Steps on how to apply for a Japan Short Stay Visa

Japan is among the top 20 most visited countries worldwide and the top five in Asia. Being one of the biggest economies in the world, Japan seems to have something of interest to everybody. Whether you are a tourist or an investor, it is clear that you must obtain a Japan short-stay visa if you intend to join the line of visitors.

Japan is one of the most prominent countries in Asia. It is known for massive technological advancement and research and for its signature animation genre (anime). For one of these reasons or perhaps several others not mentioned, Japan is a popular place for people to want to travel and visit; being an island country, it has lots of beaches and natural views that give a sense of vacation. Furthermore, having the third biggest economy in the world (by nominal GDP) means it’s a haven for investors and businessfolk.

This article explores the visa you need if you only want to visit Japan; the short-stay visa. We also explain what circumstances qualify you for this visa and how you can get it.

About Japan Short Stay Visa

A Japan visa is a special authorization that the Japanese consular authorities give foreigners. This authorization, usually in the form of a sticker or stamp, permits foreign nationals to enter Japan legally for a given period. The two main kinds of Japanese visas are;

  • Short-stay visa (or short-term visa)
  • Long-stay visa (or long-term visa)

The Japanese short-stay visa allows you to enter Japan as a foreign national and stay anywhere from 15 to 90 days at a time. The short-stay visa is issued for single or multiple entries. Single entry short stay visas can only be used once and are valid for a maximum of 90 days; they expire once you leave the country. Conversely, multiple-entry visas let you enter Japan multiple times within their validity period (around one to five years) as long as you don’t stay more than 90 days at a time.

Who Needs a Japan Short Stay Visa?

According to the Japanese consular authorities, a short stay is any period less than 90 days in Japan. Therefore, foreign nationals who intend to visit Japan for 90 days or less need to first apply for a short-stay visa. However, this is not always the case.

Japan is one of the top countries in the world when it comes to international relations. Many countries have travel agreements with Japan that allow their citizens to visit Japan for a short while without needing a short-stay visa. These agreements differ by country. For example, some foreign nationals can stay up to 90 days without a visa; others can stay for 30, others 15 or 14. Furthermore, only Special Administrative Region (SAR) passport holders can visit Japan without a short-stay visa in countries like Monaco and Hong Kong.

Other exemptions, restrictions, and special cases exist, but in general, you can check if your country is part of the 68 countries whose citizens don’t need a Japan short-stay visa. If your country is not listed there, you need a short-stay visa to visit Japan. If you’re a diplomatic/official passport holder, you could also check the 55 countries exempted from Japan’s short-stay visa with a diplomatic passport.

Types of Japan Short Stay Visa

There are three major types of Japanese short-stay visas depending on your reason for traveling;

  • Transit Visa: The Japan transit visa is a visa for foreign nationals who wish to stop over in Japan midway through their trip to a third country. This visa permits you to stop in Japan temporarily and take a connecting flight to your final destination.
  • Tourist Visa: A Japanese tourist visa is issued to foreign nationals who wish to enter Japan for tourism, vacation, or leisure. It also covers visits to family and friends, short-term studies, etc.
  • Business Visa: Japan issues the Japan business visa to foreigners who intend to come into the country for commercial reasons. It includes those coming for business meetings, trading, negotiations, etc. The business visa, however, does not cover those coming to Japan for work (i.e., paid labor).

Requirements and Documentation for Japan Short Stay Visa

When you apply for a Japan short-stay visa, there are documents you must present to the Japanese authorities. These documents will help them determine if you qualify for the visa you want. To begin your visa application, you will need:

Application Form

The first document you need is the Japan visa application form. You will fill this document in, then print it out and sign. The application form usually requests basic personal and travel details. Ensure you enter all the correct details so you are not disqualified for false/mismatched details.

Passport-Sized Photograph

You’ll also attach a recent passport-sized photograph of yourself on the application form. It must be no older than six (6) months, have a plain background, and be on glossy photo paper. Finally, the dimensions must be 2×1.4 in. Follow these specifications strictly, as they will also be considered while assessing your application.

