To say that Japan is my favorite destination would be a major understatement. I’m writing this post while taking a break from packing my bags for my seventh trip to the Land of the Rising Sun. Let that sink in. This is my seventh trip in a span of 4 years. That’s two trips a year.
Before I continue, I want to make it clear that I am not affiliated with the Japanese Embassy in any way. A good fraction of the messages we receive are about Japan visa, so to avoid having to repeat myself every day, I’m writing this post so I have a ready page to which I can redirect our readers. This is all based on my experience, having been given a total of four Japan visas over the past few years. For context:
- My first Japan visa allowed only single entry, as expected.
- The second time I applied, I was expecting another single-entry visa, but I was provided a multiple one, valid for three years. I didn’t do anything. The itinerary I submitted clearly called for a one-time entry and I didn’t have that much money in the bank at the time, but they gave me multiple.
- When it expired earlier this year, I thought I would be given another multiple. But when I applied for the third time, to my surprise and dismay, I was given a SINGLE-ENTRY visa. It was so puzzling. I have a theory, which I will explain later.
- The fourth Japan visa I got, the one I received just last week, was MULTIPLE-ENTRY, valid for five years! Woohoo!
- I also took care of the visas of my mom, niece, and nephew, when we went on a family trip last year.
So here are the questions we usually get from our readers who are planning on lodging a Japan visa application, together with our answers.
Oh before I forget: This post is for tourists holding a Philippine passport, applying in Manila. Rules may be different in other cities and for other nationalities.
How to apply for a Japan visa? What are the requirements?
We wrote a separate, detailed post just for that. You can find it here:
How to renew Japan visa?
They don’t call it “renewal.” It’s more like applying for a new visa, to be honest. The process is still the same. The only difference is, you don’t need to submit a birth certificate this time. You also have to submit a copy of your previous visas.
Am I eligible for a multiple-entry visa?
If you meet any of the requirements below, yes.schengen-visa-france-itinerary
- 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.
How to apply for a multiple-entry visa? What are the requirements?
We also have a dedicated post for that. You’ll find that here:
Are non-first-timers granted multiple-entry visas automatically?
No, not necessarily.
It’s true that the Embassy sometimes grant MULTIPLE-ENTRY visas to returning tourists even when they’re not asking for it. It happened to me twice. But it doesn’t mean it happens to everyone every time.
If you look at my Japan visa history at the beginning of this post, you’ll find that I was given a SINGLE-ENTRY visa after my THIRD application, even after having been granted a MULTIPLE-ENTRY visa before. It’s unpredictable because they’re basing it on many factors. It’s still at the sole discretion of the Embassy.
What does Japan visa look like?
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.
Do I need to book flights before applying?
No. It’s not a requirement. However, on the application form, you will have to write down the specific AIRLINE or SHIP you wish to take. If you don’t have much funds in the bank, write a low-cost carrier like JetStar or Cebu Pacific Air.
Do I need to reserve hotels before applying?
No. But again, you should have an idea where you plan on staying because you will need to write it down on the application form. Make sure you have the name of the hotel, the address, and the phone number. You don’t need to book yet. Just pick a hotel.
Again, if your bank account doesn’t have much, choose a budget hotel or hostel. Don’t write down the name of a luxury hotel if you have less than P100,000 in your bank and you’re staying for 15 days. Make sure you can afford it because it matters!
Should I stay in the hotel I wrote on the application form?
No. If your application is approved, you can stay anywhere.
How long does it take to process the application?
7 working days, according to travel agencies.
But it varies. My first time, 5 working days. Second time, 2 days. Third time, 7 days. Fourth time, 2 days.
A friend of mine waited for 3 weeks.
You can never tell.
How long can I stay in Japan if I am granted a visa?
Single-entry: 15 days, usually.
Multiple-entry: 15 or 30 days.
How long is the validity of the visa?
Single-entry: 90 days.
Multiple-entry: 3-5 years.
Note that validity is different from length of stay. Validity period usually refers to the period in which you can use the visa. Length of stay is how many days you can stay once in Japan.
For example, usually, a single-entry visa is valid for 90 days, allowing no longer than 15 days of stay. This means that if your visa is issues in January 1, you can travel to Japan any time until March, but once you’re in Japan, you can only stay for up to 15 days.
How much money should my bank account have 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’m a freelancer so I don’t have a Certificate of Employment. What can I submit?
The Certificate of Employment is no longer a requirement, although it is always a good idea to submit one. If you’re a freelancer, here’s what you can do.
Get a letter from your clients that could serve as certification that you’re working for them. Make sure that the letter mentions what you do for the company, how much you’re earning, and how long you have been working for them.
I have tried it before. The agency accepted it. The embassy approved my application.
I don’t have an ITR. What should I do?
Write a letter explaining why you can’t produce an ITR and submit more proof that you have a stable source of income (invoices, payslips, other tax documents, etc).
You can also declare that someone else will be paying for your trip, whom they call a “sponsor.” If you choose to do this, you will need to submit the ITR, COE or business registration documents, and bank certificate of the sponsor.
I haven’t done this personally because I always have an ITR even during the time I was a freelancer, but I know people who have done this and were granted a visa.
UPDATE: Okay, I was able to try applying without an 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.
Can I apply just one week before my intended date of travel?
You can, but it’s too close. There’s no assurance you will have your passport with or without visa in time.
It is always good practice to apply at least a month before your travel date so you have time in case they ask for additional documents.
Some travel agencies like Reli Tours also have a policy of refusing applicants whose travel dates are set sooner than 7 working days from the date of application. Happened to my cousin.
Can someone else apply for me?
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 instead if personal appearance was impossible.
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.
I need to explain something. Will they accept a cover letter?
Yes. I did once. They accepted it.
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.
How much is the Japan visa fee?
Technically, FREE. But the travel agency collects a processing fee, usually playing between P800 to P1800 depending on the visa type.
What is the address of the Japan Embassy in Manila?
2627, Roxas Blvd, Pasay, 1300 Metro Manila, Philippines
How will I know if my visa application is rejected?
Your passport will be returned to you. If there is no visa affixed to any of the pages, your application has been denied.
Will I know the reason for the denial?
No, they will not provide a reason or any sort of explanation.
If my application is denied, can I apply again?
Yes, but you have to wait 6 months before you can apply again.
I was previously issued a single-entry Japan visa and I used it already. How soon can I apply again?
Anytime. There is no time frame required if you’ve already used your visa. You can apply again as soon as you want. I’ve done that between my 3rd and 4th visa. I used my visa in February, but I needed to be back in March. I applied again, no problem.