Last updated: 13 February 2020
Traveling to Japan as a tourist? Here’s our latest visa application guide with the LIST OF JAPAN VISA REQUIREMENTS and STEP-BY-STEP APPLICATION PROCESS. We added a detailed guide on HOW TO FILL OUT JAPAN VISA APPLICATION FORM. And as a bonus, we also answered some frequently asked questions. Note that this is for those applying as tourists.
Geographically Japan isn’t too far from the Philippines, and a good number of airlines fly to its major cities from Manila. Most Filipinos, however, feel that this amazing East Asian country is far more distant than it actually is. One reason is the visa requirement.
Visas are always a major hurdle for many Filipino travelers. One look at the list of requirements and some already feel intimidated by it. I felt exactly the same when I was new in the travel scene. But over the past few years, the Japanese Embassy has been more forgiving when it comes to visa applications.
Today, getting a Japanese visa is actually quite easy. Here’s a quick step-by-step chronicling of how I got mine.
Important! This visa guide is for those applying for a JAPAN TOURIST VISA (with and without sponsor or guarantor), meaning you will be staying in a hotel and you’re not visiting anyone in Japan. If you’re traveling to visit a friend or relative in Japan, we have a separate post for that. Read: Japan Visa Requirements for Visiting Friends or Relatives
WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
LIST OF JAPAN VISA REQUIREMENTS
1. Philippine passport
- Must have a signature. In new 10-year passports, you’ll find the signature line on page 3 (the page opposite the bio page), just below the big Philippine flag image. In older e-passports, the signature is digitally encoded on the actual bio page.
- Must have at least 2 blank pages. The Japanese embassy attaches a sticker to a page on your passport. Then the Japanese immigration adds an entry sticker on another page upon arrival.
- Must have at least 6 months validity. The standard immigration practice is to reject passports with validity shorter than 6 months. In cases like these, you will not be allowed to exit the Philippines or enter Japan.
- Must be in good condition. Broken and unreadable passports are not accepted.
2. A duly accomplished visa application form.
- You may download it from here.
- Handwritten and computerized are both accepted.
- Don’t leave any field blank. If a field is not applicable to you, write N/A.
- Print the form on an A4-size paper. Other sizes will be rejected. No, legal (long) and letter (short) sizes are not allowed. Only A4.
- Use a black pen or font. Do not use pencil or one of those erasable pens.
- Avoid erasures. If it can’t be helped, use double line (2 strikethroughs). If there are too many erasures, start over. Never ever use correction tape or liquid.
- If you need help accomplishing the form, we have a guide in another section below.
3. ID picture
- Size: 4.5cm x 3.5 cm
- White background
- Must have been taken within the past 6 months.
- Write your name and birthdate on the back side.
- Paste it on the designated area on the application form. DO NOT STAPLE.
4. Birth certificate from PSA
- Must be issued within the past one year from PSA Main Office or Serbilis Outlet Center (Nationwide). NO, certificates older than one year are NOT ACCEPTED.
- If the birth certificate is marked LATE REGISTRATION, you must also submit Baptismal certificate, School Record (Form 137), and School Yearbook (if applicable). The address of the church or school must be indicated in the documents.
5. Marriage certificate from PSA
- Only if you’re married. If you’re single, ignore this one.
- Must be issued within the past one year from PSA Main Office or Serbilis Outlet Center (Nationwide).
6. Daily schedule in Japan
- This is your daily itinerary in Japan.
- Download the format here.
- Must be printed on an A4-size paper.
- It doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s what mine looked like: Sample Japan Itinerary
7. Accomplished list of Visa Applicants
- Only if traveling as family/group. If you’re applying alone, no need to submit this.
- You must have a REPRESENTATIVE APPLICANT, who will be the key person in your application. For example, if you’re applying as a family, one of the parents can be the representative. If one of the applicants/travelers will be sponsoring the rest of the group, that person can also be the representative.
- In the “relationship with the inviting person and guarantor” field, write N/A if you’re applying as a tourist. Fill this in only if you’re visiting friends or relatives in Japan.
- You can download the form here.
- Must be printed on an A4-size paper.
In addition, you also need to provide the following financial and employment documents. There is a separate set of requirements for those with guarantor from those who will shoulder their own expenses.
