In Japan, COVID-19 Vaccination Certificates (Vaccine Passports) are a hot topic. How do vaccine passports differ from the vaccination certificate you can get at an inoculation facility? When would you use a vaccine passport? How do you apply for one, and what are the requirements? Can you issue a vaccine passport from an app?
Here we will answer some of these frequently asked questions as well as introduce Japan's vaccine passport guidelines.
*The information in this article is from December 2021.
- Table of Contents
- 1. Japanese vaccine passports are limited to people traveling overseas
- 2. Japanese vaccine passports cannot be used in all countries and regions
- 3. How to apply for a vaccine passport in Japan depends on the municipality
- Q. Can you apply even if you don’t plan to travel overseas?
- Q. Does the type of vaccine you get affect whether or not you can apply?
- Q. Can you apply if you just got one vaccine shot?
- Q. Can people who got their vaccine abroad apply?
- Q. Can you apply for multiple vaccine passports in the case you plan to stay overseas for more than two months?
- Q. Can you use the vaccine passport when returning to Japan?
- Q. What should you do if you lose your vaccine certificate?
- 4. The Future of Vaccine Passports: Going Digital? Domestic Use?
- 5. Contact Information for Questions Regarding Vaccine Passports and Procedures
1. Japanese vaccine passports are limited to people traveling overseas
After getting the Covid-19 vaccination, you will receive a vaccination certificate and a vaccine record (a sticker with your vaccination lot number is placed on both documents).
However, the vaccine passport, officially known as the COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate, differs from the other two documents in that it can only be issued to those planning to travel abroad.
Having a vaccine passport may exempt you from quarantining and taking PCR tests when arriving at your destination.
- Australia (*2)
Papua New Guinea
Republic of Palau
Solomon Islands (*3)
- North America
- Central and South America
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Middle East and North Africa
United Arab Emirates
- Sub-Saharan Africa
(*1) Vaccination certificates are accepted as one of the documents you need to submit to issue a quarantine exemption certificate.
(*2) Available to use from November 1 (As of present, only Australian citizens, permanent residents of Australia, and their immediate family members can use a vaccine passport to enter the regions of New South Wales and Victoria).
(*3) With the submission of vaccine certificates being a preclearance requirement, certificates issued in Japan are accepted.
(*4) A COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate issued in Japan is accepted as a valid document. Additionally, there is no need to show your vaccination certificate when going through immigration.
(*5) Separate from the usual travel procedures, foreign visitors to France must show a health pass (pass sanitaire/with a QR code）when entering restaurants and other shopping facilities. For more information on the health pass, please visit the Embassy of France in Japan’s website. (https://jp.ambafrance.org/article17074 )
The information above shows the countries and regions where vaccination certificates for foreign travel can be used to exempt or mitigate quarantining procedures. However, please keep in mind that there is no guarantee this certificate will be accepted when entering restaurants and other public facilities.
For more information on which quarantining procedures will be exempt or mitigated, please refer to the official sites of embassies or the sites below.
The details printed on the vaccine passport include your name, date of birth, nationality/region, and passport number. In addition to this, the document will also list the type of vaccine you got for both your first and second shot, the manufacturer, the product name, and the date of vaccination. Lastly, it will list the municipality you belong to and your certificate ID.
As of December 2021, both paper and digital vaccine certificates are available. Please install the official app on the Ministry of Foreign Affair’s website to apply for and issue a digital certificate. After the issuing process is complete, you can access the certificate using the QR code displayed on your smartphone.
2. Japanese vaccine passports cannot be used in all countries and regions
When traveling abroad, it’s important to know that not all countries currently accept vaccine passports. This must be checked in advance. It's also good to know if the certificate can be used as a way to reduce the number of days you have to quarantine etc.
Furthermore, every country has its own terms and conditions they ask you to follow upon entering their country.
This might include handing in a Certificate of a Negative Test Result that was issued three days before your flight or quarantining for a set amount of time at a government facility. Depending on the situation, some countries may even refuse entry to any foreign travelers.
Please make sure to check the following website or the Ministry of Affairs of Japan’s website before booking a trip.
3. How to apply for a vaccine passport in Japan depends on the municipality
According to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Japan's vaccine passport is for those who have gotten a Covid-19 vaccination and need a vaccine passport to travel abroad. You must meet both of these conditions to apply.
Where to Apply for a Vaccine Passport
You must apply at the municipality where your vaccine ticket was issued. Generally, it should be the same municipality as where you issued your certificate of residence.
Required Documents for a Vaccine Passport
a. When Issuing a Paper Certificate
(1) An application form. You can find these in every municipality.
(2) A passport that will be valid during the period you travel. Please note that the passport number listed on your vaccination certificate must match the passport number you use when traveling overseas. Also, make sure to apply for your vaccine passport only after confirming that your passport is valid.
