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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Getting a Japan Tourist Visa for Filipinos as easy as 1-2-3

It used to be difficult to get a Tourist Visa to Japan, I have heard of stories from other travelers who already had plane tickets and land arrangements prepared just to know that their visa application was rejected. However, the Japanese government decided to relax some of its guidelines for Filipino tourists starting late 2014, and thanks to cheaper flight carriers now opening routes to different hubs in Japan such as Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka, I thought to myself, “is this finally the time to visit Japan?” First things first, getting the appropriate visa for the trip.

Japan
Photo from Moyan Brenn

The process of applying for a Japan Visa with the intent of visiting relatives or sightseeing is actually pretty straightforward. The requirements and other related information is already detailed on their site. However, compared to other countries that accept visa applications directly from the tourists, the Japanese Embassy decided to course it through travel agencies.

REQUIREMENTS
1.  Philippine Passport
     Note that the passport must still be valid and have at least two blank pages     
2.  Visa Application Form
      Downloadable here
3. Photo
    Size must be 4.5 cm x 4.5 cm
    You can specify at the photo studio that you will be using the pictures for your Japan Visa Application.
4. NSO Birth Certificate (*)
    Take note that the birth certificate must be valid for 1 year
    If your birth certificate is unreadable or you have no record in NSO, you can give one from the Local Civil Registrar
    If your birth certificate is tagged as ‘Late Registration’, then you have to also submit your Baptismal Certificate, School Record such as Form 137 and Yearbook
5. NSO Marriage Contract, if married (*)
    Must also be valid for 1 year
    * You are exempted to submit the birth certificate and marriage contract if you already have a used Japanese visa
6. Daily Schedule in Japan
    For a sample format, see here
9. Bank Certificate
10. Income Tax Return (Form 2316)

Other required documents:
11. If you are visiting a friend/relative, provide documents such as photos or documentations to prove the relationship
12. Invitation Letter from your guarantor in Japan
13. Residence Certificate if guarantor is Japanese citizen
14. Foreign Registration Certificate from City Hall, if guarantor is not a Japanese citizen
15. Guarantee Letter, if guarantor will shoulder the applicant’s expenses during his/her stay in Japan
16. Income Certificate from the City Hall

Are you eligible for Multiple-Entry Tourist Status?
The multiple-entry status is valid for 5 years and can either be granted for a 15 or 30-day stay. If you are interested to apply, then kindly check if you fulfill either of the following conditions.
* Have you traveled to Japan within the last three years and was not reported to violate any rules and regulations during your stay?
* Have you violated any rules or regulations as a temporary visitor to any G7 country within the last three years? (G7 countries are United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom)
* Do you have sufficient financial capacity to fund your travel?

Additional requirements aside from those mentioned above:
1. Proof of previous travel to Japan
    If your visa is attached to an old or expired passport, include this passport with your application as well
2. Employment certificate
3. Letter requesting for multiple-entry visa
4. If you are not residing in the Philippines, you also need to provide proof of your legal stay abroad

Kindly note that all documents must be an original copy unless specified and allowed by the agency.

AGENCIES ACCREDITED BY THE JAPANESE EMBASSY
Discovery Tour Inc.
Unit301G/Floor Sagittarius Building,H.V.Dela Costa Street,SalcedoVillage,Makati City
Door No.203-A1 2nd Flr.Northgate Center, Don Manuel Gotianuy Complex, Gov.Cuenco Av.,
Banilad City, Cebu City
Door 109 G/F Court View Inn Bldg., Quimpo Blvd., Cor. Sandava Road, Davao City

Universal Holidays
Mezzanine Floor, DusitThani Manila Hotel, Ayala Center, Makati City

Rajah Travel Corporation
3/F 331 Senator Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City
Ground Flr., GLC Bldg., A. Mabini cor. T.M. Kalaw St. Ermita, Manila

Reli Tours & Travel Agency
Mezannine Floor, DusitThani Hotel, Ayala Center, Makati City
South Entrance,SM Department Store, SM Mall of Asia, Bay City, Pasay City
5th Flr., Bridge way, SM MEGAMALL, EDSA, Mandaluyoung City
Basement Level,Door2, SM SOUTHMALL, AlabangZapoteRood,Laspinas City
FS414, 4F, Luck China Town Mall, 293, Lachamber Street, Binondo, Manila

Attic Tours Philippines, Inc.
Unit 202 Coko Bldg.1,Patio Madrigal Compound, 2550 Roxas Blvd., Pasay City
Ground Floor,Traders Hotel Manila,3001 Roxas Blvd.,PasayCity 1305
Lobby,Waterfront Airport Hotel 1 Airport Road,Lapu-lapu City,Mactan Island,Cebu

Friendship Tours and Resorts Corporation
3rd. Flr.,DusitThani Manila, Ayala Center, Makati City
Unit 215A Business Center B, Oakridge Business Park, 880 A.S. Fortuna St., Banilad, Mandaue City

