Citizens of 68 countries, including Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, USA, UK and almost all European nations, will be automatically issued a tanki-taizai (temporary visitor visa) on arrival. Typically, this visa is good for 90 days.
If you are not in the 68 countries, you will need a visa in order to visit Japan. Below is a basic introduction to the Japanese immigration procedures. Please contact your closest Japanese embassy or consulate outside Japan or an immigration bureau inside Japan for official advice.
- Most citizens of western countries do not need a visa in order to go for a holiday in Japan.
- Foreign tourists are required by Japanese law to carry their passports with them at all times.
- All foreigners, including foreign residents, get fingerprinted and photographed upon entering Japan as a measure aimed at preventing terrorism.
- Temporary visitors are allowed to engage in short term studies at Japanese language schools.
- Activities allowed under the "Temporary Visitor" category are sightseeing, visiting friends, attending lectures or business meetings.
Visitors to Japan from most European countries, Australia, New Zealand, United States of America and Singapore are usually issued a 90-day tourist visa for Japan on each entry to the country. Holders of a valid HKSAR (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) passport also are granted visa-free access to Japan for tourism and short-term visits up to 90 days.
If you are a citizen of Austria, Germany, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Switzerland or the United Kingdom, you have the possibility to extend your stay to a total of up to six months. You still initially enter Japan on a 90-day permit, but can then apply for an extension at an immigration bureau in Japan.
Visitors from Brunei and Thailand are issued a 15-day temporary visitor visa upon arrival.
For more information about this: Exemption of Visa (Short-Term Stay)
As stated above, citizens of Austria, Germany, Ireland, Lichtenstein, Mexico, Switzerland and the UK are able to extend the temporary visitor visa once, up to 6 months. To do so, you need to apply at the nearest immigration bureau before the initial visa expires; there is a processing fee of ¥4000.
For other nationalities, extending a temporary visa is difficult unless you have family or business contacts in Japan who can act as a guarantor on your behalf..
Local immigration office throughout Japan: immigration bureaus and offices
If you are not from any of the countries qualifying for visa upon arrival, you should contact the closest Japanese embassy or consulate. Alternatively, you may seek guidance from a certified Japanese immigration specialist.
In the case of short term travel, Japan has general visa requirements as well as particular visa requirements for nationalities that are not in the visa-waiver program.
So, if your country is not listed in the ‘visa-free’ program, you will need a visa in order to visit Japan, below is the visa application procedures.
Visa application procedures: immigration bureaus and offices
FAQ on Visitor Visa
Q: When should I apply for a visa?
A: Applicants should apply as early as possible, keeping in mind the average processing times and their intended date of travel. However, they should not apply before 90 days from the intended date of travel.
Q: What is the processing time for a visa?
A: Under normal circumstances, the visa applications will take a minimum of 3 working days to process, excluding the date of submission, at the Japan Visa Application Centre. This may vary for certain applications and it is at the sole discretion of the Embassy of Japan.
Q: Will I be called for a personal interview?
A: Sometimes applicants may be requested by the Embassy of Japan for a personal interview. These interviews shall take place only at the Embassy of Japan.
Q: How can I check the status of my application?
A: Applicants can check the status of a visa application online, alternatively, applicants can also check the status through a phone call or e-mail directly to the embassy they applied at.
Q: Can I apply again if my visa is refused?
A: The Embassy of Japan does not accept your visa application if your previous application was rejected and you will apply for the same purpose of visit within six months from the rejection.
When visiting Japan, technically, you must be able to show proof of onward/return travel when entering Japan. In practice, immigration officers rarely ask to see this. However, if they were looking for a reason to refuse you entry, this would be an easy way to do so (if indeed you didn’t have an onward ticket).
You should be able to show proof of sufficient funds to travel for the length of your stay in Japan. This could involve a credit card, a large wad of cash or a bank statement. Again, immigration officers rarely ask to see this, but it does not hurt to be prepared.
Entry and Exit Requirements
- You must have a valid passport and an onward/return ticket for tourist/business "visa free" stays of up to 90 days. Your passport must be valid for the entire time you are staying in Japan.
- You cannot work on a 90-day "visa free" entry.
- "Visa free" entry status may not be changed to another visa status without departing and then re-entering Japan with the appropriate visa, such as a spouse, work, or study visa.
- Japanese immigration officers may deny you entry if you appear to have no visible means of support.
- All foreign nationals are required to provide fingerprint scans and to be photographed at the port of entry. Exceptions to this requirement include diplomatic and official visa holders, minors, and individuals covered under SOFA Article IX.2. For further information about landing procedures, please visit the website of the Immigration Bureau of Japan.
If you are caught overstaying your Japan visa you may be detained and confined for an undetermined period before being deported and given an official banning order from re-entering Japan for a period of 5 years.
If you voluntarily appear at an Immigration Office and announce your overstay, you should usually not be detained and you will be issued with a departure order. After being issued a departure order you will be banned from re-entering Japan for a period of one year.
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