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Coronavirus

Vaccine Passport Starts in Japan

The new document will be useful when traveling to limited countries that currently have agreements with Japan. Initially, it will not be used for travel to North America, for example, or inside Japan.

Arielle Busetto

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On July 26, Japan started accepting applications for the COVID-19 vaccine passport, thereby enabling people fully vaccinated to travel to certain international destinations without having to go through quarantine.

Currently, the government of Japan has not expressed its views on  using the vaccine passport domestically.  

Several countries in Europe have already implemented a similar system starting from July 1.

Many have asked where these will work, and how. We unpack some of the main questions below.

What Will the Passport Look Like?

Initially, it will be a paper document available both in Japanese and English. At a later date, the government has announced it might consider a digital version, like the one currently used in Europe.

It will include the following information:

  • Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Passport Number
  • Type of Vaccine (Name, Lot Number)
  • Date of Inoculations
  • The Municipality of Issuance
  • Date of Issuance 

How long will it take to get one?

In principle, the government has expressed the aim of providing the document to applicants on the same day of application. (There may be exceptions, and this time frame may be adjusted based on experience with the program.)


How Can one Apply?

Those eligible can apply at the municipal office where their residency in Japan is registered, for example the ward office where you live in one of Japan’s cities. Applications will be accepted either in person or by mail. The government is considering introducing a digital application later on.

Who is Eligible?

In principle anyone who is a resident of Japan (Japanese national or foreign national) and has been vaccinated in Japan is eligible. However, the government is asking only those who plan to travel abroad to apply.

Those who have gotten their vaccine jab abroad are not eligible to apply.

What does one need to apply?

The following documents are required:

  • Vaccine passport application form
  • Passport
  • Vaccination voucher, or in case the document has been lost, My Number card or similar proof of address.
  • Proof of Vaccination

Is there an expiration date for this document?

As of now, no. 

Which countries are included in the vaccine passport?

As of July 21, seven countries are included in the scheme. This is likely to change as agreements are made with other countries, so make sure to check back this information.

The countries currently included are:

  • Austria
  • Bulgaria
  • Italy
  • Poland
  • Turkey
  • Estonia
  • South Korea: those who have business or special humanitarian reasons to visit, can be exempt from quarantine if they have proof of vaccination, including the vaccine passport.

The aim is to expand the eligible countries to 30 countries in the near future. 

Do returnees to Japan still have to go through quarantine?

Yes. Japan continues to impose strict controls for both citizens and residents re-entering the country from overseas. The three main requirements are:

  • A Negative PCR test 72 hours prior to boarding a flight to Japan.
  • 14-day quarantine upon return. Generally, this is by self-isolation, although depending on the COVID conditions in the countries you’ve visited, a portion of the quarantine might be at a government designated facility.
  • Health monitoring during the first 14 days of entry through the government-designated smartphone applications.

What about those who aren’t resident in Japan?

The Japanese government is currently granting entry only to citizens and foreign nationals who are residents of Japan, and to a small number of other foreign nationals under special circumstances. 

It is important to check with your local embassy before trying to enter Japan if you do not have residence in the country. Students, workers and short-term visa holders are still not being granted new entry to Japan under the current rules.

Author: Arielle Busetto

Arielle Busetto is a journalist at JAPAN Forward. She has finished the intensive Japanese course of the Inter University Center For Advanced Japanese Studies in Yokohama in summer 2018, and is originally from Siena, Italy.