To enter Japan you need a passport and a visa (unless you are from a country which is visa-exempt). There are a number of different types of Japanese visas which are designed by the Japanese government for different purposes and lengths of time.
There are 68 countries whose citizens can enter visa-free for tourism or business. Other nationalities currently need to go to a Japanese embassy or consulate to apply for a visa. Japan plans to introduce an eVisa in 2020 that will simplify the application process to acquire the Japan visa.
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Japan visa types
At the moment there are numerous different types of visas and more will be introduced in the future, including the eVisa.
Visas are obtained directly from Japanese embassies and consulates, althought the application process for the eVisa will be completed entirely online.
Japanes visas can be grouped in 3 main categories:
- Working visa
- Non-working visa
- Family Related Visas
Working visas are considered long-term stay visas and cover the kind of work that requires high-level professional knowledge or skills and ‘thus, they do not include simple labor tasks. Jobs like waiter, construction workers, sales people, etc. cannot obtain a working visa. Typical working visas:
- Engineer, Specialist in Humanities, International Services Engineer. Engineers and Specialists in Humanities must have a university degree in their corresponding fields or 10 years of professional experience. International Services Engineers must have 3 years of professional experience in their field.
- Intra-company Transferee. This status applies ot expats of foreign companies or the subsidiary companies of Japanese firms located overseas who have worked more than one year in the said office in overseas.
- Skilled Labor. Jobs involving foreign cooking, architecture or civil engineering characteristic to foreign countries, training animals, instructing sports, sommeliers, processing precious stones will fall into this status. It’s mandatory to have at least 3 years of professional experience in the field.
- Business Manager. Those who are going to start a business or invest into a business in Japan. It also applies to those managing business on behalf of investors.
- Highly-Skilled Professional. This visa aims to attract workers who are likely to contribute to the Japanese economy.
Those with a certain status, knowledge, or skills can get the following working visas:
- Diplomats or Officials, Personnel of the embassies and consular offices, Diplomatic missions, Government personnel and their families.
- Research and education at university or equivalent educational institutions.
- Instruction of foreign languages or other education at elementary schools, high schools, etc. Those instructors looking to work in private language schools must apply for the Specialist in Humanities / International Services visa.
- For those whose artistic activities provide enough income to support their living in Japan.
- Religious activities. Missionaries sent to Japan from foreign religious organizations.
- Those journalists who have signed contracts with foreign media organizations. It includes freelance journalists.
- Legal and Accounting services.
- Medical Services. Medical specialists with Japanese qualifications.
- For those researches working under a contract with public or private organizations in Japan.
- All of those working in show business and sports.
Anyone who holds a non-working visa is allowed to work as long as the immigration office grants them permission. This type of visas is considered a short-term stay visa and some restrictions apply. Those doing some work under a non-working visa cannot exceed the number of authorized hours per week.
Who can benefit:
- The visa application is submitted through the school.
- Those training to acquire technology, skills or knowledge. This status is granted only when the candidate will work in a job requiring that technology, skills or knowledge once he returns to his home country.
- Technical Internships. That covers internships after training under trainee visa.
- Spouses or children of people staying in Japan under the work visa and non-working visa (except for temporary visitors and trainees).
- Cultural Activities. Cultural or artistic activities with no income.
- Students or researches of Japanese cultural or artistic activities.
- University students taking part in an internship without remuneration.
- Temporary Visitors (also known as Tourist visa). This status includes visitors on vacation, sports, family visits, participants in seminars and conferences, business meetings, market research, and those traveling to Japan to engage in PR activities.
There is also another epigraphe for non-working visas that is granted case by case: Designated Activities. Students on internship, working holidays, diplomats’ housekeepers are some of the people who can aply for this visa.
Family related visas are considered short-term stay visas and have no retrictions when it comes to employment, so you can engage in more than one activity or change jobs. Those who can apply to these visas are:
- Spouses and children of Japanese nationals
- Long Term Residents
- Permanent Residents
- Spouses and children of Permanent Resident
Japan tourist visas
Any tourist wanting to visit Japan must obtain a tourist visa prior to entering the country. Nonetheless, Japan excludes several nationalities from having to comply with this requirement. For instance, citizens from most European countries, United States, Australia, and Argentina do not need too get the Japan Tourist Visa since they are considered visa-exempt countries for tourism purposes. Nationals from any of those regions can stay in Japan for a maximum of 90 days visa-free and are assigned Temporary Visitor status.
