Last year, Japan legalized home sharing. The new law amends the Japanese Hotels and Inns Act, a law that has been on the books since 1947 and had unclear and restrictive rules for home sharing. We worked hard with partners across Japan to ensure that hosts now have clear rules of the road and can share their homes with travelers on Airbnb.
Under the new law, hosts are required to register their listing and display a license number on their listing page by June 15 in order to stay active on our platform. Our hosts have been working diligently to obtain their listing license numbers, and we are continuing to support them throughout this process. Thousands of hosts have updated their listing with their license number and are continuing to accept guests, and many more are finalizing the process.
Unfortunately, the Japanese government issued a sudden announcement on June 1 instructing any host without a license number to cancel upcoming reservations that were booked before June 15–even though many of these hosts are actively engaged in the registration process or awaiting their license.
This announcement came as a surprise to us. It was contrary to the guidance our team had previously been given by the Japanese Tourism Agency (JTA) and put the travel experiences of thousands of visitors to Japan at risk. As soon as we learned about this reversal, we contacted senior members of the JTA to try to work together to ensure our guests did not have their plans interrupted. Much to our disappointment, after a number of discussions, including a meeting today, the JTA was unwilling to return to their original position or to make reasonable compromises to protect travelers visiting Japan. Instead, the JTA indicated that we are required to cancel reservations at listings without a license number—no matter the hardship on hosts looking forward to sharing their homes or guests excited to travel to Japan.
We want to give our hosts as much time as possible to obtain their license number and honor commitments to guests. But given the JTA’s position, we also need to make sure that our guests with reservations in listings that haven’t received a license yet have enough time to find new accommodations.
As a result, any reservation scheduled for guest arrival between June 15 and June 19 at a listing in Japan that does not currently have a license has been cancelled. Going forward, unless the government reverses its position, we will automatically cancel and fully refund any reservations at listings in Japan that have not been licensed within 10 days of guest arrival.
This is understandably frustrating, especially since many hosts are close to acquiring their license. It’s particularly disruptive for guests who have a trip to Japan planned for the weeks and months ahead.
We will continue to help hosts get registered. This includes helping hosts meet directly with legal experts, as well as providing financial support to hosts who may incur additional expenses when registering.
We are incredibly sorry. We know this stinks–and that’s an understatement.
Japan is an incredible country to visit and we want to help our guests deal with this extraordinary disruption. To support our community, we are implementing our Japan Travel Response Plan. We will be emailing guests about these resources in the coming days. The plan includes:
1. $10 Million Fund to Support Travelers. We have established a $10 million fund to cover additional expenses for guests who are scheduled to travel to Japan and have had their plans interrupted due to a cancellation. Through no fault of their own, some guests will spend extra money to secure new accomodations and may have other additional expenses, such as flight change fees. To support and protect our community, we’ve created this fund to cover unexpected and unavoidable additional expenses based on this sudden development. More information about this fund and how to apply for reimbursement is included below.
2. Full Refunds and Coupons for Travelers. If a guest receives a cancellation for a reservation on or after June 15 due to the listing not having a license number, we will provide a full refund and a coupon worth at least 100% of the booking value to use on a future Airbnb trip. In addition, these guests will receive a $100 coupon for an Airbnb Experience. Refunds and coupons will be processed within 10 days.
3. Help Finding a Place to Stay. If a guest can’t find accommodations that meets their needs on Airbnb, JTB–a leading travel agency in Japan with access to other accommodation options throughout the country–is available to assist with finding a new place to stay. Guests can visit JAPANiCAN for assistance and more information.
4. 24/7 Support. Our team is here to help, and we are standing by 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Guests who need assistance can reach us by emailing email@example.com.
While this is a difficult time for our hosts and guests, we believe the new rules will ultimately be a positive change for Airbnb and our Japan community. In recent years, the lack of clear rules for home sharing has made many people who used Airbnb as guests reluctant to take the next step and host. The law in Japan solves that problem, and that’s one of the many reasons why we supported the new rules. There will undoubtedly be a period of adjustment, but ultimately, clear rules and regulations for home sharing will make our community in Japan bigger and stronger.
Again, we sincerely apologize for this situation and the extraordinary inconvenience it poses for our community and we will continue to work on resolutions that work for everyone involved.
Japan Guest Support Fund — FAQ
What is this fund?
On June 1, the Japanese government unexpectedly advised us that hosts who will not have a notification number on their listing should cancel upcoming reservations, even if those reservations were booked before the law governing home sharing takes effect. This announcement is incredibly disruptive and inconvenient for guests who must find a new place to stay. We have established a $10 million fund to cover reasonable additional expenses for guests who have been impacted by this change.
Who is eligible for this additional travel reimbursement?
If you are a guest who has already booked a reservation in Japan that begins on or after June 15 and your reservation was cancelled, you will receive a full refund and a travel coupon. In addition, you may be eligible for additional reimbursement. We will evaluate all reimbursement requests on a case-by-case basis. Generally, we will reimburse guests for reasonable additional expenses incurred as a result of a cancellation.
To apply for reimbursement, please send us:
- A copy of the receipt from your cancelled Airbnb reservation.
- Copies of any receipts for unexpected and unavoidable additional expenses incurred as a direct result of the cancellation (for example, reasonable increases in accomodation costs that took place on the same evenings as your previously scheduled Airbnb reservation; flight change fees; etc.).
- A brief explanation of these charges.
A member of our team will evaluate the documents you submit, contact you if there are any questions, and process your reimbursement. Receipts can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How quickly will reimbursements be issued?
We hope to evaluate and respond to any reimbursement request within two to four weeks.
How will guests get their reimbursement?
Guests will be issued refunds through the payout method they have on file with Airbnb. Guests who do not have a payout method on file will be prompted to add one so they can quickly and easily receive funds. More information about editing or changing payout methods can be found here.