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Complete guide to obtaining a Japanese tourist visa, the required documents, and FAQs

If you intend to visit Japan for tourism purposes you will likely need a Japan Tourist Visa.

Japan is one of the most-visited countries in the world, receiving millions of tourists every year, who travel to see its mix of modernism, culture, history, and nature.

Out of those tourists, many had to apply for a Tourist Visa before they could travel there, although not everyone needs a Tourist Visa for Japan.

This article will detail the Japan Tourist Visa, including the application process, required documents, and other frequently asked questions.

Who Needs a Tourist Visa for Japan?

You need a Japan Tourist Visa if you want to enter Japan for tourism purposes, for a visit to family or friends, or other recreational and short-term purposes that do not require you to engage in paid activities.

Citizens of most countries in the world have to apply for a Japan Tourist Visa. There is, however, a list of countries whose nationals are free from Japan visa requirements for stays of up to 90 days.  This means that as long as the citizens of those countries (which includes EU countries, the USA, Australia, the UK, etc), do not have to apply for a visa for Japan if they are traveling for tourism, visits, or other recreational and short-term purposes.

What Documents Do I Need for a Japan Tourist Visa Application?

When you submit a Japanese Tourist Visa application, you need to have several supporting documents. The Japan Tourist Visa requirements are:

  • Japan Tourist Visa Application Form, completed and signed. You can download a copy of the application form from the website of the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (here). Complete all the fields. If one does not apply to you, write “N/A” rather than leave it blank.
  • Your passport, which must be valid for at least another six months and have at least two blank pages for the visa to be affixed in.
  • Passport-size pictures of yourself, with the following specifications:
    • Dimensions: 4.5cm x 4.5cm
    • White background
    • Taken in the last six months
    • You must be staring straight ahead, with a neutral facial expression
    • Your entire face has to be visible
    • Your name and birthdate have to be written on the back
  • Flight Itinerary. Include a detailed plan of your arrival and departure dates, flight reservation number (you don’t have to actually purchase the ticket), your name, etc.
  • Daily Itinerary. You have to include an itinerary of your daily activities in Japan. You can find a sample itinerary for Japan Visa at the website of the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affair (here).
    • If you have a guarantor in Japan:
      • Invitation Letter from the Guarantor
      • If they will help finance your stay: Letter of Guarantee and their Income Certificate issued within the last three months
  • Residence Certificate, if they are a foreign resident of Japan
  • If you are financing your own trip: Bank Statements from the last three months
  • Your latest Income Tax Returns (if you do not have an ITR, you may be able to submit a letter explaining the reason why).
  • If you are visiting someone (friend or family) include proof of relationship, such as:
    • For relatives/family members: civil status documents, such as birth or marriage certificates
    • For friends: Pictures together, receipts, phone call details, and a letter explaining your relationship
  • If you are employed: No Objection Certificate or a Letter of Employment from your employer.
  • Civil status documents (as required): Birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc.

How to Get a Japan Tourist Visa?

You have to apply for a Japan Tourist Visa from a Representative Office of Japan abroad (Embassy or Consulate) or through an accredited travel agency. The process for a Japan Tourist Visa application can be summed up as follows:

  1. Contact the Japanese Embassy/Consulate to make an appointment for the submission of the application.
    • Some Japanese Embassies do not accept individual applications, however, so you have to apply through a travel agency. The agency will submit the application at the Embassy or Consulate on your behalf.
  2. Gather the required documents for a Japan visa (see them below)
  3. Submit the documents at the Embassy/Consulate or the travel agency.
  4. Wait for the visa to be processed. This will usually take 5 working days, starting from the day the Japanese Representative Office receives your completed application.
  5. Collect your passport Embassy/Consulate/travel agency. If the application has been approved, your visa will be affixed and you can use it to travel to Japan within three months.

Getting the Japan Landing Permit

Once you arrive in Japan, the Immigration officers at the point of entry will review your Japan Tourist Visa and the documents which prove your purpose of stay, and they will give you a Landing Permit.

Once you get the Landing Permit, your Japan Tourist Visa will become invalid. It is the Landing Permit (which is stamped on your passport) that allows you to legally enter and stay in Japan for the duration it is issued.

How Long Does it Take to Process a Japanese Tourist Visa?

The processing time for a Japanese Tourist Visa is five working days, starting from the day that the Embassy or Consulate receives your completed application. This time could be extended if they have to send your application for further examination to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo or if they ask you for additional documents.

So, you have to make sure to start the application well in advance of the time you intend to travel to avoid delays.

How Much is the Japan Tourist Visa Fee?

The fees for Japan visas are as follows:

  • For a single-entry visa: 3,000 Yen
  • For a  double-entry or multiple-entry visa: 6,000 Yen
  • For a transit visa: 700 Yen

You only have to pay a visa fee if your application is approved.

Keep in mind:

If you apply through an approved travel/visa application agency, they will charge you for a service fee.

The fees for Japan Tourist Visas can change depending on the local currency or your nationality.

What is the Duration of a Japan Tourist Visa?

A Japan Tourist Visa is issued for a maximum duration of 90 days, usually for a single entry. You can spend up to 15 days in the country once you enter via the Tourist Visa.

Can I Extend a Japan Tourist Visa?

In most cases, no, you cannot. The Immigration Offices in Japan do not normally extend Tourist Visas beyond their validity. Tourist Visas would only be extended in extreme cases, such as a sudden illness or an accident.

You can only get a Japan Visa Extension for the types of visas that are issued for long-term stays.

Can I Apply for a Japan Tourist Visa Online?

No, for the moment, you cannot apply online for any of the Japan visas. The Japanese government planned to launch an online system to accept Japan Tourist Visa applications starting in April 2020. The main reason behind the launch was to facilitate the application system for Japan Tourist Visas ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games. However, because of the unprecedented situation with the coronavirus pandemic, the Olympics were postponed to 2021, whereas it is unknown yet when the online system will launch.

Can I Work With a Japan Tourist Visa?

No, you cannot. You are not allowed to engage in any sort of remunerated activity in Japan while you are there on a Tourist Visa. This type of visa is only issued for tourism, visits, and recreational purposes.

If you want to work in Japan, you need a Japan Work Visa.

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