Applying for a Visa in Japan



Expatriates who are planning on starting a life in Japan should ensure that they have adequate knowledge about the legal procedures that are associated with moving to another country. Below is a guideline on the different types of visas and permits that are needed when moving to the Land of the Rising Sun. 

As per Japan’s Visa Exemption Agreements, there are about 60 countries listed under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan whose citizens are not required to apply for a permit given that they have valid passports. Those coming from nations that don’t belong to the list must secure a visa regardless if the purpose is for work, studies or residency. However, whether exempted or not, every expat entering the Japanese territory must be fingerprinted and photographed upon arrival. 

Here are the several types of visas that are required from citizens whose home countries are not part of the Japan Visa Exemption Agreements: 


  • Tani-taizai (Temporary Visa) 

Also called as the visitor’s visa, an entry visa is granted to foreign nationals whose purpose for going to Japan is for tourism, research and conferences. This type of permit is valid for a minimum of 15 days to a maximum of three months and can be obtained at any Japanese consulate or embassy before arrival in the country. The applicant must secure several documents such as a valid passport (within the whole duration of stay in Japan), proof of return flight to the home country and duly accomplished application form/s. 

  • Work or Study Visa (Long-Term Visa) 

This type of visa is for those who are planning on staying in Japan for more than 90 days and plans on engaging in any gainful employment. A long term visa is valid for a minimum of six months and can be extended up to one or five years. Work permits are career specific where an intra-company transferee will receive an intra-company transferee visa and so on. There must also be a Certificate of Eligibility from the applicant’s sponsor, which in most cases is the employer, which must be filed at the local immigration office on behalf of the expat. The same thing with a student visa whereas the sponsor will be the University or academic institution in Japan. 

Once in Japan, the expat must also go through the Gai koku Jin toroku (alien registration) at any municipal office along with their passport and most recent photograph to obtain an alien registration card that must be with the holder at all times. 

  • Spouse or Dependent Visa 

Foreign assignees will serve as the sponsor for their spouse or dependents who wish to join them in Japan. Some of the requirements are the marriage and birth certificate. Once the spouse and dependent arrived in the country, they must also apply for their alien registration card within three months of arrival in Japan. Expats who have same-sex partners can also qualify for this type of visa given that their marriage is being honoured in their home country. 


  • Valid Passport
  • At least two recent passport sized photos
  • Certificate of Eligibility (except for temporary visa applicants)
  • Filled out application form/s
  • Marriage and Birth Certificates
  • Proof of financial sustainability while in Japan
  • Proof of Heath Insurance
  • Return ticket (For temporary visa applicants)