Japan’s COVID-19 Vaccine Passport

Osaka International Airport (KIX)

With the pandemic still affecting international travel, you may be wondering if it’ll be possible to travel to Japan any time soon. But the country may be opening its borders sooner than you think.

Like many countries, Japan is now planning to introduce a vaccine passport. This is part of a scheme to reopen international travel by making sure that passengers coming into the country have a low risk of carrying COVID-19.

Read on to learn more about Japan’s vaccine passport and how it will affect travel in the near future.

What Is a Vaccine Passport?

A vaccine passport is a way to show that you have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and are cleared for international travel.

The idea is that this will allow you to visit other countries and avoid some, if not all, of the coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

2021 has seen a number of countries and blocs around the world designing and implementing these electronic systems in an effort to restart travel and boost tourism and business visits.

Japan is the latest country to announce that it is working on a vaccine passport. The hopes are that it will be available as early as summer 2021. This will likely mean that some of Japan’s COVID-19 travel restrictions will be relaxed.

How Will Japan’s Vaccine Passport Work?

Japan’s vaccine passport will show that the holder is low-risk for COVID-19.

There will be 3 possible ways to prove this:

  • Vaccination
  • Previous recovery from COVID-19
  • Recent negative coronavirus test

If you have been fully vaccinated against COVID or have already had it and recovered within the last 6 months, you are considered to be immune. Alternatively, you can take a test within 72 hours before traveling and as long as it’s negative, you’ll be good to go.

The Japanese vaccine passport will be based on the European Union’s (EU) Digital Covid Certificate, which has recently been launched in Europe.

While the EU’s platform allows travelers to present a digital or paper copy, you might have to wait for a digital version for Japan. The country is said to be planning to issue paper certificates by summer 2021, with a digital or app-based version up and running by the end of the year.

You’ll have to show your certificate on arrival to enter Japan. It is not yet known whether you will have to quarantine or if the vaccine passport will exempt you from this.

Who Will Be Able to Get a Japanese Vaccine Passport?

Initially, citizens and residents of Japan will be able to get a paper certificate issued by the government. They will be able to leave the country and return using the “passport”. It is expected that foreign nationals living in Japan will probably be the biggest group of users at first.

However, Japan is expected to enter talks with other countries, including the US, the UK, and Australia, as well as the EU.

The ideal outcome would be for an agreement to accept vaccination passports or certificates issued by each country to allow travelers to pass both ways.

If the US agrees to allow travelers with a Japanese vaccine passport to enter restriction-free, it is likely that Japan will allow American citizens to enter with US-issued certificates.

This would be the key to allowing tourism and business travel to restart. If the scheme is up and running in time, it may also be available for travel to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Why Is Japan Introducing One?

The decision to introduce one is not surprising. Japan, like many countries, depends on business travel and tourism. Cities like Tokyo and Kyoto are top destinations for foreign visitors. Both sectors have suffered under the coronavirus pandemic.

If Japan’s COVID-19 travel restrictions are relaxed for those with a vaccine passport, it will bring a much-needed boost to the economy.

Ken Kobayashi, chairman of the Japan Foreign Trade Council was quoted as saying: “From a businessman’s perspective, it would be ideal if a vaccine passport makes free movement possible.”

Plus, it will be perfect from the point of view of foreign tourists and business visitors to finally take a trip to the Land of the Rising Sun! With a vaccine passport and a JR Pass, Japan will be yours to explore.

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