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Japan rolls out the Covid-19 vaccine passports

Having inoculated more than half of Japan with the Covid-19 vaccine and 47% of the population having been completely immunized (September 2021 reports), local wards have begun accepting applications for Covid-19 vaccine passports. In the near future, we can expect to see eased border restrictions, which is a sure sign of travel relief. Europe has a similar certification in place-could this be what Japan needs to reopen international travel sooner rather than later?

How does a vaccine passport work?

In line with the introduction of vaccine passports in many other countries, the new system will provide official documentation recognizing that you have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. It is advantageous for travelers here to have shorter quarantine times or to avoid certain entry procedures and measures. The measures and procedures vary from country to country.

Current vaccine passports are available in English and Japanese and contain your name, date of birth, vaccination date, and type of vaccine you received. Eventually, they will be available in a digital format.

Although negotiations are underway with those countries that will hopefully officially recognize the new document, countries that have agreed to officially recognize the vaccine passports from Japan—as of September 2021—are Austria, Belarus, Belize, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, France, Gabon, Germany, Honduras, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Lithuania, Malaysia, Maldives, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Republic of Kosovo, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, United States (only Guam), Vietnam.

As regulations become more defined, more countries will be added to this list.

(Photo: The Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare / Public Domain)

What is a vaccination passport and why do I need one?

Getting a digital or paper vaccination passport (or both) really won't hurt you if you've been vaccinated. Under new Covid-19 restrictions, vaccine passports are expected to become widely accepted and used for many quality-of-life improvements.

Your vaccine passport could mean dining out, easy domestic travel, socioeconomic perks, and other activities-like attending public events. In addition, the Japanese government is working to allay fears that those without passports might be refused service at establishments accepting vaccine passports.

As a result, vaccine passports are likely to be required for international travel, and a domestic version appears to have no negative implications.

How to get a vaccine passport

It varies from ward to ward how you obtain your paper vaccine passport. You can pick one up in person, mail it in, or apply online. Whatever method you choose, you'll need to prepare the following documents:

  • Proof of vaccination
  • Vaccine passport application (downloadable from your local ward’s official website)
  • Copy of your passport
  • Copy of your vaccination coupon (if lost, alternatives are available)

Online

The best option for those with urgent travel plans is to apply online through ward websites. All of your documents must be scanned, along with your travel dates and destination.

In-person

Check in advance to see if your ward office requires reservations for vaccine passport appointments or if same-day applications are allowed. You should be able to get your documents processed the same day if you bring them to the corresponding counter.

Via mail

Package all your documents and post them to your local ward office. Be sure to include an addressed return envelope with an 84-yen stamp so that your vaccine passport can be mailed back to you.

(Photo: Kaan ULUER / Shutterstock.com)

Digital Vaccination Certificates

Beginning in December 2021, vaccine passports will also be available as a smartphone app. According to Nikkei, these digital versions will be used mainly for overseas travel. The Japanese government currently prioritizes creating an app for vaccine certificates.

We expect to learn more about how to get the digital app and certificate in the next few days.

With the national vaccination plan expected to conclude in November (we hope), it is going to be great to travel again-the vaccine passport will be a necessary piece of any traveler's supplies.



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