Japan's Visa Policy - All You Need To Know

So, you wanna come to Japan! Depending on the length and purpose of stay, many of you will need to obtain a visa before you can hop on the plane. Here are a few things you should know about Japan’s visa policy before your visit.
Do I Need A Visa?
Depending on your home country you might not need a visa -- Photo by Paul Davidson
First things first. Let’s find out if you even need a visa to visit Japan. If you’re from a country of the European Union, North America, or Mexico, you’re in luck! You are free to travel in Japan for up to 90 days without any paperwork. Some countries, including Germany, Mexico, the UK, Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein, can apply for an extension and stay an additional six months. Nationals of countries like Thailand, Brunei, Indonesia are only allowed to travel for 15 days without a visa. If you’re a Taiwanese citizen, be sure to obtain a Personal Identification Number, and if you're from Turkey, Thailand, Malaysia, Serbia or Barbados, you'll need biometric passports in order to travel visa-free.
If you’re planning to stay in Japan for a longer period of time, however, you will definitely need a visa, regardless of your nationality. Which one you need depends on the length and purpose of your stay. Here are the most common types:
Working Holiday Visa
Travel Japan while earning some money on the side with the working holiday visa -- Photo by Nathan Hosken
Perfect for people who want to earn a little money while exploring Japan, the working holiday visa allows anyone between the age of 18 and 30 to travel a year through Japan with the possibility of working as a part-timer. As with most visas, there are a few requirements for obtaining one. You need to:
  • Prove that you have sufficient funds to support yourself
  • Fill out the required form
  • Submit a CV
  • Register at the embassy of your home country upon arrival in Japan
However, only citizens of the following countries are eligible to apply for a working holiday visa: France, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, UK, Ireland, Portugal, Denmark, Norway, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. 
For more information, check out the website of the Japanese Association for Working Holiday Makers (JAWHM).
Student Visa
 
Enjoy a student's life in Japan -- Photo from www.sdm.keio.ac.jp
If you’re a student and would like to study in Japan for longer than three months, you can apply for a student visa. Usually, your study abroad program or the Japanese university you are applying for should be able to help you with the paperwork. However, be aware that with this visa you won’t be allowed to work in Japan--not even part-time. If you need to do so in order to support yourself, you can get a special permission from the local immigration office.
Temporary Visitor’s Visa
A temporary visitor's visa is actually quite easy to obtain -- Photo from www.goodschools.com
If you’re a national of one of the countries mentioned above that don’t have an exemption agreement with Japan, you will need to apply for a temporary visitor’s visa if you intend to stay for a longer period of time. This visa--called tani-tazai in Japanese--is actually quite easy to obtain. All you need is a valid passport, the application form and a return ticket to your home country.
Work Visa
Dive into the Japanese business world -- Photo from www.gettyimages.co.jp
If you have come to stay, then you might want to apply for a work visa. Depending on your field of work, you will be given a different one. In total, there are 14 different types. Not a requirement, but definitely a big help when trying to move to Japan for work is a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from the company or organization that is sponsoring your move. A COE will tremendously reduce the time required to obtain a visa and complete immigration procedures. With or without the certificate, your employer will have to submit several forms to the Immigration Bureau. This includes a registration form, profit-loss report, and general company information. Your part is to hand in your employment contract, degree, and CV. Once the application procedure is completed, you’ll most likely obtain your work visa, which may be issued for lengths between two months to several years. If you would like to stay in Japan for longer, you can try to apply for an extension shortly before it expires.
No matter whether for work or travel, pick a visa (or not) and experience this beautiful country!
Plan your trip to Japan!