Japan Visa Requirements – How to Open the Doors to Japan
Before arriving in Japan you need to make sure your visa situation is in order - use our guide for the low-down on Japanese visa requirements.
If you want to visit Japan, you first need to know your visa requirements. Your visa type depends on various factors, including the purpose of your trip and the amount of time you intend to stay in the country. We’ve compiled all the information you’re going to need in order to apply for the correct visa.
Visa requirements for a short-term visit:
1. Visa exemption:
68 countries are exempted from the need for any visa in Japan, a simple passport being enough for a stay of up to 90 days for any purpose excluding paid work. This is otherwise known as a “temporary stay” visa with the only condition the need for 6 months validity remaining on your passport. For a fully up-to-date list of exempted countries, click here.
2. Upon landing:
The temporary visa is obtained on arrival on Japanese soil with a simple stamp in your passport. Whilst on the plane the cabin crew will supply you with a landing form, simply give your completed form to the immigration officials inside the terminal. This document is necessary to obtain your temporary stay visa.
When you get off of the plane, you will make your way through security and immigration:
Arriving at the immigration office, hand over your passport and completed immigration form. Staff will take your picture and fingerprints and supply you with your stamp then you’re free to go!
3. For non-exempted countries:
Obtaining your visa:
For Russia and NIS countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan), China and the Philippines, the visa process is slightly more complex. Visit the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs website where PDF application forms can be downloaded and printed out.
In general, an “inviting person” or guarantor resident in Japan (not necessarily a Japanese national) needs to prepare the extra documents and send them to the applicant in his or her own country, who then makes the visa application at the Japanese Embassy or Japanese Consulate in their own country. These documents include a “Purpose of invitation” form, a travel schedule and a letter of guarantee. The guarantor must take on liability for the expenses for the applicant’s stay in Japan, including return travel expenses and must ensure the applicant’s future compliance with Japanese laws and regulations.
Philippine nationals are also required to submit a copy of their birth certificate, marriage contract (if the applicant is married), bank certificate and airline ticket reservation form. For further details see the Japanese embassy in the Philippines website.
Individual Chinese applicants for Japanese tourist visas also need to show evidence of annual income above a certain amount, in addition to the above documentation.
For details on other non-exempted countries please click here.
Visa requirements for a long-term visit
If you want to stay in Japan more than 90 days, you have other choices:
1. Working Holiday Visa
A working holiday visa is the best way to enjoy Japan fully, enabling you to enjoy a years worth of Japanese culture and discovery. This obviously far exceeds the limitations of a 90-day tourist visa and allows you to finance your trip through a part-time job (less than 20 hours a week), an opportunity that can expose you to real-life in the country.
The Japanese government currently has agreements on Working Holiday Visas with the UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Denmark, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea. Each agreement is slightly different in its workings (length, age limit etc). Usually, you need to be between 18 and 30 years old, except for Australia, Canada and the Republic of Korea where applicants should be between 18 and 25 years old, be living in the country at the moment of application and should never have been issued a Japanese working holiday visa in the past. You also need to provide a visa application form, proof of good health, your resume, a cover letter, an outline of intended activities and a proof that you have sufficient money to support yourself during the initial days of your stay. Usually, it takes between 4 days to a week to get your Working Holiday Visa.
2. Student visa
For University students, high school students, students at Japanese language schools and other educational institutions. The visa application is submitted through the school and the time of application is limited. Generally the documents that you will need to provide for your application are: a passport, a visa application form, a photograph and Certificate of Eligibility (CEO), usually your school will take charge of the CEO.
3. Working/internship visa
In general, to engage in work at a school, university or Japanese company, applicants will need to fill out an application form from the Japanese embassy or consulate in their own country.
Visas which allow paid work usually require a Japanese company, school, university or individual to act as sponsor.
The following requirements are necessary for obtaining a working visa for Japan: a valid passport, a recent photograph, a letter from your future employer (or sponsor) stating your position and expected salary, a Certificate of Eligibility, a curriculum vitae or resume and copies of any necessary graduation certificates.
The Certificate of Eligibility (有資格証明書, yuushikaku shomeisho) is issued by the Japanese Ministry of Justice and verifies that you meet all the requirements for a foreign national coming to Japan. You may apply for a Certificate of Eligibility through your local Japanese embassy, but it is more usual for the sponsor in Japan to apply on the foreign person’s behalf at the local immigration office. Being able to show the immigration officer your Certificate of Eligibility when you land in Japan makes entry easier.
Working visas are normally granted for periods of 1 year or 3 years.
Work visas are available in the following categories: Artist, Engineer, Entertainer, Highly skilled foreign professional, Instructor, Intra-company transferee, Investor/business manager, Journalist, Legal/accounting services, Medical services, Professor, Religious activities, Researcher, Skilled labor, Specialist in Humanities/International Services.
4. Spouse and Japanese Descendants (nikkei) Visa
If you marry a Japanese national and wish to apply for a Japanese spouse visa, the following documents must be presented at an immigration office or Japanese embassy or consulate: a valid passport, a spouse visa application form completed and signed, a recent photograph (taken within the past 6 months), an official copy of the Japanese spouse’s family register (koseki tohon) available from a ward office and showing your registered marriage, a letter of guarantee from the Japanese spouse, the Japanese spouse’s passport or copy, and an official copy of the spouse’s certificate of residence (jyuminhyo) available from a local ward office (kuyakusho), plus evidence of financial support (bank statement etc). Spouse visas are valid for 3 years and must be renewed at your local immigration office or Japanese embassy or consulate overseas.
If you have a Japanese grandparent, or if your spouse is a child or a grandchild of a Japanese national, you are eligible for a “Long Term Resident” visa. If one of your parents has or had Japanese nationality at the time of your birth, you are eligible for a “Child/Spouse of Japanese National” visa. In both cases, it is required to track down and identify your Japanese family’s “koseki” (family registry).
5. Cultural Activities Visa
For Cultural or artistic activities that provide no income, studies or research of Japanese cultural or artistic activities and university students on internship without remuneration. Generally the documents that you will need to provide for your application is a passport, a visa application form, a photograph and a Certificate of Eligibility.