2022 — Get ready for your landing in Japan

Photo by JuniperPhoton on Unsplash

Japan opened up the border on November 8th, 2021, and closed it on November 30th, 2021 — the border was open only for 3 weeks.

With the spread of new variant, it’s hard for anyone to guess when and how long Japan opens up the border. What can we do? — let’s get ready for the next opportunity.

Although the process and requirements of landing in Japan changes over time, we can plan ahead and prepare for required information based on what was previously requested. This article is for those newly entering Japan for business purposes.

Two ways of landing in Japan

As of November 29th, 2021, there were two ways of landing for those newly entering Japan.

  1. Short-term business travelors (up to 3 months)
  2. Long-term working permit holders (up to 5 years)

All people newly entering Japan for business purposes had to get an “approval letter” from one of the jurisdictions in Japan to get a visa. The jurisdiction will be different depending on your industry, and Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW onwards) listed up contact information of each jurisdiction.

A company/organization based in Japan can only submit applications for the “approval letter”, and it has to guide landing process in Japan for the business experts newly entered Japan, take care of them and follow all the rules specified by MHLW.

Founders around me were planning to land in Japan for IT-related businesses, so Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI onwards) was the jurisdiction to approve their entry.


Everyone thinks “visa = residential status”, but let’s understand what the process looks like by figuring out which office/jurisdiction stands for which process.

  1. Short-term business travelors (up to 3 months)
    If your country is listed on this page under Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA onwards), you don’t have to apply for a residential status to Immigration Bureau. What you need is the approval from MOFA — “visa” from the closest Japan Embassy. If your country is not listed, you will need to apply for a working permit to Immigration Bureau.
    In addition to “visa” from Japan Embassy, you will need to get the “approval letter” from one of the jurisdictions under the Government of Japan under the current border measures.
  2. Long-term working permit holders (3 months to 5 years)
    Long-term working permits are given by Immigration Bureau, and if Immigration Bureau approves your activities in Japan, you will get a Certificate of Eligibility (in short CoE) to start your activity in Japan.
    For long-term working permit holders, the process will be like:

A) apply for a CoE to Immigration Bureau (if you are abroad, you will need to hire a certified administrative scrivener to submit your CoE application to Immigration Bureau)

B) Immigration Bureau issues your CoE after approving your activity in Japan

C) your administrative scrivener mail the CoE to your home address in abroad

D) your sponsoring organization submits application to one of the jurisdictions to get an “approval letter”

E) you visit Japan Embassy with the CoE and the “approval letter”

F) Japan Embassy issues your “visa” to land in Japan

Many people think landing in Japan is one process, but at least three offices are involved as of now.
1) Immigration Bureau (under Ministry of Justice) issuing “CoE” to approve “residential status” and your activities under the status
2) One of the jurisdictions under the Government of Japan to approve your special entry permission via “approval letter
3) MOFA/Japan Embassy issuing “visa” to approve your landing in Japan

Online system to apply for an approval letter under METI

Each jurisdiction in Japan is trying to shift the application process over to online from physical paper-based applications. METI was the first one to start accepting the applications online.

Required information

Over the time the required information to get the “approval letter” has been changing, but

  1. Your current residential address in abroad
    — where you’re flying from before coming to Japan.
  2. Which airport you’re landing in Japan
    — you might need to stay in a designated hotel provided by MHLW depending on which country you are from.
  3. Which date & time you’re landing in Japan
    — basically your flight schedule.
  4. Flight Number
    — need all flight numbers if you transit somewhere else outside of Japan.
  5. Address that you stay for the first 14 days after you land in Japan
    — and how you transfer from the airport or a designated hotel by MHLW to the new place that you self-quarantine.
  6. Vaccination Certificates
    — you have to be vaccinated for at least two times. As of December 4th, 2021, MOFA was approving the following vaccination record. The second vaccination passport will be approved if at least 14 days have passed after the date of second dose.
    1. COMIRNATY / Pfizer
    2. Vaxzevria / AstraZeneca
    3. COVID-19 VaccineModerna / Moderna
  7. Passport
    — copy of your ID photo page
  8. Pledge
    — the latest form will be published on MHLW. The latest pledge is accessible from here (as of December 27th, 2021).
  9. Itinerary
    — your sponsoring organization must submit your itinerary. The itinerary must include :
    a. the address you’re staying for the first 14 days
    b. your activities during the 14 days (if you are visiting a company, which transportation to take from where to where, person/people that you are meeting with, how many hours you are meeting with them, etc.)
    c. whether you are taking a PCR test to shorten the quarantine period
    d. if you are taking the PCR test,
    — d-1 : how to go to the clinic via which transportation
    — d-2 : at what time you are leaving and coming back to your hotel

The usage of public transportation is prohibited for the first 14 days for anyone newly entering in Japan regardless of nationality (including Japanese citizens), and hiring a private driver (taxi is not approved since unspecified number of people are using taxi on the street) costs, so I presume all people decide to self-quarantine for the first 14 days.

These are what you need to newly enter Japan under the current border measures. Just hoping that some criteria will be eased by the time Japan opens up the border next time, and we can finally meet in person in 2022!



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store