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Japan Crew Change Updates : Entry and Departure of Foreign Seafarers Coming to Japan for Crew Changes


Revised crew change regulation in Japan for Korean and Filipino on-signer

Japan Government (JG) has just announced the revised crew change regulation for all nationality (including Korea & Filipino) on signer entering Japan, which is going to be effective on 1st March 2022.

The points of their announcement are as follows:

ItemsCurrentFrom 1st March 2022
On signer nationalityFilipino, Indian, Indonesian, Burmese, Russian, UkrainianAll country & nationality
Isolation before departure10 days in hotel or quarantine facility. Isolation in crew’s own house is not accepted7 days in hotel or quarantine facility. Isolation in crew’s own house is not accepted
PCR exam2 times (within 72 hours & 24 hours prior to departure. If 24 hours is difficult, within 48 hours is also accepted)1 time (within 24 hours prior to departure. If 24 hours is difficult, within 48 hours is also accepted

  • Manning should submit 24 or 48 hours PCR exam results to the Japanese crew handling agency smoothly.

  • Japan Government may request to submit evidence of isolation before departure. Please be ready for receipt or certificate issued by the hotel or quarantine facility.

Note: Due to sudden changes in crew change regulations, please always coordinate with your local crew handling agent for updated information. The purpose of this post is for quick reference and guide only.


According to an online conference about Filipino seafarers entering Japan for crew change last 22 February 2022, here are some important points:

The new regulation will be effective from 01st/Mar/2022. Basically, the regulations will be relaxed.

The isolation term in a hotel before departure

Until the end of FEBRUARY:  10 days

From 01st MARCH:  
7days - basically not included the check-in day and checkout day)

PCR before departure

Until the end of February:  2 times. General Rule: the day of departure and 4-5 days prior to the departure.

From 01st MARCH:  1 time. General Rule: the day of departure or should be close to the departure date as possible.


【Request from MHLW】

Request from  “Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare/MHLW” regarding Haneda Airport Quarantine for the inbound seafarers as follows:

To all foreign seafarers (travelers) who may arrive at Haneda International Airport (Tokyo):

Once seafarers who may be checked COVID-19 test on arrival at Haneda airport and be a "positive" shall contact their crew handling agent immediately.

However, some of the seafarers may not know the contact details of their agent, which may cause a burden for the quarantine staff. Because due to the airport structure, the agent cannot enter the waiting area where the infected crew is staying.

The shipowners and operators are kindly requested to ask a manning agent to advise the inbound seafarers of the contact details of their crew handling agent in Japan before their departure.
Also, after the quarantine (7-10 days), they must contact the crew handling agent for picking up.

Procedures at Haneda Airport (in case of infected):

1. Proceed to the quarantine (test) area.

2. If it resulted as positive, he must contact the crew handling agent.

3. He shall move to the designated quarantine accommodation.

4. When the quarantine period is completed, he shall contact the agent again for picking up at the airport.

5. He must go back to the airport by bus from the quarantine accommodation (then meet the agent).

6. Then proceed to the immigration area.


Japan introducing measures against omicron variant of the COVID-19

Information from the Japanese Shipowners’ Association.

It is about Japan (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism; MLIT) updating measures against omicron variant of the COVID-19 as below.

1. Seafarers from the Philippines and India must, in addition to the current need for PCR test within 72 hours before departure, take another PCR test on the day of departure (or the day before departure if unavoidable) and

Two negative certificates must be obtained. (This will be applicable on 14th January.)

2. Seafarers from the Philippines and India must undergo 14 days of quarantine in a private room at a hotel or other facilities located near the departure airport by the day before departure from the Philippines and India.

(This became applicable on 12th January.)


The quarantine period in departure countries necessary for seafarers from the Philippines and India traveling to Japan has been eased from 14 days to 10 days.

Seafarers from the Philippines and India must undergo 10 days of quarantine in a private room at a hotel or other facilities located near the departure airport by the day before departure from the Philippines and India.


1. 出国前のPCR検査について、従来の72時間以内の検査に加え、出発する当日

2. フィリピン及びインドを出発する日の前日から起算して、出発空港所在地

Definition of close contacts of Omicron variant

・Two rows of Omicron-positive patients are close contacts (Total: 5 rows)
・Family members and companions are treated as close contacts even if they are away from each other.
・Seafarers who plan to travel on the same plane and board the same ship are treated as companions.