Japan tourist visa is a short-term stay visa for the purposes of sightseeing, visiting friends, or attending conferences or courses. Under the single-entry regulation, tourists can remain in Japan for up to 15 days, but this tourist visa is valid for a period of up to 90 days. Tourists can also apply for a double-entry visa for 2 short trips within a 6-month period. It is important to note that the Japan tourist visa does not allow travelers to engage in paid work while in the country.
There is a temporary business visa for stays of up to 90 days which can single or double-entry visa (if both trips are within a 6-month period). Business purposes include conferences, meetings, signing contracts, and market surveys.
Some nationalities need a transit visa to stop over in Japan when going to an onward destination. Many travelers do not need this as long as they stay within the allocated zone and do not leave the airport.
The are two types of Japanese work visas: the Working Visa and the Highly Professional Visa. The former is designed for a range of professions including professors, managers, and researchers. The latter is for foreign workers with advanced and specialized skills. The can be valid for up to 5 years depending on the case.
Which countries need a tourist visa?
All nationalities who are not visa-exempt need a visa to enter Japan. Citizens of certain countries can enter with Temporary Visitor status for limited periods of time (15 to 90 consecutive days) for tourism or business purposes.
Visitors receive a stamp in their passport which is a requirement for the Japan Rail Pass. The rules are very strict and it is not possible to get the pass without showing the stamp (tourists with other types of visas are not eligible for the Pass).
The following nationalities are eligible for Temporary Visitor status (all others need a visa to enter):
|JAPAN VISA-EXEMPT COUNTRIES & REGIONS (as of December 2018)|
|LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN|
|Brunei (15 days)||Republic of Korea||Thailand (15 days)||Macao|
|Israel||United Arab Emirates (30 days)||Turkey|
The nationalities listed above can enter for tourism, visiting relatives, and business purposes. However, visitors cannot be paid for work under Temporary Visitor status. In these cases, it is necessary to obtain a work visa.
Japan tourist visa requirements
To successfully apply for a tourist visa for Japan, those applicants who are not nationals of the aforementioned countries, must meet the following visa requirements:
- Hold a valid passport with at least 6 months remaining and 2 blank pages
- A completed visa application form
- Provide a recent color passport photo and a certified copy of your birth certificate
- If married, submit a marriage certificate (if issued within the last year
- You must have the intention to leave Japan at the end of your authorized stay
- Proof of financial ability demonstrating you can support yourself financially during your stay in Japan
- Provide a certificate of your financial situation for the previous 6 months issued by your bank
- Submit the applicant’s tax return
- If applying without a sponsor, a copy of your Certificate of Employment must be submitted
- Provide a schedule and travel plans for the trip
Tourists from visa-free countries are just required to hold a valid passport for the intended period of their stay in order to obtain their Japan eVisa.
If you still have questions about what you need in order to obtain the Japan tourist visa, you can find out more by checking the Japan entry requirements FAQ.
Japan tourist visa validity
Single-entry visas are valid for 3 months upon issue and usually allow you to stay in the country for up to 15 days. It is not psosible to extend tis validity.
Double-entry visas have a validity of 6 months from the date of issue.
Multiple-entry visas are usually good for a period of 1 to 5 years, depending on the visitor’s nationality, the purpose of the visit, and the type of passport they hold. Multiple-entry visas allow you to visit Japan multiple times within this period of 1 to 5 years since the issuing date, but each stay cannot exceed the 15 or 30-day period.
Japan tourist visa fees
A fee must be paid in order to obtain your Japan tourist visa. These fees vary depending on whether you are applying for a single-entry visa, a double-entry or a multiple-entry visa, as well as on the nationality of the tourist.
It is a good idea to check with your Japanese embassy or consulate before submitting your application since fees are subject to change at any time. Also, please note fees are collected in the local currency where the embassy or consulate is located and must be paid at the time of submitting your application. Once that has been done, you will receive proof of payment.
Japan Tourist eVisa
The new Japan Tourist eVisa will be available for eligible nationalities from April 2020, in time for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The electronic visa is part of the government’s wider plan to reach 60 million foreign visitors a year by 2030.
The online application form will be straightforward to complete and will mean that tourists will not need to go to an embassy or consulate to complete the application. It is being designed to simplify the visa application process.
Once an application has been submitted and approved, the eVisa will be sent to applicants by email. Travelers will be able to present the eVisa at the border to gain entry.
The eVisas will be single-entry and it will be necessary to make a payment by credit or debit card to submit the application. More information will be published in the months leading up the launch of the visa.
More information about Japan tourist eVisa at: https://www.visasjapan.com/tourist-evisa/.