Regular passengers to Japan can now use the automated border control (ABC) eGates to speed up their arrival into the country.
ABC eGates are in use at four major airports — Narita, Haneda, Chubu Centrair and Kansai.
Until now they have only been available for Japanese nationals and foreign residents of Japan who pre-registered.
In a move aimed at cutting wait times, frequent visitors to Japan can also now use the ABC eGates.
Under the Trusted Traveler Program, the Immigration Bureau now lets low-risk passengers — such as foreign nationals who come to Japan often on business — use automated gates for short-term stays.
How it works
To be entered into the program, applicants must meet certain requirements to register as a trusted traveler and submit the necessary information prior to arrival.
After passing the Immigration Bureau’s screening process and going through an interview with an official upon entry, passengers will receive an identification card that they can use starting with their next trip.
Who can use the program?
The program is open to passengers from 67 countries where Japanese visa exemptions apply, including the United States, Canada, Australia, South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan.
It does not apply to visitors from China, the largest source of foreign tourists to Japan.
The program is part of the overall 2020 Tokyo Olympics effort to encourage foreign visitors to go to Japan by making the time-consuming passport control entry process more pleasant.
To make that fully work, Japan will have to make the eGates open to most passengers who will be visiting the country for the first time.
Last month, Japan introduced a new mobile unit, Bio Cart, at three airports — Kansai, Takamatsu and Naha — to allow foreign passengers to register their biometric data such as fingerprints and facial photo while waiting in line at ports of entry.
N.B. Image credit: Immigration Bureau of Japan