There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Japan. Exercise normal security precautions.
Regional Advisory for the Fukushima nuclear power plant and its surroundings
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against all travel to the districts and towns that have been designated as exclusion zones (see map) by the Japanese authorities. Zones marked in green on the map—where evacuation orders are ready to be lifted (Area 1)—are still subject to restrictions, including a ban on overnight visits.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.
March 2011 earthquake
On March 11, 2011, a strong earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale occurred in the North Pacific Ocean, generating a powerful tsunami that struck the Pacific coast of Japan. The situation has returned to normal in most parts of the country; however, reconstruction efforts are ongoing in those areas of Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima and Ibaraki prefectures most affected by the earthquake and tsunami, and some transportation routes may not be operational, especially along the Pacific coast. Before you travel to these areas, ensure that you have secured accommodation and transportation, and follow the advice of local authorities.
Crime against foreigners is low. Petty crime occurs on occasion. Crime may be more frequent in large cities, particularly in entertainment districts (see below). Inappropriate touching often occurs in busy subway and commuter trains during morning and evening commuting hours.
Exercise caution in all entertainment and nightlife districts throughout Japan and especially in Tokyo’s Roppongi, Shinjuku, Shibuya and Ikebukuro areas. Foreigners are increasingly targeted in incidents of drink spiking, which can be combined with credit card fraud and physical or sexual assault. Never leave your drink unattended and pay attention when drinks are prepared and served. If possible, avoid carrying credit cards when frequenting nightclubs in any entertainment district. Foreigners have reported being overcharged at bars and clubs.
Traffic drives on the left. Travel by motor vehicle is challenging: roads are narrow, signs are in Japanese and city traffic is congested. Do not turn on a red light unless it is specifically authorized. Roads in mountainous areas are often closed during winter.
Have your destination written in Japanese if you travel by taxi as drivers may not understand English.
Dial 110 to reach police and 119 for firefighters and ambulance.
Tourists and foreign residents may obtain assistance (in English) via telephone hotlines. The Tokyo English Lifeline provides counselling and referrals (tel. 03-5774-0992). Additional referrals may be obtained from the Embassy of Canada to Japan in Tokyo.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Japanese authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of Japan or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Japan, which must be valid for the expected duration of their stay in that country. Before you leave, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Check the passport validity requirements of the countries you will transit through on your way to Japan, as well as the countries you will visit beyond Japan. Many countries require that your passport be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected departure from that country. Canadians travelling onward from Japan to other Asian destinations have been denied boarding due to insufficient validity on their passports.
Entry permits for tourists are for a maximum stay of 90 days. Overstaying an entry permit or any other type of Japanese visa is a criminal offence. If you overstay your visa, you will be subject to deportation and may be barred from re-entry to Japan.
Business travellers require a business visa if they are to receive compensation in addition to their regular salary for work carried out while in Japan. For further information, contact the Embassy of Japan in Ottawa or the Japanese consulate nearest you before departure.
If you are considering employment in Japan, you must obtain a work visa from the Japanese government. On occasion, Canadians recruited to work in Japan have not been fully informed of the conditions of employment and have unintentionally violated Japanese immigration law. A number of Canadians have sought employment or have been recruited for employment as bar hostesses; a visa will not be issued for this purpose.
An offer of employment that does not meet Japanese immigration requirements cannot be legitimately made or accepted. Working without an appropriate visa is illegal; if caught, offenders may be subject to imprisonment, a fine and/or deportation. If you are considering employment offers in Japan, contact the Embassy of Japan in Ottawa or the Japanese consulate nearest you before your departure from Canada.
Tourist visa: Not required Business visa: Required Student visa: Required
To visit Japan, you must have an onward or return ticket, confirmed accommodation arrangements and proof of sufficient funds for your stay in the country.
Japanese officials will photograph and fingerprint all visitors upon arrival. Some exceptions may apply, including for children under the age of 16, individuals with special permanent residency and diplomats on assignment to Japan (and holding a Japanese diplomatic visa). For more information, consult the Immigration Bureau of Japan.