Dispersion of flights

・In order to diversify the risk, it is required to disperse the airplane as possible, especially when a large number of crew replacement are planning in Japan.
・Similar requests have also been issued from local governments in charge of airports.

【Request from MLIT】

No specific number of passengers has been set for dispersion, but we would like you to adjust the number of passengers to 9 or less per flight
since more than 10 passengers are often considered to be a large number.




 See below advisory from All Nippon Airways.

IV.) Guidelines for Passengers Arriving in Japan
Following the announcement of the Government of Japan on December 28, 2020, foreign nationals are not allowed to enter Japan.

Only below passengers are allowed to enter Japan until further notice:
a) Japanese nationals
b) Spouse of Japanese national
c) Permanent residents
d) Spouse of permanent residents
e) Sea crew members
Additional COVID-19 Requirements for Entry in Japan:
  1. Inspection Certificate / Certificate of Negative Result for COVID-19 test conducted within 72 hours before departure time. (Sample Format)
  2. Online Questionnaire
  3. Signed Written Pledge to follow the quarantine measures imposed by the Japanese Government upon entering Japan.
  4. Mobile Apps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (List of Apps)
Quarantine Measures upon entering Japan:
COVID-19 Testing:
Passengers will undergo COVID-19 testing upon arrival in Japan. They will wait for the results to be released and for further instructions from the Quarantine Officer in Charge.

Quarantine Period:
  • Passengers will be required to quarantine for 10 days after arrival in Japan.
  • During the entire quarantine period, they are prohibited from using public transport (ex. domestic flights, buses, trains, taxis, etc).

Additional Quarantine Measures For Passengers from the Philippines:
  • Starting January 10, 2022 until further notice, passengers coming from the Philippines are required to self-quarantine for 3 days at a location designated by the quarantine station chief (accommodations booked by the quarantine office). 
  • Passengers are required to take the COVID-19 test again on their third day. If the results are negative for this test, the rest of the 10-day quarantine can be done at home.
Passengers Connecting in Japan between International Flights:
Travelers who are not entering Japan and transferring directly to a third country by transit are not required to submit any documents and undergo inspections in Japan.



Japan bans foreign visitors for 1 month over Omicron fears

Japan has asked international Airlines to stop taking new reservations for all flights arriving in Japan until the end of December as the country further tightens its border controls against a new COVID-19 variant Omicron.

Japan suspended all new flight bookings into the country starting 1 December in response to Omicron, ignoring a World Health Organization warning against blanket travel bans as the new coronavirus strain spread further around the world.

Entry into Japan from nine African countries had been tightened after a fervor of chilling reports emerged last week about a new virus strain discovered in South Africa that experts warn could be more contagious than all previous iterations of COVID-19.

For more recent updates and due to sudden changes in travel advisories, please coordinate with your local crew handling agent in Japan. 


Japan government is implementing enhance protection against COVID-19 (Omicron Variant), however, foreign crew / seafarers CAN enter Japan for crew change, same as usual.
In order to avoid confusion especially for on signers’ check-in counter in their origin airport, on-signers / joining crew have to bring with them below letter from Japanese Shipowners’ Association, which clearly states that on signer can enter Japan.

Copy of Japanese Shipowners’ Association - Letter of Request for Issuance of Boarding Ticket - Please download, print and provide to your joining seafarers.

Additional Resources: 
Japan Information Centers & One-Stop Consultation Centers: 
"1" for foreign language 
---> "1" for English/Tagalog

Immigration Information Centers
In order to respond to various inquiries regarding immigration and residence procedures, the Immigration Services Agency has established "Immigration Information Centers" at Regional Immigration Services Bureaus and District Immigration Services Offices. Immigration Information Centers are set up to handle telephone, in-person and e-mail inquiries in Japanese and foreign languages.


As of 12 November 2021, if the on-signing crew from the Philippines have a certificate of full vaccination by any of Pfizer/AstraZeneca/Moderna and it has passed over 14days after the 2nd vaccination, then they will be exempted from the PCR test on the 3rd day. So, only if they clear the airport quarantine by COVID-19 antigen test, they are not required PCR test anymore. They still need to use chartered transport and undergo isolation either in a hotel or onboard for maximum of 14days.


