The land of rising sun is becoming the land of endless discovery
My Facebook Timeline is overtaken by the country of ‘Pokemon’. For the last few years, everyone is either visiting Japan or is in planning mode. Japan has suddenly become the ‘IT’ place for tourists. From the slopes of Mount Fuji to the temple streets of Kyoto, tourists are flocking Japan’s tourist spots, using their JR Passes to map out the length and breadth of the country, getting blown away by Sakura and swiping their credit cards on cosmetics, sushi and high-tech gadgets.
Whatever might be the reason, Japan is swiftly climbing in the preferred destination list. The cheap yen, easier visas and Government initiatives like “cool Japan”, “Omotenashi” seem to be working its magic to lure tourists to Japan. So if you too are thinking to visit Japan but is puzzled how to go about the visa process then this post is for you.
Step #1: WHERE to start?
Residents from 67 Countries and regions can enter Japan without visa for short term stay. If your country didn’t make it to the list then you are required to apply for the Japan Visa. Start your process by visiting the website of Embassy of Japan in your country and download the Application Form and Checklist based on your purpose of travel. If applying from India visit VFS website. If applying from any other country visit the website of Japan Embassy in that country for example I used Philippines website.
Step #2: WHAT documents to submit?
Getting a Japanese visitor visa is no big deal if you have following documents in place:
- A valid Passport. Submit your old passports also, if any
- A completely filled and signed Japan Visa Application Form
- Covering letter stating your purpose of visit. In my letter, I shared my Travel Blogger credentials and interest to visit Japan multiple times
- One passport size photograph taken within the last 6 months – size 2 x 2 inches, color with white background and printed on good quality paper
- Detailed schedule of stay – travel itinerary and hotel booking
- Original bank statement of last six months or bank certificate mentioning your average bank balance. Get it a day or two days before submitting the documents. Should show at least 150,000 INR or 100,000 Php to cover your planned trip. Make sure your account balance doesn’t give an impression that large funds have been transferred for visa sake only
- Latest Income Tax Return. In case you don’t have an ITR, provide an explanation letter with supporting documents. Along with the letter, I submitted my salary slips and Form 2305 (tax deduction form)
- If you are an employee, provide
- Certificate of Employment from your Employer / NOC / Leave sanctioned
- Salary slips for last six months
- If you are a student / dependent, provide
- Consent from the parents / spouse
- Original bank statement of last six months for parents / spouse
- Latest Income Tax Return for parents / spouse
- If you are an owner of a company, provide
- Proof of ownership (e.g. Director Identification Number approval issued from Ministry of Corporate Affairs or proprietorship document issued from bank or Import export license)
- Company bank statement
- Proof of Relationship, in case you are accompanied by any dependent, i.e. Passport copy, Marriage Certificate, Birth Certificate
Step #3: HOW to submit the application?
Japan Embassy has accredited travel partners in each country it functions. In India it has empaneled VFS and in Philippines it has 6 accredited agencies. Visit the accredited agency’s office and submit the required documents along with the visa fee (cash only). The visa fees is 1090 INR in India and 1200 Php for Foreigners (1000 Php for locals) in Philippines.
Since I was applying from Philippines I used Discovery Tours. They were very efficient and helpful. They went out of their way to help. They even agreed to check my documents and guide me before final document submission, which was not even included in their services.
Step #4: WHEN to collect your passport?
Japan, like their bullet trains, is very fast when it comes to visa processing. After three days of documents submission you can collect your passport. I submitted the application on Saturday and got my visa on Tuesday. The icing on the cake was getting a Multi Visit 5 Year Visitor Visa. Frankly, I wasn’t expecting it since I was applying for the first time and usually first timers only get single visit visa up to 90 days of stay but I guess having traveled to many G7 countries in the past three years, travel blogger credentials and having sufficient financial capacity to fund my trip convinced them to change their mind 🙂
There are three options to collect your passport:
- Visit the accredited agency again and give your original invoice cum receipt provided at the time of submission of application
- Let your representative collect it on your behalf by providing the authorization letter, your ID Copy and original invoice cum receipt
- Get your Passport via courier. You just need to provide the original invoice cum receipt at the time of receiving the courier
Even after traveling frequently around the world, visas still scare me. But I am so glad Japanese Visa process was a cakewalk. Hope it is the same for you!
(Nihon de anata o sanshō shite kudasai – see you in japan)
- This post is based on my personal experience. The visa outcome can vary depending upon your situation.
- Do look out for my upcoming Tokyo, Hokkaido and Tohoku adventures in Japan