The Working Holiday Visa for Japan

japan visa
Updated 2022-10-02 14:25

Japan has something to appeal to almost every type of traveler. Are you dying to explore Japanese history and culture, taste Japanese cuisine or take a ride on the lightning-fast Shinkansen trains? With the WHV program in Japan, you can enjoy the adventure around every corner, taking your time and having a small job to help finance your trip.

Let's not forget the natural hot springs, the superb Japanese cuisine (sushi lovers should be delighted!), the advanced technology, the manga and anime, the very famous Studio Ghibli, the karaoke, the unique and truly original hotels, the fashion, etc. And beyond all that, Japan is, above all, a safe country where the crime rate is very low.

Indeed, this country has something to appeal to almost every type of traveler. Are you dying to explore Japanese history and culture, taste Japanese cuisine or take a ride on the lightning-fast Shinkansen trains? With the WHV program in Japan, you can enjoy the adventure around every corner, taking your time and having a small job to help finance your trip.

In this article, we will explain the requirements to make your Working Holiday Visa application in Japan go as smoothly as possible and to make your stay a great one!

How to be eligible for the Working Holiday Visa in Japan?

Here are the conditions that you must take into consideration in order to be eligible for the WHV program in Japan:

1. Your nationality

Japan is probably the country that has signed the most agreements in the world. Indeed, nationals from the following 26 countries are allowed to go on a WHV to the Land of the Rising Sun:

Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Korea, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Iceland, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Sweden, Estonia and the Netherlands.

However, it is not enough for you to live in one of these countries to be eligible for the WHV in Japan. While having the nationality is crucial, you also have to be living there at the time of your application.

2. Your age

You must have reached the age of majority at the time of your application — this means you must be at least 18 years old for your application to be considered. For all agreements except applicants from Iceland, the age limit is 30. This means that you have until the day before your 31st birthday to apply. If you are from Iceland, the age limit is 26, and you can apply until the eve of your 27th birthday. But you are advised not to wait until the last minute.

3. Having a valid passport

You must have a valid passport when you apply for a WHV in Japan. Your passport must also be valid for a minimum of 12 months after your entry into Japan and have blank pages. Indeed, the blank pages are necessary for your Japanese WHV visa to be affixed and for the stamps to be placed on it when you enter and leave the country.

Good to know:

We strongly recommend that participants who have received their visas be extremely careful with their passports. Once lost, the process of reissuing the passport and a new WHV visa for Japan could be really long and difficult, and it could completely change your plans.

4. Having sufficient savings / minimum budget

Let's face it - Japan is a very expensive country to live in (see below in the paragraph on the cost of living in Japan), and you simply cannot go there empty-handed. To receive a permit to go to Japan on a WHV, you will need to have a budget (for food, accommodation, travel expenses, etc.), at least for the beginning of your stay in Japan. You will need to have at least €3,100 in your bank account. You will need to prove that you have this amount with an official receipt from your bank.

5. Having a health insurance policy

Health insurance in Japan is not compulsory. But as we explained above, Japan is a country where life is not cheap. So imagine being there and something bad happens; you have to be treated in a hospital or even repatriated - the cost of treatment could be prohibitive!

Therefore, it's strongly recommended that you have proper health coverage for all cases of illness, hospitalization, disability, repatriation, and even maternity.

Good to know:

It is compulsory to have a Japanese social security subscription which is managed by the municipality — this is something you will have to do once you have arrived in Japan. This social security does not cost much for those who arrive in the country as they do not yet have a job and, therefore, no income. Social security only covers part of the care you may need. The rest will always be at your expense.

6. First-time participation

Only one participation is allowed per participant - regardless of their country of origin. You must not have been on a WHV in Japan in the past.

Good to know:

Have you ever been on a WHV in another country? If so, this will not be a problem and will not affect your WHV application in Japan.

7. The quota per country

When a WHV agreement is signed between two countries, a quota is usually set so that the receiving country can control the number of visas granted per year and the number of participants who enter its territory each year. In the case of Japan and past WHV agreements, the number of places allocated per country is as follows:

  • Australia - no limit allocated
  • New Zealand - no limit allocated
  • Canada - 6,500 places allocated per year
  • South Korea - 10,000 places awarded per year
  • France - 1,800 places allocated per year
  • Germany - no limit allocated
  • the United Kingdom - 1 000 places allocated per year
  • Ireland - 800 places allocated per year
  • Denmark - no limit allocated
  • Taiwan - 10 000 places allocated per year
  • Hong Kong - 1 500 places allocated per year
  • Norway - no limit allocated
  • Portugal - no limit allocated
  • Poland - 500 places allocated per year
  • Slovakia - 400 places awarded per year
  • Austria - 200 places allocated per year
  • Hungary - 200 places allocated per year
  • Spain - 500 places allocated per year
  • Argentina - 200 places awarded per year
  • Chile - 200 places awarded per year
  • Iceland - 30 places awarded per year
  • Czech Republic - 400 places awarded per year
  • Lithuania - 100 places allocated per year
  • Sweden - no limit allocated
  • Estonia - no limit allocated
  • the Netherlands - 200 places awarded per year

Good to know:

If your country does not offer many places to go to Japan for a WHV and you want to have more chances to be accepted, you are advised to apply at the beginning of the year as the quotas are reset on January 1st every year.