Pan Pacific Travel Corporation
353 E.T. Yuchengco St., Binondo, Manila
Space A, Ground Flr. & 2nd. Flr., Pacific Pace Apartelle suite, 539 Arquiza St., Ermita, Manila
LG01, Herrera Tower Condo, 98 V.A. Rufino St. (Herrera St.) cor. Valero St., Salcedo Vil., Makati City
Diplomat Hotel, 90 F. Ramos St. Cebu City

This is how you can check if your NSO birth certificate is valid. Year indicated here is when the copy was generated

MY EXPERIENCE WITH DISCOVERY TOUR
I decided to course my application through Discovery Tour, Makati branch since they offer the cheapest fee which is P800 for Manila-based applicants, it is also the closest to my office. I have also heard only positive feedback about their service, so it was a no-brainer that I’d pick them.

This was my first time to apply but I still submitted some documents that are only asked for those eligible for Multiple Entry, because it wouldn’t hurt to try, right?

1.  Philippine Passport
2.  Visa Application Form   
3. 4.5 cm x 4.5 cm photo
4. Birth Certificate
    Tip, check beforehand if your birth cert is still valid. Fortunately, there was a Serbilis Outlet in our city hall, so I was able to request for a new copy and receive it the same day. You can also request it online
5. Daily Schedule for a 5-day stay in Japan
6. Bank Certificate
7. Income Tax Return for the year *2010-2015
    Actually only the recent one is needed but I submitted everything because I was unemployed for a couple of months last 2015 which made the total amount of income reported in 2015 to be insufficient
8. * Certificate of Employment
9. * Supporting documents of financial capability such as Investment Certification of Mutual Fund, Stocks, Credit Card statement (first page only)
10. * Letter request for multiple entry
11. * Proof of travel history (visa from China, South Korea) and old passport
* OPTIONAL

You might notice that I didn’t include any plane or hotel bookings, it is not required and the Embassy actually advises not to book anything unless your visa is secured. This is to avoid any loss from the applicant in case the application gets denied.

Discovery Tours is really strict with their deadline, the first time I went there, I arrived at around 4:40 PM and I was only informed that they have a cutoff time of 4:30 PM for visa applications. However, as not to waste effort, I asked them to kindly double check my documents to make sure I have everything needed, turns out the first NSO birth certificate I brought was not valid anymore and will not be accepted by the agency.

I went back there again on a Wednesday, was given a number for queueing purposes and had my documents reviewed. I was given an acknowledgement form and was told to confirm after 5 working days if my passport is already available for pickup. And they were indeed true to their word, by Wednesday the following week, I have already claimed my passport at their office.

By the way, I noticed that there is no standard fee for requesting a Japan Visa. I think the visa fee is actually offered for free but the Japanese Embassy decided to route most of the applications through agencies as to have two sets of eyes double checking the requirements and for easy filtering. The fee asked by the agency is most likely their handling fee.

THE END RESULT


tourist visa japan philippines
my Visa to Japan

Unfortunately, I was only given a Single Entry Temporary Visitor Visa for a maximum stay of 15 days. I was really hoping for a multiple-entry because I have clearly stated my intention to only stay in the country for tourism purposes. I believe my financial documents were also impressive. My friends were surprised that I was only granted single entry as they know other people who had less in their bank account but was given ME. Oh well, at least I was granted the visa and was not declined :)

OTHER FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Please note that these are plainly my opinion only, my information came from reading travel forums and learning about experiences from other travelers who applied for the same visa.

How do I get a multiple entry (ME) visa?
Aside from satisfying all the requirements, you need to satisfy all the conditions given by the Embassy. There is no assurance that you will be given a multiple-entry visa and it is still the consul’s discretion whether a single stay or ME visa will be given to you. Not everyone are also allowed to stay for 30 days, some, like me, are only given 15 days maximum since I only indicated in my itinerary that I plan to stay for only five days.

What if I don’t have a certificate of employment?
You can create an explanation letter as to why you don’t have one, some companies don’t even provide one so you can make your own and ask your supervisor to sign. You can also include payslips and possibly, a copy of your contract.

What if I am a freelance worker?
If you declare your annual income, then submit your ITR. For multiple-entry requests, you can request a COE from your online employer, or create a working history profile based from your previous online engagements. This can include pay histories or project contracts.

For business owners, you can include Business Registration and/or DTI permit.

What if I haven’t booked a flight ticket to Japan yet?
This is recommended by the agency since it’s not 100% guaranteed that you can be granted entry to Japan. But personally, I think it will be a bonus point because you already have proof that you have no intention of overstaying and you will be leaving Japan at a certain date. Some proof would also be a copy of your vacation leave approval if you are employed and also confirmation of hotel reservations.