Additional Requirements if WITHOUT Guarantor
If you will shoulder part or all of your travel expenses, you must provide the following:
- Income tax return (ITR Form 2316). They need a clear photocopy of it.
- Bank certificate. Must be issued within the past 3 months. I’m not sure if they require a receipt, but I submitted the receipt too. To be safe, when you get your bank certificate, ask for a receipt too. There’s no telling how big a fund is “enough” to get approved, but (in case you’re wondering) my account had only a bit north of P100,000. I planned on staying for a week. I didn’t encounter any problem.
Although a Certificate of Employment is no longer on the list of requirements, we still recommend that you provide one showing your start date, salary, and contact persons, especially if you have an irregular ITR (not covering the complete year or issued by your previous employer).
If for some reason, you can’t provide a specific document, you may write a letter explaining why you can’t and submit supporting documents instead. For example, if you don’t have a current ITR because you’re new at your job or you’re working abroad, you can provide copies of invoice or payslip or other tax forms. That’s what I did in one of my applications and they accepted it.
Additional Requirements if WITH Guarantor
If a guarantor will sponsor your trip, you will need to provide the following additional documents. Note that this only applies if the guarantor lives in the Philippines:
- Guarantee Letter. Must explain your guarantor’s relationship to you and their contact details.
- Proof of relationship between applicant and guarantor. For example, if the guarantor is a parent or a close relative, submit their birth certificate too.
- Bank Certificate (original) of the Guarantor
- Photocopy of the Income Tax Return (ITR Form 2316) of the Guarantor
Again, documents to be printed out must be done on an A4-size paper. Other sizes will not be accepted.
All birth certificates must be issued within the past year by PSA Main Office or Serbilis Center.
Update: NCov Questionnaire / Form
On 3 February 2020, the Japanese Embassy in Manila announced that visa applicants must answer and submit an additional questionnaire in accordance to the Japanese government’s decision to impose restrictions on travelers who have recently visited areas heavily affected by COVID-19.
All applicants must accomplish and submit this form, in addition to the other requirements.
HOW TO APPLY FOR A JAPAN VISA
- Complete the requirements, as listed above.
- Find an accredited travel agency. Except very special cases, the Japanese Embassy doesn’t accept direct applications. They must be coursed through any of their accredited agencies. You will find their very limited list of accredited agencies right here.
- Submit the documents. Go to your chosen travel agency in the morning or as early as you can. These days, Japan travel is so popular, queues can be so long it can sometimes eat up your entire day.
- Pay the Processing Fee. In reality, the visa is FREE, but the agency will charge a processing fee. The rates vary, but it’s usually between P800 – P1600 depending on the agency.
- Wait for your visa. After you have submitted everything to the travel agency, there’s nothing left to do but to wait and hope for the best. If they encounter any problem (e.g. additional requirements), they will let you know. Thus, you must apply not so close to your date of travel. Visa processing normally takes 3-5 days, but sometimes up to 7 working days. For others, it takes weeks. The first time I applied, I received my visa 5 days later. The second time, it took them only 2 days.
Depending on your arrangement with the agency, your passport with the visa (if approved) either will be mailed to you or must be claimed at their office.
That’s pretty much everything! Good luck and enjoy the Land of the Rising Sun!
HOW TO FILL OUT THE JAPAN VISA APPLICATION FORM FOR TOURISTS
We get a lot of questions about the various sections of the application form so we decided to make this guide to help you accomplish it without problem.
Before anything else, take note of these general guidelines:
- THESE SAMPLES ARE FOR TOURISTS. This won’t apply if you’re visiting a relative or a friend. Check this out instead: Japan Visa for Visiting Friends/Relatives.
- Print the application form on an A4 paper only. Other sizes are not accepted.
- Fill out the form either digitally or by hand. Both computerized (typewritten) and handwritten are accepted. But for handwritten forms, make sure that you write in block letters and that they are readable.
- Use a black pen. Do not use erasable pens or pencils! Likewise, if you fill it out digitally, use black font.
- Don’t use correction tape or liquid. Try to avoid any erasure. If something needs to be corrected, use double line (2 strikethroughs). If there are too many erasures, best to start all over with a fresh blank form.
- Don’t leave any field blank. If the item or question doesn’t apply to you, write NA or N/A, which is short for Not Applicable.
