Visas for Japan: What Travelers Need to Know

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In the excitement of finding cheap flights and planning trips to temples and sumo matches, it's easy to forget mundane things like checking your visa requirements for your trip to Japan. Pasqualina shares her tips on visa requirements for Japan.


Japanese young woman looking at Kyoto Hyakumanben Chionji Temple Garden Photo © iStock/Kavuto

Visas can be complicated, time consuming, and in some circumstances, they can be so frustrating that they can almost put you off your trip all together. But never fear – Japanese visas don't have to be confusing, and we've done all the hard work for you.

Japan visas for short visits

Travellers from Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, United States, and some European countries are covered by the 'Reciprocal Visa Exemption Arrangements' with Japan. For holders of these passports, visas are not required to enter the country for a timeframe that is shorter than 90 days. To see if your country is covered, check the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

Travellers covered by this agreement will enter Japan with the status of 'Temporary Visitor', and receive a stamp in their passport. To keep this status while you are in Japan, you must not work or receive money for services, and instead be there as a tourist, visiting family and friends, attending lectures, or participating in other activities which are outlined by the Japan National Tourism Organisation

Japan visas for longer visits

Love Japan so much that you want to stay longer than 90 days? Well, you're in luck – as of the 23rd June 2015, you can stay for up to 12 months in Japan for tourism and recreational purposes under Japan's 'Longer Stays' program. 

The basics are that you need to be over 18, have no accompanying children, have private medical travel insurance, and a certain amount of savings to sustain your trip. You can read more about the specifics here.

Working visas in Japan

If you plan on working in Japan, this requires a different type of visa altogether. As there are 27 different types of visas issued by Japan, it’s impossible to list all of these requirements in this article. 

Be aware, however, that Japanese working visas are only issued to applicants with a high level of knowledge in skilled professions – for example, engineers and business managers. 

Your best bet in getting the best and most accurate advice on working in Japan is to get in touch with your closest Japanese embassy.

Passport requirements

Don't forget your passport! This is more valuable than your ticket overseas. Make sure you remember to check that it is still valid for the duration of your stay; otherwise you will not be allowed to enter the country, regardless of your visa status.

Make sure you check the specific requirements for the type of visa you need and your purposes for staying in Japan – you don't want to be caught out with the wrong kind of visa, because it can be a long and difficult process to change this once you're over there.

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