When entering Japan, the first step after landing at the airport is getting through customs and immigration. Foreign visitors are required to complete various procedures upon arrival. Since the spread of Covid-19 in 2020, following procedures and rules is extremely important to ensure a safe trip!
Here we will introduce what you need to prepare before a trip as well as entry procedures as of November 2022.
Main image: PIXTA
From arrival to entry
Once you arrive in Japan and get off the plane, the process generally goes as follows:
・medical inspection at the quarantine station,
・claiming your bags,
・inspections at the plant and animal quarantine station,
・heading to the arrival lobby (the order may vary depending on the airport).
Here, we will give a step-by-step guide to arrival procedures and the documents you need to prepare.
Step 1: What to prepare before leaving your country and once you arrive in Japan
(1) Check Travel Requirements Before Your Flight and Upon Arrival
Currently, Japan’s arrival and departure procedures vary from country to country. Make sure to check beforehand whether you need a visa and whether your passport is valid throughout the duration of your stay.
Please also remember that procedures change regularly and can do so just before your travels. It’s essential to keep up to date with the latest information and the arrival/departure procedures for your country.
Also, make sure to regularly check for updates on the official sites of embassies and consulates in Japan regarding vaccination certificates, test certificates, quarantining, and more. You can see your country’s embassy website under the “Find an embassy” section here.
(2) Pre-register for the Visit Japan Web Service
The Visit Japan Web Service enables you to complete immigration procedures and customs declarations online. The service is available to both foreign visitors and Japanese nationals returning from abroad.
What’s more, the Fast Track feature is also added to this service. Fast Track allows users to complete some quarantine procedures (registering documents such as vaccination certificates, a Covid-19 Negative Test Result Certificate issued within 72 hours prior to departure, and questionnaires) in advance.
The Japanese government has asked visitors to cooperate in using this service and feature. Please register before your travels to ensure that all procedures go smoothly!
Available airports (as of November 1, 2022):
・Narita International Airport
・Kansai International Airport
・Central Japan International Airport
・New Chitose Airport
*Note: From November 1, 2022, the Visit Japan Web Service replaced the health and location monitoring app MySOS (registration for the “MySOS Web” service can be done online).
Step 2: Quarantine station
(1) Covid-19: Current Border Measures
As of November 2022, all returnees and entrants to Japan are required to submit either a valid COVID-19 vaccination certificate (3 doses) that shows you’ve either gotten a vaccination on the Emergency Use List released by the World Health Organization (WHO) or a Covid-19 Negative Test Result Certificate issued within 72 hours before departure. Please make sure to prepare the documents in advance.
If you cannot submit either, you won’t be allowed entry into Japan.
- Valid vaccination certificate showing that the applicant has been vaccinated three times (must meet the following conditions)
- If you don’t have a valid vaccination certificate, you must have a Covid-19 Negative Test Result Certificate (test taken prior to departure).
You need to submit the following documents to enter Japan. Please use Fast Track and the Visit Japan Web Service mentioned above to ensure a smooth process.
- Vaccination certificate or a Covid-19 Negative Test Result Certificate issued within 72 hours prior to departure
For those who can't use Fast Track, fill out the questionnaire online, save the QR code via screenshot or printed copy, and present it at the quarantine station
Japan’s border control measures, which were strengthened due to the spread of Covid-19, have been drastically eased since October 11, 2022.
Covid-19 tests upon arrival are no longer required. Moreover, visitors don’t have to quarantine at home or at an accommodation facility, and they also don’t have to adhere to follow-ups (e.g. reporting on health condition, etc.). In addition to this, visitors can now use public transportation from the airport.
(2) Covid-19 Testing Upon Arrival to Japan
When arriving in Japan, you won’t be asked to get tested, but your temperature will be taken. You'll be tested at the quarantine station if you appear to have any Covid-19 symptoms. Visitors who test positive upon arrival will be taken to a facility designated by the quarantine station for medical treatment or, depending on their condition, hospitalized. Please make sure to follow the instructions of the quarantine officer.
