Critical Alert

Japan lifts entry COVID-19 entry ban for nine locations Nov. 1. Business travel possible with Vietnam. Other border controls continue.


Japanese authorities have lifted an entry ban for foreign travelers from eight countries, including Australia, Brunei, mainland China, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam, and Taiwan as Nov. 1 due to reduced coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity in those places. Arriving travelers from these locations no longer must submit a COVID-19 test result before entering. However, the government continues to suspend visa-free entry, effectively requiring official permission before travel. Authorities are also implementing a Business Track arrangement with Vietnam.

The government has also eased quarantine requirements for returning Japanese nationals and foreign residents on short-term trips from all locations. To qualify, a company or organization must agree to ensure that employees take precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Travelers must also limit journeys (not including local quarantine time) to seven days and receive a negative COVID-19 test result upon their return. Returning residents and nationals must agree to only travel between home and work, not use public transport for two weeks, and save location data on their mobile phones for contact tracking purposes.

Domestic Restrictions
Japan is maintaining some restrictions due to ongoing COVID-19 activity. Authorities continue to limit sporting and entertainment venues to 50-percent capacity but have increased the maximum number of people to 10,000. Some smaller venues and theaters can operate at full capacity. Business activity has largely resumed nationwide, but companies must adhere to social distancing directives. Prefectural governments could issue emergency declarations and call for related business restrictions in areas where COVID-19 activity increases. While officials cannot enforce orders, compliance has generally been high.

Sporadic rail and flight disruptions remain possible nationwide amid generally reduced demand. 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, 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 from 152 countries, after adding Myanmar, Jordan to its list. However, officials permit permanent residents, foreigners with a student, work, or long-term resident visa, and spouses and children of Japanese nationals and permanent residents to enter, regardless of their departure date from the country. Authorities allow short-term business and official travel from Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam with limited or no quarantine time. Business travelers from these countries must provide authorities with a copy of their itinerary, travel primarily between accommodations and worksites, and remain in contact with health officials during the first 14 days of their visit.

The government also allows long-term travel with a 14-day quarantine period from South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Brunei, and Taiwan under Residence Track agreements. 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. Most 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, Japanese nationals and foreign residents returning under business quarantine exemptions, 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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