I am a US Citizen who is intending to travel to Malaysia / KUL. But I have to transit on Narita Intl / NRT.

This is my first time traveling to Asia, and I am not sure how gates terminals work, and not even sure if the plane lands on the same terminal before I take the next plane for Malaysia. I won't be staying more than 3 hours upon departure or arrival.

Do I need any special visa in Japan before I take the plane to Malaysia from there? Will I be taking the plan from the same Terminal?

Upon researching I found that Japan does not need a visa for US Citizens for tourism. But I could not find anything specific to transiting.

Also, do I have to go through immigration on Narita? or is there an express lane that let the transit traffic go through without talking to Japan immigration?

I will not be carrying any luggage. Just a carry on bag. I do not intend to exit the Narita airport either.

  • 4
    scratches head if you do not need a visa for entering the country then why on earth would you need a visa for transiting? I mean, you could in theory always transit by entering the country and then go to your next flight. "Sterile" transit if it exists it does to accommodate those who are not allowed to enter.
    – user4188
    May 8, 2016 at 2:02
  • 3
    I completely understand your logic and can relate to your thoughts. I am just asking this question as a precaution, because I have not stepped out of the United States ever, and do not want my flight and hotel reservations wasted for nothing if the transit won't let me through.
    – Sam
    May 8, 2016 at 2:15
  • But that is your answer, right there: obviously you don't need a transit visa if you don't need a visitor visa.
    – user4188
    May 8, 2016 at 2:47

2 Answers 2


U.S. citizens can visit Japan without a visa anyway, so there's certainly no need to get one for transiting.

Regarding the second part of your question, you don't have to pass through Immigration at Narita on an international-to-international connection. From the Narita airport's page on international-to-international connections:

When connecting between international flights, passengers are not required to undergo Immigration procedures if they are staying in the departure area (airside) until their next flight.

The page linked above also contains instructions for how to transit from one international flight at Narita to another with instructions specific to each of Narita's three terminals. You should probably figure out which terminals your arriving and departing flights will likely use and read through that guide. In short, though, the transfer process is this:

  1. After exiting the aircraft, follow the signs for "International Transfer."

  2. Go through transfer security. This will be similar to the normal security checks you go through to board a flight, though you might want to look up the specific rules for what Japan allows when passing through security checks, as these may differ somewhat from the U.S. Note that you will need to show a boarding pass or a ticket for your onward flight in order to pass through transfer security.

  3. If you don't already have a boarding pass for your connecting flight, go to one of the transfer desks for your airline to check in and get it.

  4. If your departing flight leaves from a different terminal than where you arrived, you'll need to take a shuttle bus to your departing terminal. The timetables for these buses can be accessed via the link above. These buses are specifically for transit passengers and will depart and arrive inside the airside portion of the terminals, so you will not need to pass through immigration or security again after getting off the bus.

  5. Proceed to your departure gate.

  • Most of the international arrivals and departures go through Terminal 2 at NRT, so you probably won't have to worry about the shuttle buses. May 8, 2016 at 7:56
  • 1
    @JohnR.Strohm - there are just as many international flights through terminal 1 as there are in terminal 2. The two main US carriers, Delta & United have hubs in terminal 1.
    – user13044
    May 8, 2016 at 8:39
  • @reirab: when I did this at NRT, security expected to see a boarding pass. I don't know what happens if you don't have one, but your instructions might not be totally accurate. May 8, 2016 at 13:52
  • @Tom, I stand corrected. Years ago, I swore a mighty oath, to gods best left undisturbed, never to fly Delta again, and friends don't let friends fly United, so I hopefully can be excused for not knowing their arrangements at Narita. May 8, 2016 at 14:59
  • 1
    @JohnR.Strohm - you might find Delta long haul today a far cry from what it was 'many years' ago. Hopefully they will up their game in similar fashion for domestic.
    – user13044
    May 8, 2016 at 23:16

Copying from comment to answer: If you do not need a visa for entering the country then you do not need a visa to transit because you could, in theory, always transit by leaving airside and entering the country and then go to your next flight. "Sterile" transit if it exists it does to accommodate those who can not do this because they would need a visitor visa to enter.

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