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Travel, Teach, Live in Japan

Traveling to Japan: What's Needed to Get Into and Out of the Country

If you're planning to travel to Japan in the future, it's never too early to start thinking about what you'll need for your trip. If you're mostly accustomed to traveling within your own country, it can sometimes be a shock to learn that there are specific things you'll need in order to get into and out of a foreign country. In some cases, the requirements can vary, depending on the country you're traveling from as well as the reason for your visit. However, here are some basic guidelines that you can follow to help make sure you're completely prepared to travel to Japan and back.

Do You Need a Visa?

If you are traveling from a Western nation, there is a good chance that you'll be able to obtain landing permission upon arrival without the need for a visa. In fact, this is also true for over 60 different countries and territories throughout the world. In most cases, you'll be able to stay for a maximum of 90 days. However, if you're traveling from Mexico or from certain other European countries, you'll be able to stay for a maximum of 180 days, as long as you note the length of your stay when entering the country. Before planning your trip to Japan, you'll want to make sure your country of origination is on the list of those that do not require a visa. If your country is not on this list, prior to your arrival you'll want to be sure to obtain a "temporary visitor visa."

If you're planning to stay for longer than 90 days, you'll need to obtain and carry a Certificate of Alien Registration card. This is carried in lieu of a passport. You can also choose to obtain this card for stays shorter than 90 days, but it's not a requirement. You'll surrender this card when leaving Japan, unless you have a re-entry permit. When in Japan, you'll be required to carry your passport, or if applicable, your Alien Registration Card, at all times. Random checks are common, and if found without these documents, you could be detained and fined.

Be Prepared for Fingerprinting and Other Entry Procedures

When traveling to Japan, you'll want to be prepared to go through a few standard procedures upon entry to the country. Electronic fingerprinting is part of this procedure for anyone older than 16 years of age, unless you're traveling on government business. You'll also be photographed, and the immigration officer may ask you a number of different questions. Be aware that if you refuse to follow any of these standard procedures, you will not be permitted to enter the country.

Customs Issues

When traveling to another country, it's always a good idea to fully understand what you're allowed to bring into the country - and what is forbidden. When traveling to Japan, be aware that there are some medications commonly available over-the-counter in other countries that are not allowed within Japan's borders. Examples of these forbidden medications include those that contain codeine or pseudoephedrine. In some cases, you might even find that your prescription medication may be banned. This is often the case with strong painkiller medications. If you must take prescription medications with you when you travel, it is highly advised to look into whether you're permitted to bring them into the country. If it's a necessary prescription medication, you can apply for special permission in advance. But if you wait until you're at the customs checkpoint before this issue is discovered, it will be too late. The same is true with some other kinds of medications, such as those that are packaged in syringes. When in doubt, do your research in advance to avoid unpleasant consequences at the customs checkpoint.

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