Japan has been one of the biggest holdouts in terms of reopening for tourism since COVID. They’ve only just opened the tourism door, and it’s only a teeny tiny crack. Tourists from the U.S. and 97 other countries have recently been able to visit again and there are many hoops you have to be willing to jump through to be one of those few lucky tourists. For example, visitors must:
- take out private medical insurance that includes full COVID coverage
- wear a mask, indoors and out, unless specific circumstances allow an exception
- be under constant supervision of a tour guide (or risk being sent home)
- avoid closed spaces, crowded places and close contact settings (the “three Cs”)
Visitors must also comply with the country’s new travel etiquette rules:
- sanitize hand thoroughly before eating
- portion food servings in advance when sharing food in restaurants (read: don’t take from someone’s plate after they’ve begun eating)
- not talk when using the country’s public baths
So many COVID precautions are understandable, considering it’s a country that’s one of the few that hasn’t reopened to tourism until now. However, there’s also a brand new wrench in the system for many who want to visit Japan, including U.S. citizens: they will now be required to obtain a visa before visiting.
For years, those with U.S. passports were exempted from needing to obtain a visa to enter the country for tourism. They were able to get visa waivers. But Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs now says that exemption has been suspended.
The foreign ministry recently updated its rules about entry requirements. It now says, “Currently, foreign nationals/people who are willing to enter Japan need a visa newly issued by embassies or consulates or consular office of Japan.”
Obtaining a visa can be an arduous process. Depending on the country, they may require specific documents such as bank statements, proof of address, proof of identity, proof of where you’ll be staying, letters of invitation, proof of time that will be spent in the country you’ll visit, etc. Other visas are easy to apply for and may require simply filling out a form online.
Japan’s visa requirements are explained on the Embassy of Japan in the United States of America’s website. However at this time, for those planning on entering the country for tourism, they suggest you contact your travel agent who is setting up your group trip (since the only way to enter Japan as a tourist right now is with a group trip).
The one small bit of good news? US citizens are exempt from visa fees at this time.
Feature Photo: pxhere
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