Getting a Travel Visa in Japan

By Mommy Donna and Kib - April 13, 2019

Note: This will be the first of the series of our Japan travel adventure.

Getting a visa is one of the greatest milestones a Filipino can achieve.

Being a citizen of a developing country like the Philippines can be a bit challenging especially if you want to travel abroad.  You have to prove your financial capacity that you can support your trip and show your integrity that you will return to the Philippines after your trip.

God has blessed us to travel abroad recently.  We started our out-of-the-country adventure in 2017 during the celebration of my 40th birthday in Hong Kong (see post here).  A few months after, we went to Thailand together with my mom and aunt (see post here).  Last year, we went back to Hong Kong, and this time, we went to Macau for a day trip with my uncle and aunt (see posts here and here).  I also planned to go to Taiwan last year but Kib missed going on local trips, so we went to Coron instead (see post here).

This year, I prayed for something big--travel to Japan.

I have been actually praying for this for two years.  Of course, God doesn't grant prayers without you preparing for them.  I also asked my friends to also pray with me because I really wanted to go to a country that issues visas (I was denied a US visa before).  

I read blogs and went to a travel agency to ask for the requirements needed for the Japan visa application.

Here are the things that I prepared:

1.  Filled-up application form (I went to Reli Tours at Megamall to ask for an application form, although you can also download here).

Here are the things that you have to take note of when filling up the form:

a.  Fill up the application form in ALL CAPS.
b.  If there are items that are blank, just put N/A.
c.  For the guarantor part, I didn't put any details on my application form because I'm the one who is paying for the trip.  I put details of the guarantor part on Kib's application form since I will be shouldering his expenses.  So, if you're applying as a family, you have to put guarantor details on your kid's visa application form.  A guarantor letter is also needed; I just asked for a template from the travel agency and filled that up.  You can also write your own guarantor letter; indicate that you will be shouldering the expenses of your dependents.
d.  If there are items on the application form that are not clear to you, you can ask the travel agency how to fill it up.  They are very much willing to help you with your visa application.  On the portion where you will put the number of days of the visit, indicate the number based on your itinerary.

2.  Bank certificate (original).  This is the tricky part.  A friend of mine asked me how much should be in your bank account.  Honestly, I don't know, but I think the amount on your bank account should have more than enough funds to support your holiday in Japan.  So, try to do the math on how much you're going to spend in Japan with some buffer for incidentals.  Include the plane fare, hotel, entrance to attractions, daily food, and transportation expenses.  I will share more detailed expenses on another blog.

For the bank certificate, ideally, all adults should attach their respective bank certificates to prove their capacity to travel.  However, if there will be a guarantor, the guarantor's bank certificate is enough, just don't forget to fill out the guarantor portion on the application form.

The bank certificate should be three months old prior to your visa application.

3.  Birth certificate and marriage contract in PSA form not more than a year old. This is for all visa applicants and not just the principal applicant.  So again, if you're applying as a family, each member should have a birth certificate attached.  If you're married, then you need to attach your marriage contract even if your spouse is not traveling with you.  In my case that my civil status is already single, I still need to attach my annotated marriage contract because, on Kib's birth certificate, my civil status is married.

4.  Proof of employment/business.  For a freelancer like me, a contract of engagement should be attached or a copy of the DTI certificate of your business.  This is to prove that you're going back to the country and also that you have legit sources of funds.  All adult applicants should have this requirement.  However, if an adult does not have a job yet, the guarantor's proof of employment can be used in lieu of proof of employment/business.  For retirees, it's okay not to submit proof of employment/business, as long the bank documents are enough to cover the financial capacity requirements.

5.  ITR (Income Tax Return).  Yes, this is one of the reasons why I registered at BIR last year (see post here).  Since I will just file for my annual income this year, I made a letter stating the reason why I don't have an ITR yet.  To support my letter, I also gave a copy of my Certificate of Registration.  All adult applicants should have this requirement.  If an adult does not have an ITR, a letter of explanation should be submitted (e.g. a housewife, a senior citizen, etc.).

6.  2x2 photo with white background.  Make it clear to the photographer that your photo is for a Japan visa.  You should wear a top with a collar and just have simple make-up.  Remove earrings and your hair should be tucked at the back of your ears.  Write your name and signature on the back before pasting your photo on the application form.  You can also wear a Mona Lisa smile.

7. Itinerary.  Some blogs about Japan itinerary have a very detailed itinerary, like putting the time and all activities including lunch and dinner on their list.  In my case, I just put the places that I will visit without any time indicated.  (Tip: make your itinerary realistic, meaning, you can easily go from one place to another.  Group the nearby places in one day.  I will share my itinerary on another blog).

8.  Passport.  Your passport should not be less than six months before expiry.  The passport will be left to the agency and will be returned to you upon approval/disapproval of your visa application.

9.  Visa application fee.  This varies depending on the travel agency.  Japan embassy has a list of accredited agencies on their website.  You can apply to any of the travel agencies listed.  In our case, we applied at Reli Tours and paid Php950 for each application.

The list of requirements that you will see on other blogs and travel agencies is a bit complicated so I made it simple for you.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS PROCESS IS BASED ON A SINGLE-ENTRY JAPAN VISA APPLICATION.  There are other types of Japanese visas, so better check Japan Embassy's website for more info on other types of visas.

When to apply for a Japan visa?  

Ideally, apply for a Japan visa at least 30 days before your intended departure.  Japan visa application usually takes 7-10 working days or can be lesser if there are no problems with your application.  There is no rush visa application.  When you are granted with Japan visa, you have 90 days to use it.  The date of the approval of the Japan visa is already considered Day 1.

In my case, we submitted our visa application on a Monday, but since we submitted it beyond their cut-off time, our visa application was submitted to Japan embassy on a Wednesday.  I received a text message from the travel agency on a Thursday late afternoon informing me that my passport is already ready for pick-up.  They don't discuss the results via SMS; you have to go there personally to pick up the passport.  I picked up the passport on a Friday.  Thank God we got approved, wee!

Here are other things that you have to note:

1.  There is no need for you to reserve a hotel room or get a plane ticket prior to your application.  Just say any hotel name on the application and get flight details on any airline.  Again, make it realistic.  Give a hotel name that you can really afford and is commensurate to your budget and financial capability.

2.  Joint bank accounts can also be presented as proof of financial capacity.

3.  If you can establish your foreign travel history first.  This is to really prove that you have the capacity to travel.  Southeast Asian countries, Hong Kong, Taiwan (for now) are visa-free, try to travel to these countries first before applying for a Japan travel visa.  I'm telling you, traveling to Japan can be quite expensive, so your travel history is proof that you have enough funds and that you go back to your home country after each travel.  

4.  Pray.  I strongly believe in the power of prayer.  Pray to the Lord to give you the desires of your heart.  While praying, start to prepare all your necessary documents and credentials prior to your visa application.  

5.  Don't be afraid to ask questions to the travel agency.  The travel agency knows better and they really check all your requirements one by one.  It is better to submit the requirements in person than by sending a representative so that you will immediately find out if you need additional requirements or not.  It is also to establish trust in the travel agency.  They also interview the applicant.

6.  Be honest.  No need to falsify information to make an impression, because the Japanese embassy has its way of knowing if the documents you submitted are legit or not.  

There you go!  I do hope that you will also get your Japan visa!  These days it is easy to apply because of the upcoming Tokyo Olympics which is less than 500 days away.  Let us take this opportunity to travel to this wonderful country and for sure, you'll also fall in love just the way I did.

More stories of our Japan adventure soon!

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