- Do not staple the form! The agency will most likely remove them too.
Now that we have those out of the way, let’s take a closer look at the form. You’ll see that the form is quite short and straightforward. It only has two pages.
For the purpose of this post, I’m accomplishing the form using big blue letters just to highlight my answers. But please use BLACK for your application to make it neater and more professional.
- Given and middle names: Write both your given name AND your middle name (your mom’s last name).
- Other names: If you have a nickname, write it down. But I just write N/A all the time.
- Place of birth: Most questions we get about this part are from those born in Metro Manila. They ask what to put if they have no province. If it’s in Metro Manila, write Metro Manila. For example, if you were born in Mandaluyong, write: Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, Philippines.
- Former and/or other nationalities or citizenships: Write N/A if it doesn’t apply to you.
- ID No. issued to you by your government: You can write down any government-issued ID here like Driver’s License, SSS ID, or UMID. A few times, I wrote the passport number here too, I didn’t have any problem.
- Passport type: Ordinary
- Passport number: Make sure it’s correct.
- Place of issue: You can write the city name. In the case of Manila, you can write MANILA. You can also be specific. I usually write DFA NCR EAST, because that’s what’s on my passport.
- Issuing authority: DFA.
- Purpose of visit to Japan: Tourism. (If you’re visiting a friend or family, write VISIT FRIEND/FAMILY.)
- Intended length of stay in Japan: Number of days including the day of arrival.
- Port of entry into Japan: Name of the airport. It can be Kansai, Narita, Chitose, etc.
- Name of ship or airline: Just the name of the airline or the ship. It doesn’t matter if you’re already booked or not.
- Names and addresses of hotels or persons with whom applicant intends to stay: If you’re traveling as a tourist, write down the name, address and telephone number of your hotel. If you don’t know the exact address or telephone number of your hotel, Google it!
- Dates and duration of previous stays in Japan. Write N/A if it’s your first time in Japan. If you’ve been to Japan before write the inclusive dates of your previous visits and the number of days. If you’ve been to Japan many times and it won’t fit, use a separate sheet and indicate it on the form.
- Your current residential address: If you have more than one address, list them all on a separate sheet.
- Telephone number: If you don’t have a landline number, write N/A.
- Current profession or occupation and position: Be truthful! If your current occupation or position doesn’t match the ITR you’re submitting (for example, you moved to another company), you can write a letter explaining it.
- Partner’s profession/occupation: If you’re single and of legal age, write N/A. If you’re married, write the profession of your partner. If for a minor, write the profession or occupation of parents.
- Guarantor/Inviter Info: Since you’re applying for a TOURIST VISA, just write N/A in all the fields.
- If you answered “Yes” to any of the above questions, please provide relevant details: If you answered NO to all the questions, write N/A.
- Signature: Sign it by hand. I’m not sure if digital signatures are accepted, but I doubt it. If the applicant is minor, a parent or legal guardian can sign, but the relationship must be indicated below the signature.
JAPAN TOURIST VISA FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I’m visiting a friend or relative. Is the process the same?
No, there is a separate set of requirements for those visiting a relative or friend. You’ll find the list of requirements and the application process here: JAPAN VISIT VISA REQUIREMENTS.
I was issued a Japan visa before. I just want to renew. What’s the process?
Still the same. The only difference is you don’t need to submit a birth certificate and marriage certificate. But you will need to submit the passport with your old visas.
Can I apply for a multiple-entry Japan visa?
The following can apply for a multiple-entry Japan visa:
- A person who has travelled to Japan as temporary visitor within the last three years AND has sufficient financial capability to support their trip.
- A person who has travelled to Japan as temporary visitor within the last three years AND has travelled as temporary visitor to G7 countries (excluding Japan) several times within the last three years. The other G7 countries are: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (USA).
- A person who has high financial capacity (but has not been to Japan in the past 3 years). The keywords here are HIGH FINANCIAL CAPACITY.
- Immediate family member (Spouse/Child) of a person who has high financial capacity.
HOWEVER, if it’s your first time to visit Japan, it’s generally safer to apply for a SINGLE-ENTRY VISA for higher chances of approval.
More information here: JAPAN MULTIPLE-ENTRY VISA REQUIREMENTS.
How to apply for a multiple-entry Japan visa? What are the requirements?
