Since the start of the pandemic, entering and quarantining in Japan has been complicated because of the many COVID-19 prevention measures and processes in place. But, starting from the beginning of this March, the quarantine policy was relaxed, allowing 7,000 people with business or student visas per day to enter Japan.
However, in all the excitement of entering this beautiful land, have you been given a breakdown on how to conduct a safe and sound quarantine here?
Arrivals Gate and Pre-Quarantine
Among all the joy post-landing, there are some important steps that must be taken before entry.
All citizens, residents and visa holders coming to Japan are required to take a PCR test 72 hours prior to their flight (here is information on the valid PCR test format for entry into Japan). Be sure to accurately time the 72 hours prior to your departure, or you may be denied boarding to Japan.
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In the current climate, entry to Japan requires a ton of documents, ranging from several questionnaires to the Written Pledge, which you will be given upon arrival to Japan. You will be provided with all kinds of documents both during your flight and after your flight has landed, each of which comes with comprehensive instructions.
Before entry, there are two apps that you are required to download: COCOA (COVID-19 Contact Confirming Information), which can be used on iPhone and Android and MySOS, also available for both iPhone and Android. COCOA was created with the expectation that users would report their daily COVID condition as well as provide updates whenever a person has close contact with someone who has tested positive, while MySOS is used to authenticate your location via daily automated video calls and texts. During your quarantine period, you may receive up to 4 calls daily from officials to check your location.
Having both apps on your phone before departure is not compulsory, but prior installation helps for an easier and smoother check-in process.
Arrival In a Nutshell
After arriving at the airport, the first things to be checked will be your pre-departure negative PCR test result and your visa. Then, you will be asked to wait in line to take another test, which, this time, will require your saliva. Before taking the test (a rapid test to check COVID status before entry), passengers should drink or eat anything for at least 30 minutes prior to ensure the accuracy of the result.
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While waiting for your results, a one-on-one check of your app installation, an explanation of the usage and other procedures will be explained. One thing to keep in mind is that the check-in process may take more than 3 hours due to the larger numbers of travellers to Japan at this time.
Unless you are unvaccinated and coming from a designated location, if your test result turns out to be negative, you will be allowed to use public transportation to go to your quarantine location or home, depending on your country of departure, as long as the trip is undertaking within 24 hours. Your arrival date is counted as day 0, and your first day of quarantine period begins the day after.
Quarantine – Some Good News
According to MOFA (Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare), from the beginning of March 2022, quarantine measures were changed to relax border measures.
Returnees or newcomers coming from designated areas where the Omicron variant is not widespread and who have already had three vaccination shots are not required to follow any quarantine measures. In contrast, those who have not yet received the third dose of the vaccine are required to self-quarantine at home for seven days in principle. However, if your PCR test is negative on the third day, you no longer have to follow quarantine rules.
Those arriving from areas where the Omicron variant is dominant (designated areas) and those who have yet not received a single vaccination will be required to stay in a specific quarantine facility for three days. If on day three, the PCR test comes out negative, you will be allowed to leave the quarantine area and are no longer required to follow quarantine rules. Although 3-time vaccinated passengers from designated areas are not required to stay in a facility, they are requested to self-quarantine for three days. If the result of a PCR test taken on the third day is negative, their quarantine period will be considered to be over.
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In all situations, it is mandatory for new arrivals to report PCR results to officials through the My SOS app (if you need instructions on how to report your results via the app, you can check here [japanese only]). Once you get approval to end your quarantine via the app, you are free to finally go out and enjoy Japan!
If you’re looking for information on accredited test centres that provide COVID-19 tests to end your quarantine early, you should refer to this list of providers put together by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There is an English version, making it easier for non-Japanese speakers to find what they need. Also, you are provided with two testing options, including ‘by mail’ or ‘in person’, to suit your needs. For those who’d prefer to take the test in person, you are allowed to use trains, taxis or buses to reach the test site; however, remember that as you are still under quarantine measures, you try to avoid using public transportation if possible.
Bye Bye Quarantine, Japan is Almost… There!
It was good news for many when travel restrictions and quarantine measures were finally relaxed, and for many of us, it has been such a long wait until we could get the chance to visit Japan. If you are considering (re)-entering Japan from March, this is the updated information you need to know. I hope you are able to enjoy the beauty of Japan soon.
– Haley Tran/Vietnam
- Quarantine in Japan After Arriving at the Airport
- Leaving Japan and Re-entry During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Bored While In Quarantine? Try These 6 Activities During Self-Isolation!
- 5 Extraordinary Staycation Destinations in Japan
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