Japan is the top travel destination for consumers in Singapore. According to YouGov, 49% said that they would consider Japan for their next vacation. If you are a fan of Japan too, it is heartening to know that after more than two years, travellers are allowed to visit Japan without booking a guided tour and a pre-departure test from 7 September 2022 onwards. Before you head off to book for flight and accommodation, there are still some restrictions and here’s what you need to know:
No pre departure negative PCR tests needed
Travellers entering Japan who are fully vaccinated with 3 or more doses of an approved vaccination will no longer be required to provide the 72 hours negative PCR test. This measure will apply to travellers arriving from 12:00 AM, 7 September 2022 (Japan Standard Time). Approved vaccination means:
- The certificate must be issued by a government or public institution
- The items must be indicated in Japanese or English
- The certificate must clearly show that you have received 3 doses of any of the following vaccines (vaccine name/major manufacturer):
- COMIRNATY intramuscular injection/Pfizer
- Spikevax intramuscular Injection /Moderna
- Vaxzevria intramuscular Injection/AstraZeneca
- JCOVDEN intramuscular injection/Janssen
- COVAXIN/Bharat Biotech
- Nuvaxovid intramuscular Injection/Novavax
Package Tour without guides
In April, Japan opened its borders to some overseas residents, business travellers and foreign students, who were sponsored by schools or employers. Following that, Japan opened to a cap of 20,000 international tourists arrivals per day, from selected countries, and only as part of organised tour groups with a guide, and strict pre-departure tests. Starting from 7 September 2022, the daily cap of new entrants will be raises to 50,000, and tourists no longer need a guide as part of the package tour that they book for.
ERFS Certificate and Visa Application
Though Japan has announced that they are dropping the Japanese guide requirement from package tours, an ERFS certificate to get a visa for Japan is still required. A legally registered Japan travel agency will use Japan’s Entrants, Returnees, Follow-up System (ERFS) to apply to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to get permission for you to enter Japan (they will act as your sponsor). Here’s the ERFS and Visa Application Process Summary:
- Find a Japan travel agency and buy a package tour
- The travel agency will apply your visa through the ERFS system for you.
- A Certificate for Completion of Registration will be issued to you.
- Once you receive the ERFS certificate, make an appointment to visit the Japanese embassy for visa application with a completed visa application form and supporting documents including the following:
- Letter from travel agency (with their company letterhead) stating names of all visa applicants, contact number, date of travel, duration of stay, name & address of place to stay in Japan; must be signed and stamped with company’s stamp
- Details of tour itinerary (daily itinerary including hotel’s name and address) from travel agency printed on the travel company letterhead
- The certificate for completion of registration to the Entrants, Returnees Follow-up System (ERFS)
- Passport and a photo of yourself
Some travel agencies may be able to handle the visa processing service on your behalf, please check with your agencies for services.
Duration of ERFS and Visa
The ERFS certificate is valid for three months from the date of issue listed at the bottom of the certificate. The short-term tourist visa is valid for three months from the date of issue stated in the visa. However, the validity of the visa differs from the duration you can stay in Japan. The three-months validity of the visa means that you can use it to enter Japan within three months from the issue date, whereas the duration of stay is dependent on how long the package tour is, so if you book a one-week package tour, the visa may be valid for 15 days. One important point to note is that these visas are single-entry visas, which means that if you fly from Japan to South Korea during your Japan trip, you cannot re-enter Japan using this visa even though it is within the duration of the package tour.