We also have a dedicated post for that. You’ll find that here: Multiple-Entry Japan Visa
Do I need a travel agency to apply?
Yes. Unless it’s a special case, all visa applications must be coursed through any of their accredited travel agencies.
Here’s the complete list of officially accredited travel agencies: Japan Visa Travel Agencies.
Do I need to book flights and hotel before applying?
No. It’s not a requirement. However, on the application form, you will have to write down the specific AIRLINE and HOTEL ADDRESS you wish to book (or have booked).
Some travel agencies accept flight itinerary if the applicant is already booked for better chances. Some don’t. In general, it is not a requirement. If you haven’t booked flights yet, don’t. Get a visa first.
How long is the validity of the visa?
Single-entry tourist visas are valid for 90 days upon issue and will usually allow you to stay for no longer than 15 days. So for example, your visa is issued on January 1, you can enter Japan any time between January 1 and March 31, but once you enter, you can stay for only 15 days maximum.
Multiple-entry visas will usually allow you to stay for up to 15 or 30 days, depending on what is given to you. But it’s usually valid for 3 or 5 years. Meaning, you can visit multiple times within 3 or 5 years since the issue date, but every stay must not be longer than 15 or 30 days.
How long does it take to process Japan visa application?
7 working days, if you ask the agencies. That’s their default answer.
In reality, it varies. My first time, 5 working days. Second time, 2 days. Then on my third and fourth times, 7 days and 2 days respectively.
I know people who have waited weeks for theirs. Pretty hard to tell.
How early can I apply for a Japan visa?
As mentioned, the standard single-entry visa is valid for 90 days since issue date, so you can apply as early as 3 months before your travel date. But “3 months before” would be cutting it too close to expiry date. I personally prefer applying 1-2 months before my travel date.
Can I apply 1 week before the travel date?
That’s too close for comfort. Although there are times when results are released only 2 or 3 days after application, for others it can take weeks. Best to apply 1-2 months before.
Some agencies also refuse to accept applications that are too close to the travel date. For example, Reli Tours at SM Megamall has a 7-working-days policy. If the flight is scheduled sooner than 7 working days at the time of submission, they will NOT accept your application. It happened to a relative whom I accompanied at the agency. They turned us away and asked that we apply at another agency instead.
I’m not sure if other travel agencies have the same policy. Call them first if your trip is urgent.
How much money should I have in the bank to get approved?
The Embassy doesn’t explicitly say how much money you should have in the bank. The amount isn’t the only factor. It’s probably on a case-by-case basis.
I have applied for a 15-day stay with only P100,000+ in the bank and my application got approved.
A friend of mine applied for a 5-day stay with only P50,000 and got approved. She has a full-time job.
Another friend applied for a 5-day stay with over P200,000 and got denied. She doesn’t have a regular job.
I think the rule of thumb is: how much savings you have should be proportional to how long your stay is. For example, if you have only P50,000, don’t apply for a 15-day stay because that would obviously raise a lot of questions regarding whether or not you can afford the trip.
Also, I think the Embassy is more concerned about whether or not you have a compelling reason to return to the Philippines, which is why they scrutinize your employment status and travel history.
I am tax-exempt. Do I need to submit an ITR?
You should still have an ITR even if you’re tax-exempt.
Since 2018, workers earning below P250,000 a year (P21,000 a month) are exempted from paying income taxes. But that doesn’t mean it exempts you from having an ITR. If you’re an employee, you can still get a copy of your ITR from your employer even if you’re tax-exempt.
I don’t have an ITR. What can I do?
You need to submit the following:
- A letter explaining why you can’t submit an ITR.
- Other proof of income or employment.
I was able to try applying without a recent ITR during my last visa application. I wrote a letter explaining that I wouldn’t be able to submit my latest ITR because I recently shifted to becoming an entrepreneur and I won’t have a copy of my ITR until the end of the year. I then added that I’m submitting a copy of my ITR for the previous year together with COE from my clients and my business registration docs.
Another workaround is to find a guarantor.
Is Certificate of Employment needed to get a Japan visa?
Technically, no. Certificate of Employment is no longer a requirement.
BUT — and it’s a big but — it’s always a good idea to provide one because it shows your financial capability, stability, and rootedness.
So I strongly recommend that you submit one.
