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Japan will ease COVID-19 border controls on Sept. 7

Japan is ending its requirement for vaccinated travellers to have a COVID-19 test to enter the country in early September, a move that represents a gradual step toward reviving the country’s hard-hit tourism industry.

Scrapping pre-departure COVID-19 tests will apply to those who have received at least three vaccine doses, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Wednesday (Aug. 24), as reported by the Associated Press.

The Prime Minister is also considering increasing daily entry caps as soon as next month.

"We plan to gradually ease border controls to allow entry procedures to be as smooth as those of other Group of Seven countries," said Kishida, who is isolating after testing positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.

Visitors that have received at least one booster vaccine can waive the pre-entry test beginning Sept. 7, Kishida told reporters.

Japan reopened its borders to travelers on visas and guided tours from June 10, but remains closed to independent travelers. It remains unknown when independent travelers will be able to enter the country again.

In order to visit Japan as a tourist, the following three conditions currently apply:

  1. Travelers must visit Japan on a guided tour with predetermined itinerary that is organized by a Japan-based travel agency or operator. The travel agency or operator will handle application procedures and be held responsible for the tour participants.

  2. Travelers must have spent the 14 days before arrival in Japan in a country on the "blue list", i.e. a country where the risk of catching the coronavirus is considered low. There are currently 98 countries on the "blue list", including most countries in North America, East Asia, Europe and Oceania. Prominent countries not on the list include India, Vietnam, Portugal and Turkey. See the complete list below.

  3. During their stay, travelers must adhere to basic infection prevention measures, such as wearing masks and disinfecting hands, and they need to be enrolled in a travel insurance plan that covers medical expenses related to the coronavirus.

Furthermore, because Japan continues to unilaterally suspend its visa-waiver agreements, all travelers need to apply for a visa in order to enter Japan.

A negative result from a PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to departure is required to enter Japan; however, this requirement will be abolished from September 7 for those who have been vaccinated at least three times (vaccines by Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen, Bharat Biotech and Novavax are recognized). Testing at the airport and quarantining upon arrival are not required for foreign tourists regardless of vaccination status.

Countries on the "blue list":

Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, South Sudan, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, USA, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Zambia

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