Visitors to Japan must obtain a visa from one of the Japanese diplomatic missions unless they come from one of the visa-exempt countries. The Government of Japan currently allows citizens of 68 countries/territories to travel to Japan for tourism or business without having to obtain a visa.
As of November 2020, a measure approved by the Japanese cabinet bans anyone present in 152 countries or regions 14 days before entering Japan to limit the spread of COVID-19. Japanese citizens and Special Permanent Residents are exempt from this ban but must still isolate for 14 days upon entry.
Holders of passports issued by the following 66 countries or regions were visa-exempt for visits up to 901 days (unless otherwise noted) prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, but as of May 2022, the visa exemption is currently suspended and all foreign nationals require a visa to enter Japan:
1 - Citizens of Austria, Germany, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Switzerland and the United Kingdom may apply for an extension of stay with the Ministry of Justice for up to 6 months.
2 - For the United Kingdom, only British citizens and British Nationals (Overseas) are eligible for visa-free entry.
3 - For nationals of Barbados (since April 1, 2010), Turkey (since April 1, 2011) and Lesotho (since April 1, 2010), visas are not required only for holders of Machine-Readable Passport (MRP) or ePassport in compliance with ICAO standards. Those who do not hold an MRP or ePassport are advised to obtain a visa in advance, otherwise will be strictly examined and may be refused entry to Japan.
4 - For nationals of Malaysia (since July 1, 2013), Thailand (since July 1, 2013) and Serbia (since May 1, 2011), visas are not required only for holders of ePassport in compliance with ICAO standards. Those who do not hold such ePassport are advised to obtain a visa in advance, otherwise will be strictly examined and may be refused entry to Japan.
5 - For holders of Taiwan passports which includes a personal identification number.
6 - For citizens of Hong Kong, visas are not required only for holders of Special Administrative Region (SAR) passport issued by the Hong Kong SAR of the People's Republic of China or British National Overseas (BNO) passports who have the right of residence in Hong Kong.
7 - For citizens of Macao, visas are not required only for holders of SAR passport issued by the Macao SAR of the People's Republic of China.
Holders of passports pre-registered at the diplomatic missions of Japan in the related country (the embassy, consulates, or the consulate) issued by these two countries were allowed to visit without a visa prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, but as of May 2022, the visa exemption is currently suspended as well:
1 - For nationals of Indonesia (since December 1, 2014), visas are not required only for those who have registered ICAO-compliant ePassport to diplomatic missions of Japan in Indonesia (the embassy, consulates-general, or the consulate). Validity of the registration is three years period or until the passport expires, whichever comes first.
2 - For nationals of the United Arab Emirates (since July 1, 2017), visas are not required only for those who have registered ICAO-compliant ePassport to diplomatic missions of Japan (the embassy, consulates-general, or the consulate). Validity of the registration is three years period or until the passport expires, whichever comes first.
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The governments of the following 55 countries have concluded bilateral visa waiver agreements with Japan. Holders of diplomatic and/or service category passports do not require a visa to visit Japan:
D — diplomatic passports only
Holders of diplomatic and official passport of the countries (to whom visa exemption applies when using an ordinary passport) are also, on reciprocal basis, exempted from visa as temporary visitor. In this case, they will be granted the status of residence as "Temporary Visitor" at the landing inspection in Japan (not the status of residence as "Diplomat" or "Official"), and, in principle, they are obliged to provide their personal identification information such as fingerprints and facial photo.
D — diplomatic passports only
1 — except for those who visit Japan for official purpose
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan holders of diplomatic and service passports of Taiwan need a visa.
Holders of passports issued by the following countries who possess an APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) containing the "JPN" code on the reverse that it is valid for travel to Japan can enter visa-free for business trips for up to 90 days.
ABTCs are issued to nationals of:
Japan had a special visa policy for nationals of some former Soviet countries who could not provide their financial guarantees and get a visa on their own but instead they had to apply through an approved travel agency or be invited by a resident or a citizen of Japan. These requirements were lifted for citizens of Russia on 1 January 2017, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan on 5 June 2017, Armenia on 1 September 2017, Azerbaijan on 1 December 2017 and Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine on 1 January 2018.
In addition, Japanese MOFA has special visa policies for nationals of China and the Philippines. Nationals of these countries also must apply through an accredited travel agent or be invited by a Japanese citizen or a resident of Japan.
As of 2014 nationals of the Philippines and Vietnam travelling in a group through a registered travel agency can obtain entry visas for tourist visits up to 15 days in a simplified process that requires fewer documents than before. Moreover, nationals of India, the Philippines and Vietnam can obtain multiple-entry visas providing that they have visited Japan and other G7 countries or they have "sufficient financial capability".
Chinese tourists travelling on approved cruise ships do not require a visa as of April 2015. They must embark and disembark the same specified ships.
Japan was reportedly set to ease visa requirements for visitors from key markets, such as India, China and Vietnam, starting in the summer of 2016. A new wave of visa liberalization policies for Chinese nationals started from 17 October 2016, for Indian nationals started from 1 January 2018.
In 2015 4,768,286 Japanese visas were issued. It is an increase of 66% from 2014 when 2,871,639 visas were issued and the highest number ever recorded.
Most visas were applied for by nationals of the following countries:
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Most visitors arriving to Japan were from the following countries of nationality: In 2015 most visas were issued for group sightseeing (1,957,498) and individual sightseeing (1,126,209). There were 62,052 multiple-entry visas for Okinawa and 10,500 multiple-entry visas for three prefectures in Tōhoku.
For An international travel document issued by Japan, see Japan Re-entry Permit.
There is also a stamp type Japan Re-entry Permit (再入国許可), which is pasted into a foreign passport or other travel document servers as an re-entry visa.
Those who are traveling outside Japan for longer than 1 year are required to have a re-entry permit. Normally, the re-entry permit will be applied to a passport in the form of a self-adhesive sticker. For those who do not have a valid passport, a booklet type Re-entry Permit will be issued at the same time as the re-entry Permit stamp issues.
In the new system as of July 2012, the maximum period for a re-entry permit is 6 years.
From July 9, 2012, foreign nationals residing legally in Japan who are leaving Japan for no more than 1 year will not be required to apply for a re-entry permit prior to leaving, but can instead apply for a special re-entry permit at the point of departure. Previously if a foreign national left Japan without a re-entry permit, their visa or legal residency status could be revoked.
The special re-entry permit system does not apply to those falling under any of the following.
The special re-entry permit is not available for booklet type Re-entry Permit holders and they must have a stamp type re-entry permit on their booklet since the valid date of the booklet Re-entry Permit is limited to the stamp.
As a result of sanctions against North Korea, admission and transit is refused to nationals of North Korea, even if not leaving the aircraft and proceeding by the same flight.