For most tourists, including those from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, the only document necessary to enter Japan is a passport.
For information on obtaining passports, contact the following agencies:
For Residents of Australia: Contact the Australian Passport Information Service at tel. 131-232, or visit the government website at www.passports.gov.au.
For Residents of Canada: Contact the central Passport Office, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ottawa, ON K1A 0G3 (tel. 800/567-6868; www.ppt.gc.ca).
For Residents of Ireland: Contact the Passport Office, Setanta Centre, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2 (tel. 01/671-1633; www.irlgov.ie/iveagh).
For Residents of New Zealand: Contact the Passports Office at tel. 0800/225-050 in New Zealand or 04/474-8100, or visit www.passports.govt.nz.
For Residents of the United Kingdom: Visit your nearest passport office, major post office, or travel agency or contact the United Kingdom Passport Service at tel. 0870/521-0410 or visit www.ukpa.gov.uk.
For Residents of the United States: To find your regional passport office, check the U.S. State Department website (www.state.gov) or call the National Passport Information Center toll-free number (tel. 877/487-2778) for automated information.
Passport Savvy -- Safeguard your passport in an inconspicuous place and keep a photocopy of your passport's information page in your luggage. If you lose your passport, visit your nearest consulate as soon as possible for a replacement. Note: All foreigners must present their passports for bank transactions and for photocopying when checking into lodging facilities. In addition, foreigners are required to carry with them at all times either their passports or, for those who have been granted longer stays, their alien registration cards. Police generally do not stop foreigners, but if you're caught without an ID, you'll be taken to local police headquarters. It happened to me once and, believe me, I can think of better ways to spend an hour and a half than explaining in detail who I am, what I am doing in Japan, where I live, and what I plan to do for the rest of my life. I even had to write a statement explaining why I rushed out that day without my passport, apologizing and promising never to do such a thoughtless thing again. The policemen were polite and were simply doing their duty.
Americans, Australians, and New Zealanders traveling to Japan as tourists for a stay of 90 days or less need only a valid passport to gain entry into the country. Canadians don't need a visa for stays of up to 3 months, and United Kingdom and Irish citizens can stay up to 6 months without a visa.
Entry Procedures -- Since November 2007, all foreigners arriving in Japan are fingerprinted and photographed to prevent terrorists from entering Japan. Exceptions include children 15 and younger, diplomats, and some permanent residents of Japan.
If you're 20 or older, you can bring duty-free into Japan up to 400 non-Japanese cigarettes; three bottles (760cc each) of alcohol; and 2 ounces of perfume. You can also bring in goods for personal use that were purchased abroad whose total market value is less than ¥200,000.
What You Can Take Home from Japan -- For information on what you're allowed to bring home, contact one of the following agencies:
U.S. Citizens: U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20229 (tel. 877/287-8667; www.cbp.gov).
Canadian Citizens: Canada Border Services Agency (tel. 800/461-9999 or 204/983-3500; www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca).
U.K. Citizens: HM Customs & Excise (tel. 0845/010-9000, or 020/8929-0152 from outside the U.K.; www.hmce.gov.uk).
Australian Citizens: Australian Customs Service (tel. 1300/363-263; www.customs.gov.au).
New Zealand Citizens: New Zealand Customs, The Customhouse, 17-21 Whitmore St., Box 2218, Wellington (tel. 04/473-6099 or 0800/428-786; www.customs.govt.nz).
Unless you're arriving from an area known to be suffering from an epidemic (particularly cholera or yellow fever), inoculations or vaccinations are not required for entry into Japan. Note, however, that at the time of going to press, all arriving passengers are requested to fill out a questionnaire regarding symptoms of the H1N1 influenza such as fever or coughing. In addition, the temperature of all arriving passengers is taken upon entering the Customs area; if you have a fever, you may be quarantined as a protection against H1N1 or avian flu.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.