next generation sequence
○ Quantitative antigen test (CLEIA/ECLEIA)
× antigen (test/kit)
× rapid antigen (test/kit)
× antibody (test/kit)
Time of Test
○ Sample collection must be done Within 72 hours before the departure time of the flight. (Not arrival in Japan. )
※These requirements may be changed depending on infection status.
× Within 72 hours from the date of test results to the departure time of the flight.
× Within 72 hours from the date of sample collection to fight check-in.

Please note the difference between a nasopharyngeal and nasal sample.

※ ◯ = nasopharyngeal (Accepted), × =nasal (NOT accepted)

Requirements for COVID-19 Testing to Enter Japan

◯ = nasopharyngeal (Accepted), × =nasal (NOT accepted) Image from https://corona.go.jp

Examples showing which city is considered to be the starting point of the testing period:

Europe:

72hrs usually starts from the country you have been staying in. (but not a domestic flight within that country)
For example:
1. ✈Fly UK to Amsterdam (in which case the UK local airport is the 72-hour international departure marker) ✈
2. ✈Fly from UK local airport to London, Heathrow, then Heathrow to Osaka (Heathrow is the 72-hour marker) ✈
Be aware, if flying domestically it does means you have less of a window to get all your results.

Americas:

The 72 hours prior to departure is calculated from the scheduled departure time of the international flight bound for Japan.

However, if your itinerary includes an international connection which does not include a U.S. airport within the connection, 72 hours prior to departure is calculated from the scheduled departure time of the first international flight within the itinerary. (It does not take into consideration domestic flights)

International flight → International flight:
・Vancouver → Seattle → Haneda
Testing needs to be within 72 hours from the Seattle scheduled departure time.
*Calculated from Seattle, which is the international flight to Japan.

・Seattle → Vancouver → Haneda
Testing needs to be within 72 hours from the Seattle scheduled departure time.
*Calculated from Seattle, as the connection is not an U.S. airport.
Domestic flight → International flight:

・Seattle → San Francisco → Haneda
Testing needs to be within 72 hours from the San Francisco scheduled departure time.
*Domestic flights do not need to be taken into consideration.

International flight → Domestic flight → International flight:
・Chicago → Toronto → Vancouver → Haneda
Testing needs to be within 72 hours from the Vancouver scheduled departure time.
*Domestic flights do not need to be taken into consideration.

International flight → International flight → International flight:
・Panama → Mexico City → Los Angeles → Haneda
Testing needs to be within 72 hours from Los Angeles scheduled departure time.
*Calculated from Los Angeles, which is the international flight to Japan.

・Panama → Mexico City → Vancouver → Haneda
Testing needs to be within 72 hours from the Panama scheduled departure time.
*The connecting flights do not include a U.S. airport, therefore it is calculated from Panama.

※ As the situation is fluid the above information may change.

Written pledge

On entry to Japan, you are asked to sign a pledge that you will quarantine for 14 days, stay at home or in quarantine accommodation, not have contact with other people, and not use public transportation during this time. You are also required to install a number of applications on your smartphone, save and present your location information, and report your health condition.

If you violate the pledge, in addition to being subject to suspension measures based on the Quarantine Law, you may be subject to the following:

  1. If you are Japanese, your name and information may be publicised in order to prevent the spread of infection.
  2. If you are a resident status holder, your name, nationality, and information may be publicised in order to prevent the spread of infection. Your status of residence may also be revoked, and you may be subject to deportation proceedings.

Smartphone and applications

All travellers are required to download the following applications for tracking and communication on to your smartphone for the duration of your quarantine.

Your phone settings must allow your location to be tracked via the MySOS app. You may also receive video calls both in person or automated robo calls from the MHLW’s Health Monitoring Center for Overseas Entrants (HCO), which you will be required to answer and able to show your surroundings to prove that you are in your quarantine accommodation.

During your quarantine, the Health Monitoring Center for Overseas Entrants (HCO) will send you inquiries, requesting that you confirm your location. There is no set time period when you will receive these messages. But you will be required to promptly report your location when receiving a notification.

Video instructions on how to use the Health and Location Monitoring App (MySOS)

To save you time and hassle on arrival, you should install all these apps before departure. If your phone is incompatible with any of the apps or you do not have a smartphone, you will have to rent one for the two-week duration of your quarantine. The rental smartphone has the apps preinstalled and cannot be used for anything else. If you need a Japanese SIM, you can get one delivered to you before departure anywhere in the world with Mobal.

Health Questionnaire

You will be asked to fill out a detailed health questionnaire, report on your health condition, where you will be isolating and the transport you intend to use, and consent for a COVID-19 test on arrival. A printout with a QR code is provided on check-in or you can find the line on the Ministry of Health Labour and Welfare website.

TIP:
· Fill out the online questionnaire before takeoff while you still have good internet access.
· Take a screenshot of the QR code at the end of the questionnaire as it disappears when you close the page.

Arrival Procedure

The time it takes to complete the arrival procedure can vary greatly. It can be as short as 2 hours or as long as 5 hours. The Return to Japan Group gives advice on a number of things that international passengers can do to speed this process up and reduce the stress for yourself and others:

  • Be prepared
  • Have all the documents you need, think you might need and think you won’t need, printed and on hand.
  • Update your smartphone IOS, get a Japanese SIM card in advance and download all the apps in advance.

After disembarking the plane, you will proceed through a series of checkpoints:

Checkpoint A: Documents processing.

Checkpoint B: Arrival COVID-19 saliva test

Checkpoint C: Download monitoring and tracking applications.

Checkpoint D: Quarantine Accommodation & Transport check

Checkpoint E: PCR test results

What if I test positive?

If you, unfortunately, test positive, you are taking to a facility. This could be a hospital or dedicated hotel, depending on your symptoms, where you stay until you are cleared. Then you return to immigration to formally ‘enter’ Japan. If you have a child that tests positive and the accompanying adult is negative, both are taken to the designated facility.

What if I test negative?

With a negative test result, you move on to the immigration, and once cleared on to baggage collection and Customs.

Finally, travellers from High-Risk Countries are escorted to their quarantine hotel, while others travel to their self arranged quarantine.

Tips

  • Depending on the airport and how busy it is, the process may be in a different order.
  • Waiting areas have chairs placed apart.
  • Toilets are available by asking the staff.
  • There are no vending machines. It is best to bring snacks and a drink.
  • Do not eat before the saliva test.

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