How to Apply for a Japan Tourist Visa

Note: This guide only applies to Philippine residents. For other nationalities, visit MOFA.
Tips and Steps on Getting a Japan Visa by Ada Wilkinson © 2014 | Source:

JUNE 18, 2014 UPDATE: Filipinos still need to apply for Japan Tourist Visa. Read the details here.

How to Apply for a Japan Tourist Visa: I updated this post into a simple outline so that first time applicants of Japan Tourist Visa can fully understand the process and the required documents more.

If you think applying for a Japan Tourist is a grueling process, perhaps after reading my guide, it will give you an idea that applying is as easy as 1, 2, 3 when you know exactly what you’re doing.

Go to PH Embassy of Japan website and look for the type of Visa that best suits you.

Click here  to visit the website of Embassy of Japan in the Philippines and from there look for Types of Visa. For Tourism purposes, you will see there are 3 types of Visa:

1) Visa for Tourism/Visit Friends or Distant Relatives (with or without sponsor);
2) Visa for Visiting Relatives (with sponsor)
3) Visit Relatives/Friends Invited by US Military Personnel (SOFA Status);

Gather and prepare the required documents.

Now that you know which type of Visa that you will be applying for, gather all the required documents listed from the PH Embassy of Japan website. It stated there, ALL documents must be ORIGINAL unless otherwise stated.

Required documents for applicants without sponsor are the following:

1. Philippine Passport. Must have signature and at least 2 blank pages
2. Visa Application Form (Download)
3. Photo (4.5cm x 4.5cm, white background)
4. NSO Birth Certificate
5. NSO Marriage Contract (if the applicant is married)
6. Daily Schedule in Japan (Download)
7. Documents or photos etc. to prove relationship
8. Bank Certificate. Read here on how much show money.
9. Income Tax Return (Form 2316) original and photocopy.

However, you MUST submit these additional documents if applying with sponsor (Relatives, friends, or Boyfriend/Girlfriend, Fiance/Fiancee):

10. Invitation Letter from the Sponsor (Must have handwritten signature. ORIGINAL) (Download)
11. Guarantee Letter from the Sponsor (Must have handwritten signature. ORIGINAL) (Download)
12. Most Recent Income Tax Return Copy (Form 1040 and Form W-2)
13. Residence Certificate (if Guarantor is a Japanese) or Foreign Registration Certificate from City Hall (if Guarantor is not a Japanese)

Additional requirements if Invited by US Military Personnel:

14. Statement of Service (With e-mail address of attestant if possible)

USEFUL TIP #1: Not listed on the website but I recommend sending a copy of your Certificate of Employment or COE if you’re applying without a sponsor.

USEFUL TIP #2: Applicant’s Bank Certificate is not required if you have a guarantor. Alternatively, you should submit your guarantor’s Bank Certificate.

USEFUL TIP #3: If you lack 1 or 2 document because it’s impossible for you to obtain it, you may write a Letter of Explanation addressed to the Consulate-General of Japan why you are unable to submit the said document.

Choose your desired accredited agency, submit the documents, and pay the Visa Application Fee.

You CANNOT directly apply at the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines; instead, you MUST apply through the agencies accredited by the Embassy of Japan. Appointments when submitting documents is typically not necessary. You can just walk-in during their business hours.

Click here to view the list of Accredited Travel Agency for Japan Visa Application.

Wait for the call.

It usually takes 2 to 3 business days to process the application if documentation is complete and in order. If you a receive a call from them, it’s either you’re lacking a document or your passport is ready for pickup.

For some reason, some agencies do not disclose information whether you were granted Japan Visa or Denied over the phone. You will just find out upon passport pickup which is the most thrilling part.

They can only tell you whether you were granted a visa or not upon passport pick up. In some agencies, a white sticker at the back of your passport, it’s Granted! Congratulations! While red sticker denotes Visa Denial.

For denied applications, you may apply again after 6 months.

Downloadable templates for your Japan Visa Application

Or visit. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan website for templates in other language.

My personal experience

In my case, I chose Reli Tours & Travel Agency (SM Megamall) to process my application. My overall experience with them was OK. I had an unpleasant experience during my first time as their staff were very unfriendly. Especially the front desk. But during my second time (2nd Japan Visa application), those irate staff were no longer there and served me better.

I got my Japan Tourist Visa 2 days after I submitted my documents. The Visa Type I applied for was the Invited by US Military Personnel (SOFA Status). It was a breeze!

Other helpful resources:
Japan Tourist Visa Frequently Asked Questions
Increase the chance of getting your Japan Tourist Visa approved

Bonus! USEFUL Sample Templates

Let me show you how I did my Schedule of Stay (Itinerary) and how I write my Letter of Explanation whenever I lack documents. If your sponsor is confused on what to write on the Invitation Letter, I also provided a sample template for that.

