What's new

Welcome to Japan Reference (JREF) - the community for all Things Japanese.

Join Today! It is fast, simple, and FREE!

Departing and re-entering Japan during the Covid Pandemic.

Davey

Moderator
Moderator
Contributor
Joined
5 Feb 2005
Messages
7,536
Reaction score
580
While it is really not the best time to travel during this pandemic, especially not overseas or to and from countries of high risks, it sometimes can’t be helped. I will try to share my experience with everyone which might take some time to finish but feel free to comment, ask questions and contribute.


Why did I depart Japan?
My father hasn’t been well in the past years, with multiple strokes, throat cancer, etc. I have been back every few years to see him, but I always knew that sooner or later the day would come to hear the news. On Friday the 16th of April I received a call from my mom in which she told me about his passing and what happened.

I haven’t been able to support that much from a distance, at least not the way I maybe should have done, and haven’t been able to visit my mom while she had a heart attack nor when my grandmother passed away. I know it was my decision to live in Japan and these are the things I have to accept although of course, these are some of the hardest things of living abroad.

I knew that leaving Japan in a moment the world is having this crisis and for me to go out of my bubble (will write more on that later on) was difficult but something I felt had to do.


Researching
As the funeral would be soon and I had to support my family back home with various things it was important to leave as soon as possible. The thing was, I was still in shock of hearing the news and drank a lot that night, and had difficulties clearing my mind the next day as well. So my brain wasn’t working and all the things I had to research were pretty difficult but I managed to go to the Netherlands so, in the end, it was alright. Some of the things I had to research:
  • Can I return to the Netherlands?
  • Where can I get a PCR test in Japan (Kansai)?
  • My Flight ticket
  • Can I re-enter Japan again?

Can I return to the Netherlands?
Ok, so first of all I had to research if I was able to return to the Netherlands. I checked the website of the Dutch government regarding it:
Checklist for travel to the Netherlands

EU Entry ban​

If you are in a country that is part of the European Union (EU) or the Schengen area, the EU entry ban does not apply to you.
If you are not a national of an EU or Schengen area country, the EU entry ban applies to you. You can only travel to the Netherlands if you fall into one of the exemption categories for the travel ban. Please note: there is also a ban on flights from India, South Africa and the countries in Central and South America.

Negative PCR test result requirement​

If you are travelling to the Netherlands by aircraft, ship, train or coach from a high-risk area, you must get tested for coronavirus. The test must be a molecular NAAT test (PCR, RT PCR, LAMP, TMA or mPOCT). You must present the negative test result before departure.
Certain exemptions apply, including for diplomats and lorry drivers. And you do not need to show a NAAT (PCR) test result if you are coming from a country on the EU list of safe countries.
The NAAT (PCR) test result must meet certain requirements and the samples must have been collected no more than 72 hours before your arrival in the Netherlands.

Negative rapid test result required​

If you are travelling to the Netherlands by aircraft or ship from a high-risk country, you must present a negative NAAT test result, based on a sample collected no more than 24 hours before boarding. Or you can present both:
  • a negative NAAT (PCR) test result based on a sample collected no more than 72 hours before arrival in the Netherlands;
  • and a negative rapid test result based on a sample collected no more than 24 hours before boarding.
Certain exemptions apply, including for diplomats.
Read more information about the Negative COVID-19 test results.

Self-quarantine​

You must self-quarantine for 10 days upon arriving in the Netherlands. You can get tested again on day 5 after your arrival. If the result is negative you can end your self-quarantine. To prepare for your journey to the Netherlands do the Quarantine Check for Travellers. This is a practical checklist of steps to take before and after your journey. You should travel only if your journey is essential.

Where can I get a PCR test?
So, as I found out that I was able to return to the Netherlands, the next thing I had to do was to get a PCR test. The tricky thing was/is that Japan is really behind getting PCR tests, vaccinating, and these whole things compared to other countries, but let’s leave that for a different thread.

I asked some of you over in the “Need Help” thread on that day and was glad to receive your thoughts and help.

So you have the PCR test, which is a proper test that normally takes over 4-8 hours to receive the results, and a rapid antigen test in which you will receive the result within an hour but isn’t that accurate as the PCR test.

You can take a PCR Test at Narita airport although you have to really schedule your time as it takes time to get the result.

