What is ERFS? 2022 Guide to Short-term Visa for Foreigners in Japan

Starting from June 10, 2022, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan has loosened the border restrictions on entry for foreign nationals. However, you will still need to use Japan’s Entrants, Returnees, Follow-up System (ERFS) to apply to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to get permission to enter Japan. You need an ERFS certificate before you apply for a short-term visa stay in Japan.

Although Japan has not fully opened its borders to individual tourists as of early July 2022, monitored group tours are now able to arrive in Japan for a short-term stay. Foreign nationals can also enter Japan for purposes other than tourism so long as they have a sponsor in the country. This includes business travelers on short stays, students in study abroad programs, participants in technical internships, and those who would provide a “public benefit” to Japan.

But what is the ERFS exactly, and how does that work? Check out everything you need to know about it here.

For more information, kindly visit the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan. Head to the ERFS entry page for the full reference.

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What is ERFS?

ERFS, short for Entrants, Returnees Follow-up System is a system that allows foreign nationals entry into Japan. This is a necessary procedure for foreign nationals who may want to enter Japan for the first time for a short-term stay (less than three months). To be eligible, applicants must have a receiving organization located in Japan.

That being said, that doesn’t mean it’s a free pass into Japan. There are certain requirements you must meet in order to get an ERFS certificate. Typically, a clear photocopy of the “Certificate for completion of registration to the ERFS system” is compulsory.

What is an ERFS Certificate?

An ERFS certificate is required to prove that you are eligible for the ERFS system. This will help you to get a visa, which lets you get into Japan.

What Type of Purposes is Eligible for an ERFS Sponsorship?

As of June 10, the Japanese government has listed a few foreign nationals categories that can apply for a new entry into Japan. In principle, their receiving organization, located in Japan, needs to complete prescribed applications in the ERFS.

  • Foreign nationals newly entering Japan for a short-term stay for business and employment
  • Foreign nationals newly entering Japan for a short-term stay for tourism
  • Foreign nationals newly entering Japan for a long-term stay
Japan’s Entrants, Returnees, Follow-up System (ERFS) Certificate

How do I Get an ERFS Certificate?

There are two options for entry into Japan for a short-term stay. One is to enter for “purposes including business and employment” and the other is for tourism. In both cases, to get an ERFS certificate, you’ll need a receiving organization. A receiving organization is an organization that will be your reason for staying in Japan. Whether that be to provide you with a tour of Japan or to have you work for them, depends on the reason for your trip and the company you choose. 

For example, if you are planning to visit Japan in the near future under group tours, you will need to find a travel company that can sponsor your ERFS.

The visa application for entering Japan for sightseeing purposes under the ERFS usually goes as follows:

  • Find a Japanese travel company and buy a package tour.
  • The company will apply through the ERFS system for you and issue a Certificate of Completion of Registration.

Keep in mind that having the ERFS is not the complete visa application. You will need other required documents for visa application.

Temporary Visit to Japan for Tourism Purposes with ERFS

Now, foreign citizens traveling to Japan can stay for less than 90 days for tourism — so long that they have. travel agency to organize the trip and serve as the receiving organization.

The validity of this visa is 3 months from the date of issue. The typical requirements (excluding additional documents according to teach country or region’s policy) are:

  • A valid passport
  • A completed visa application
  • A passport-sized phonograph
  • A certificate for Completion of Registration to the ERFS System(受付済証)

How do I get a Short-term Visa to Stay in Japan?

You will need to apply for a visa yourself. Once you have your ERFS certificate you will need your passport, a picture of yourself, any other relevant documents and a visa application form, which you can find here

Once you have everything you can visit the Japanese embassy in your country to apply for a visa. You will have to make an appointment first, so do not show up unannounced.

Full Rundown of Application Procedure for the ERFS

To enter Japan under the ERFS on a short-term visa, both the receiving organization and the applicant must complete the whole process. We’ve broken down the detailed procedure of this application system so you know exactly what to expect.

First step: ERFS preparation from the receiving organization

  • Confirm that your company, sole proprietor or travel agency can issue the ERFS
  • They will apply online to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, which will be processed through the foreigner new entry online application system (ERFS)
  • Receive a certificate that is sent online

Second step: Preparation to enter Japan from the applicant

  • Once you get the ERFS certificate, prepare it with visa issuance application required in your embassy
  • You will get a confirmation of your application status. 
  • Issue your short-term visa. 
  • Enter Japan while complying with all COVID border measures for international travel, including downloading MySOS app and checking vaccination requirements. 

Last step: While in Japan

  • Travel agencies, companies or other receiving organizations must manage the foreigner’s health status. 
  • Four tour participants, you need to report any changes to your health, which will be put on record. 
  • For tour participants
  • When there is a change in your health
  • Request a report without exception.
  • Save the action history.

Return from Japan

Upon your return to your home country, your travel agency will save your contact information for one week after the tour ends. 

FAQ About the ERFS 

What will happen if the receiving organization violates the commitments pledged on the ERFS?

If the contents of the application are false, the receiving agency may not be able to accept applications for new entry of foreigners. (See the full commitment here).

Can applications for the ERFS together?

It is possible for the receiving organization to do it individually or collectively.

Is it possible to correct information in the ERFS?

Changes under the application can be modified. However, after completion (before applying for visa), you cannot modify the data.

In the ERFS registration, can the foreigner use the email address of the local travel agency (receiving organization) instead of their personal email?

This is not possible.

Does the person in charge of acceptance need to apply? Is it possible for a third party (travel agency, etc.) to collectively apply for a proxy?

The application procedure can be delegated to a third party. However, some third parties may take over the application procedure for a fee. Please note that doing so may violate the Administrative Procedures Legal Law.

Do I Need to Issue the Visa Under the ERFS by Myself?

Typically, you, the applicant, will be the one to issue the visa at your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate. However, there are some countries in which the visa applications should be submitted through travel agencies accredited by Japanese overseas establishments.

If you’d like to know more about anything, you can visit the official Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan website. Here’s the ERFS page and the Visa page.

What is an ERFS?

The Entrants, Returnees Follow-up System, or the ERFS, is a system that foreigners have to go through if they want to enter Japan for a short-term stay. Once you have gone through the system you will get a certificate which you can use to get a visa to Japan.

Do I need the ERFS to enter Japan?

Yes. As of right now, anyone trying to get into Japan for a short-term stay must get a visa, and do that you will need an ERFS certificate.

Do I need a visa to enter Japan?

While some countries didn’t need visas to enter Japan, that was before the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, foreigners from every country will need a visa to be granted entry into Japan.

Disclaimer: This guide is for educational purposes and should not be taken as official, legal advice. Kindly refer to official sources and consult with a legal expert.

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