IMPORTANT: Please be informed that this will NOT guarantee your Visa Approval! I DO NOT work with Embassy of Japan nor affiliated with the government! These are just sample templates to guide you further on the process.

To see the Sample Templates, Share the content by using one of the buttons below.

  • Myla Carmelli Cruz

    Hello Ms. Ada Can i see the visit Letter Sample Template for Japan Visa Application

  • monic m banjao

    hello to my only one sister. melanie banjao rendon. i like invite you come in japan.

  • Arl Otod

    This is really helpful. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this entry. :)

    • Ada Wilkinson

      You’re welcome Arl. 😉

  • wanderlustre

    I was reading your blog and others an hour before I received a message from Reli tours, asking me to come over and pick up my passport. I was granted a Japanese single-entry tourist visa! yay!!

    I know exactly how the others felt. I thought I didn’t have enough funds. I just have around 11x, xxx in the bank and I’m going to Osaka and Kyoto for 12 days. I thought there was no chance.

    I’ve only been with my current company for a little over a year but I have all the requirements. COE, ITR, leave of absence, round-trip tickets, hostel reservations from hostelbookers, birth certificate, bank certificate and itinerary. I spent a lot of time on the fake itinerary and made sure it will not exceed my budget for sightseeing. I even had a walking itinerary. It has the amount I’m going to spend at each tourist destination like entrance fees and stuff. It’s fake since I won’t be following any of it. I’m going with my boyfriend and we plan to do other things like whitewater rafting, canyoning and hiking since we are both adventurous. But he’s a privileged one for having an Australian passport.

    Prior to this trip, I went to Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia and Hong Kong. I started going out of the country since March. Then, sort of became a monthly thing. I was making ipon of the stamps. Too bad HK don’t stamp the passports anymore.

    Anyways, I submitted my application last Thursday. the visa was granted on Friday and I received my passport today, Tuesday. To those who are reluctant, if you have all the documents, there’s no reason to get denied. Best of Luck!

    • Ada Wilkinson

      Congratulations!! Thank you for sharing your experience here. I hope others read your comment to encourage them that applying for a Japan Visa is now a breeze.

      • Kim

        My sisters best friend is planning to invite her to come leave with her in Japan to watch her kids while she’s at work and get a little compensation. She’s working as a DH in a different country right now so when she comes back her friend will take care of everything.. She’s wondering how does it work, and how much show money does she have to have in a bank or what kind of Visa is it? She’s also had an experience working in Japan as an Entertainer in the past about 8 years ago.. ;-/

        • Ada Wilkinson

          Hello Kim. I would advice to NOT mention that she will be getting a compensation. She’ll only be getting a Tourist Visa and your best chance is to have your sister’s best friend sponsor your sister. She needs to send your sister #10,11, 12, 13 (please read my tips again and you’ll see what those are)

          • Kim

            That makes a lot of since. Thank You.. Does she still need to show a lot of money on the bank? I don’t her salary right now will cover P100,000.00 pesos show money at all.

          • Ada Wilkinson

            No need for show money. Your sister’s best friend also needs to submit his/her Income Certificate from the City Hall in Japan

          • Ada Wilkinson
  • Randy Pentecostes


    are in the process of completing our requirements for the visa. We just found
    out though that I have two registrations with NSO under two completely
    different names so I’m unable to get the birth certificate that matches my
    passport and all my ids etc. We are not aware of the first registration which
    has me carrying the name of my absentee father hence all my life i carried
    another name and my mom’s surname (I’m proud to say I was raised by a single
    mom). We’ve consulted a lawyer already, and I will need to have the first
    registration canceled which takes about a year since it’ll need to thru the
    courts. Since our trip is in November already, here are the items I plan to

    – passport

    – birth certificate from NSO dated 2011 with receipt (late registered
    – I was born 1983 and was late registered 1988).

    – school form 137
baptismal certificate
    – all govt ids, etc that will show that I did not use any other
    name in my lifetime .
    – letter explaining the reason behind the NSO issue which will
    hopefully include a petition already to cancel my first registration

    – ITR
    – COE

    – bank certificates (substantial amount from several banks if
Sunlife MF investment
    – Manulife Investment
    – Philamlife Investment
    – property title
    – plane tickets (piso fare, hehe)
    – Itinerary

    Have traveled to several Asian countries/cities already, HK, Sing, Taipei, Cambodia,
    Vietnam, Korea, Mumbai, Bangkok and Malaysia.

    Any thoughts on the items I plan on submitting? Really worried with the NSO issue,
    funny enough I can’t seem to find anyone similar to my situation.

    We are traveling as a family as well, my mom, sister and GF. It’ my graduation
    gift to my sister who’s graduating in a couple of weeks.

    Hope someone can help..

