About 6 years ago, in 2012, I visited Japan for the first time. Back then, I was granted a single-entry tourist visa for a maximum 15-day stay. Like in any visa application, it was full of anxiety for me. If I remember correctly, I wrote in my reason for going is to visit the Doraemon Museum in Kawasaki City, which is a stone’s throw away from Tokyo. Those who know me know that I’m a huge Doraemon fan. When I visited, I did that and traveled around Tokyo and Kyoto.
Fast-forward to 2017, I applied for another Japan visa because the girlfriend will be working there for a long time and I would want to visit her. This was the second time that I applied for the said visa.
It is important to take note that there seems to be no concept of renewing a Japan visa. Every application is considered a new application but it probably helps that you’ve been granted a Japan visa before. This means that the processes and requirements for a first-time application and a second-time application are virtually the same.
I want to share with you how I did my recent Japan tourist visa application. Even if you are a first-timer, this story might be able to guide and help you since no matter how many times you apply for a Japan tourist visa, the ways that you have to go through are almost always alike. However, following what I did don’t guarantee that you’ll have the same experience as I, but at least, it will give you an idea how to do it (and hopefully, you get approved too).
Steps when applying for a Japan tourist visa
Here’s the step-by-step guide of how I applied for a Japan tourist visa. It may not be similar to how others did it, but here’s how I did it and it got me approved.
It is important to take note that applying for a Japan tourist visa is always done via accredited travel agencies. The Japan tourist visa is given as gratis (for free) but since it has to go through an agency, certain agency fees apply.
Similar to how I applied before, I applied for my Japan tourist visa application through Reli Tours and Travels located at the 5th Floor, SM Megamall. Since I applied for a tourist visa with no guarantor, the handling fee is P950.
Step 1: Fill out your application (Get the form here)
Although you can get an application form when you arrive at the travel agency, it makes things faster when you already bring a filled-up application form with you. There are some who choose to fill-up the form at the agency and this can be a hassle for many. It takes up time and you end up getting rushed in filling up the form. It is best to fill it up at home and just bring a printed copy with you.
Tip: Fill out everything. If it is not applicable to you, write N/A. They will not accept a form if there is a blank item.
Step 2: Fill out your daily schedule in Japan (Get the form here)
A daily schedule is required when applying for a Japan tourist visa. In this form, you have to indicate the specific details of your trip including the date, what you would do on that specific date and other pertinent information about it.
As I mentioned before, during my first time to apply, I included in my daily schedule the details such as visiting the Doraemon museum, going to Tokyo Disneyland, and touring the historic sites in Kyoto. You also need to include the details of the hotel you are staying in and other contact information. If you will be staying in a friend’s or relative’s house, you need to indicate that as well.
Step 3: Submit your application and requirements to an accredited travel agency
As I mentioned before, I submitted my application for a Japan tourist visa to Reli Tours and Travels in SM Megamall.
Tip: It is best to submit early in the morning.
The travel agency can get packed later in the morning and in the afternoon. The two times that I applied, I tried to go there at 10 AM or earlier, which is the opening time of the travel agency. When you go to the agency, they will give you a number. Wait for it to be called so you can submit your application and all the requirements that come with it.
This is when the waiting game begins. When you submit your application and all the requirements, the travel agent will verify that everything is complete. They will not accept your application if it is not complete so make sure it is before even going to the travel agency so as not to waste time.
For Japan tourist visa, the requirements are:
- accomplished application form
- daily schedule in Japan
- passport – in good condition, has at least 2 blank pages, and valid for more than 6 months
- photo – 4.5 x 4.5 cm on white background, write applicant’s name and birthdate at the back, taken within the 6 months prior to the application
- birth certificate
- bank certificate/s – 3 months from the date of issue
- latest ITR
- marriage certificate (if you are married)
Tip: When you have your photo taken, tell the studio that it will be used for a Japan tourist visa application so they would know the specifications
Tip: The birth certificate should have been obtained within the same year of the application, they will not accept birth certificates obtained from previous years so it is best to request for one a few days before submitting your application
I was paying for my trip so I didn’t need a letter from a guarantor. However, if someone else is shouldering the expenses for your trip, you need a guarantee letter, proof of relationship with the guarantor (birth certificates etc), and bank certificate/s and latest ITR of the guarantor.
For more information about the requirements, you can check them here.
Note: No one can guarantee the approval of your application. It is recommended to supply them with all pertinent documents to prove your strong ties in the country and that you will return after the trip. Be as honest as possible. Don’t make it difficult than it already is.
The first time I applied, I got a single-entry visa. The second time, I got a multiple-entry visa that is valid for 5 years even if I did not indicate that in my application. If you want to indicate that you are applying for a multiple-entry visa, you can do so but make sure that you are qualified to do so. Read the information here.
Step 4: Pay the agency fee
Even if the Japan tourist visa is gratis, I paid P950 for the agency fee. Keep the receipt because this is what you need to show them when you claim your passport after a few days or a week.
The time it takes to get your passport back may vary. The first time around, I got mine in about a week. The second time, I got it in two days.
With Reli Tours and Travels, they just texted me once my passport was back with them. You won’t know if it is approved or denied until you get your passport and open it. The agency is not at a liberty to let you know through text.
- Follow the instructions to the dot. Applications that don’t follow are not accepted. You might even need to fill out your application form again if you committed an error when filling it out before. Don’t be the applicant who holds the entire line.
- Bring all the requirements. Incomplete applications are not accepted. Don’t waste time going back and forth the travel agency.
- Remove the cover of your passport. Your passport is strong enough to be on its own without a case or plastic holder.
- Do not staple forms. The agency will just ask you to remove them because they have to manually check everything.
- Do not use an erasable pen when filling out the forms.
- Unlike other tourist visa applications, you won’t be required to go to the Japanese embassy for an interview. The application is always done through an accredited travel agency and they will be the ones submitting it to you.
In my experience…
On my second time to apply for a Japan tourist visa, I went to Reli Tours and Travels before 10 AM. However, SM Megamall opens at 10 AM so I had to wait a bit outside. Once inside, I raced to go to the 5th floor where the agency is located. There were already a couple of people there.
I took a number and got on a chair. I waited for my number to be called. It took about 20 minutes of waiting before my number was called. I think the ones before me were applying as a group, which is why it took a while.
While waiting, more and more people started to enter the travel agency. After some time, all seats are occupied and the room is packed, which is why I strongly recommend coming as early as possible. Take note, the agency doesn’t only handle Japan visa applications but other travel bookings as well so there can be a lot of customers during peak hours. I haven’t tried applying in the late afternoon but some said the crowd was smaller at that time so you can also give that a try.
Once my number was called, the travel agent checked all my forms and requirements. They made sure that my name and birthdate was written at the back of my photo before pasting it on the application form. They double checked my back certificates, my ITR, and my daily schedule. After that, I was told to pay P950 to the cashier located at a desk nearby.
After paying, I was told to keep the receipt since that will also be my claim stub.
After a couple of days, I got a text that my passport was already back. I went back to the travel agency. I checked my passport and the visa was already there.
Are you ready to apply for your Japan tourist visa? If you already have one, share with us your experience! What tips do you have for those who will be applying?
If you’re planning to apply for a US visa, we also have a guide for you.