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Entrants, Returnees Follow-up System (EFRS) Discussion (was: Japan opening up)

Entrants, Returnees Follow-up System (EFRS) Discussion (was: Japan opening up)

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Old Sep 22, 22, 12:56 am   -   Wikipost
Please read: This is a community-maintained wiki post containing the most important information from this thread. You may edit the Wiki once you have been on FT for 90 days and have made 90 posts.
 
Last edit by: etgohomeok
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UPDATE Sept. 22, 2022: JAPAN WILL NO LONGER REQUIRE VISAS AS OF OCTOBER 11, 2022. As of October 11, Japan will resume visa-free entry to nationals from qualifying countries. Individuals traveling to Japan after this date DO NOT need to obtain an ERFS and visa to enter the country for individual tourism. The information below is for posterity and/or people who wish to travel to Japan prior to this change going into effect.

UPDATE Sept. 12, 2022: News media is reporting rumors of an imminent announcement which may include the reinstatement of visa waivers. Such an announcement would make most of the information below obsolete. Travelers who do not need visas immediately are advised to wait until we know more.

Overview


Until further notice, a visa is required from all foreigners to enter Japan. The visa-waiver program which previously allowed visa-free entry to nationals from certain countries has been suspended. In order to obtain a visa, a receiving agency must sponsor your application by issuing you an ERFS (Entrants, Returnees Follow-up System) certificate. ERFS certificates may be issued for a variety of reasons, including tourism, in which case a licensed travel agency must sponsor your visa application.

Tourism

As of September 7, 2022, tourists may enter Japan on unguided, unaccompanied tours as long as they are sponsored by a travel agency who arranges their flights and accommodations and acts as a point of contact for the duration of their stay in the country in the event of issues including a COVID infection. Some official documents from the Japanese government have attempted to clarify this policy (and, most notably, what it means for a receiving agency to "arrange" flights and accommodations), however in practice it has been left up to the interpretation of the sponsoring agencies. Due to the lack of clarity, there is a range of interpretations with some agencies insisting on purchasing all airfare and hotel reservations on behalf of the traveler, with others allowing travelers to keep their existing reservations as long as they share the details with them. The exact offerings and pricing from specific agencies is changing rapidly, consult this thread for the latest information.

As of now there have been no reports of denied visas or entry into the country from anyone who had a valid ERFS from a legitimate travel agency. Individuals from Australia have reported difficulties booking visa appointments, so Aussies may want to contact their local consulate and ensure they can do so before paying for a tour package/ERFS.

Visa Application and Arrival Process

The following roughly outlines the steps for obtaining a visa and entering the country:
  1. First, the traveler must obtain an ERFS certificate from their sponsoring agency. Who issues the ERFS depends on the reason for entering the country (business travelers should obtain it from the company they are visiting, tourists should obtain it from a travel agency who is arranging their visit, etc.). The ERFS certificate is a one-page document summarizing key information about the traveler and their sponsor. An example of an ERFS certificate is provided here.
  2. Once the ERFS is obtained, travelers must apply for a visa from their local Japanese consulate. Travelers from some countries (currently only the USA and Canada) may apply for an eVisa online. This process is faster and easier than physically visiting a consulate so it is recommended for anyone who has access to it.
  3. Visitors who are fully vaccinated with three doses of approved vaccine do not need to obtain a COVID test prior to traveling to Japan. A primary series consisting of one dose of J&J/Janssen is treated as two doses for the purpose of meeting these criteria (see here). Vaccination information should be submitted using the MySOS app and travelers should ensure they have a "blue screen" in the app prior to boarding their flight. Information available here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What other documents are required for the visa application? Do I need an itinerary document?
A: For an eVisa application you only need to submit your ERFS and passport. No other supporting documentation is necessary. In-person applications may ask for more documentation and you should verify what documents are required with your local consulate.

Q: What documents are required to board a plane and enter the country?
A: Travelers who have reported their experiences have said they were asked to show their MySOS "blue screen" and their visa/eVisa by both the airline (prior to boarding their flight) and by customs (after landing in Japan). If you have an eVisa, make sure you can load the digital version of the actual eVisa website on your phone (not just the PDF) in Japan over data or WiFi, because these have a rotating QR code.

Q: What if I don't want to stay at a hotel and want to stay at a friend's house/Airbnb/couch-surfing/etc.?
A: Current tourism guidelines suggest that a travel agency is supposed to "arrange accommodations" for your time in Japan. As such, you should contact your travel agency to ask them what types of accommodations in Japan they will allow. It is advisable to book a hotel in Japan for at least your first night in the country prior to applying for a visa since the visa application asks for this information. Note that hotels in Japan are currently very cheap, especially with the weakened Yen.

Q: What if I'm not traveling for (x) amount of time? When should I get an ERFS and apply for a visa?
A: Visas are only valid for 90 days after they are issued, so you should wait until your trip is at least within the next three months. There is also a good chance that the Japanese government will move to further relax entry requirements (including, possibly, re-instating the visa-waiver program which would make this entire process obsolete) in the coming months, so you should wait until your individual planning process requires you to have some assurance that you'll be able to enter the country. We may also see more competition among travel agencies offering bare-bones tour packages in the coming weeks, which could drive prices down.



