Japan travel guide
From kimono-clad geishas singing traditional songs in Kyoto to manga-crazed teenagers whizzing around Akihabara 'Electric Town' in Tokyo, Japan is a fascinating land of contrasts, a heady mix of tradition and modernity that often bewilders but never bores.
Nowhere in the world blends the old and new quite like Japan. The speed of new technological developments here is matched only by the longevity of its ancient customs and traditions. The country is a pioneer in the fields of design, technology and fashion. You can set your watch by the trains, eat meals that look like works of contemporary art and relieve yourself in the most technologically advanced toilets on the planet (some even talk to you).
Paradoxically, Japan's embrace of the cutting edge is offset by its revered cultural traditions and celebrated historic achievements. Ancient castle ruins, atmospheric Shinto shrines and fascinating festivals are never far away, with cultural highlights including the striking Osaka Castle and Kyoto's iconic Temple of the Golden Pavilion. There's also evidence of Japan's dramatic recent history in cities like Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where nuclear bombs were dropped with devastating consequences during WWII.
If you love nature, you will adore Japan. This is a country swathed in natural beauty. Ski the powdery slopes of Hokkaido, revel in the springtime beauty of the 'sakura' cherry blossoms, frolic in the sun-drenched beaches and turquoise waters of subtropical Okinawa, or climb up the iconic Mount Fuji. Wherever you go, good food is guaranteed – from fresh sushi and sashimi to charcoal-fired meats and sizzling sauces; Japan is a joy for gastronomes.
It is also a land of wild eccentricities, where you can watch men strip at the festival of Hadaka Matsuri or get amorous in one of the country's many short-stay love hotels. These facets might jar somewhat with Japan's polished image, but they help make it one of the most exciting destinations on the planet.
377,915 sq km (145,913 sq miles).
126,476,461 (UN estimate 2020).
334.62 per sq km (129.2 sq miles).
Emperor Naruhito since 2019.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida since 2021.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Japan on the TravelHealthPro website
See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Japan.
Everyone should comply with the measures put in place in Japan to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Returning to the UK
When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.
You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements. You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities.
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.
Plan ahead and make sure you:
- can access money
- understand what your insurance will cover
- can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned
Travel in Japan
Since Japan is no longer under a State of Emergency, travel between prefectures is permitted. Measures encouraging social distancing, mask-wearing and other basic precautions remain in place. Some businesses may be closed, or operating with reduced hours. A more restrictive State of Emergency, or other rules and controls, may be imposed at short notice. You should follow the instructions of your local authority.
Local authorities may also put in place special measures for natural disaster response, including additional evacuation locations and medical procedures. See Natural disasters for more information on general disaster preparedness in Japan.
Healthcare in Japan
For contact details of English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers. For guidance on what to do if you think you may have COVID-19, please visit the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare website.
If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should contact a COVID-19 Consultation Centre, who will direct you to a PCR testing centre. If you subsequently test positive for COVID-19, you will be contacted by the relevant public health centre. They will instruct you to self-isolate for 10 days at home, to move to a government-managed quarantine facility, or the most serious cases to stay in a hospital. Under-18s are not exempt from these requirements, though quarantine staff will contact their legal representatives.
If you are isolating at home and your symptoms become severe, you should contact the public health centre. They will advise you whether and how to seek medical treatment (you will be required to avoid public transport). They may send a car to transport you to a hotel or hospital.
If there is a possibility that your life is in danger at any stage, you should dial 119 and ask for an ambulance.
The Japan National Tourism Organisation has a 24 hour hotline (+81 50 3816-2787) which provides support and advice in English for visitors in Japan including on coronavirus. It has published relevant information and further external links (in English) including a guide to accessing medical facilities in Japan.
Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health
View Health for further details on healthcare in Japan.
COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Japan
Wherever possible British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in the country where they live. We will update this page when the Government of Japan announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.
The Japanese national vaccination programme started in February 2021 and is using the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines. British nationals resident in Japan are eligible for vaccination. Information regarding Japan’s COVID-19 vaccination programme is available in English on the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) website and also by telephone on +81 (0) 120-761770.
Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad webpage.
If you’re a British national living in Japan, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
If you are living, working or studying in Japan, you can find more information on financial assistance programmes in country for foreign residents in the Living in Japan guide.
The Japan Medical Association has a multilingual hotline (10am to 5pm) for foreign nationals who need advice related to coronavirus. The hotline number is +81 3-6233-9266. See more information on other multilingual coronavirus hotlines.
Many prefectures have published information on local services (some in English).
Tokyo has established a general purpose hotline (9am to 5pm) for foreign residents, providing advice on non-medical coronavirus-related issues, including some interpretation services. The hotline number is +81 120-296-004.
If you’re living in Japan, you can also check the Living in Japan guide from the British Embassy.
The Voice of America radio service in Japan (102 FM) also provides regular updates in English.
If you need urgent consular assistance, you should contact your local British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephones numbers are available 24/7.
Crime levels are low. It is generally safe to walk about at night and to travel on public transport, but you should maintain the same level of vigilance as you would at home and take sensible precautions.
Personal attacks, including sexual assault and rape, are rare, but do happen. Japanese law places a high burden of proof on the victim to demonstrate that the sexual relations were not consensual and committed through assault, intimidation or force. Reports of inappropriate touching or ‘chikan’ of female passengers on commuter trains are fairly common. The police advise that you shout at the perpetrator to attract attention and ask a fellow passenger to call the train staff.
If your passport is lost or stolen, you should report this at a police station and get a police report.
Tokyo’s entertainment districts, like Roppongi and Kabuki-cho (near Shinjuku station), are considered higher risk areas for crime, in particular at night. There are reports of foreign nationals being targeted for drink-spiking, credit card fraud, extortion, robbery, assault and sexual assault in clubs and bars.
There have also been reports of drink spiking or deliberately giving customers drinks with much higher levels of alcohol than would be expected. Victims have described waking up, often in an unknown location, with no memory of the preceding hours and finding out that large amounts have been billed to their credit card.
Getting a police report, which may be required by credit card companies in order for any claim to be processed, can be very difficult in these circumstances. Make sure anything you drink can’t be tampered with. Be wary of accepting drinks from strangers and always have a trusted friend to keep an eye on any unfinished drink if you need to leave it for a period of time.
British nationals have been arrested following disputes with bar staff and doormen. including for refusing to pay exorbitant bar bills.
Prostitution and street touts are illegal but commonplace. Don’t accompany touts to bars and clubs under any circumstances. To encourage people into establishments, touts commonly misrepresent the services on offer, and/or wrongly suggest clients are free to walk away on arrival if they don’t wish to proceed.
In cases of emergency, dial 110 for the police and 119 for the fire or ambulance services. Calls are free of charge from any phone, including pay phones. Hospitals may want to confirm you have insurance or means of payment before accepting you as a patient.
There are some exclusion zones around the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, which are clearly identified by the Japanese authorities. These exclusion zones are kept under review and have reduced in area over the past 5 years. Areas where evacuation orders are ready to be lifted (marked green on the map) are still subject to some restrictions - for instance visitors aren’t allowed to stay overnight. Follow local guidance.
The exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant has been designated a restricted area.
The Japanese authorities are carrying out comprehensive checks to monitor radiation in the area surrounding Fukushima and to monitor possible contamination of water, and food and produce. They impose strict controls where necessary. Any significant change in the current situation will be reported on this page.
Although the situation at Fukushima will remain of concern for some time, the risks are gradually declining.
To drive in Japan, you must hold an International Driving Permit (IDP), a current UK licence and insurance. An IDP is only valid for use in Japan for one year regardless of its date of expiry. Check the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department website for further details. You must carry your driving licence with you at all times. Penalties for driving in Japan without the correct documents are severe.