Countries and regions required to stay in the quarantine accommodation of the Japan government


Updated protocol for Crew Change in Japan, as provided by the Japanese Shipowners Association (JSA), through the Asian Shipowners Association (ASA). 

This updated protocol became effective on May 10th, 2021.

From May 10, the quarantine process for seafarers was changed.
Seafarers coming from India, Bangladesh, and Nepal:
They must stay in a hotel for seven days, where the agent arranged. They should take antigen tests upon arrival and PCR tests three days and six days after the arrival. 

If the results of those tests are "Negative," they can move to the vessel on the seventh day.
Seafarers coming from designated countries on mutant strain (Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada (Ontario), Czech, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, South Africa Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, Ukraine, and UK):

They must stay in a hotel for four days, where the agent arranged. They should take antigen tests upon arrival and PCR tests three days after the arrival. 

If the results of those tests are "Negative," they can move to the vessel on the fourth day.
The state of emergency against COVID-19 over Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo is extended till May 31 and newly declared for Aichi (Nagoya) and Fukuoka.

In this regard, even if a crew would be "Positive" after the arrival and be in severe conditions, he or she may not hospitalize due to medical tightness.

Furthermore, we are in a difficult position to keep a crew change scheme actually, and it would be easily cancelled for the crew change in Japan.

Consequently, you are kindly requested to advise members to pay their best attention to preventive measures for crew members before dispatching to Japan.


PAMAS - INTERMAP Secretariat

9/F, Unit  9AB, MARC 2000 Tower, 1973 Taft Ave. cor. San Andres St., Malate, Manila

Tel. No.: 8 523 - 6036 / Mobile No.: 0917 183 8217

Email: |



On 14th April 2021, the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines announced that Japan will implement stricter requirements for coronavirus test certificates for those entering Japan coming from other countries including the Philippines. Main points of the announcement are as follows:


1.  Effective 19th April 2021, Japanese quarantine office will accept COVID-19 Certificate with “Nasopharyngeal” and “Saliva” specimen only.

2.  The Certificate will be denied if any other specimen description such as oropharyngeal, oral or others, is indicated on the Certificate. 

3. Japanese Government strongly recommend to use the Certificate of attached format to avoid inconvenience and refusal to board/to enter Japan.


Note: Time of testing indicated on the Certificate should still be within 72 hours from the date of sample collection to the time of flight/departure.


Below is list of “Requirements for Certificate of Testing for Entering Japan”, for your reference and complete information.


In view of the above, manning agencies are advised to discuss this latest policy by the Japanese Government with their partner clinics and/or DOH accredited COVID19 testing laboratories to ensure that test certificates being issued to our seafarers are compliant and would be accepted by Japanese authorities.


The procedures for foreigner entering Japan will be changed from 19th March 2021.

Please refer to below documents for guidance, especially in making crew change arrangements.

Changes are as follows

  • Joiners need to install some designated application on their smartphone – you can find how to install the apps /setting in the attached setting method.

  • There will be a few changes in the format of the certificate of test for COVID-19.

To all who will enter Japan

Submission of Inspection Certificate

In light of the increasing number of infections caused by the infection of new variant of coronavirus overseas, the Government of Japan has decided to further strengthen its boarder measures, and as part of these measures, the following measures will be taken:

For returnees and entrants from the UK, South Africa, Ireland, Israel, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Italy, Austria, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Slovakia, Denmark, Germany, Nigeria, France, Belgium

Installing apps required for preventing the spread of COVID-19

The airport quarantine will check your smartphone when you arrive in Japan. If you do not own a smartphone or if you own a smartphone that does not allow the installation of apps, please rent a smartphone at the airport at your expense upon arriving in Japan.

App confirmation by staff and smartphone rental guidance at airports will begin with Haneda Airport and Narita Airport Terminal 2 (from March 18) and with other airports soon.

For information on how to install and set up the apps, please see this link:

How to Install OSSMA

During your quarantine at your accommodations or home for 14 days after arriving in Japan, the Health Confirmation Center for Arrivals will confirm your location. In response to an inquiry by the Health Confirmation Center for Arrivals, this app will report your current location information.

1. Search for "OSSMA" and download it from the App Store if you use an iPhone or Google Play Store if you use an Android.