I had to fly from Kansai Airport, as I live in Kobe and was the easiest way at that time, but they did not have PCR testing except for a clinic inside the airport that was closed during the weekend:

On top of that, you have to pick up your certificate on the next day, so if I would have gone here it would mean that I had to go there on Monday, then pick up the result on Tuesday take my flight on Tuesday night, arrive in Holland on Wednesday and have the funeral on Thursday… possible but not something I wanted to do so I had to look further.

Another place was the “Wellness Clinic” here in Kobe.
They offered PCR Tests for the price of ¥36.000 and on top of that another ¥5.000 for the negative test certificate.

According to this website, taking tests at Kansai Airport for $404 is the most expensive in the world, compared with $8 in Mumbai…
PCR_3.png

But money wasn’t the most important thing at this moment I just wanted to return to the Netherlands a.s.a.p. Just the same thing at the clinic at Kansai Airport this clinic didn’t accept any inquiries during the weekend, and I couldn’t make an appointment by phone either.

In search of a different location for the PCR test I located several hospitals and clinics all the find out they were either closed or I had to make a reservation for somewhere in the upcoming week for the price of ¥30.000 ~ ¥40.000.

In the end, I found this small place in Kobe named Setolabo. I couldn't call them but they helped me out with their Line Chat. The PCR test cost only ¥5000 and the Negative Test certificate in English cost ¥11.000. If I took the test before 11 I could have picked my result up by 15:00 but as I was late due to all the research and I kind of hesitated as I found the place a bit shady from the outside I took the test at 13:30. The lady behind the window gave me a tube and I had to go to the nearest convenience store's toilet to put my saliva in it, then returned to the place to give the tube back again. Later on that night I received a phone call from the doctor, through Line of course, and he informed me that my result was negative and that I could pick the certificate up the next morning from 9:00.

This is the certificate that I received from them:
20210507_124143.jpg

It was a place under the railway, with just a window in which I had to talk to (a very kind) lady. As I said it looks a bit strange but everything worked out well.
Screen Shot 2021-05-07 at 13.30.13.png


Flight ticket
This wasn't too hard to get although there were fewer flights available than before. I found one for the night of the 18th from 11:50 from Kansai Airport -> Paris -> Amsterdam and booked a return ticket for Monday the 26th Amsterdam -> Kansai Airport. The total price wasn't too bad: ¥135.000.

Just the thing was when I booked my flight I didn't receive the result of my test yet so I was really thinking, what if I am tested positive? Luckily things worked out but it was still on my mind a lot.


Can I re-enter Japan again?
This was another thing. You don't want to leave the country and not being able to return again. I remember that last year my friend, who lives in Osaka, had her brother from Germany coming over but as the pandemic started he wasn't able to return to his country for a long time.

So I checked the website of the Ministry of foreign affairs:

It is a lot of information so I will only include some details. As I have a (permanent) visa with re-entry it seemed I wouldn't have any difficulties returning to Japan besides proving that I have a negative result 72 hours prior to arriving in Japan and having to stay in self-quarantine for 14 days.

For the time being, foreign nationals who have stayed in any of the following 152 countries/regions within 14 days prior to the application for landing are denied to enter Japan in pursuant to the Article 5, paragraph (1), item (xiv) of Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, unless special exceptional circumstances are found. Note that foreigners (from the countries and regions where the entry bans do not apply) are not denied to enter Japan even when they arrive in Japan via those countries or regions, which are subject to denial of permission to entry, for refueling or transit purpose. Those who entered those countries or regions will, however, be subject to the entry ban.

...Europe​

Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyz, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Vatican...


...From March 19, 2021, all travelers including Japanese nationals have to submit a certificate of negative test result conducted within 72 hours prior to departing from the country/region where travelers stay when entering Japan. Those who do not submit a certificate of negative test result will be denied entry into Japan in accordance with the Quarantine Act. Airline companies will reject boarding those without one. Please consult with Embassies or Consulates or Consular Office of Japan in case it is truly difficult to obtain the certificate of negative test result...

...In addition to the quarantine measures mentioned in (1) above, all Japanese nationals and foreign nationals with status of residence are required to self-quarantine for 3 days at a location designated by the quarantine station chief (only at the accommodations booked by the quarantine office) until further notice. On the third day they are required to take the COVID-19 test again. Those who have negative result in this test are still required to self-quarantine at home as a substitute for the accommodations booked by the quarantine office till passing 14 days after entering Japan...

...Currently, all foreign nationals who wish to newly enter Japan need to apply for a visa except for those with re-entry permit. Please note that due to the impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the visa approval procedure may take longer than usual. Your understanding and cooperation are greatly appreciated...