If you intend to stay in Japan for longer than one year, you should apply for a Japanese driving licence. For more information and details of offices where you can apply for a Japanese licence, visit the Japanese Automobile Federation website
There are two types of driving insurance available in Japan: compulsory insurance (jibaisekihoken) and voluntary insurance (nin’i no jidoshahoken). The compulsory insurance on its own may be insufficient in cases of personal liability.
Roads are well maintained. Driving is on the left, as in the UK. Road rules are mostly the same as in the UK, but drivers should pay particular attention to: pedestrians crossing roads at green lights, especially at junctions; cyclists travelling on the pavements or on the wrong side of the road and without lights at night; and taxi drivers stopping suddenly.
There are severe penalties to deter drink driving, including allowing someone else to drink and drive (for example if you are a passenger in a vehicle being driven by a drunk driver). Legal limits are lower than they are in the UK and offences can attract a heavy fine or imprisonment.
In 2019 there were 3,920 road deaths in Japan (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 3.1 road deaths per 100,000 of population of population and compares to the UK average of 2.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2019.
Japan is a stable democracy. Civil disturbances and violent demonstrations are rare. Occasionally, demonstrations of a pro-nationalist kind can involve hostility to foreign countries. Keep yourself informed of developments and if you become aware of any protests, leave the area immediately.
Mobile phone networks
Only 3G and 4G capable UK handsets will work in Japan. GSM-only UK phones don’t work, as there’s no GSM network. If you plan to make lots of calls or use mobile data in Japan, SIM cards are available to hire online or in-store. WiFi zones are also increasingly available in coffee shops, hotels and other public spaces.
Attacks in Japan cannot be ruled out.
You should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be in public areas, including those frequented by foreigners.
There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
You must carry your passport or residence card at all times. Information about the residence card system can be found on the Japanese immigration website.
Arrest and Detention
Japan has a zero tolerance towards drug crime and there are severe penalties for all drug offences. Detection facilities at airports and post offices are effective. British nationals have been arrested and detained for receiving small quantities of cannabis through the mail, and for returning positive results in tests carried out by Japanese police on customers in bars. British nationals have received sentences for drug trafficking ranging from 6 to 17 years with work, or even longer, as well as receiving large fines. Prisoners in Japan are expected to work as part of their sentence.
Police have the power to detain people whilst they investigate you, for up to 23 days, even for minor offences. If you are arrested, the police can question you before you are able to speak to a lawyer or an embassy consular officer. Investigations are not usually recorded and lawyers are not present. High quality interpretation may not always be available.
Penalties for most offences tend to be more severe than in the UK.
If you are charged with a crime, it is likely that you will be detained without bail until your court dates. You may be subject to a communications ban if the charges are drug related, which means you will only be allowed to speak to your lawyer and embassy while awaiting trial. Legal proceedings can take many months or longer. More information about what happens if you are arrested can be found in the Japan Prisoner Pack.
The use or possession of some common prescription and over-the-counter medicines are banned under Japan’s strictly enforced anti-stimulant drugs law and ignorance may not be considered a defence. This includes Vicks Inhalers, medicines for allergies and sinus problems, cold and flu medication containing Pseudoephedrine and even some over-the-counter painkillers like those containing codeine. Foreign nationals have been detained and deported for offences. If you’re travelling to Japan with medication, or are in Japan and intending to import medication into the country for personal use, you should check the status of your medicine with the nearest Japanese Embassy or Consulate beforehand. See Medication
Japanese family law is very different from UK law. Joint custody of a child after divorce is not a legal option, and access for a non-custodial parent can be challenging. Legal custody disputes can also be lengthy, and enforcement of rulings returning a child has historically proven difficult. Japan is party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which entered into force in Japan in April 2014. New Japanese legislation to strengthen enforcement of Hague Convention and domestic rulings came in to force from April 2020. We have produced some general information about issues around custody, child abduction and parental rights.