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Old Sep 24, 22, 11:55 am
  #1576  
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
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Originally Posted by nexusCFX View Post
After reading this I ended up deciding to go next week ahead of my November trip so I could use the visa to visit some places before tourism picks up. This is entirely your fault so I hope you're happy with yourself.
Not going to lie the same thought crossed my mind, but just cannot reasonably pull the trigger on that. I really doubt things will be overrun in late October/November anyways though.
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Old Sep 25, 22, 1:12 am
  #1577  
 
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Originally Posted by quitecryptic View Post
Not going to lie the same thought crossed my mind, but just cannot reasonably pull the trigger on that. I really doubt things will be overrun in late October/November anyways though.
hope youre right, thats when myself and my 37 friends will be going.


/s 😂
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Old Sep 25, 22, 1:43 am
  #1578  
 
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Originally Posted by Heliface View Post
hope you’re right, that’s when myself and my 37 friends will be going.


/s 😂
You and your busload of friends will fill Japan like a pea, rattling around in a shipping container.
Things will get crowded when China relaxes its borders.
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Old Sep 25, 22, 4:19 am
  #1579  
 
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Originally Posted by jib71 View Post
You and your busload of friends will fill Japan like a pea, rattling around in a shipping container.
Things will get crowded when China relaxes its borders.
But how many of those can afford a trip to Japan?
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Old Sep 25, 22, 5:01 am
  #1580  
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Originally Posted by CosmicGirl View Post
But how many of those can afford a trip to Japan?
Not the majority, very very far from the majority.
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Old Sep 25, 22, 6:11 am
  #1581  
 
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Originally Posted by CosmicGirl View Post
But how many of those can afford a trip to Japan?
Chinese nationals made 9.6 million trips to Japan in 2019 (more than any other single nationality - roughly 10% of all inbound trips). To date in 2022 that number is around 83,000.
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Old Sep 25, 22, 12:45 pm
  #1582  
 
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Originally Posted by jib71 View Post
Chinese nationals made 9.6 million trips to Japan in 2019 (more than any other single nationality - roughly 10% of all inbound trips). To date in 2022 that number is around 83,000.
For a fair comparison you would need to compare that to South America, Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand combined.
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Old Sep 25, 22, 1:06 pm
  #1583  
 
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Originally Posted by CosmicGirl View Post
For a fair comparison you would need to compare that to South America, Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand combined.
I think the idea is that China may be per capita lower than other nations, but 10M tourists per year is still 10M/year. So, of any single nation still being 'locked down', China will have the greatest impact on reduced tourism numbers in Japan. Not sure how flight availability would work if China opened tomorrow anyway, but it's a fair point overall
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Old Sep 25, 22, 2:41 pm
  #1584  
 
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Error in my previous post.

Visits by Chinese nationals were 30% of total visits from all countries in 2019.
For the purpose of "fair comparison," South America, Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand combined accounted for about 15% of the total that year.

Data is here:
https://www.tourism.jp/en/tourism-da...stats/inbound/
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Old Sep 25, 22, 5:14 pm
  #1585  
 
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No Visa Needed after 10/11?

I've followed this thread for a bit and read the wiki, which links to an article I cannot fully open. The MOFA website https://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/...a.html#notice9 seems to continue to indicate a visa is required as does the Embassy of Japan website: https://www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/itpr_..._and_visa.html

Would appreciate a definitive response to this question:

Has the government of Japan removed the need for an American to obtain a visa for travel after October 11? Can you please provide a link?

Thank you for your help.

Last edited by 747FC; Sep 25, 22 at 5:33 pm
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Old Sep 25, 22, 5:19 pm
  #1586  
 
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The UK foreign office website has not updated guidance for Japan yet to say visa waiver back in place etc, as per latest changes
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Old Sep 25, 22, 5:57 pm
  #1587  
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Originally Posted by 747FC View Post
I've followed this thread for a bit and read the wiki, which links to an article I cannot fully open. The MOFA website https://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/...a.html#notice9 seems to continue to indicate a visa is required as does the Embassy of Japan website: https://www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/itpr_..._and_visa.html

Would appreciate a definitive response to this question:

Has the government of Japan removed the need for an American to obtain a visa for travel after October 11? Can you please provide a link?

Thank you for your help.
Apart from the Prime Minister's announcement at a press conference in connection with his UN trip, there are no formal information yet. There has been a tendency for Japan to only update the information available online very shortly before the change takes effect.

The links you are posting is the requirements right here right now. I would agree that it would make sense to have a disclaimer for known future changes already now. But that is not really how it has been done through out the pandemic.

The question is, do we trust the date that Kishida san announced?
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Old Sep 25, 22, 6:00 pm
  #1588  
 
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Hes the PM of the worlds third largest economy. Hes not bsing.
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Old Sep 25, 22, 6:14 pm
  #1589  
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Originally Posted by MattEvan View Post
Hes the PM of the worlds third largest economy. Hes not bsing.
I know, I don't worry. Once he actually put a specific date to it, rather than just talking in general terms.
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Old Sep 25, 22, 7:13 pm
  #1590  
 
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I'm sure he said the date and the gov't will make sure it happens, even if only to save face. But if not, there's going to be a lot of disappointed people and chaos. And those of us who got our eVisas before the announcement will feel a little superior for a few minutes
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