(3) Please have the pre-vaccination screening portion of your vaccination ticket ready. You can also show your My Number card or documents, such as a copy of your certificate of residence, that lists your My Number. It’s also possible to show the form of identification (your address must be included) you used when first getting the vaccine.
(4) Certificate of Vaccination for Covid-19. If misplaced, a copy (personal copy) of your vaccination registration and vaccine screening questionnaire can be used.
b. When Issuing a Digital Certificate
(1) Your My Number card and four-digit PIN.
(2) You must have a valid passport at the time of travel. As when issuing a paper certificate, please be sure that the passport number on your vaccination certificate is the same as the one you use during your travels. If you are currently applying for a passport, make sure to apply for the vaccine passport and certificate after it has been issued.
*Digital certificates must be applied for on a smartphone using the app. Please check the site below for details on downloading the app and applying for the certificate.
a. When Issuing a Paper Certificate
The way to apply can differ depending on each municipality. Some will require you to send your application and have it issued by post. Others will require you to go to the municipality’s office and apply in person.
When applying via post, it can take anywhere from five to twenty days to get your vaccine passport issued. Also, you may be required to make a reservation for in-person applications, so it’s important to check your local municipality’s website beforehand.
What’s more, postal applications require you to include an envelope and a stamp so that the issued vaccination passport can be sent back.
b. When Issuing a Digital Certificate (from your Smartphone)
When applying for a vaccination certificate from the official app, you will need your My Number card and PIN instead of an application form from your local municipality. Once the app is downloaded, you must follow the steps to complete your application. This includes entering your My Number card PIN (four digits), using your phone’s camera to read/scan your My Number card and passport, as well as selecting the municipality where you got vaccinated.
▼Check Below for a Video Guide on How to Apply from the App
How Much is a Vaccine Passport in Japan?
In general, it’s free to apply. However, documents such as a copy of your residence certificate (juminhyo), envelopes, and stamps must be paid for out of pocket. You can also download the app for free.
Q. Can you apply even if you don’t plan to travel overseas?
No, only people who are planning to travel overseas can apply.
Q. Does the type of vaccine you get affect whether or not you can apply?
If you got the vaccine in Japan, you can apply no matter what the brand is.
Q. Can you apply if you just got one vaccine shot?
It’s possible to get a vaccine passport after one vaccine shot, but please note that the country you’re planning to travel to may not deem the vaccine passport as valid. Getting your second shot is highly recommended. Furthermore, you can also issue a vaccine certificate after you’ve gotten the third booster shot.
Q. Can people who got their vaccine abroad apply?
No, only vaccinations that follow Japan’s Immunization Act will be accepted.
Q. Can you apply for multiple vaccine passports in the case you plan to stay overseas for more than two months?
Because vaccine passports only need to be shown and not handed in, you do not need multiple passports. Only one vaccine passport can be issued when applying.
Q. Can you use the vaccine passport when returning to Japan?
Vaccine passports cannot be used when re-entering Japan. When traveling from a foreign country to Japan, you must get a Certificate of a Negative Test Result that shows you were negative 72 hours before your flight back.
In addition, you will be asked to quarantine at a facility provided by the testing center, refrain from using public transportation for 14 days, quarantine at home, and be willing to show your location status.
Q. What should you do if you lose your vaccine certificate?
If you misplace or lose your vaccine certificate, only one document can be reissued at a time. There are currently no limits to how many times you can reapply.
4. The Future of Vaccine Passports: Going Digital? Domestic Use?
The Digital Agency, an organization run by the Japanese government, made digital vaccine passports available from December 20, 2021.
Not limited to traveling overseas, these certificates can also be used for domestic travel. The vaccine passport is currently available to download from an app and issued using a QR code.
In France, it’s required to show a sanitation pass when eating out, going to the movies, or traveling on public transportation for long periods of time. Japan is still trying to figure out where and in what situations the vaccine passport has to be shown.
As of December 21, 2021, 77.7% of Japan’s population has gotten their second vaccination shots, and many are starting to get their third booster shots.
However, no matter the type of vaccine, the shots do not necessarily protect you completely. Even if you are vaccinated and take preventative measures, you can still get Covid-19 through what’s called a breakthrough infection. It’s important to keep avoiding the Three C’s. These include Closed spaces with poor ventilation, Crowded places with many people nearby, and Close-contact settings such as close-range conversations.
Getting the Covid-19 vaccine in Japan is still voluntary. Some cannot get the shot due to medical or personal reasons. Moving forward, the main focus will become keeping people who are not vaccinated, safe.
5. Contact Information for Questions Regarding Vaccine Passports and Procedures
Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s Covid-19 Call Center
Tel: 0120-761-770 (toll-free)
Languages and Hours (Open Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays）
・Spanish: from 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
・Thai: from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
・Vietnamese: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
・Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare′s Official Website
・Digital Agency's Official Website
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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