Critical Alert

Japan allowing foreign nationals entry for specific reasons as of Oct. 1. Short-term travel remains banned. Other border measures ongoing.

Alert Begins 01 Oct 2020 08:31 AM UTC
Alert Expires 30 Oct 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide 
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Entry ban for short-term travel, testing and quarantine requirements; possible transport and business disruptions


Japan has further eased its border restrictions as of Oct. 1 amid ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. Under the adjusted measures, authorities will permit foreign nationals seeking to relocate, study, or with a dependent visa to enter the country. However, officials will continue to cap the total number of entrants from these categories daily, with higher quotas available for travelers from countries with less COVID-19 activity. The government previously lifted entry restrictions for permanent residents; foreigners with a student, work, or long-term resident visa; and spouses and children of Japanese nationals and permanent residents, regardless of their departure date from the country.

Domestic Restrictions
Authorities allow sporting and entertainment venues to operate with up to 50-percent capacity. However, some smaller venues and theaters can operate at full capacity. Business activity has largely resumed nationwide, but companies must adhere to social distancing directives. Tokyo has lowered its alert for COVID-19 to Level 3, the second-highest level, and lifted restrictions on entertainment establishments and eateries. Prefectural governments could issue emergency declarations and call for related business restrictions in areas where COVID-19 activity increases. While officials cannot enforce directives, compliance has generally been high.

Sporadic rail and flight disruptions remain possible nationwide, though demand is normalizing. Physical distancing requirements are in place on most long-distance transport services. Flights from South Korea and China are only authorized to land at Narita International Airport (NRT) and Kansai International Airport (KIX). Transit flights for foreign nationals are only allowed through NRT. International commercial flight disruptions will probably continue in the coming weeks, and possibly months, due to decreased demand amid travel restrictions. Authorities continue to suspend international passenger ferry services.

Travel Restrictions
Short-term travel, including business visits and tourism, remain banned for most foreign nationals with a travel history to 159 countries and territories, including China, India, Pakistan, South Korea, the US, Australia, and all EU member countries. However, Japan allows residents from Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Brunei, and Taiwan to enter for long-term travel under Residence Track arrangements. Authorities also permit essential short-term business and official travel from Singapore under a Business Track arrangement. Business visitors from Singapore can enter the country with limited quarantine time but must provide authorities with a copy of their itinerary, limit time spent in public, and remain in contact with health officials during the first 14 days of their visit.

Foreign nationals eligible for entry must get a new visa or Re-entry Confirmation Letter from the nearest Japanese diplomatic mission and provide documentation of a negative COVID-19 test result obtained within 72 hours of departure to enter the country. Officials are only accepting polymerase chain reaction (PCR), loop-mediated isothermal amplification method (LAMP), or chemiluminescence enzyme immunoassay (CLEIA) antigen tests. Officials require all passengers to undergo a PCR COVID-19 test upon arrival. Inbound passengers, including Japanese citizens, must self-quarantine for 14 days; travelers may isolate at a predetermined facility or at home but must arrange accommodations in advance. Individuals under quarantine orders and Business Track visitors must refrain from using public transportation and download the government-support contact tracing mobile phone application.


Follow all official instructions. Postpone travel if affected by an entry ban. Allow additional time for immigration and health screenings. Consider delaying travel if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Confirm international flight reservations. Closely monitor national travel advisories, as additional restrictions to and from Japan are likely. Consider telecommuting options for staff. Make allowances for likely increased employee absenteeism and related business disruptions.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.



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