I’m a freelancer. I don’t have a Certificate of Employment. What can I do?
You can try to get a letter from your clients indicating what you do for them, how long you’ve been working for them, and how much salary you get. This will help your application.
I was a freelancer before so I’ve done this and my Japan visa application got approved.Sample Certificate Employment PDF
I have a guarantor. Do I still have to submit my own bank documents?
NO need. Just submit your guarantor’s bank documents, guarantee letter, and other documents listed above.
I don’t have a bank account. Can I still apply for a Japan visa?
Yes, just find a guarantor. This way, you won’t need to submit your own, just submit your guarantor’s bank documents. For better chances, find a guarantor who is an immediate relative. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time convincing the embassy why your guarantor is willing to sponsor your trip. It’s still possible, but chances are lower.
Check out the list of requirements above for those applying with a guarantor.
Note, however, that you will still be assessed based on other criteria like employment and travel history.
Can my boyfriend or girlfriend sponsor my trip?
You can try, but no guarantees. If you want better chances of approval, an immediate family member is best to sponsor you. A parents or sibling is most ideal. You will have to submit proof of relationship, which is hard to establish if you’re not married to your sponsor or not an immediate family member.
Note that even if your trip is sponsored by someone else, you still need to provide your own bank and employment documents on top of your sponsor’s.
Can I submit a birth certificate issued more than a year ago?
NO. The birth certificate MUST be issued within the past year. You cannot fake your way around it. The issue date is printed at the bottom of the birth certificate so both the agency and the embassy can easily figure out how old your copy is.
Is personal appearance required for a Japan visa?
YES and NO. It depends on a lot of things: which travel agency you’re applying at, how you’re applying, and what your background is.
For example, based on my experience, Reli Tours and Friendship Tours require personal appearance for walk-in applicants. I have tried applying for my cousin at Reli Tours SM Megamall and they won’t accept the application. Our accountant also tried applying for my mom at Friendship Tours at Dusit Thani Makati but she was told that my mom had to be there in person. She was also told that we could just mail the application if personal appearance was not feasible.
However, on a separate occasion, my cousin was allowed to apply for my niece (a minor) at Reli Tours Southmall even when the kid wasn’t with her. It might be because of two things: because my niece was a minor and because they were traveling together (group).
I’m not sure if it’s the same for all travel agencies or for all branches. IF some of them allow it, make sure you have a signed authorization letter, ID of the applicant, ID of the representative, and proof of your relationship with them.
Best to just call your chosen travel agency to be sure.
Should the application form be typewritten/computerized or handwritten?
Either is okay. I’ve tried applying with both. No problem.
If the question doesn’t apply to me, should I write N/A or just leave it blank?
It confuses applicants because Japan and Korea have different policies, and most designated agencies process both Japan and Korean visas.
But here’s the generally accepted practice: For Japan Visa form, write N/A. For Korean Visa form, leave it blank.
What are the common reasons why Japan visa applications are denied?
I can only speculate, but based on the messages we receive from our followers, the usual reasons are the following:
- You can’t prove that you can financially support yourself on this trip. You probably have insufficient funds or your guarantor is not in a good financial standing.
- You can’t prove that you intend to return (rootedness). You probably don’t have a stable job at this point, unemployed, newly employed, or newly resigned, and it’s giving the impression that you intend to work there.
- Your intention/purpose in Japan is unclear. This is why it is best to be specific when you’re detailing the reasons for your visit.
I plan to submit documents X, Y and Z, and I have been to other countries before. Will my application be approved?
I can’t say. It’s hard to tell. It’s based on a gazillion factors. And even if you send me all the docs you plan to submit, everything we say will still be nothing more than a wild guess. No one and nothing can guarantee approval. At the end of the day, it is completely up to the visa officer evaluating your application. Some are very strict; some are not so much.
I have a friend who has a stellar travel history, lots of money in her bank account, and stable job, but she was denied a visa regardless.
Although there is a big chance you won’t need to pay a visit, here’s the address of the Japanese Embassy in Manila. You will need this address for the bank certificate.
Embassy of Japan
2627 Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City, 1300
Contact No. +63-2-551-5710
2020 February 3 – Added the new questionnaire (related to Hubei Province) to the list of requirements
2020 February 13 – Replaced the NCOV questionnaire with a new version that includes Zhejiang Province.