The Latest COVID-19 Travel Information for Japan: What to Know, Do, and Prepare

The Latest COVID-19 Travel Information for Japan: What to Know, Do, and Prepare

What precautions should you take when traveling from Japan? What quarantine measures will be expected of you upon your return? Here’s everything you should know about the latest COVID travel information for Japan so you can return with minimum hassle.

As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its second year, many resident visa holders in Japan are wondering if and when they can travel to their home country. 

In a nutshell, at present, all tourism to Japan has been suspended, and the government is only allowing new entries for those facing an emergency or for cases in the public interest (diplomats, Olympic athletes and officials). 

Japanese citizens and resident visa holders are permitted to travel to and from Japan—provided you follow and abide by Japan’s coronavirus travel guidelines, as well as the guidelines established by the destination country. 

Unfortunately, information about travel guidelines and safety measures is scattered across multiple pages on the official sites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

But to help you as you prepare to travel, we’ve gathered all the latest links, guidelines, and resources as of this article’s date of publication, compiling and explaining the latest on each of the following topics: 

  • Airport and airline guidelines for COVID-19 travel to and from Japan

  • Precautions when leaving Japan during COVID-19

  • COVID-19 safety procedures upon your return to Japan

  • Japan’s COVID-19 quarantine guidelines upon re-entry

  • Transportation from the airport to your quarantine location 

  • Resource links to Japan’s COVID-19 travel guidelines and safety measures

Bookmark this page for easy reference to the Japanese government’s official bulletins and guidelines on how to travel to and from Japan while COVID-19 measures remain in place. 


Airport and airline guidelines for COVID-19 travel to and from Japan

According to Japan’s National Tourism site, the following airports accept international flights. Please refer to each airline’s coronavirus safety measures page for pre-boarding procedures. 

At present, the Japanese government has limited the number of people who can enter Japan to 2,000 per day. Additionally, airlines must limit the number of passengers to 100 per flight and not more than 3,400 passengers per week. 

ANA and JAL, Japan’s two major airlines that continue to operate international flights, have outlined the special measures they are taking to ensure passenger safety on flights, as well as cases for ticket refunding and cancellations. Refer to the following links:


Precautions when leaving Japan during COVID-19

When leaving Japan, please ascertain the entry conditions of the country you are flying to. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA) has published a page listing every country that has entry restrictions for Japanese or those traveling from Japan. This page is in Japanese, so if needed, ask someone to translate it for you or refer to your destination’s embassy for the latest information on entry restrictions and procedures. 

Additionally, you will need to take a PCR test within 72 hours prior to your departure from Japan, without which you will not be allowed to board your flight. You can take a PCR test at Haneda or Narita, but factor in a wait time of 4 to 5 hours to receive your test results. 

Most outbound travelers take a PCR test the day prior to their departure to avoid waiting for results at the airport. 


COVID-19 safety procedures upon your return to Japan

Wondering how to re-enter Japan after traveling abroad? What type of negative test/inspection certificate will you be required to show? What does quarantine entail? What type of tracking apps do you need to download to your phone? 

Here is the latest information from the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare (MHLW) and their official guidelines on entry procedures during COVID-19

Image: “Latest border measures, (trans. title)” Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare
Image: “Latest border measures, (trans. title)” Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare

Point #1. You must present an inspection certificate. 

You are required to present a certificate of inspection (PCR test) taken within 72 hours prior to your return flight home. If you are unable to present the certificate/PCR test results, you will not be allowed to board a flight back to Japan, nor re-enter Japan. (Effective as of March 19th, 2021.) 

Regarding the Inspection Certificate itself, MHLW has published an English-language flyer that describes the information that must be included within the inspection certificate. See “Submission of Inspection Certificate.” 

According to the flyer, the test must be (1) saliva-based or (2) a nasopharyngeal swab-based test. The method of testing can be any of the following: 

  • Real time RT-PCR (real time reverse transcription PCR)

  • LAMP (Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification)

  • TMA (Transcription Mediated Amplification)

  • TRC (Transcription Reverse-transcription Concerted reaction)

  • Smart Amp (Smart Amplification process)

  • NEAR (Nicking Enzyme Amplification Reaction)

  • Next Generation Sequence

  • Quantitative Antigen Test (CLEIA)*

*Not a qualitative antigen test. 

