(original photo by Paul Davidson; CC BY 2.0)

Visa and Entry to Japan

Entry Visas

As a basic rule, all foreigners (or “aliens”) entering Japan should have a visa. If you are here for a short stay; for sightseeing or business, and have a valid passport from one of the countries with which Japan has a visa waiver arrangement, then you do not need a visa. Find a full list of these 67 countries (as of August 2014) on the MOFA website, or contact the Japanese Embassy in your home country for details.

When entering Japan for other purposes, you should apply for the appropriate visa from a Japanese Embassy or Consulate overseas before leaving for Japan. There are 7 categories of visa and 26 statuses of residence, all with different application requirements.

(Note: As of July 1, 2010 – “Pre-College Student” and “College Student” statuses were integrated into “College Student” status. Students with the status of “Pre-College Student” do not have to change their status to “College Student” after the enforcement of the law as long as there are no changes in their educational activities.)

Re-entry Permits

If you are leaving Japan temporarily; for example on a short break or business trip, a qualifying foreign national with a valid passport and a resident card will most likely be exempt from applying for a re-entry permit in cases where he/she re-enters Japan within one year from his/her departure.

Exceptional cases which require a re-entry permit will be stipulated by a Ministry of Justice ordinance. In cases of possessing a re-entry permit, the maximum term of validity for the re-entry permit shall be extended from 3 years to 5 years.

Required documents for the applications as of June, 2014:

Extension of Period of Stay & Change the Status of Residence
Required Documents: Application form *1, Passport and Residence Card *2, Supporting documents
Price: 4,000 yen as revenue stamp fee
Where: Immigration Bureau

Re-entry Permits
Required Documents: Application form *1, Passport and Residence Card *2
Price: 3,000 yen for single permit, or 6,000 yen for multiple permit
Where: Immigration Bureau

Residence Cards
Required Documents: Application form *3, Passport, 1 photograph (3cm by 4cm)
Price: no charge
Where: International Airports and the Immigration Bureau


*1 Available for download from the Immigration Bureau website.
*2 Depending on the type of residency you are applying for.
*3 Available at the Immigration Bureau.
For full details, see the Immigration Bureau website or inquire directly at your local Immigration Bureau.

Extending Period of Stay

When you enter Japan, your visa will allow you to stay in Japan for a specific period. Once granted residency in Japan, be sure to make a note of the period of stay. If you wish to stay in Japan longer than this period, apply for an extension at your local Immigration Bureau before the permit expires. Overstaying may mean you have to leave Japan and re-apply for a visa.

Changing the Status of Residency

To change your status of residence (i.e., the purpose of your stay), you should apply at the Immigration Bureau. It will not be necessary to leave Japan.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Foreign Resident’s Advisory Center
03-5320-7744 (Mon-Fri: 9:30am-noon, 1:00pm-5:00pm)
03-5774-0992 (9:00am-11:00pm, Daily)
TELL offers anonymous telephone counseling in English for the international and Japanese community. Trained telephone counselors provide support on a wide range of issues.

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