Japan is a fascinating island nation that enchants its visitors with a unique mix of tradition and modernity. Below you can find out about the entry requirements for Japan so that you can relax and enjoy your vacation in the land of the rising sun.

You will also find information on vaccinations, customs regulations, the import of animals and the exact procedure for entering Japan.

What documents do German citizens need to enter Japan?

German citizens who want to enter Japan need a passport or alternatively a temporary passport. Children need a children’s passport. The ID documents must be valid throughout your stay in Japan.

If you travel to the Asian state for a maximum of 180 days, you do not need a visa according to the entry requirements for Japan. This applies to both vacationers and business travellers. When landing at the airport, you will be granted a residence permit for 90 days as a temporary visitor. You can then extend this by a further 90 days at the relevant immigration office. The extension is also possible directly at the airport.

If you plan to stay in Japan for more than 180 days, or if you would like to work, do an internship or study there, you must apply for a visa at the Japanese diplomatic mission in Germany before you leave. You can obtain a working holiday visa for a one-year holiday stay where you can work on-site.

Entry requirements for Japan for citizens of other nationalities

Japan has agreements with over 60 different countries that allow visa-free entry. In addition to all EU countries, this also includes Switzerland, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Mexico, Argentina, Norway and Turkey.

For example, citizens of China, Russia, Vietnam and the Philippines are required to have a visa in accordance with the entry requirements for Japan. They still have to apply for your visa in their home country at the responsible Japanese representation.

What needs to be considered when taking animals with you?

If you want to take your pet to Japan, you should inform yourself in advance about the regulations. Dogs and cats must have a microchip. It is also mandatory to apply for an import permit from the Animal Quarantine Service (AQS) at least 40 days before departure.

Cats and dogs must be vaccinated against rabies. If the vaccination is more than two years ago, you must show proof of titer from an approved laboratory.

If your four-legged friend has been in a country classified by Japan as rabies-free in the past six months, no rabies vaccination is required. These are Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii and Guam. Vaccinations against distemper (distemper), hepatitis and parvovirus are also strongly recommended for dogs.

Cats need a vaccine against cat cold and cat disease. Unvaccinated young animals whether dogs or cats, may not be imported into Japan. There is currently no breed of dog or cat that is prohibited from importing.

In addition, you need a health certificate that was issued a maximum of two days before the trip and shows that your animal is healthy and free from parasites. Other animals, such as birds, rodents, reptiles, fish or amphibians, also need a health certificate. Rabies vaccination is usually not mandatory for these species. However, you should obtain information about the exact regulations from the responsible authority.

For certain animals, such as turtles and parrots, it is important to ensure that the species is not protected under the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. If the animal is subject to CITES, a special permit is required.

Which vaccinations are recommended for trips to Japan?

No mandatory vaccinations are required for a stay in Japan. However, it is advisable to check before your trip that all vaccinations recommended by the Robert Koch Institute for Germany are current. If necessary, you should refresh them. These are tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, mumps, measles, rubella, influenza, pneumococci and herpes zoster.

In the case of special exposure and long-term stays, immunization against Japanese encephalitis can also be useful. This is a mosquito-borne infectious disease that has become very rare in recent years. Nevertheless, if you do not have vaccination protection, you should protect yourself sufficiently against mosquito bites.

Medical care in Japan is very good and meets European standards. In the larger cities, you should have no problem finding an English-speaking doctor. You can obtain information on this from the Japanese representations abroad.

Customs regulations for Japan

Before packing your suitcase, you should find out what the customs regulations for Japan look like. The import of firearms and ammunition, explosive materials, illegal narcotics, counterfeit money, pornographic articles and objects that infringe trademark rights and patents is generally prohibited. For hunting and air rifles and swords you need a special import permit.

You can import up to 1 million cash free of duty. Yes. If you have a larger amount with you, you must register this. Precious metals, for example, gold with a degree of purity of over 90%, can be brought tax-free up to an exemption limit of 1kg.

Furthermore, people over the age of 20 are allowed to have three bottles of alcoholic beverages of 760ml duty-free in their luggage. In the case of cigarettes, there are 400 or 100 cigars or 500g of tobacco. Up to 50ml perfume is exempt from customs. Other goods must not exceed a total value of 200,000 yen, otherwise they must be declared.

There are strict regulations for the import of food, especially meat and sausage products, and the controls here are very strict. Fresh plant products, such as tea, are also examined in the plant quarantine at the airport.

There are also exemption limits for medicines and cosmetics. You can take the medication with you in an amount that corresponds to private use for a period of two months. Cosmetics are tax-free for 24 applications. If you move to Japan and will stay for more than a year, you can import various personal household items duty-free. This also includes cars, boats and other vehicles.

For what reasons could you be refused entry to Japan?

There are several reasons why you may be denied entry to Japan. Missing or illegible identification papers can be a problem. So it is better to make sure that your passport is in good condition. Even if you have prohibited items in your luggage, you will most certainly be rejected at the airport. Furthermore, people who have been expelled from Japan in the past five years are not allowed to re-enter.

In addition, Japan has strict immigration laws regarding people with criminal records. This is especially true for people convicted of drug-related offences. If you belong to this group of people, you should find out in advance from the responsible authorities whether you could experience problems when entering the country.

What is the process and what are the challenges when entering the country?

Most travellers get to Japan by plane. The country’s largest airport is Narita International Airport, 66km northeast of Tokyo. The second international airport in the capital is Tokyo Haneda Airport, which is located 15 km south of the metropolis. Another important Japanese airport is Kansai International Airport near the city of Osaka.

Even before landing, the flight attendants will give you two forms on the plane. One of these is the customs declaration, on which you must state whether you have items to be declared with you. The other is an entry form, in English: Disembarkation Card for Foreigners. Enter your personal data such as name, date of birth, nationality, passport number and home address on this.

The reason for your trip is also asked, i.e. whether you are travelling to Japan as a tourist or on business. You also have to enter your flight number, the planned duration of your stay and the address of your hotel.

You must also check whether you have already been expelled from Japan, whether you have been convicted of a crime and whether you have illegal substances or weapons. If you have to answer one of these three questions with “yes”, there is a high probability that you will be refused entry to Japan.

On the plane, you have plenty of time to fill out the forms in peace, so it makes sense to have a pen in your hand luggage. Otherwise, you can also enter the information in the hall where the passport control takes place. There are also other copies of the forms.

On the way to the counter, you sometimes have to walk across an area where your shoe soles are disinfected. Every now and then, the body temperature of passengers is also measured by infrared, which is intended to identify people with a high fever.

Show your passport together with your entry form at the passport counter. Your fingerprints are then digitally recorded and a photo of you is taken. This does not apply to minors under the age of 16. You will then receive a stamp and a pasted QR code in your passport. If you leave the country, you will be checked out again using this code.

Next, go to the baggage claim where you take your bags off the line. Then you pass the customs counter. If you have nothing to declare, you usually have to simply submit the completed customs declaration and are allowed to leave.

Sometimes customs officials will also ask you to open the suitcase, or your baggage will be sniffed by drug detection dogs. The officials are usually very polite and if everything is OK you can quickly go out into the arrival hall of the airport.

So you see, the entry requirements for Japan are strict and you should inquire carefully about the regulations before you leave. Obtain information about entry formalities, customs regulations, vaccinations, and pet travel policies. Then you are well prepared and can be sure that your arrival at the airport will be quick and smooth.

Once you have passed passport and customs controls, you can look forward to an unforgettable stay in the land of the rising sun.