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Japan might reopen its borders to all travellers early next year

Rules for travel in the country have relaxed for some, while all international visitors could be allowed in by April 2021

Ellie Walker-Arnott
Written by
Ellie Walker-Arnott

Countries all over the world have come out of lockdown and reopened their borders over the past few months. Now Japan has started to welcome back at least some international travellers too.

The Japanese government announced in September that it would lower the travel warning level for around ten countries around the world from ‘3’ (meaning ‘avoid travelling for any reason’) to ‘2’ (‘avoid non-essential travel’). A two-week quarantine will still be required for anyone flying into Japan, but it is hoped the move will encourage these nations to allow Japanese travellers in too – paving the way, eventually, for mutual leisure travel arrangements.

At present, it should be noted that all foreign nationalities are barred from visiting Japan for tourism purposes. To get into the country right now, you must either be a foreign resident of Japan or meet ‘special-circumstance’ requirements.

As of September 18, businesspeople from certain Asian nations including Thailand, Taiwan and Singapore have been allowed in under very strict conditions. And since October 1, anyone with permission to stay for three months or longer has also been able to travel to the country. 

So in other words: short-term stays may be off the cards for most of us for a while yet.

But that could all be set to change in early 2021. Japan is reportedly planning to reopen borders to all international travellers next spring, maybe as early as April 2021. The idea is that entry bans will be lifted before the scheduled Tokyo Olympic Games next summer. 

The country is aiming to admit ‘large-scale’ numbers of international visitors for the Olympics without mandatory vaccination or quarantine, Nikkei reported on Wednesday.

When borders do reopen, visitors are expected to be subjected to testing before travel and on arrival. People visiting the country may also have to download an app to monitor their health for a period of two weeks. A small price to pay for sports fans keen finally see some IRL action next year. 

Remember, many countries are still warning against all non-essential travel and some are quarantining all overseas arrivals, including their own returning citizens. Check all the relevant restrictions before you think about travelling.

Where can you travel right now? Here’s what you need to know.

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