8. Purchasing air tickets

In the case of the WHV in Japan, you will have to prove to the Japanese government that you are able to buy a return ticket. You will have two options:

  1. Buy a return ticket (for a minimum of 6 months) with a changeable return date.
  2. Present proof that you have a minimum of €4,500 in your account, instead of the €3,100 mentioned above in the "Having Savings" section. The Embassy of Japan recommends this solution.

9. Having a clean criminal record

A clean criminal record is required to receive the green light to go on a WHV in Japan. This means that you must not have committed any crime for your application to be considered by the Japanese government. To access your criminal record, contact the Ministry of Justice or the Federal Police in your country.

10. Duration and cost of the visa

The WHV visa is valid for 12 months and will be activated the moment you set foot in Japan. You will also have 12 months to travel to Japan once you have received the visa. The visa application is free of charge in most countries. Your WHV visa will also allow you to go out and come back to Japan as many times as you like, but you will still need to notify Japanese customs that you are coming back.

Good to know:

If you apply for a WHV for Japan, you are not allowed to take your dependents with you. You will not be able to bring your children with you to Japan, for example. If you want to go on a WHV to Japan with your partner or with fellow students, you will all have to apply separately, and each application will be processed separately. Each person will, of course, need to be eligible under the conditions mentioned in this article.

How to apply for a Japan WHV?

When applying for a Japan WHV, you will need the following documents:

  • A valid passport - A scan of the identity pages of your passport will be required (the part that contains your personal information), and two blank pages (to show that you have room to put the visa and new stamps).
  • A color photo without filters or retouching, in passport size 3.5 x 4.5 cm, preferably with a white background.
  • A letter of motivation - English is recommended for this letter.
  • A plan of stay - English is recommended for this letter which should explain how you plan to spend your WHV in Japan, with details of the areas you intend to visit.
  • A CV.
  • Proof of sufficient funds - a bank statement for the last three months or a credit card statement showing the credit limit should do the trick. This will need to show that you have sufficient funds to cover return airfares and expenses while in Japan (see above under 'Having savings').
  • Airline tickets
  • Medical insurance policy quotation, including the global indemnity, valid for at least one year from the date of entry.
  • A clean criminal record
  • A medical certificate that is less than one month old.

To submit your application, you must go in person to the Japanese embassy or consulate in your country.

Planning your move to Japan

1. The cost of living in Japan

Before traveling to Japan, we recommend that you have an idea of the cost of living in order to prepare your budget.

Here is a table that will give you an idea of the cost of living in Japan - (source Numbeo; as of August 2022):


Currency: US Dollars (USD)



1-bedroom flat (in the city center)


1-bedroom flat (outside the city center)


3-bedroom flat (city center)

1 439,83

3-bedroom flat (outside the city center)




Water, electricity, air conditioning, heating, waste collection for an 85m² apartment


Internet (60 Mbps or more, ADSL/cable, unlimited data)




1 ticket (one way) for local transport


Monthly pass for local transport




Rice (1 kg)


Milk (1 L)


12 eggs (normal size)


Bread (500 g)


Chicken (1 kg)


Red meat (1 kg)


Oranges (1 kg)


Bananas (1 kg)


Apples (1 kg)


Potatoes (1 kg)


Onions (1 kg)


Water (1.5 L)


Wine (mid-range bottle)


Local beer (0.5 L)


Imported beer (0.33 L)


Cigarettes (pack of 20)




Movie theatre - 1 seat


Sports club - monthly cost for 1 person


2. Looking for accommodation in Japan

Although Airbnb remains one of the web's favorite accommodation search platforms, Japan offers so many more accommodation options that it would be a shame not to check them out.

Youth hostels, sharehouses (a private room in a building with a shared bathroom and kitchen), Ryokan (typical Japanese style hostels), capsule hotels (a mini capsule with a TV and a bed), or Manga Kissa (for manga fans! This is a manga-style café where it is also possible to rent a small private cubicle with a bed and where the toilets and showers are shared).

3. Looking for work in Japan

Please note that it is strictly forbidden for WHV participants in Japan to work in bars, cabarets, nightclubs, gambling establishments (casinos, gambling clubs, etc.), and other places that offend public morality in Japan. If a participant works in any of these areas, it will be considered a violation of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, and they will be deported.

WHV participants most often opt for "baito", small jobs that pay around 7-8 euros per hour. These are small jobs in Japan in restaurants, cafes, factories or simply handing out leaflets.

Giving language lessons (English, French or Spanish for example) pays much more, approximately 20 euros per hour.

4. Learning the Japanese language

Obviously, if you don't speak Japanese, things may be complicated for you during your stay. We, therefore, recommend that you take Japanese lessons before you leave. Think of applications such as Babbel, Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, or Memrise.

First steps to take upon your arrival in Japan

WHV Japan participants will need to go to the municipal office closest to their place of residence and inform the Ministry of Justice of their place of residence within 14 days of arrival in the country. Please see the Japan Immigration Bureau website for more details.

It is also important that you obtain your "Zairyu card" on arrival. This is the resident card - any foreigner who intends to stay in Japan for more than 90 days must have it for the entire duration of their stay.

Useful link:

Website of the Immigration Bureau of Japan

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.