Another year, another round of travel. Having conquered China back in 2014, South Korea just last year, it’s time to move on to the next big East Asian country. Yep, you read it and guessed it correctly, I am heading to Japan this April.
Reading all about my friends travels in the land of the rising sun, plus watching all those animes and reading all those mangas in the past endeared me to this country. With a little research and some thorough reading, I was able to apply for a Japanese visa last Monday (January 30) and got approved last Wednesday (February 1). So how do you get a Japanese visa? Well here is the process for filing one without a guarantor.
- Fill out the Japanese visa application form – type it up, use black ink, whichever goes your way. Make sure you don’t leave any blank spaces by writing N/A on each one. Since I did not have a relative or a guarantor, I simply placed N/A. As for accommodations and everything else, I made bookings in Booking.com
- Fill out a schedule of stay form – this should include the dates of your travel, the accommodations you will be staying at and the contact details of said accommodations.
- Get a bank certificate – go to your preferred bank and request for one. The certificate should indicate how much money you have in the bank.
- Certificate of employment – request one from your friendly HR officer. The certificate should include: date hired and position. When I got mine, my COE didn’t have my compensation, which leads me to.
- ITR Form 2316 – pass the ORIGINAL and not the photocopied one. Again you can request this from your friendly HR officer or the equally friendly Finance/Accounting officer. Make sure that your ITR is the latest.
- One 2×2 picture – should be taken during the last 6 months with neutral expression, smiling will not get you points but maybe smizing might…who knows.
- NSO Birth Certificate – request one from the NSO if you don’t have one. You can’t use the one you requested ten years ago or the one from 2 years ago. I don’t know how they know but just request for a new one.
Congratulations you have everything you need! Now it’s time to make your way to any of the accredited agencies that handle visa processing. You can find a list of those agencies here.
How much money do I need to get accepted?
To be honest I really don’t know how much money you need. Japan, being one of the most expensive countries in the world requires a lot of money, so it pays to save up and have a travel fund you can use as part of the “show money” process. Maybe having upwards of Php. 50,000 might help…don’t ask me how much I have…I don’t have any money.
Why do you have to apply through a travel agency, why can’t I just go straight to the embassy itself?
Unfortunately you’ll be turned away and asked to go through a travel agency. Hence the list of travel agencies that are accredited by the embassy to process your documents. Make sure you read the list before going to any travel agent…they might not be accredited.
How much is the processing fee?
This depends on the travel agency. In my case I went to Friendship Travel and Tours in Dusit Hotel and they charge a fee of Php. 1,200. If you find that too steep, you can look for other travel agencies, there are some that charge less than a thousand pesos.
But wait, I read in the Japanese embassy web page that the visa is free, why the fee?
Again, since you can’t go to the embassy directly you have to use one of the accredited travel agencies. Since they handle everything: from checking your requirements to actually going to the embassy you have to pay them a fee. You are not paying for the visa but the agency for handling your stuff.
Why did you go to Booking.com?
I went to this website to make reservations. Thankfully this website allows you to book a hotel or hostel without paying anything yet. Yes, you read that right, you can make a booking and have a reservation without paying for anything yet.
When do you pay then?
When you arrive there.
Will I get charged?
Only if you don’t cancel or don’t show up.
Wait, why didn’t you use Airbnb then?
I heard this from my sister, Japan is slowly regulating Airbnb and they are not particularly keen on travelers using the service, I don’t know if it’s true but since there was Booking.com I decided to use it rather than risk a denial.
Should I book a ticket already?
Like most experiences, it’s better to wait until you have the visa itself before booking any flight. But if you were able to snap an unbelievably low fare then go for it and just include it in your documents. This is an optional document and isn’t really a part of the requirements.
Do I need to include my old passport?
If your old passport has visas from previous travels…wait, if your old passport has USED visas then go ahead. Having an old passport with used visas will look good in your application, it proves you’ve been traveling a lot and…you’ve been traveling a lot.
What visa did you get?
I got a Japanese visa…just kidding, I got a single entry visa valid for 15 days within the next 3 months.
What? Only single entry? What if I want to get a multiple entry visa?
Then my friend you will have to write a letter to the consul stating your reason why you want a multiple entry visa over a single entry one. As to the format of that letter, I am sure there’s one online. Happy hunting.
What if I get rejected? I can’t handle rejection.
Alas not everyone gets lucky, if you are rejected then you will have to resubmit your application after 6 months. After that time you’ll have probably gotten over your early rejection.
I hope this post helps and the best of luck in your own application process.