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


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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