Posted: January 4

Getting Through Japanese Immigration

Having returned to Japan after the Christmas holidays I thought it would be good to share my experience going through Japanese Immigration. Hopefully this guide will help make your journey as smooth as possible.

Japan’s immigration policies and system have changed quite a bit in the last year, so it’s hard to know what to expect. I’m happy to report that the current system works very well and feels like it could be a permanent system. Hopefully future changes will be minor adjustments, rather than complete overhauls.

The information in this article is accurate for when it was written. As immigration policies can change with little notice please check official sources before travelling to Japan. Also it relates to a personal experience, your experiences may vary.

Visit Japan Web App

The first thing you should do is download and install the Visit Japan Web application to your smartphone. You should do this at least a week before you intend to travel. This app will keep most of the information you need all in one place. You will, of course, still need your passport.

If you’re travelling with family members you only need to install the app on one phone. Although you will need to register information of each member of your family. If you are traveling with a group of friends, I’d recommend installing the app on each persons phone.

Children must be registered but some portions may not necessary, they’ll be noted below.

For detailed guidance on using the Visit Japan Web app/immigration procedure I recommend the official manual or FAQ. However, you can find a brief rundown below.

Application Registration

Start by registering your name, date of birth, address, etc. Get your passport ready, as you’ll need your passport number and to send a picture of the photo page for confirmation.

After you’re registered you can add family members who will be travelling with you. They’ll need the same information as above.

Registering an Entry/Return Plan

Once your travel party has been registered you can register a “planned entry/return”. Here you can log your coronavirus vaccine status or recent test results (within 72 hrs), your disembarkation card, and customs declaration. There is also a place for travel insurance, as well as a link for what to do if you get ill during your trip. You will also need your flight dates and flight number.

Preparation for Quarantine

For the preparation for quarantine you can log your vaccine status and vaccination dates. You will have to send in a photo of your proof of vaccine in either English or Japanese for confirmation. When it’s registered, and if your vaccine status/negative test result is accepted, the screen will turn blue.

Depending on age, children do not need proof of vaccine or negative test results, so long as they are travelling with a guardian who has the appropriate status. You should register that they do not have a vaccine certificate/test result, their screen will be yellow.

Preparation for Immigration Clearance

As I am resident in Japan, I didn’t have to complete a disembarkation card (I get other paperwork to do), but it looks quite straight forward. It includes dates, duration, and purpose of your stay in Japan, intended address, and if you have a criminal record.

Preparation for Customs Declaration

The customs declaration was quite simple and required ticking boxes confirming you are not carrying any illegal/restricted items, alcohol etc. exceeding duty free limits, unaccompanied baggage etc.

You will need to create one document for each adult traveler, there is a drop-down box at the top of the “Japan entry/return procedure” page to switch between applicants. Children traveling with you do not need to complete a customs declaration.

Japanese Immigration

Once you have disembarked from your flight you can show the screen to the waiting staff. If it’s blue you will be given a “health card”, with some details on what to do if you become ill during your stay in Japan. They then take everyone’s temperature, assuming it isn’t high you pass right through to the immigration desk.

If you have not been given a “health card” or you have a high temperature you will be redirected to another desk, where they seemed to be administering covid tests.

The immigration desk was business as usual, if you completed a disembarkation card on the app you will have a QR-code for them to scan.

Once that’s done its off to collect your baggage.

Customs Declaration

With your bags in hand (or on trolley), you can proceed to one of the many e-gates. Here you scan the photo page of your passport and your customs declaration QR-code. Make sure you scan the unique QR-code for each user. Don’t worry if you get stuck there were a lot of staff on hand waiting to help out here.

Hot Tips

At check-in for the return flight I was asked about vaccine status and the dates when I had them. Having completed everything through the app I didn’t think this would be necessary. I would recommend having those dates to hand to make check-in go smoothly.

Japan is still very in mask wearing country, so much so that after three years of wearing masks it felt strange to go out without one when I was at home. I recommend taking a few masks in your carry on luggage. Although the airline I flew with gave out a mask and tube of hand sanitizer for our arrival. There was even an announcement upon landing that we should wear masks when disembarking the plane.

To access the Visit Japan Web app when you arrive at Japanese Immigration you’ll need to be connected to the internet. You can use the free wi-fi available at most major airports, or save screenshots of the relevant screens. There is an explanation in app of what screens you will need to save.

If you don’t have a smartphone, don’t want to use the app, or your battery died, you can still enter Japan by completing the usual paperwork. Just make sure you bring your proof of vaccine with you.

Visiting Japan Again

Hopefully this guide will be of help for anyone who has had to put off their trip to Japan and is wary of the new procedures for getting through Japanese immigration. With the Visit Japan Web app the whole process can be planned ahead of time and completed quite simply, leaving you with more time to plan what you want to do.

For other covid-19 related news see our official page.