The first step on your journey to Japan is actually getting into the country. This is MATCHA’s guide to visa and immigration procedures for travelers.Ready to Enter the Country? Setting Out on Your Journey with Peace of Mind
When you travel abroad, the first step is entering the country. What documents do you need besides your passport? What will they ask? Is there anything I can’t bring in? You’re sure to have many questions. We’ve put together this guide for tourists to Japan, to help alleviate your worries.
Do You Need a Visa?
Anyone who plans to stay for more than three months in Japan, or who intends to work, needs a visa. However, those staying under three months may not need a visa, depending on the purpose of their visit (business, tourism, visiting friends) and their country of origin. Let’s look at which countries require visas.
China, Vietnam, Russia
People from China, Russia (including the Commonwealth of Independent States)(*1), Vietnam, India, the Philippines and some other countries will need to apply at their Japanese embassy or consulate-general, which costs 3000 yen. The procedure is as follows.
1. Prepare necessary documents: Look at your country’s embassy page or other sources for more details about what you will need.
2. Apply at your Japan embassy or consulate: If there are no issues with your documents, your application will be completed in about a week. When you apply, you will have to submit your passport.
3. After the screening is complete, go to pick up your passport and visa: You may be able to pick up your passport by itself before your visa is issued, so check if this is possible.
4. Once you have received your visa, enter Japan within three months.
*1: Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Belarus, Moldova
Chinese Citizens Need to Apply Via Travel Agency
Chinese citizens can apply for group tourist visas and individual tourist visas through the Japanese embassy as well as travel agencies listed by the consulate-general. The duration of stay is within 15 days, and you need to confirm the necessary documents with the travel agency. Applications take up to a week, and charges vary by company.
Check the Duration of Your Issued Visa and Passport Before You Depart!
Be sure to get your visa before visiting Japan. No matter where you are from, of course, you will need your passport. Some countries will be stricter than others about how much longer your passport should be valid for, so check with your country’s institutions before leaving.
No Visas Necessary for Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan and Several Other Countries
As of July 2017, citizens of 68 countries, including South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, America and Spain, do not need to procure visas for short stays, as long as they are visiting Japan as tourists.
Indonesia, Thai, Brunei: 15 days or fewer
UAE: 30 days or fewer
Taiwan, Hong Kong, Europe and other countries: 90 days or fewer
Check the visa restrictions page on the MOFA website for details.
What About Airport Immigration?
Generally, the flow of immigration goes as follows.
- Quarantine Check
You can pass through if you don’t have a fever and cold symptoms. If you are given a health-related form on the plane, fill it out and submit it to the quarantine counter.
Line up for the Foreign Passports counter, where you will have your fingerprints and photo taken. Expect to be asked about:
・Where you plan to go
・How long you will be staying
・Where you will be staying, and the place’s address
・If you have a return ticket
- Get Your Luggage
Head to the baggage claim and get your bags.
- Animal and Plant Quarantine
Animal products (including ham, sausage and other meats) and plant products (including fruits, seeds and vegetables) need to be inspected when they are brought into Japan, so drop by the quarantine counter if you have them. However, we recommend not bringing them in at all for a smooth entry.
- Customs Inspection
Head to the customs inspection area and submit the customs declaration form you received on the plane, which is available in multiple languages. After clearing the inspection, you can exit into the lobby.
Take Care of Your Belongings
Your belongings may be checked at quarantine or customs. To avoid any issues, try to minimize the number of metal accessories on your person, and never hand off your bags to someone you don’t know.
Airport Facilities, Getting into the City
Some of the most-trafficked airports are Narita Airport, Haneda Airport, Kansai International Airport, and Fukuoka Airport.
- The Gateway to Japan, Narita International
Narita Airport has three terminals. The arrival lobbies for Terminals 1 and 2 are on the first floor, and Terminal 3’s lobby is on the second floor. They have money exchange centers, bag storage, cell phone/Wi-Fi dongle rental, SIM card vendors, shower rooms, rental car services, free Wi-Fi and more. Check the homepage for a floor map. From the airport, you can get to Tokyo Station via bus or train.
From Narita Airport to Tokyo Station, the Tokyo Shuttle and THE Access Narita are both about 60 to 90 minutes, and you can purchase a one-way fare on the day of your trip for 1000 yen.
The JR Narita Express to Tokyo Station is 51 minutes and 3020 yen for a reserved seat. Check here for more.
- Haneda Airport (Tokyo International Airport) in Tokyo
You can get to Tokyo Station by bus or train.
The airport connecting bus is 55 minutes and costs 930 yen.
The Keikyu airport express limited train on the Keikyu Line, from the underground Haneda International Airport Terminal Station to Shinagawa Station, is 13 minutes. Switch to the Yamanote Line or the Yokosuka Line, which is another 10 minutes. The fare is 580 yen. On the Tokyo Monorail Line, going from Haneda International Airport Building Station on the third floor to Hamamatsu-cho Station is 14 minutes. From Hamamatsu-cho Station, you can get to Tokyo Station by switching to the JR Yamanote Line or the Keihin Tohoku Line, a five minute trip. The fare is 650 yen. You can search for routes here.
- Kansai International Airport If You’re Going to Osaka or Kyoto
- Fukuoka Airport for Travelers to Kyushu
Get Your Visa and Immigration Matters Taken Care Of, And Have a Safe Japan Trip
Hopefully, by learning about pre-departure visa procedures and airports, you will be able to head to Japan with peace of mind. We hope this article was helpful.