Homosexuality is not illegal, although currently there are no provisions in Japanese legislation guaranteeing freedom from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. While same-sex marriages are not recognised in Japan, some areas of the country have begun issuing equivalent certificates that can be used in civil issues, such as hospital visitation rights. Nichome in Tokyo and Doyamacho in Osaka are the most well-known LGBT areas. The Tokyo Rainbow Pride parade has been held without incident since 2012. In 2019, 10,000 people joined the parade and over 200,000 people took part in the two-day event. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
It’s forbidden by Japanese law to bring meat products (including sausages, bacon and ham) into Japan without permission from the Japanese Animal Quarantine Service. Since April 2019, penalties are imposed on offenders bringing meat product illegally into Japan. For more information on illegal products, visit the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries website.
Whale meat is available in Japan but importing it into the UK/EU is illegal under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Any importation of whale meat into the UK will result in seizure of the goods, possibly a fine of up to £5,000 and a custodial sentence.
Most Japanese people are very friendly and welcoming but can be reserved. Loud, boisterous behaviour is not as acceptable as it is in the UK.
In regard to sexual conduct in private, Japan is a tolerant society. However, public displays of affection are less common than in the UK.
Drinks and meals are paid for at the end of your visit to a Japanese bar. Tipping is not necessary. In some places, prices can be high. Disputes over bills can lead to arrest.
Tattoos in Japan have a historical association with organised crime, and while attitudes towards them are increasingly accepting, many public swimming pools, hot springs, beaches, and some gyms do not admit anyone with tattoos. Other establishments may simply ask that any tattoos to be covered up while using the facilities.
This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Japan set and enforce entry rules. For further information contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to. You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)
Entry to Japan
The re-entry into Japan of foreign nationals with status of residence who have stayed in these countries within 14 days prior to the application for landing will be denied, unless there are special exceptional circumstances.
Foreign nationals who wish to enter Japan for work or study but do not have existing resident status and who have visited the UK or this list of countries in the past 14 days are currently not permitted to enter until further notice, other than in exceptional circumstances. This guidance also applies to foreign nationals in possession of visas issued under the previous individual and Global Residence Tracks.
Other entry to Japan on a short-term basis, such as for business, tourism or to visit family, continues to be denied other than in exceptional circumstances. Business Tracks with all countries/regions have also been suspended until further notice. Japan has also introduced caps on the numbers of people able to arrive by plane, and bookings on some routes have therefore been suspended. Check with your airline.
Further details are available on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, or via Japan’s Visa Information Hotline on +44 (0)800 041 8412. Alternatively, contact your nearest Japanese Embassy for more information, including if you believe you qualify for exceptional circumstances.
Under the Quarantine Act, all those entering Japan currently need to provide written evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result conducted within the 72 hours before their flight departure time. Details of the format are available on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.
Re-entry to Japan
British nationals with Status of Residence in Japan and who leave or have left Japan with a valid re-entry permit are allowed to re-enter Japan. However, you will need to follow appropriate arrival and quarantine rules as set out below, and provide written evidence of a negative COVID-19 test conducted within the 72 hours before your flight departure time. You should check the Japanese government’s advice on this re-entry process on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
Japan has also introduced caps on the number of people able to arrive by plane, and bookings on some routes have therefore been suspended. You should check with your airline if unsure.
Those who do not have a valid re-entry permit will in principle be denied re-entry; please consult the Japanese authorities for advice.
Japan has suspended its visa waiver system for anyone travelling on a British Citizen or British National (Overseas) passport with no indication of when this suspension will be lifted. Japan has also suspended single and multiple entry visas issued by Japanese Embassies and Consulates General in the UK (and many other countries) prior to 20 March 2020 ; the full list can be found on the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. Anyone arriving in Japan without a valid visa will not be able to enter.
Testing/screening on arrival
All passengers arriving in Japan are required to complete a health questionnaire before disembarkation, including contact details. They are then required to undergo a COVID-19 test at the airport. You will be asked to wait for the test results at the airport before moving to your accommodation.
Quarantine and self-isolation requirements
Unvaccinated travellers from the UK are required to sign a pledge upon arrival confirming that you will quarantine and self-isolate for a total of 14 days. This pledge will also ask individuals to refrain from using public transport; install Japan’s COVID-19 tracing app; maintain location data for 14 days via your smartphone mapping application and agree to disclose location data if requested by the quarantine authority.
