Japan is currently in the midst of its 7th wave of COVID as case numbers across the country reached 209,694 on July 27. Tokyo had the highest number of daily cases at just over 29,000 followed by Osaka with nearly 22,000.
We had hoped that the July 10 elections and the re-election of the LDP and PM Kishida would signal a change in the border restrictions but sadly at the time of writing that has not happened.
So, what does this mean for those who are still wanting to travel to Japan?
Currently, all foreigners who do not have residency in Japan must apply for a VISA to enter Japan. This applies to business people, students, those entering to work in Japan, those wanting to visit family in Japan and tourists. For tourists, the guidelines released on JUNE 10 have not changed. You must take part in a “Guided Group Tour” where a guide accompanies you from your arrival into Japan until you leave Japan. The term group implies several people, however, this is not the case for entry requirements. One person travelling alone can be considered a ‘group’ for the purpose of the current visa requirements.
As we mentioned last month, these type of guided tours that require a guide to accompany the group 24/7 are quite restrictive but also very expensive and in our opinion, not the ideal way to see Japan. However, in the past month, we have helped numerous clients, who had already organised trips to Europe with a Japan Stopover on the way and suddenly required a visa and a ‘guided tour.’
For those who are still keen to travel under these current guidelines, the process is as follows:
- Book a guided tour (through Japan Holidays)
- Apply for the ERFS Certificate (through Japan Holidays)
- Apply for a visa at your local Japanese consulate in Australia
- Get a Covid 19 negative test certificate (72 hours prior to travel)
- Install the MySOS App for Quarantine Fast Track
- Check out the Visit Japan Web for immigration and customs
- Purchase Travel Insurance with COVID-19 coverage
The process does take time, so if you do require a visa and an organised group tour, you should contact us at least one month in advance of your departure from Australia.
For our clients wanting to SKI JAPAN, we are hopeful things will change well before December but at this stage it’s unclear. Under current ‘group tour’ guidelines, it would be difficult to organise a guide for clients on a ski holiday, although the ‘guide’ doesn’t need to accompany group participants when they are doing ‘outdoor activities and sports’ you would still require a guide to accompany you on the ski trip, which would make it impossibly expensive for the majority of people.
For further information on the current border measures, please see the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan’s website.