What if I don’t have an Income Tax Return (ITR)?
You can also write an explanation as to why. Please also submit supporting documents that can back this up.

How much money should I have in my bank account?
Some travel agencies suggest that if you plan to stay for five to seven days, you should have at least P100,000 in your bank account. However, there are some travelers who only had P50,000 and were still granted single entry. I believe it will depend on the activities you included in your itinerary/daily schedule. If you think it is sufficient enough, then go for it.

When should I apply for the visa?
I recommend that you apply a month or two before your intended departure date. Japan Visa is only valid for 90 days for single entry, and 5 years for multiple entry.

What if I get denied?
The reasons for denial is not disclosed by the Embassy, but most likely, it will be related to your bank account balance. I have encountered some who still got denied even though they are full time employees.

What should I write in my “Letter of Explanation” for requesting multiple-entry?
Just be honest :) In my case, I stated that I want to come back to Japan to experience the different seasons such as winter, autumn and spring.

What if someone will shoulder my travel expenses?
You can submit a guarantee letter, say it will be your spouse, boy/girlfriend or parent who will be funding the trip. Don’t forget to include their financial documents such as bank certificates and ITR. If the guarantor is Japanese, follow the requirements I mentioned above. For students, I suggest giving a copy of your school ID or school registration form. For married couples, bring a NSO-certified marriage certificate as well.

What if my bank account looks too suspicious?
What I mean here is that you have tons of money LOL. I know someone who inherited a huge sum and that might seem fishy especially if you are too young. You can provide bank account statements (including the history, when it was opened, etc) and even proof of inheritance if this is the case.

Can first timer tourists to Japan be granted with a multiple entry status?
It depends, but the probability is very slim. You must have a REALLY impressive profile, especially if you are a solo traveler. Here are some things that might help…
* You must have traveled to at least one of the G7 countries. Having a residency or working visa from these countries will also be a big plus.
* Bank certificate amounting to seven digits PhpX,000,000
* Not traveling alone, I have noticed that travelers with good profile and have companions (mostly with their children and spouse) are granted ME

I hope this guide helped you plan for your trip and visa application. Best of luck!

12 comments :

  1. When are you going to Japan? I still have not written about my trip and I know you were looking for information about the village! Where do you plan to go?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. unfortunately, not anytime soon :( this visa is not for Japan haha labo no? so I can still catch up on your backlogs once I can finally afford to go

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    2. Oh :( I'm guessing you're going to Taiwan hehehe. Okay, pressure's on me to finally get a move on on my backlogs!

      Delete
  2. Hello, i just wanna ask i applied my visa last monday and i haven't heard from them it say 5 to 7 days working should i call them if my passport is ready for pick up yet? Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hello, i just wanna ask i applied my visa last monday and i haven't heard from them it say 5 to 7 days working should i call them if my passport is ready for pick up yet? Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi ms.nil, they didnt get my phone number so I really had to call them myself. You need to call the contact number in the acknowledgement paper, most likely your passport is already available :)

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  4. Hi. I'm a fresh grad (no job yet) but my father will shoulder all my expenses (he's with me on this trip) What other documents are needed in my case? Thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jaimie, you can present your dad's financial docs such as bank certificate and ITR. I think you can try to include a copy of your student registration (since they wouldn't know anyway that you've already graduated) or just include a letter that your dad will help pay for your expenses.

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  5. Thanks for this! I have a question, what do you put in the guarantor or reference in Japan if I don't know anyone there? I am planning to go in April and this part of the application form stumps me. Thank you again and your posts have been really informative.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey there! You will be shouldering all your expenses, yes? Then no need to put anything on that field. I just wrote "N/A" or Not Applicable for those items

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  6. Hello, Mariane.

    Thank you very much for this article. It’s very helpful. :)

    I'm planning to go to Japan on April of 2018. I would like to apply for a single-entry visa since I have a Japanese friend who currently lives in Japan and that will serve as my guarantor. I have read of a blog someone and she said, "As a Filipino “Temporary Visitor,” we are only entitled for 15 days, 30 days or 90 days of stay." She again reiterated it and asked, "How many days can a Filipino tourist stay in Japan? Japanese Consul can grant 15, 30, and 90 days of stay to Philippine nationals."

    My concern is, "Can I apply for a '30-days of stay with a single-entry visa as a first timer' in Japan? Or the 30 and 90 days of stay is only given to those who have multiple-entry visa? Have you heard of anyone that have the same case and were granted of that 30-day duration? Is it worth the risk, or should I just apply for a usual 15-days of stay? Thank you very much. Looking forward to your response. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Adi. I think you can still do what I did and try applying for multiple entry since you only have to add few documents, however there is no assurance you'll be granted a multiple, even just a max 30 day single entry visa. I think the consul check.the ticket provided whether a 15 or 30 day would suffice.

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