Japan relaxes COVID test rules for fully vaccinated travelers


The changes will come into effect next month.

Japan has confirmed that, as of next month, incoming travelers will no longer be bound by the requirement to take a pre-departure coronavirus test. This relaxation marks a key milestone in a country where restrictions have remained in place for a comparatively long time. Let’s take a look at the specifics of the upcoming change.

Two weeks to go

It is now two weeks until September 7th, when the new rules will come into action. Until then, passengers will still be obliged to take a coronavirus test within 72 hours of their departure when traveling to Japan. According to TimeOut, the country only accepts certain kinds of tests, with expensive PCRs being preferred.

As such, the removal of tests will correspondingly remove an administrative and financial hurdle for those wanting to travel to Japan. While the country’s 20,000-person daily entry cap will remain in place for the time being, Japan Today notes that this may also be up for reconsideration. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stated:

“The battle against the virus is not easy, but we should not be overly worried. We will take into consideration the characteristics of the changing Omicron variant and accelerate efforts to take antivirus measures while keeping social and economic activity going as much as possible.”

Passengers have to be fully vaccinated

The rule change isn’t completely caveat-free. Indeed, to be able to travel to Japan without taking a pre-departure test on or after Wednesday, September 7th this year, passengers will need to have completed a full course of vaccination against coronavirus. In Japan’s case, this is defined as also having included a booster shot.

Either way, tourism in Japan is currently a very limited affair, with TimeOut reporting that less than 8,000 foreign tourists visited the country in July. A likely reason for this is the fact that, as it stands, tourists can only enter the nation as part of a guided group tour. As such, it seems that most are waiting on another rule change.

However, this may be just around the corner, with Japan reportedly considering a relaxation that would allow independent tourists to enter the country as well. While not fully restriction-free, this change would let people visit without being part of a guided group tour, as long as their trip is booked and managed by a travel agency. It will be interesting to see if this comes into place with the test relaxation. Credit: Simplyflying

Carriers are banking on a busy end to the year

Looking at the moves made by airlines in recent weeks, it seems that the upcoming change in restrictions will be a timely alteration. If, indeed, it does lead to a higher daily arrivals cap being implemented, then Scoot‘s decision to put its seasonal winter flights to Hokkaido on sale may well pay off. Likewise, Delta plans to boost flights from LAX to Tokyo in October, and add Honolulu-Tokyo services in December.

What do you make of Japan’s decision to drop its pre-departure test requirement? Do you have plans to visit the country this year? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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