Before Arrival

Planning steps

  1. Invitation letter from OIST (please sign)
  2. Visa application (we might ask for your passport and other information)
  3. OIST guest registration (to securely get your address, bank information, etc.)
  4. Flight booking (usually we book for you)
  5. In case of family: do you need a larger apartment / child care?
  6. In case of car rental: Check if your license is valid in Japan and let us know if you need help to make a reservation via OIST Resource Center
  7. If you want a SIM card for mobile internet it might be easier to order in advance and pickup at the airport in Tokyo
  8. Arrival: we will arrange your on-campus apartment and transport from the airport in Okinawa (Naha) to OIST

1. Relocation/Visa

Stays up to 90 days

From many countries Japan now allows visa-free travel for trips under 90 days. For other countries a simplified process to get a short-term business visa is available. In case a visitor earns salary in Japan the visa process via Certificate of Eligibility (COE) will be necessary.

Stays over 90 days

The below websites cover details about coming to OIST. While it is designed for new employees and not visitors, the information is likely to be useful. For example, there is a section covering the details of getting a visa to work at OIST. OIST administration will help you through the visa process, usually a so-called Certificate of Eligibility (COE) is issued on the Japanese side, after which the visitor applies for a visa at their local embassy.

Entry into Japan

Only visitors from a few countries are still required to get a PCR test within 72 hours of departing on a flight to Japan. Please note that the test certificate has to be in a specific format (or at least contain the same information in English or Japanese). We recommend to check your local Embassy's website for test centers in the area that provide certificates in the required format.

General immigration requirements (coming from any country) can be checked on this website (usually involves filling out a questionnaire and uploading some documents):

Japanese border measures:

Entry process:

Getting a visa might involve some bureaucracy

2. Getting around / SIM card

Rental Car

OIST is located in Onna village in the middle of the main island of Okinawa. The area is quite rural, so only a few small shops and restaurants are in walking distance. There is public transport and the OIST shuttle bus with which you can reach nearby towns, but most visitors decide to get a rental car. If you do, please be sure to check if your driver's license will be valid in Japan. See here (also about bicycle rental):

SIM Card/Internet/Communication

The OIST Lab Buildings as well as the on-campus have Wi-Fi internet access, however, many visitors prefer to also have internet/mobile network away from OIST.

The two most common options are SIM cards and pocket WiFi. Both of these you can order in advance and pick up at an airport in Japan, or get after arrival. It is easier to order in advance then trying to find a shop in Okinawa. Note that you might need a proof of your address in Japan to get a phone contract (mobile internet only is easier).

The OIST resource center provides the following guide regarding phone numbers in Japan:

So-called Mobile Virtual Network Operator(MVNO) are the cheapest option. Some common providers are listed at the above link, or at and You might also consider an international eSIM card with which you can access the internet in Japan, e. g. from airalo or ubigi. (external links; not intended as endorsement of the listed products).


3. Family and Childcare

The families of visitors are welcome to come to OIST!
There are nursing rooms and diaper changing stations. OIST's Child Development Center (CDC) and school-age program are available for visitors too.
It is currently not possible for OIST to cover costs incurred by visitors' families, thus visitors will need to pay for additional costs such as airfare and the cost difference of larger rooms. The program only covers the costs of the single visiting researcher accepted to the program, however OIST will try to help with visa procedures etc. wherever possible.

For visitors staying over three month the children's health insurance and regular healthcare costs are free. There is also a child support payment of about 100 USD per month from the Japanese government.

Visitors with children under 6 years old can bring their children to the Child Development Center (CDC), depending on availability of care. Please let us know prior to your visit if you need childcare, and we will tell you how to apply to the CDC yourself (required for data protection reasons).

If you have older children please see the following page for schooling options and the OIST School-Aged Program:


4. Covered by OIST

As TSVP visitor the following will be covered:

  • A round-trip airfare between the home institution and OIST. Two options
    • OIST books the flight for you via travel agency (preferred)
    • Visitor books the flight and OIST reimburses up to a comparison quote from the travel agency. Do not book before you have received approval from OIST. OIST will require the original paper boarding passes for the reimbursement. Reimbursement cannot be made until several weeks after the return flight.
  • On-campus housing
  • Daily allowance (OIST per diem)