MOFA has created a Valid Format of “Certificate of Negative Test Result”. We suggest you print out this form and take it with you. You can also submit to the Quarantine Station a certificate issued by the medical institution which conducted your PCR test, but it must cover the same information as outlined in the form provided by the Japanese government.

Point #2. You must pledge to follow quarantine conditions. 

Upon reentry to Japan, you will be asked to sign a pledge that you will quarantine for 14 days, avoid public transportation during this time, stay at home or in quarantine accommodations, save and present your location information, and install a contact confirmation application. 

If you are unable to sign 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. If you are Japanese, your name and information may be publicized in order to prevent the spread of infection.

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

Image: “Written Pledge,” page 4., from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
Image: “Written Pledge,” page 4., from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

Point #3. You must agree to downloading the required apps to your smartphone. 

In order to follow the pledge requirements for location tracking, etc., you will be required to have a smartphone. If you do not have one, you must purchase or rent one.

Upon your return, you must download the following 3 apps to your phone. 

  • Skype or What’sApp

  • COCOA

  • OEL (location information confirming app)

These can be installed via the QR code within the pledge document you will receive upon reentry. During your 14-day quarantine, your phone settings must allow your location to be tracked via the OEL app. You may also receive calls from the MHLW, which you will be required to answer. 

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. 

HCO will email you a detailed usage guide after you arrive in Japan (from this email address: [email protected]). Please note, you will not be able to login or use the app until you are sent the usage guide. For detailed information on post-entry procedures, please see the following PDF flyer from the Quarantine Station, “To Everyone Entering Japan.” 

If your phone is incompatible with any of the previously mentioned apps, you will be asked to rent a smartphone at the airport. 


Japan’s COVID-19 quarantine guidelines upon re-entry

Here are the details of Japan’s 14-day quarantine conditions you will be required to follow, excerpted from “Written Pledge” by MOFA.

You must not have contact with anyone who you do not live with (for 14 days after entry).

  1. You must stay at home or the accommodation. You must consult the public health center or related institutions and Health Monitoring Center for Overseas Entrants in advance when you need to change your accommodations due to unavoidable circumstances.

  2. You must not have contact with anyone who you do not live with.

  3. You must not use public transportation (Trains, Buses, Cabs/Taxies, domestic flights, etc.)

Note: Even if you receive vaccination abroad and your PCR test is negative, you will still be required to quarantine for 14 days. 


Transportation from the airport to your quarantine location 

Because the pledge requires you to avoid public transportation for 14 days after your arrival, you will need to ask a family member or friend to pick you up and bring you home or to the location where you will quarantine. 

If you cannot ask family or friends for an airport pickup, the following 2 designated car service options provide transportation for returning international travelers. 

  • RakuRaku Taxi. To use RakuRaku Taxi, you must make a reservation at least 24 hours in advance. If you must cancel due to a positive COVID test at the airport, the cancellation is free. There is no additional fee for waiting or for needing to adjust the pickup time. Price: 15,000 yen (05:00 to 21:55); 18,000 yen (22:00 to 04:55). RakuRaku Taxi appears to be the most flexible in terms of cancellation and pickups. 

  • TokyoMK. To use TokyoMK, you must book at least 24 hours in advance. If your reentry test is positive, you will be charged 50% of the booking fee (up to 30,000 yen) to cancel. Price starts from 13,000 yen. English-speaking drivers are available for an additional 2,000 yen. If the driver must wait for longer than 30 minutes beyond the agreed-upon pickup time, you will be charged 3,600 yen for every 30 minutes the driver must wait. 


Resource links: Japan’s COVID-19 travel guidelines and safety measures 

The following is a list of all the links and resources on the latest COVID travel information for Japan mentioned in this article, gathered here for easy reference. 

COVID-19 travel guidelines and safety measures to and from Japan continue to be intermittently updated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, dependent on current and projected pandemic spread. 

The information we have published here is current at the moment of publishing, but we advise you to always double-check the official resource links listed in this article. Or ask someone to help you if you need bilingual research assistance for a particular question or specific situation.  


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