For the last few years, almost everyone I know has either visited Japan or is planning to go. Japan has suddenly become the ‘IT’ place for travelers.
From the slopes of Mount Fuji to the templed streets of Kyoto, visitors are flocking to Japan’s hotspots, using their JR Passes to map out the length and breadth of the country, getting charmed by Sakura, and swiping their credit cards on cosmetics, sushi and high-tech toilet seats.
Whatever their reason for visiting, Japan is swiftly climbing to the top of tourists’ travel list.
The relatively favorable strength of the Yen, the fact that it’s getting easier to obtain a visa, and Government initiatives such as “Cool Japan” and “Omotenashi” seem to be working their magic and luring globe-trotters to experience all that Japan has to offer.
So, if you too are thinking of visiting Japan, but are puzzled on how to go about the visa process, then this post is for you.
Steps for getting a visa for Japan
Step #1: WHERE to Start?
Residents from 67 Countries and Regions may enter Japan without a visa for short periods of time. If you are not from one of these 67 countries, then you have no option but to apply for a Japanese Visa. Visit the Japanese Embassy’s website to download the Application Form and Checklist which varies depending on the purpose of your visit. If applying from India, visit the VFS website. If applying from any other country, visit the Japanese Embassy’s website for your country such as the Philippines.
Step #2: WHAT Documents to Submit?
Getting a Japanese Visa is no big deal if you have the required documentation in place. Before applying for a Visitor’s Visa ensure that you have the following documents:
- A valid Passport (with more than two blank pages). Please submit your old passports also, if you have any.
- A photocopy of the Bio Data Page of your current Passport (First and Last Page)
- A fully completed and signed Japan Visa Application Form.
- A Cover Letter stating the purpose of your visit or requesting a Multiple-Entry Visa. In my Cover Letter I shared my Travel Blogger credentials and noted my interest in visiting Japan on multiple occasions (i.e. Multiple-Entries)
- A photograph taken within the last 6 months. The photograph should be 2 x 2 inches (45×45 mm, or 35×45 mm) in size and it should be in color with a white background. The quality of the image should be good and be a reflection of your true appearance.
- A confirmed travel booking that includes the day-to-day details of your trip in terms of where you will be staying (Travel itinerary and Hotel booking)
- An original Bank Statement covering the last six months or a Bank Certificate mentioning your average bank balance. Obtain this a day or two prior to document submission. Your account should have at least 150,000 INR or 100,000 Php (about 2,200 USD) to cover your planned trip. Make sure that your account balance doesn’t give an impression that large funds have been transferred purely for the purposes of obtaining a visa.
- A copy of your latest Income Tax Return. In case you don’t have an ITR to show, you’ll need to provide an explanation letter with other supporting documentation. Along with my letter, I submitted my salary slips and Form 2305 (tax deduction form), which was provided to me by my office.
- If the applicant is employed:
- Certificate of Employment from employer / NOC / Leave Sanctioned
- A statement of earnings for the last six months
- If the applicant is Student / Dependent
- Consent from parents / guardian
- Parents / guardian’s original Bank Statement covering the last six months
- Latest Income Tax Return for parents / guardian
- If the applicant is the owner of a company
· Proof of ownership (e.g. Director Identification Number approval issued from Ministry of Corporate Affairs or proprietorship document issued from bank or Import export license)
· Company bank statement
- Proof of Relationship, in the case that the applicant will be accompanied by a dependent, i.e. Passport copy, Marriage Certificate, Birth Certificate.
Step #3: HOW to Submit the Application?
The Japanese Embassy has accredited travel partners in each country within which it functions. For instance, in India it has VFS on board and in the Philippines it has 7 accredited agencies. You can submit the required documents along with the visa fees (cash only) – (e.g., 1090 INR in India or 1200 Php for Foreigners applying from Philippines).
Since I was applying from the Philippines, I used Discovery Tours. They were very efficient and helpful and really went out of their way to ensure good service. They even agreed to check my documents before document submission, which was not included in their services.
Step #4: WHEN to Collect Your Passport?
Japan, like their bullet trains, is very fast when it comes to the visa process. After three days you can collect your passport. I submitted my application on Saturday and got my visa on Tuesday. The icing on the cake was getting a Multi-Visit 5 Year Visa. I wasn’t expecting it since I was applying for the first time but I guess having travelled to many G7 countries in the past three years and having sufficient financial capacity to fund my trip convinced them to grant me a multi-visit 5 year visa.
To collect your passport, you have to visit the accredited agency through which you applied and provide them with your original invoice receipt that was provided at the time of application submission. A representative can also collect it on your behalf so long as you provide them with an authorization letter, a copy of you your ID, as well as your original invoice cum receipt. You can also get your Passport via courier. You just need to provide the Original invoice cum receipt at the time of receipt.
Even after traveling frequently around the world, visas still scare me. But I am so glad that the Japanese Visa process was so smooth. I hope it is the same for you!
(Nihon de anata o sanshō shite kudasai – see you in Japan!)
PS: This post is based on my personal experience. The visa outcome can vary depending upon your situation.