Travelling to Japan

travelling to Japan
Updated 2022-12-02 07:52

What has changed in Japan since the Covid pandemic? Can anyone travel there again? How to organize a short- or long-term stay in Japan? Here is a summary of the steps to take to travel to the Land of the Rising Sun with peace of mind.

Suspension of visa exemption in Japan

Before the Covid pandemic, countries that signed a "reciprocal visa agreement" with Japan enjoyed visa exemption. If you are a national of one of these countries, you could come to Japan for a short stay (less than 3 months) without a visa.

Since the reopening of the borders for tourist groups as of June 10, 2022, every visitor must have a visa, even if they only stay a few days or weeks in Japan. The measure applies to nationals from 98 countries.

Getting a tourist visa for Japan

To get a visa, you must be part of a group of travelers (organized group) and buy your ticket from a travel agency approved by Japanese authorities. The agency will sponsor you and apply for your visa through the ERFS (Entrants, Returnees, Follow-up System) procedure.

To complete the rest of the process, you need to go to the nearest Japanese Consulate with your valid passport, a photocopy of the first two pages of your passport (with your identity information), a consular form, a passport-size photo, and your Uketsuke Zumisho (Certificate for Complexion of Registration to the ERFS system).

Regarding health rules, you still need to provide a negative PCR test dated less than 72 hours before the flight. Vaccination is not mandatory, but it is strongly recommended. There is no more arrival test or isolation. You will need to have international health insurance to cover Covid-related costs. You will need to wear a mask indoors and outdoors and be accompanied by a guide for your trip.

Long-term stay in Japan

As of March 1, 2022, students and workers can travel to Japan again. The main long-term visas are the student visa, the WHP (work vacation permit) and the work visa.

Student visa in Japan

The student visa allows you to come and study in Japan for one year, and it may be renewed. To obtain this type of visa, you must be sponsored by a Japanese institution (language school, university) which will issue you a Certificate of Eligibility (CoE). Once you have your CoE, go to the Embassy of Japan with a visa application form, a passport-size photo, your passport and its photocopy, the original of your CoE, a Uketsuke Zumisho (Certificate for Completion of Registration to the ERFS system), and a proof of residence, unless you are a citizen of the European Union.

Students must also fill out a confirmation of entry into Japan; the same document must be filled out by their host institution. This document is available for download on the website of your Embassy and on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. The Embassy will keep your passport and will return it to you when your visa is ready (3 to 6 working days). Depending on your country of origin, you may be exempted from the visa fee.

The student visa gives you the right to work in Japan within the limit of 28 hours per week, with a ban on jobs in the nightlife industry.

Work visa in Japan 

There are several types of work visas in Japan. They are mainly intended for teachers, researchers, engineers, artists, entrepreneurs, diplomats, and missionaries, amongst others. Apply for the one that corresponds to your profile.

The procedures are similar to those for a student visa. Your employer needs to sponsor you and issue you the CoE. Depending on your profile (diplomas, years of experience, employment sector), you can obtain a work visa for one year or more. The strongest and longest visas (3 to 5 years from the first application) are the "High skilled visas". They are reserved for professionals who are highly qualified in their field.

Working Holiday Visa in Japan

The Japan Working Holiday Visa is a non-renewable visa that allows you to stay in Japan for one year. It is subject to an age limit of 30 years old maximum at the date of application. Japan does not grant any waiver regarding age. Also, check if your country is eligible for a WHV in Japan. 

The procedure to obtain a WHV in Japan is similar to that of a student visa. Regarding the sponsor, the Covid pandemic has added a constraint. The applicant must find a sponsor who agrees to issue a Uketsuke Zumisho (Certificate for Completion of Registration to the ERFS system). 

In addition to these documents, you will need to provide a bank statement proving that you can support yourself in Japan. You should either have a minimum balance of 4500 euros or 4600 dollars or 3100 euros (3169 dollars) your round-trip air ticket a copy of the debited account used to purchase your ticket. The Embassy does not recommend the air ticket option, as the purchase of a ticket does not guarantee that you will get the visa.

How to benefit from the WHP in Japan?

First, you will need to write a cover letter explaining your interest in Japan and what motivates your trip. Ideally, you should always write in English. The WHV program requires a long document in which you need to chronologically describe the reasons for your trip and all the details about your stay in Japan. This includes the cities where you will be staying, your accommodation options in Japan, the places you will be visiting, the jobs you will be seeking, the studies you will be pursuing, etc. Write everything down, and don't forget to include the cost of each item and your financial sources. For example, write down the websites where you will look for a job in Japan. If you plan to study for a while in a language school, indicate which school you have chosen.

Be careful not to confuse WHV, work visa and student visa. If the Embassy notices that your program is too oriented toward work or studies, your visa application can be refused.

Arrival and stay in Japan

Welcome to Japan! Your new adventure starts at the airport. Before enjoying the charms of your host country, you will first need to go through customs. Your resident card (WHV, student, employee) will also be created at the airport. Japanese authorities recommend that you always keep your resident card with you. Thanks to their passport, tourists will benefit from VAT exemption in the businesses that practice it. This is a great way to make beautiful memories in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Useful links:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

Japan Immigration Bureau

VAT exemption in Japan

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