The name of the app is "Overseas Student Safety Management Assistance," but it will be revised.

2. Install and sign up for Skype

Persons in charge from the Health Confirmation Center for Arrivals will contact you by video call to confirm your location for 14 days after arriving in Japan.

3. Set your smartphone to save location information

This setting is required for presenting a record of your location information to the health center or othe facilities in case you tested positive within 14 days of arriving in Japan.

4. Install COVID-19 Contact-Confirming Application (COCOA)

COVID-19 Contact Confirming Application. An app that allows you to receive notifications about the possibility of contact with COVID-19 infected persons.

Renting a smartphone

The airport quarantine will check whether these apps are installed and set up when you arrive in Japan. If you do not own a smartphone or if your installation or settings cannot be checked because you own a smartphone that is not compatible with these apps, you are required to rent a smartphone at the airport at your expense. You will be required to prepare a credit card.

Certificate of Test for COVID 19

Other noteworthy matters

When you arrive in Japan, you will be asked to submit a written pledge regarding quarantine at home or other locations and use of location information confirming apps for the 14-day period after landing in Japan.

If you breach the pledge, your name (name and nationality for foreign nationals and other information may be publicized. Foreign nationals may be subject to procedures for revocation of residence status and deportation under the Immigration Control Act.

Please check here for other matters that will be necessary when you arrive in Japan.

Acquiring and Submitting Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test and Submitting a Written Plege:

Completing a questionnaire on the web:


Japan Quarantine Office announced the regulation change about the entry of the on-signers at the airport.

From 5th/March/2021, on-signers have to install special application on their smart phone at the airport. The said application is for tracking crew location to the Quarantine Office while they move/travel going to the vessel from the airport.

If on-signers do not have their own smart phone, they have to rent it at the airport.

It is recommended to send list joining crew who does not have the smart phone in advance and send it to each crew handling agent in Japan for advance preparation and coordination.


Japanese Government enhance countermeasure against COVID-19, but foreign seafarers are considered “special & essential worker”, and allowed to enter Japan as exceptional case.

However, some airport staff do not know above fact, and some on signers' airplane boarding are being declined.

On this regard, The Japanese Shipowners’ Association issued a Letter Request for Issuance of Boarding Ticket, explaining this situation.

This will be useful if all on-signers (joining seafarers) will have a printed copy of this letter, in order to avoid such misunderstanding by airport / airline staff.

Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare - JAPAN 

  • If using a smartphone (Android or iOS), add the app to the home screen, and then respond from the home screen icon. When using this icon, you can enter your responses while offline.
  • * There might not be an internet connection at the airport or on the airplane, so please enter the information while offline.
  • How to add the app to the home screen

Notice from quarantine stations to persons entering Japan from overseas

  • As part of our disease control measures related to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), we are currently asking for responses concerning everyone's travel history, health condition, and other details. Please confirm the following before proceeding to the questionnaire response.
  • We will use your response details for early patient detection and follow-up surveys, so be sure to enter your answers accurately.
  • Anyone who declares false information might be punished as stipulated by Article 36 of the Quarantine Act. (Up to six months of imprisonment or a fine of up to 500,000 yen)
  • The personal information you enter might be provided to public health centers and other organizations, and you might then be contacted by a public health center.
  • In addition, persons entering Japan from overseas are requested to stay at home or any other facility for 14 days, confirm their health condition every day, etc. Be sure to confirm the details before proceeding to the questionnaire response.
  • Notes related to behavior and other details after entering Japan



The International Mariners’ Management Association of Japan (IMMAJ) has shared the following IMMAJ circulars (translated in English). The circulars contain information relating to crew change in Japan.


 09 January 2021: Notification from Maritime Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan regarding the entry and departure of Foreign seafarers coming to Japan for Crew Changes (as sent with PJMCC Memo Circular No. 001-2021 issued last 11 January 2021 but with minor correction in the English translation)

 14 January 2021: Notification from Maritime Bureau (MLIT) regarding entry and departure of Foreign seafarers coming to Japan for Crew Changes (Additional Information), with Question-and-Answer section

 18 January 2021: Requirements for Seafarers’ Entry into and Departure from Japan, with a Question-and-Answer section


In view of the above, it is important to note the following:


1.  to read all the three memos issued on the 9th, 14th and 18 January 2021.