Flying to Europe
I arrived at the airport about 5 hours before my flight as I wanted to make sure if there were any troubles with checking in or my test certificate I still had some time to deal with those things. It was really strange to be at Kansai Airport, normally a place that is full of people was now deserted. Shops were closed (sorry mom. no souvenirs from here) places were locked off and the International Flight schedule display was basically empty:
20210418_215318.jpg 20210418_213148.jpg 20210418_202041.jpg 20210418_192616_HDR.jpg 20210418_192805.jpg

The flight to Paris wasn't too bad as the plane was only packed for "about 25%" so basically everyone had 3 seats available which made it easier to sleep while laying down and having 3 pillows/blankets :D.

Before flying to your destination make sure you check your airlines their website regarding their covid counter measurements. This is KLM's site with the most frequent questions regarding covid:

...Do I have to wear a face mask during my trip?​

Until further notice, you’re required to wear a face mask from the first boarding call until you have left the aircraft to prevent the further spread of the virus. Without one, we cannot allow you to board. We strongly advise you to wear a face mask at the rest of the airport as well.

Face masks at the airport
At some destinations, wearing masks is required in public areas, including the airport. At Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, passengers aged 13 and up are required to wear a mask everywhere. Make sure to check the health requirements of the airports you’re traveling to and from, and transferring in, and follow the instructions at the airport....


Welcome to Europe (Paris)
Arriving in Paris made me realize how different things are from Japan. Some people wear masks and have distance and some don't seem to bother and just do their own things. While waiting to enter the next terminal for my flight to Amsterdam about 50-60 people passed me and all of them were wearing Disposable Coveralls. While the flight from Kansai to Paris only contained a few people on the flight from Paris to Amsterdam was packed and there was no social distance at all in a place where people were coughing and sneezing all the time. Yes, I felt very uncomfortable..

Extreme-covid-travel-protection-kit-4-768x1024.jpeg

My time in The Netherlands (Amsterdam)
So having finally arrived in Amsterdam after a crazy weekend I was picked up by my brother at the airport (he couldn't meet me at the arrival hall and had to wait for me at the parking area). Things in the Netherlands are very different from Japan and people can get fines if they don't obey the rules:

Curfew​

The curfew is lifted as of April 28.

Questions about rules and fines​

To fight Covid19 we need to keep certain rules. Some of these rules are so important that police can give a fine:
  • if you are outside or in a public space with a total of more than 2 people, not being from the same household;
  • if you buy (or sell) and/or drink alcohol after 20.00 hrs in a public space.
  • if you don't keep 1,5 m distance to people that do not belong to your household.
  • if you do not wear a facemask in indoor areas accessible to the public (read more: Dutch measures against coronavirus: basic rules for everyone).
Fines
If you break these rules, you can get a fine.
  • Distance and number of people: 48 euro (13 - 15 year olds) or 95 euro (16 and older).
  • No face/nose mask where obliged by law: 95 euro.
  • Breaking the curfew: 95 euro.

When going to the supermarket you can only go by yourself and need to have a cart or basket in order to remain within social distance. If you want to go shopping for clothes or electrics you need to make a reservation with the shop beforehand online and you will only have a certain amount of time to shop. etc. etc. etc.

As mentioned above, I had to self-quarantine for 10 days but due to the passing of my dad I was allowed to attend the funeral after 5 days of quarantine but as you calculate I arrived on Monday and the funeral was on Thursday so I only had 4 days. In order to attend the funeral, I also had to take an antigen test (rapid PCR ) which was a lot easier to take than in Japan and found a place not too far from my place: PCR test Amsterdam | With health certificate | Coronalab.eu . This time I had to pay 60 euro and got my result by mail within 2 hours:
AMS-00001946-SNEL.png

I will finish this part for now and will continue soon with the second part and will review what I have written above again. Feel free to ask for more information and I will try to add it here.

To be continued...
 

thomas

Unswerving cyclist
Admin
Joined
14 Mar 2002
Messages
11,050
Reaction score
2,318
Excellent write-up, Davey. Thank you for taking the time! I am sure your account is beneficial to others who have to travel in these challenging times. I am looking forward to the details of your re-entry to Japan.

Honestly, I find it quite disheartening that you had to "shop around" for a reasonably priced PCR test. Why is there no uniform approach to testing procedures in Japan?

And yet the test at Haneda is so cheap.

Any personal experiences?
 
Top Bottom