    Thank you.

    • Ada Wilkinson

      Hello Randy, I just saw your comment. How was your application?

      • Randy Pentecostes

        I learned that this is a common issue in the Philippines. I submitted an affidavit of one and the same person with attached IDs etc, and the basic requirements. Luckily, it was approved.

        I guess just like most other visas, it’s important that you have a history of travelling and proof that you can finance your trip.

        • Ada Wilkinson

          awesome! congratulations on the good news. Now it’s my mother’s turn. Her Marriage Certificate has a misspelled name on it. Will update you as well.

  • abyssal_bliss

    the link to the sample template is broken. i’m particularly keen in seeing a sample for the letter of explanation. kindly fix the link or send me the letter of explanation. i sent you a private message with my e-mail address. if you are not able to see the PM, appreciate if you can reply to this comment to discuss further. cheers!

    • Ada Wilkinson

      Hello Alyssal, Thank you for reporting this error. I fix the link and it’s working now! You should be able to download it.

  • Grem Castillo
    • Ada Wilkinson

      Hello Grim, according to the instruction, you need to Like or Share Tweet locked content for you to see it. Please try it again. If it’s still not working, please reply on this comment and I’ll send you the Sample Letter of Explanation.

      • Grem Castillo

        Hi again, i shared it already. “Thank you for sharing this article! Here’s the Sample Template link to guide you on your Japan Visa Application.” but when i clicked it same page just re-opened.

        • Ada Wilkinson

          Did you refresh the page and clear Cache your browser?

          • Grem Castillo

            opened it already :) whoot thanks again!!

          • Ada Wilkinson


  • Mitch Vargas-Carlos

    hi there. We’re about to apply this coming whole family, four of us. I find the template for daily activities so helpful. But just to clarify, what number do I have to put under contact numbers? I don’t know someone from Japan? I appreciate your help:

    • Ada Wilkinson

      It’s the contact number of the Hotel you plan to stay at 😉

  • Michael Schenk

    Hi there. I have trouble accessing your sample visa application templates. I tried liking, sharing this page, refreshing it, deleting cookies, history. No change. :( I am in the US Navy and wish to have my Filipino wife come live with me in Japan and she is just as willing. I think it is best to help her with the visa with SOFA status as explained above. Your site is the most helpful of them all. Thank you for all your work here. :) Anyway, I have some questions. For how long is that visa good for? Does she have to include an itinerary (in the list of docs) with a return flight if she plans to live with me there as my wife? As I understand from my command, I cannot start the sponsorship process (which includes the multiple entry/ exit stamp on her passport) until she gets there. Apparently she also has to travel all the way from her city of Bacolod to Manila to apply for the same visa. If she has all the docs in order, is it best for her to stay there until visa is released? I haven’t seen such questions in your FAQs, so I hope you can help thanks. :)

    • Ada Wilkinson

      Hello Michael, I’m sorry if you cannot view the Sample Templates, I’d be happy to send it to you via email. Your wife and I were in the same situation before. If she is from Bacolod, I recommend that she apply Tourist Visa (SOFA) in Cebu instead of flying to Manila. (Cebu is nearer to Bacolod). My Japan Visa SOFA was good for 90 days. I actually blogged about my experience on how to get to Japan and live with my American husband in the US Navy. Here the link for your reference:

      Basically, I applied for a 90-day Japan Tourist Visa (SOFA) And yes, she still has to submit all the requirements including itinerary even though she will live in Japan with you soon. When I arrived in Japan, I showed my Letter of Dependency, your military orders, and my Military ID to the Immigration officer and they stamped my passport with SOFA. Then, my husband and I processed the command sponsorship. It was approved after a month. After that, that’s the time that the PSD stamped my passport with multiple entry/exit stamp and the Tourist Visa was automatically cancelled. And that’s it. I can now live with my husband.

      Hope that helps, if you have any questions, I’ll do my best.

      • amme

        Hi thank you for this helpful info. My fiance is in the us army, we are planning to get married next month so im going to apply for a month long visa next week cuz i know that my fifteen day visa is not enough. I just only want to ask if you submit documents notarized in kadena? because i see some post that eveything should be notarize. I have everything but theyre not notarize. And how many photos of you together you submitted? sorry i have many more questions like how long did get ur LCCM and how much it cost? and what to do after youre already married ?what comes first ?go to immigration in kadena for new immigration status or report the marriage first in ph embassy? thank you so much in advance! more power

        • Ada Wilkinson

          Hello, notarized document was an old requirement 2 years ago. Currently in some agencies, there’s no need to notarized the documents. I submitted 3 photos but they returned it after the application was approved. I am unfamiliar with LCCM and the process after your marriage in Japan because we got married in the US. I believe this blog will help you a lot:

          • amme

            thanks for reply and for the link. very helpful.its good to know that i dont need them to be notarize cuz i ran out of time to send it back to him or make him remake eerything. ok i didnt read it well i thought you married in japan! thanks once again and more power to you!