Failure to comply with these requests could lead to you being subject to detention under the Quarantine Act. It could also lead to your name and relevant information related to reducing the spread of infection being released; and for foreign nationals, possible revocation of their status of residence and subsequent deportation. If you do not wish to sign this pledge, you will be asked to quarantine for 14 days at a place designated by the quarantine authority.
Having signed the pledge, unvaccinated travellers will be requested to spend 3 days in quarantine at a government-provided hotel, with further COVID-19 tests on the third day (the date of arrival counts as Day 0). Children over the age of 12 will be asked to quarantine without a guardian, the Japanese authorities may offer some flexibility on this point but this is not guaranteed. If the tests are negative, travellers will be allowed to continue 14 days’ self-isolation at home or in a self-arranged hotel.
Fully-vaccinated travellers are exempt from some of the usual quarantine and self-isolation requirements. To be eligible for exemptions, travellers must:
- have been double vaccinated a minimum of 14 days prior to entering Japan
- have been vaccinated with the Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna vaccines
- hold proof of vaccination in English or Japanese from an approved country/region. The list of approved countries, which includes the UK, can be found on the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s website. The proof of vaccination must include the traveller’s name, date of birth, details of when you were vaccinated, how many times and the name of the company which produced the vaccine
- enter Japan from a country such as the UK, which requires no more than 3 days’ hotel quarantine. Additionally, you must not have visited any countries requiring 6 or 10 days’ quarantine in the previous 14 days. Further details on these requirements can be found on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website
If you satisfy the above criteria, you must provide a copy of your proof of vaccination to the quarantine officials upon arrival at the airport in Japan. (See ‘Demonstrating your COVID-19 status’). If approved, fully-vaccinated travellers will then be exempt from the mandatory 3 day quarantine in a Government-approved hotel, and from submitting a third day COVID-19 test. You will also be allowed to self-isolate in your home or hotel without completing the full 14 days of self-isolation, subject to the following requirements:
- fully-vaccinated travellers should submit to a COVID-19 test approved by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare on the 10th day after entering Japan
- if the test is negative, travellers should inform the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare directly
- upon receiving a confirmation email from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, individuals will be allowed to exit self-isolation
Fully-vaccinated travellers who do not follow this process will be required to self-isolate for the full 14 days.
More details on Japan’s current quarantine rules, including rules for those travelling from countries other than the UK, are available on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. New measures may be brought in at short notice.
Demonstrating your COVID-19 status
Japan will only accept the UK’s letter version of proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record. They will not accept digital proof. You must show the original and hand over a copy of it on arrival, either on paper or by email if electronic proof. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.
The measures listed above do not apply to passengers who are transiting through one Japanese airport and do not go through immigration. If you are transiting using different airports you will need a transit permit on arrival.
To get one you will be required to demonstrate that you have not come from a country on the banned list, that you have timely onward travel plans, and that you will not use public transport to move between airports; this includes taxis.
You should comply with any additional screening measures put in place by the authorities. You should also check the latest entry requirements for your destination.
Regular entry requirements
In normal circumstances, if you have a ‘British Citizen’ or ‘British National (Overseas)’ passport you can enter Japan as a visitor for up to 90 days without a visa. You may need to provide evidence of a return or onward ticket.
If you have a different type of British nationality, or you wish to enter Japan for other purposes (long-term stay, study, settlement, employment); if you have any doubts about whether you’re eligible to enter Japan (eg, if you have a criminal record or have been arrested even if it did not result in a conviction) or about visa matters generally, contact a Japanese Embassy or Consulate. Visas aren’t issued after arrival in Japan.
It’s illegal to work in Japan without the correct visa, however informal or temporary the work. Don’t overstay your permission to remain in the country, otherwise you risk arrest, detention and a heavy fine.
Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Japan.