National Passport

You must also submit a copy of your national passport to the embassy. This document helps them assess your travel history. For the passport to be accepted, it must have at least two blank pages left and remain valid up to six (6) months beyond your intended departure date from Japan.

Financial Statement

Before you leave for Japan, you need to present proof of financial stability, evidence that you have enough funds to cover your short stay in Japan. Usually, the embassy accepts a bank statement.

Travel Itinerary

Since you’re only getting a Japan short-stay visa, you should also provide a complete travel itinerary. This includes your intended departure date, what you intend to do in Japan, your planned return date, and round-trip tickets for the journey.

Invitation Letter (Optional)

If you are traveling for business purposes, you may need to present an invitation letter from the other party in Japan with whom you’re going to do business. Similarly, if you’re visiting a relative, you may also need to present a letter from the said relative inviting you to come to visit.

Proof of Accommodation

Finally, you need to present proof that you have a place to stay for the period you will be in Japan. The most common proof of accommodation is a hotel reservation. However, if you have a friend or relative in Japan, you may present a letter from them accepting responsibility for being your host.

Application Procedure for Japan Short Stay Visa

You must apply for your Japan short-stay visa at the Japan visa in your country. There may be a consulate or a visa application center if there’s no embassy. In the rare case that none of these exist, you may contact the embassy in a country closest to yours. Once you find the embassy, you can follow the simple steps below to see your application through.

  1. Contact the Japanese embassy or consulate in your country. Ensure they do not have any additional or recently updated requirements. Also, confirm how they receive visa fee payments and get the necessary payment details.
  2. Gather all the required documents and submit them to the embassy for processing.
  3. If the embassy deems it essential, they may invite you for an interview. Hence, make sure you’re available for the period of processing.
  4. The embassy will contact you to inform you whether or not the application is approved. You’ll have to return to the embassy to collect your documents afterward (and your visa, if your application is approved).

If your visa is approved, you have three months to use it (that is, travel to Japan). Otherwise, it becomes invalid.

Processing Time for Japan Short Stay Visa

The nominal processing time for a Japan short-stay visa is five (5) working days. This could be more or less depending on various factors including, but not limited to;

  • the embassy/consulate you apply to
  • any problems encountered
  • the type of short-stay visa applied for

In cases of serious problems, the processing period could take up to a month. Therefore, it is advisable to start applying up to two months before your intended travel date.

Japan Short Stay Visa Fees

When paying the Japan short-stay visa fees, you pay in the currency of the country where you apply. The visa fees are as follows;

  • Transit: 700 Yen
  • Single Entry: 3000 Yen
  • Multiple Entry: 6000 Yen

Note that you don’t need to pay the visa fee unless your visa is approved. However, you may need to pay additional fees if you apply through an agency.

Frequently Asked Questions

#1. What is a Japan Landing Permit?

The Japan landing permit is the legal document that permits you to stay in Japan for the period your visa allows. When you get to the immigration check at the airport or any point of entry, the landing permit certifies that the authorities have checked and you have all the required documents.

#2. Can I extend my Japan short-stay visa?

Extending a Japanese short-stay visa is difficult unless you have a valid reason. However, if you have to, you can extend a Japan short-stay visa by applying to your city’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs immigration office.

#3. How long can I stay in Japan legally without a visa?

Depending on your country, you may be able to stay in Japan for as long as 90 days. Some countries, however, only have 30, 15, or 14 days free. Therefore, if you are not a citizen of any of the visa-exempt countries, you need a short-stay visa to enter Japan legally.

#4. How long can I stay in Japan on a tourist visa?

A tourist visa allows you to stay in the country for 90 days. However, you can apply for a double-entry tourist visa that allows you to come in, leave, and return to Japan within six (6) months.

#5. Does Japan have an e-Visa?

Japan does not currently have an e-Visa program, so you cannot apply for a Japan visa online. However, they are working on it and will make it available when ready.


If you’re going to Japan to visit family, take a vacation, participate in sports, or engage in commercial activities, the Japan short-stay visa is what you need. However, for other long-term purposes, you’ll need a long-term visa.

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