Until at least 31 December 2021, the new entry of foreign travelers to Japan is prohibited. Hotel quarantine of between 3 and 10 days is mandatory when traveling to Japan from many European countries, including Germany.
The scheme described in the following is suspended until at least 31 December 2021 and applications for a Certificate of Review are not being processed.
Eased border control measures for business travelers
(1) Visa application for short-term business travelers, students, and technical interns
As of 8 November 2021, double-vaccinated foreign nationals wishing to enter Japan as student, technical intern or on a short-term business trip can again apply for visa. In those cases, a Japanese company must act as sponsor for the purpose of infection countermeasures.
Before visa application is possible, the sponsor must apply for approval (“Certificate of Review” 審査済証, see below 3) by the Japanese Ministry that has jurisdiction over the sponsor’s business activities. Once the Certificate of Review has been obtained, the prospective visitor can start the normal visa application process.
(2) Eased quarantine measures after day 3 in Japan
As of 8 November 2021, a negative Covid-19 test taken on day 3 of the quarantine period allows the traveler to carry out “specified activities” during the remaining quarantine period. The scheme is open to anyone traveling for business purposes, be it Japanese nationals, foreign nationals residing in Japan or foreign short-term visitors, provided they have been vaccinated twice with one of the Covid-19 vaccines approved in Japan (Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna or AstraZeneca).
To qualify for the “specified activities” scheme, the Japanese company employing or inviting the business traveler must act as sponsor and apply for a Certificate of Review (see below 3) from the Ministry in charge of overseeing the sponsor’s business activities. The application must include the list of specified activities as well as reasons why these activities require an exemption from the quarantine restrictions. Activities such as office work, attending meetings or events, eating out and traveling can be permitted by the competent Ministry, although an additional Covid-19 test may be required prior to certain activities that entail close contact with an unspecified number of people (e.g., attending large public gatherings). Public transport may only be used if seat reservations are possible. This means that travel by Shinkansen or taxi (with a separation between driver and passenger) is allowed, while most subways and local busses may not be used.
As is the case for all double-vaccinated travelers, following a second (optional) negative Covid-19 test taken on day 10 of the quarantine, the remaining quarantine is waived.
(3) Applying for a Certificate of Review
The first step is to identify the Ministry in charge. The workload at the Ministries may be different depending on the demand for the scheme in each industry. Procedures and processing times may therefore vary considerably. In our experience, the specific requirements are assessed on a case-by-case basis and depend on negotiations with the Ministry in charge.
Generally, the following documents need to be submitted:
– Application form;
– Written pledges by the traveler and by the sponsor;
– Activity plan for each day of quarantine (days 1-14 after entry to Japan);
– Personal details of the traveler(s);
– Passport and vaccination certificate of the traveler(s).
As the purpose of the sponsorship is to minimize the burden on public resources, the sponsor is obliged to arrange for a place to stay and transportation which comply with the government’s requirements, organize the Covid-19 test on day 3 for business travelers, as well as take required measures in case the traveler is infected or came in close contact with an infected person. The traveler shall be covered by an international medical insurance or the Japanese national health insurance.
During the quarantine period, a person designated by the sponsor needs to check in with the traveler every day to ensure the traveler’s health status and compliance with the activity plan. The result must then be reported to the Ministry in charge.
(4) General preparations for traveling to Japan
All persons entering Japan should make the following preparations before traveling:
– Organize a place to stay (home or hotel without coming in contact with an unspecified number of people) and non-public transport for the quarantine period;
– Certificate of negative COVID-19 test (sample taken not more than 72 hours before departure of the flight for Japan) using the official form (DE/EN);
– Online Questionnaire; the QR code received upon completion is mandatory on entry to Japan, and some airlines may already require it when boarding;
– Written pledge for each traveler;
– Install the apps COCOA (COVID Contact Confirming App) and MySOS (info).
Quarantine and immigration procedures at the airport in Japan typically take between 2 to 3 hours.
Double-vaccinated travelers may shorten the quarantine period by taking a self-paid Covid-19 test on day 10 after arrival to Japan. The test may be taken in person or by mail order and can be either a PCR test or a quantitative antigen test. A list of eligible test administrators is available here.
This summary overview is intended to highlight points of current interest and is for information purposes only. The rules and regulations summarized above are subject to frequent change. Professional advice should always be sought in respect of any matter addressed herein and no liability is accepted by the firm in respect of any action which may be taken, or which may be refrained from being taken, as a result of the content of this summary, whether in whole or in part, and even if it contains any errors.