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Certificate of eligibility for Japan visa, what is is and how to apply for it

Any foreigner who wants to enter Japan for non-temporary reasons has to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (COE).

The Certificate of Eligibility for Japan is a document you have to get before you can apply for a long-term Japan Visa, such as a Work Visa , Student Visa , or Marriage Visa . However, it is the Immigration Services in Japan who issue Certificates of Eligibility, so you need a sponsor or proxy in Japan to handle the application on your behalf.

The purpose of the Japan Certificate of Eligibility is to facilitate the visa application process. It serves as approval from the Japanese Immigration Services that you meet the entry requirements as set by the Japanese government.

As such, the Certificate of Eligibility for Japan is not the same as a visa; it is merely a pre-requisite before you apply for a Japan visa.

Who Can Submit an Application for the Japan Certificate of Eligibility?

Since you need to have the Certificate of Eligibility before you apply for a visa and enter Japan, you must have someone who is already in Japan submit the application for you. This could be:

Where Do You Submit a Japan Certificate of Eligibility Application?

Your representative in Japan can submit the COE application at the Immigration Bureau that represents the region of Japan in which you will live or in which you will work.

You can find a list of the locations of Japan’s Immigration Offices on the website of the Immigration Services Agency of Japan (here).

Once the application has been processed, your sponsor/representative has to mail the COE to you so you can apply for your visa and enter Japan.

What are the Requirements for a Japan Certificate of Eligibility?

To qualify for a Japan Certificate of Eligibility, the purpose of your travel to Japan must be in line with the requirements specified by the relevant government bodies of Japan. As such, you must be entering Japan as one of the following:

  • Someone who has found employment in a Japanese company
  • Professor or language school teacher
  • An artist who will be working for remuneration
  • Someone who will engage in activities in which you will learn about Japanese culture (Judo classes or to study tea ceremony)
  • A religious worker (missionary, bishop, etc)
  • Journalist or news reporter
  • An employee assigned to work in a company in Japan and who has knowledge regarding natural or human science
  • The president, director, or division head of a company
  • Researcher
  • An international student
  • A trainee
  • The dependent of someone who is legally living in Japan
  • The spouse or child of a Japanese citizen
  • As someone living in Japan under the Working Holiday Program
  • An entertainer (singer, model, etc)
  • Another purpose deemed eligible by the Immigration Services of Japan

What Documents Do I Need for a Japan Certificate of Eligibility Application?

When your sponsor or representative applies for your Japan Certificate of Eligibility, you must provide them with several supporting documents, such as:

  • A completed Certificate of Eligibility Application Form (downloadable from the website of the Japan Immigration Services Agency)
  • Passport-size picture of yourself, with the following specifications:
    • Dimensions: 4cm x 3cm
    • Taken within the last three months
    • Plain and light-colored background, without any patterns and shadows
    • You must be starting straight ahead, with a neutral facial expression
    • Your face has to be fully visible
    • The picture must be good quality (focused, clear, and sharp)
  • Any additional documents, as related to your purpose of travel, such as:
    • A work contract, stating your salary, the duration of your employment, and your position, if you’re going to work in a Japanese company
    • Documents proving family relationship, if you will join a family member in Japan
    • A letter of admission into a Japanese educational institution, if you are an international student
  • A document proving the status of your sponsor and that they are eligible to apply on your behalf.

Your sponsor also has to include a self-addressed envelope with enough stamps to cover the delivery of the Certificate of Eligibility.

See the supporting documents for a Japan Visa application.

How Much is the Fee for a Japan Certificate of Eligibility Application?

The Japan Certificate of Eligibility is free of charge. As such, your sponsor/representative does not have to pay a processing fee for your COE.

You do, however, have to pay a fee when you receive the Japan Visa prior to entering Japan. The fees for Japan visas are as follows:

  • Single-entry visa: 3,000 Yen
  • Double-entry or multiple-entry visa: 6,000 Yen
  • Transit Visa: 700 Yen

How Long Does it Take to Process an Application for the Japan Certificate of Eligibility?

The process for obtaining a Japan Certificate of Eligibility can take anywhere from one to three months. You cannot apply for the visa until you have received your COE, so make sure you start the application process well in advance.

How to Apply for a Japan Visa?

Once you have your Certificate of Eligibility, you have to submit it along with the other required documents to the Japan Embassy or Consulate responsible for your jurisdiction. Once the Embassy or Consulate processed your visa application, if it is positive, you have about three months to enter Japan.

See a detailed explanation of the Japanese Visa application process.

In most cases, if you have a Certificate of Eligibility, you will also likely get an entrance visa as well, but it is not absolutely certain.

The Japan Landing Permit

Once you get the visa and arrive in Japan, the Immigration officers at the point of entry will review the visa and if they consider you meet the entry requirements, they will give you a Landing Permit. If you have a single-entry visa, it will become invalid once you get the Landing Permit, whereas a multiple-entry visa with a longer validity remains valid even after you get the Landing Permit.

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