Current Entry Restrictions to Japan (March 2021)
In this article, we summarize the entry restrictions currently in place in Japan. Find out if you can get a visa, what documents you need to prepare and what you have to do before leaving your country and arriving in Japan.
Disclaimer: This article is based on sources/information provided by the Japanese government and other official sources. We’ll do our best to keep it updated, but the situation is very complex and constantly changing. Always make sure to double-check before making a decision.
Current Entry Restrictions
New Visa Applicants
Currently, visas applications for new entries into the country are not being approved (Status: March 25, 2021). More specifically, the restriction applies to people that have stayed in one of 152 countries for 14 days or longer before applying for entry to Japan (see the full list of countries here).
Also, the validity of some visas that had previously been approved has been suspended. This includes student visas and others that were made valid on October 1, 2020 as well as “Business Track” and “Residence Track” visas. For the full list of countries and suspension dates, see here.
Exceptions are being made for …
- Spouses or children of Japanese nationals or permanent residents (永住者, えいじゅうしゃ)
- Spouses and children of long-term residents (定住者, ていしゅうじゃ) currently residing in Japan who are separated from their families
- Those applying for the “Instructor”, “Professor” and “Medical Services” types of visa (under special circumstances)
On Certificates of Eligibility (COE)
What about the validity of COE?
COE issued between October 1st 2019 and December 31st 2019 are valid until April 30, 2021.
COE issued between January 1st 2020 and January 31st 2021 are valid until July 31, 2021.
COE issued after January 31st 2021 are valid for six months, starting on the day they were issued.
Is it possible to apply for a new COE?
Yes. The current entry ban affects only visas/entry permits.
What about people that already have applied for a COE?
Unless you belong to one of the exceptions listed above, you won’t be able to receive a visa even if you have a valid COE.
If you’re scheduled to enter an educational institution in Japan (ex. a language school) and had to change the start of your enrollment as a result of Covid-19, you can apply to a new COE with…
- a statement of reasons (理由書, りゆうしょ) issued by your institution (if your COE application is still being processed)
- a statements of reasons issued by your institution and the standard COE application document (if you’ve already received your COE)
In both cases, you don’t need to re-submit other documents that are usually required for a new COE.
Foreigners with Valid Residence Status
Foreigners in the possession of a valid residence card (在留カード, ざいりゅうカード) or another document that proves their residence status are able to re-enter Japan. Re-entrants need to provide a certificate of testing for Covid-19 that was issued within 72 hours prior to the departure from the country they were in before re-entering Japan. For more info on the required format of the certificate, check this document.
Upon re-entering, another Covid-19 test will be taken. It takes 1 to 3 hours until the test results are ready. If you arrive from a country where new strains of the virus have been detected, you’ll have to quarantine for 3-6 days before being tested at the airport. Currently, these countries are:
- Czech Republic
- The Netherlands
- South Africa
- United Kingdom
- United Arab Emirates
New entrants to Japan are required to self-isolate for 14 days after arriving in Japan. This 14-day quarantine is necessary even if both the pre-departure test and post-arrival test were negative. Places deemed acceptable for self-isolation are:
- Own house or apartment
- Company housing
- Houses or apartments of relatives or friends
Accommodation with shared bathrooms, showers etc. (like share houses, for examples) isn’t eligible. If you want to stay in a hotel or apartment for self-isolation, it’s best to book/rent one in advance.
To get to the location you choose for self-isolation, you can’t use public transport. Public transport includes trains, buses, taxis, domestic flights, and passenger ships. There are some exceptions though, like Keisei Smart Access (Regular and Premium) or ANA’s car service for returnees. Other options are renting a car or walking to a hotel near or inside of the airport.
Upon arrival, you will be asked to declare both the place where you intend to self-isolate and how you intend to get there. You’ll also have to install the following apps on your smartphone:
- OSSMA (location tracking app)
- COCOA (the Japanese contact tracking app)
If you don’t have a smartphone, you will have to rent one at the airport.
Finally, you need to submit a written pledge that you will adhere to all the infection prevention measures and quarantine rules. If you are found to have violated the rules, your personal information (name, nationality, etc) can be made public, and your residence status might be revoked.
Is it possible to get a job in Japan right now?
As a result of Covid-19, many companies in Japan have severely ramped down or stopped recruitment of foreigners from overseas. But things haven’t come to a complete halt. Some companies have made special arrangements that allow new employees to work from abroad. Others are accepting applications from abroad and are willing to help with the procedures for COE or visa application, but require new employees to wait for entry restrictions to Japan to be lifted before they can start working.