2. to note that the content of the Jan 9th memo is slightly changed on the 14th memo.


 Jan 9th: All the seafarers are required to be tested when entering Japan if “less than 14 days have passed after their departure from the previous port”. 

Jan 14th: There is an exception for this (please see Page 3 of 8 (of the translation))


3. to check with the local quarantine station in advance to conduct crew change, and to comply with the instructions from the local quarantine station.



UPDATE as of 19 January 2021

The number of COVID-19 case in Japan is increasing, and Japan Government enhances regulation against COVID-19, however, basically, foreign crew change in Japan is still allowed.

On this regard, on signer should prepare attached “Letter of Pledge”, and submit it to quarantine when they arrive Japan airport.

On signer information must fill-up below information, and let on signer have it in advance, before coming to Japan.

1.       On signer name
2.       Nationality
3.       Passport No.
4.       Departure Country
5.       Age
6.       Address

See below copy of Japan Written Pledge Form for On-signers

The quarantine measures in Japan have been strengthened for seafarers as follows due to the state of emergency in Japan.

>From January 14th, all immigrants to Japan are required to submit a pledge to comply with Japanese quarantine measures. (See above)

According to information from JSA (Japanese Shipowners Association),
Clause (2) (a) is only in cases where the pre-departure inspection certificate or its copy is obtained, the contents are pledged.

Clause 2 (b),(c),(d) are not necessarily pledged because foreign seafarers only temporarily enter Japan and do not own smartphones with numbers in Japan.
Therefore, it is required to enter the telephone number of the company etc. in Japan for the telephone number entry field on clause 2.(b) that can respond when requested by the health center, etc.

The Pledge is to be used for 14 days after entry, but it is to be read as "14 days after entry (until someone leaves the country)" for seafarers.
If you have a crew member who is planning to enter Japan and boarding vessel, please make sure that they carry this pledge.
It is requested to prepare in advance to avoid any trouble/delay, although the pledge will be distributed at airplane/airport.

Reference Website (It is written in Japanese) :

・MOFA Overseas Safety Website

・New measures concerning the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare


UPDATE AS OF 11 January 2021

The International Mariners’ ManagementAssociation of Japan (IMMAJ) received below notification from the MaritimeBureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) regarding the entry and departure of foreign seafarers coming to Japan for crew changes.

Even under the declaration of a state of emergency due to the spread of the new variant virus, there is no change in the operation of allowing foreign seafarers to enter Japan under "special circumstances".


However, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has informed us of the following changes in quarantine operations, which will take effect at midnight on January 9 (JST).


l     The following are the changes in quarantine operations taking place from midnight, January 9:


Foreign seafarers coming to Japan by plane


(1)          In case foreign seafarers coming to Japan by plane have been to the UK or the Republic of South Africa within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in Japan:


They are required to wait for 3 days at a facility prepared by the Japanese government.


(2)          All cases other than (1) above:


(a)         Those with a negative result of COVID-19 testing conducted within 72 hours (from the sampling time to the flight departure time) are not required to wait at a facility prepared by the Japanese government.

(b)         Those without a negative result of COVID-19 testing conducted within 72 hours (from the sampling time to the flight departure time) are required to wait for 3 days at a facility prepared by the government.


           For all cases under (1) and (2) above, foreign seafarers will be allowed to leave the facility during the waiting period, should the ship they are to board will set sail during the time of their stay at the facility.

Disembarkation of foreign seafarers at Japanese ports


Foreign seafarers from any country / region will be inspected when entering Japan, if they are to disembark at Japanese ports when less than 14 days have passed after their departure from the previous port. This is effective from midnight on January 9, 2021(JST). This is a change from previous cases where inspections for such seafarers were sometimes not conducted depending on circumstances, at the discretion of each quarantine station.


           As before, there will be no inspection when foreign seafarers, who are to disembark at Japanese ports, enter Japan, as long as 14 days or more have passed since their departure from the previous port. 


           As in the past, accommodation will not be designated on the condition that no public transportation will be used while foreign seafarers are in Japan.



The Secretariat - Memo Circular No. : 001-2021


4th Floor, JSU-AMOSUP Mariners' Home,

1765 Vasquez corner Nakpil Sts., Malate, Manila

Tel Nos. +632-8526-0489 / +632-8524-8816 Fax No. +632-8526-0455

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