The use or possession of some common prescription and over-the-counter medicines are banned under Japan’s strictly enforced anti-stimulant drugs law. This includes Vicks inhalers, medicines for allergies and sinus problems, cold and flu medication containing Pseudoephedrine and even some over-the-counter painkillers like those containing codeine. Foreign nationals have been detained and deported for offences - ignorance may not be considered a defence. You should check the status of your medication with the nearest Japanese Embassy or Consulate before you travel.
If you’re travelling with prescription medication that is permitted under Japanese law, you’re normally allowed to bring in up to one month’s supply. You’re advised to bring a copy of your prescription and a letter from your doctor stating the medical condition that the medication has been prescribed to treat. For more guidance on travelling with medication, check information pages from NHS Choices and the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) in our foreign travel checklist.
If you need prescription medicine for long term use, you may need to provide extra paperwork, such as an import licence. The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare provides information about bringing medication for personal use.
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Japan on the TravelHealthPro website
See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Japan.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 119 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Medical facilities are good, but the cost of treatment is high. Hospitals and clinics are well equipped and staff highly trained. There are very few British doctors practising in Japan, but some Japanese doctors may speak English. You will be expected to pay the whole cost of any treatment you receive and there have been cases where treatment has been delayed whilst medical facilities check the legitimacy of the insurance. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance that covers pre-existing conditions and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
Residents in Japan will be required to enrol in either Employee or National Health Insurance.
Japan is vulnerable to natural disasters because of its climate and topography.
You should make yourself familiar with local procedures and preparations for natural disasters. You can also stay up to date with our travel advice for Japan by subscribing to our email alert service to be notified of future updates, and by following our Twitter and Facebook channels.
There are social media tools and smartphone apps available that provide live information during a crisis and information on how to stay safe in a natural disaster in Japan. Examples in English include the JNTO Twitter Account and NHK World App (Japanese government emergency alerts).
As part of your own contingency plans, you should make sure you have easy access to your passport and other important documents such as nationality documents and birth and marriage certificates, as well as any essential medication. You can read our crisis overseas page for further information and advice, including sections on what you can do to prepare effectively, what you should do in the event of a crisis abroad, and how we can help you. You can also find specific information on how to prepare for and react to a natural disaster in Japan in the Living in Japan guide.
Earthquakes and tsunamis
As Japan is in a major earthquake zone you should familiarise yourself with safety procedures in the event of an earthquake or tsunami, and take note of instructions in hotel rooms, at train stations and on your local prefectural website. Information on earthquakes and any impact on towns and cities in Japan, including tsunami warnings, are published by the Japan Meteorological Agency.
There are several active volcanoes in Japan. You should monitor local media reports and follow the advice of local authorities. Check latest volcano warnings on the website of the Japanese Meteorological Agency.
The tropical cyclone (typhoon) season runs from June to December with most activity between July and September. Southern parts of the country are particularly at risk. You should monitor the progress of approaching storms on the website of the Japan Meteorological Agency and via NHK news. Follow the advice of the local authorities and emergency services, including any evacuation orders.
Typhoons that hit Japan are often accompanied by damaging high tides. People living in coastal areas are particularly at risk. Landslides and flooding can occur anywhere. The dangers increase when an earthquake occurs shortly after a typhoon has saturated an area.
See our tropical cyclones page, the Japan National Tourism Agency or the Tokyo international communication committee websites for information and advice about what to do if you’re caught up in a storm.
Japan is mainly a cash society. The Japanese currency is the Yen. You may have difficulty using credit and debit cards issued outside Japan. Cirrus, Maestro, Link and Delta cash cards are not widely accepted. Japanese post offices, 7-Eleven stores and JP Post Bank have cash machines, which will accept some foreign cards during business hours. Cash machines at banks and post offices generally close at 9pm or earlier and may not operate at the weekends or on national holidays, however, ATMs in convenience stores and some shopping centres are available 24 hours a day. Check with your bank before travelling and take sufficient alternative sources of money for the duration of your stay.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice).
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCDO travel advice
If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.