In July 2012, a new residency management system came into effect for foreign residents of Japan. Changes include: the Resident Card replaces the Alien Registration Card; foreign residents who leave and re-enter Japan within one year no longer need to obtain a re-entry permit; and changes regarding the maximum period of stay were implemented. Consult the Immigration Bureau of Japan for more information.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. Please consult our Children page for more information.
Excellent medical care is available. Medical services are usually much more expensive than in Canada, and many hospitals and doctors are private. Foreign patients are often required to pay in advance or produce documentation that the bill will be paid prior to discharge. Some medical facilities will accept medical insurance issued by credit card companies. The normal procedure involves immediate cash payment and subsequent reimbursement from the insurance agent in Canada. Canadians working in Japan who are not covered for medical and health services by their Japanese employer should carry full medical coverage for their stay.
Medical referrals can be obtained by calling Himawari, a free medical information service provided by the Tokyo Metropolitan Health and Medical Information Centre, at 03-5285-8181 between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. (daily). The Embassy of Canada to Japan in Tokyo or the nearest Canadian consulate can also provide a list of medical clinics and doctors.
For information about prescription medication, consult the Laws & Culture tab.
Foreign visitors are required to carry their passport or residency (zairyu) card at all times.
Japanese regulations require that visiting foreign nationals provide detailed information when checking in at hotels, inns or other lodging facilities. The purpose of registration is to assist authorities to prevent infectious diseases and terrorism. The required information includes your name, address, occupation, nationality and passport number. Foreigners must also allow their passports to be photocopied.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines. In most drug cases, suspects are denied oral or written communication with anyone other than their lawyer or a Canadian consular representative. Those arrested, even for a minor offence, may be held in detention for weeks or months during the investigation and legal proceedings.
There is zero tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol. Penalties are strict. Local laws extend to both the driver and the passengers (for allowing someone to drive while under the influence of alcohol); both are subject to prosecution.
Carrying a knife with a blade longer than 5.5 cm is prohibited.
Conditions in detention houses and prisons are difficult. The rules are rigid and an infraction can result in solitary confinement and loss of privileges. Once sentenced, prisoners are usually required to perform manual labour for the duration of their incarceration.
You can bring a one-month supply of prescription medication or a two-month supply of non-prescription medication into Japan providing the medication does not contain narcotics (including codeine). The importation of certain over-the-counter and prescription medications used to relieve sinus and allergy symptoms is banned.
Prescribed medication must be accompanied by the doctor's prescription stating the patient’s full name, address, reason for use and dosage. The bearer of the medication may be requested to present a detailed listing of the contents of the medication. If you wish to bring in larger supplies of medication or bring in prescription medication that contains narcotics, you must apply in advance for import certification. Application should be made several months prior to arrival. Consult the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare for more information.
Contracts to teach English (arranged by recruiters in Canada) should be carefully reviewed before you sign them. Ensure that all terms and conditions of employment are clearly stated in the contract and that you meet all requirements before accepting an offer. Some employers may not adhere to their contractual obligations. Consult our publication entitled Teaching English in Japan for more information.
The currency is the yen (JPY). Traveller’s cheques can be exchanged at major banks and hotels. Credit cards are accepted in major cities. Automated banking machines (ABMs) are widely available, but many do not accept foreign debit cards. ABMs are not available 24 hours a day and may not be available on weekends or holidays. A four-digit personal identification number is required to use ABMs in Japan.
Natural Disasters & Climate
Japan is located in an active seismic zone and is prone to earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. Follow the advice of local authorities, including evacuation orders, and monitor local media reports. Consult the Japan Meteorological Agency for volcanic warnings.
Typhoons usually occur between June and October. Southern areas, including Okinawa and surrounding islands, are more vulnerable. These storms can result in significant loss of life and extensive damage to infrastructure, and can hamper the provision of essential services. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts, avoid disaster areas and follow the advice of local authorities. The Japan Meteorological Agency provides information on weather conditions.
Snowstorms occur in western Honshu and Hokkaido from December to March.
For emergency assistance after hours, call the Embassy of Canada in Tokyo and follow the instructions. You may also make a collect call to the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at 613-996-8885.
When calling from within Japan, the area code is preceded by a 0. There is no 0 when calling from outside Japan. An area code is not dialled if the call is being placed to a cellular phone.