Japan Travel Visa: Here's What You Need to Know

Over the years millions of individuals have traveled to Japan to enjoy the breathtaking cherry blossoms, indulge in the local cuisine, explore the eclectic neighborhoods, and learn more about the history and culture of the Japanese people.

As exciting as it sounds, before you have your ticket ready and your itinerary planned out, make sure you inform yourself about Japan’s visa requirements and know whether you need to apply for a Japan travel visa. Below we answer the main travel visa questions that will prepare you for a warm welcome in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Japan Has a Few Types of Travel Visas. Here We Will Cover: 

Japan Visitor Visa (Tourist Visa)

Do I Need a Visa to Travel to Japan?

Japan has partnered with 68 countries under the Visa Waiver Program. This program allows certain nationalities free entry to Japan for a short duration of time if the purpose of visit is:

  • tourism
  • business trip
  • conference
  • family visit

Citizens of the countries listed in the chart below don’t need to apply for a tourist visa to enter Japan. However, they are required to have a valid passport for the entire duration of their stay and proof of onward/return travel.

Most countries receive a 90-day entry, though there are a few exceptions.

Exceptions include:

  • Indonesia – 15 days
  • Thailand – 15 days
  • Brunei – 15 days
  • United Arab Emirates – 30 days

All travelers require fingerprint scans and will have their photo taken when crossing the border.

Visa-Exempt Countries

Europe

Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Latin America Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Surinam, Uruguay
Asia

Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan

North America Canada, USA
Oceania Australia, New Zealand
Africa Lesotho, Mauritius, Tunisia
Middle East Israel, Turkey, United Arab Emirates


Passport holders from most other east Asian countries, including China, the Philippines, and Vietnam do require a visa to enter Japan.

If you are not from a visa-exempt country, you will need to submit a tourist visa application to your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate. The standard processing time is five business days. However, you should apply early in case you are asked for additional documents which may delay the approval of your visa.

How to Apply for a Japan Travel Visa

Here is the Japan visitor visa application process in eight easy steps:

  1. Review the visitor visa requirements.
  2. Download and complete the visa application form.
  3. Prepare all supporting documents.
  4. Take your passport photo and ensure it meets requirements.
  5. Submit your application at the nearest Japan consulate.
  6. Pay the visa application fee.
  7. Wait 5 business days to collect your visa.
  8. Get ready to visit Japan!

NOTE: Japan is planning to introduce an electronic system for travel visa applications in April 2020 that will help simplify the application process.

Japan Visa Requirements

❏  Completed visa application form.
❏  Passport with at least 2 blank visa pages. The passport must be valid for the entire duration of the trip.
❏  One recent passport photo (taken in the last 6 months) with a white background.

Japan Visa Photo Requirements: The size of the photo must be exactly 35mm by 45mm. Measurements from your chin to your forehead must be 32mm to 36mm. There should be a 2-6mm gap from the top of your head to the edge of the photo.

❏  Recent bank statement with your printed name and proof of sufficient funds to cover all your expenses while in Japan.
❏  An invitation letter (if you are visiting friends or family).
❏  Proof of onward travel/return ticket.
❏  Confirmation of hotel or other lodging reservations and the address where you will be staying.
❏  A travel itinerary including any planned activities.
❏  Payment for the visa fee. The average price is $27 for single-entry and $55 for multiple-entry.

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DID YOU KNOW?

Your domestic health plan may not cover you once you leave your home country. Travel medical insurance can cover costs resulting from unexpected injury or illness as you travel abroad to Japan. It can also help demonstrate your ability to pay for your travels by showing that you have coverage for certain medical expenses incurred in Japan.

Apply for your Japan travel visa early in case the consulate requests additional documents. Make sure you check with your local embassy for up-to-date information on processing fees, as the visa application fee is subject to change at any time. If your tourist visa is rejected, you will not be reimbursed for the visa application fee and you will need to submit a new payment if you decide to re-apply.

 

Japan Work Visa

Do I Need a Work Visa for Japan?

You may need a work visa if you plan to get paid to work during your time in Japan – even if you are from a visitor-visa-exempt country. 

Work visas are only available to individuals with a high level of professional knowledge or skills, including business managers, skilled laborers, engineers, specialists in the humanities, and international service workers.

To qualify for a work visa, you must apply under one of the following classification groups:

  • Artist
  • Professor
  • Instructor
  • Engineer
  • Entertainer
  • Journalist
  • Researcher
  • Highly Skilled
  • Skilled Labour
  • Medical Service
  • Religious Activities
  • Investor/ Business Manager
  • Legal/ Accounting Services
  • Intracompany Transferee
  • Humanities Specialist/International Services

Note that you do not qualify for a Japan work visa if you plan to perform manual or simple labor, such as hairdressing, waiting tables, or working in retail or construction.

Exceptions include:

  • If your visa is granted according to family status
  • If you are granted a trainee visa
  • If you are a part-time worker on a student or dependent visa

How to Apply for a Japan Work Visa

There are two steps to apply for a Japan work visa:

1. Obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE)

The Certificate of Eligibility is issued by the Japanese Ministry of Justice and verifies that you are meeting all the requirements to stay and work in Japan for a longer period (usually one year or three years).

You can submit a COE application yourself, or your Japanese employer, a family member, or an immigration lawyer can submit the application for you. The processing time is 1-3 months.

2. Submit your Japan work visa application

Once your Certificate of Eligibility is approved, you must submit your work visa application - along with all required documents - at the nearest Japan embassy or consulate.

Japan Work Visa Requirements

❏  Completed and signed work visa application form
❏  Valid passport with at least 2 blank visa pages
❏  One recent passport-size photo (4cm x 3cm) with a plain/white background
❏  A stamped return-mail envelope
❏  Supporting documents:
     ❏  Certificate of eligibility
     ❏  Letter of authorization
     ❏  Letter of employment
     ❏  Proof of travel arrangements
     ❏  Proof of state residency – a copy of valid government ID from your home country
❏  Additional supporting documents, which may include:
     ❏  CV/resume
     ❏  invitation letter

     ❏  employment details such as position and salary
     ❏  graduation certificates like your degree/diploma

The consulate could take up to four business days to issue your work visa. Work visas are granted for six months or more for those under the “Entertainer” category, and for one or three years for all other categories.

Now that the visa is stamped in your passport, it’s time to pack your bags for your trip to one of the most unique places on earth!

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