Step 3: Immigration
The following documents must be submitted at immigration.
- Disembarkation card (There’s also the option of an ED card-a special re-entry disembarkation/embarkation card)
- Visa (only if necessary)
The quarantine station is divided into resident and non-resident areas. At the counter, submit the documents listed above, and state your purpose of entry, your destination, and the duration of your visit.
Step 4: Plant and animal quarantine station/customs
(1) Plant and Animal Quarantine Station
At the Plant and animal quarantine station, animals, plants, and food brought from abroad are checked for infectious diseases, pests, and harmful substances. There are rules and restrictions on the plants and foods that can be brought into Japan, some even being prohibited.
Bringing anything illegal can lead to a fine or imprisonment, so check whether the items you wish to bring are approved by the quarantine station.
Examples of items that are prohibited from being brought into Japan
・Fake or counterfeit brand goods
・Meat products, animal products
・CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) species
(2) Submit a Declaration of Personal Effects and Unaccompanied Articles at Customs
Customs inspections check to ensure that no prohibited or restricted items are being brought into Japan, that you don’t have cash that must be declared, and that your belongings are within the duty-free range.
Anyone entering Japan is required to submit a Declaration of Personal Effects and Unaccompanied Articles form. The declaration form is available on the plane or at the customs checkpoint at the airport. This form should be filled out and submitted.
Departure to arriving back home
Departure procedures consist of: checking in at the airport, going through security checks, customs inspections, immigration, and taking your flight back.
Step 1: What to prepare before you leave Japan
Check the Arrival Procedures in Your Country Before Leaving Japan
Rules, criteria, and required documents for departures and arrivals may change suddenly and differ from country to country. Currently, most countries do not require a Covid-19 test before departure, but this is subject to change.
Even if you’ve checked the procedures in your country before your trip, recheck them for updates when you leave Japan. Please make sure to double-check at least the following:
- Whether or not you need a vaccine certificate (a paper or digital document)
- Whether or not a Covid-19 Negative Test Result Certificate is required (expiration periods, testing method, and other criteria differ from country to country, so please be sure to check beforehand).
Covid-19 Negative Test Result Certificates in Japan can be issued at health facilities that offer testing or at testing stations located within airports. Please note that some health facilities only fit the criteria for specific countries. Furthermore, some countries might have designated health facilities you must go to.
Step 2: Checking-in at the airport
You can check in at your airline’s check-in counter (some are unattended) and complete the baggage check-in procedures. There are strict rules regarding carry-on baggage, so be sure to check them in advance and be prepared to check in any items you can’t bring on board.
For liquids, each passenger is limited to one 100-milliliter container that must fit in a one-liter, clear plastic bag.
Step 3: From security checks to immigration
First, go to the security check and have your baggage inspected. Then, proceed to customs and immigration.
If you have any duty-free items, present your passport and the things you’ve purchased to the customs officers. The more duty-free goods you have, the longer it takes to inspect. Please keep this in mind, and get to customs as early as possible.
Baggage delivery services at the airport
Baggage delivery services are available at the airport! Upon arrival, and depending on the time, it’s possible to have your baggage delivered from the airport to your accommodation the day of! When sending your luggage, it’s important to confirm whether your accommodation will be able to receive it.
You can also send baggage from your accommodation to the airport before leaving Japan! This is very convenient if you want to go to the airport without carrying large and heavy suitcases with you. The time it takes for your baggage to reach the airport depends on the delivery company. Also, we recommend checking the pick-up times that are adjustable according to the time of your flight.
Getting to and from the airport
Below is a list of some convenient transportation options at major airports in Japan.
Checking for arrival procedure updates
Airport arrival and departure procedures and requirements are subject to change without prior notice. Please check the official websites of embassies, consulates, and other agencies before your trip to familiarize yourself with the procedures in your country and in Japan.
*The information in this article from November 2022. Please check official websites for the latest information.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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