      • Michael Schenk

        Thanks for your reply and for the information in your sites, Ada. It is the most help we have found anywhere in once place. :) can you please email the Sample Templates to [email protected] ? I think my wife will have to get the Military ID at the US Embassy in Manila along with other things since that is the closest place for her to obtain it. Without it but with a SOFA (tourist) visa from the Japanese Embassy, she won’t get the SOFA stamp on her passport, right?

        • Ada Wilkinson

          Hello Michael. Yes, she won’t get a SOFA stamp on her passport without the Military ID. But if ever the immigration officer forgets to stamp (which randomly happens to military dependents), it’s fine, because she can just get the SOFA Stamp in Yokota Base later. I’ll send you the template later when I get home 😉 Where are you base at? My husband is based in NAF Atsugi. Your wife can also contact me if she has any questions.

  • P. Cortez

    Hi! We recently applied for a Japan visa through Discovery Tour, Inc. (Makati) and retrieved our passports, 4 days after, with the Japan visa pasted on one of its pages— Multiple entry (5 years, 30 days stay)! Prior to preparing the requirements for the visa, I read numerous blogs about how to apply, including which agency to go to, and other pertinent data. Your blog was one of those I read and I thank you for the insights :) I am really thankful for bloggers like you who share their experiences with travelling and in acquiring the necessary visas.

    So, as my way of paying it forward, I hope you won’t mind me sharing with you and your readers/followers, my experience in applying for the Japan visa. I hope this will, in one way or another, help them too:)

    There were 3 of us who applied — my husband, me and my daughter. I prepared all the documents required for tourist visa (no guarantor/no invitation) applicants, as listed in the Japan embassy website and the following add-ons:

    1) SEC and business permit (Since my husband owns a business and the ITR we presented was of the company’s);

    2) CEBPAC flight itinerary (we already booked promo flights -Manila to Tokyo-Narita v.v. prior to applying);

    3) Hotel reservation (via no payment required yet)

    4) A letter addressed to the Consul General, stating our request for multiple entry tourist visa and the reasons for the said request. I read in some blogs that the Japan embassy rarely gives multiple entry visas to first time applicants, but they may consider if you have enough proof of financial capacity to travel multiple times to their country. So we took a chance and submitted our letter of explanation for the request.

    Since I am a housewife, the only things I submitted were my fully accomplished application form (with my 2×2 photo pasted on it) and NSO birth certificate. Same thing with my daughter. The rest of the documents were attached to my husband’s application. We applied as a family anyway, so we only needed one set of the rest of the requirements.

    After preparing all the documents, I went on to choose which agency to submit it to. I called each of the 6 accredited agencies for Japan visa processing and found out that Discovery Tour has the cheapest rate among them at P800 per applicant. The fee was my only consideration in choosing. I believe that since they are all accredited, they must all be credible and reliable.

    A day before I went to their office to submit the requirements, I called them again and gave them a run down of the documents I prepared just to check if I got them all correct. I think this is really an important step. Oh well, aside from just being the “OC” person that I am (hehe), I really think it will be too much of a hassle and a total waste of time if you just go straight to their office only to find out that you have incomplete or invalid documents, right? Right! Submission day came and everything went smoothly! Upon arriving in their office, I got a number queue and waited for my turn, then gave the documents to the staff, signed a waiver, paid, then got an acknowledgment receipt (which you need to present upon claiming your passports). The entire process took an hour and a half (the actual process of submission took more or less 10 mins. only, the rest of it was the waiting-for-my-turn time!).

    So there goes my experience! If you or your readers have questions regarding my application you may ask me here:) Thank you so much for the help! God bless you!

    • Ada Wilkinson

      First of all, Congratulations! I was surprised that the Japan Visa Application fee at Discovery was very cheap compared to Php 1.5-2K of other accredited agencies. Thank you for sharing!

      Actually, during my first and second Visa application, I was very very OC as well. It’s better to be sure of the documents you are submitting than a denied visa! So I agree with you there.

      Thank you very much for sharing your Japan Visa Application Experience! I’m sure people will find your comment here very helpful whenever they read this blog 😉 Enjoy Japan! I live near Tokyo by the way 😉

  • Tootsie

    Thank you for this very informative post! I need further help though, I was wondering if SoFA status is applicable to me even if I am only a friend? He would be my guarantor but we thought it would be best to apply with guarantor but still under SoFA, because without the SoFA status we could be breaking rules regarding the US navy making contacts with foreign nationals like me. He shall list me as an official foreign friend and get his boss to sign the statement of service, then I apply under SoFA status. Are we on the right track?

    • Ada Wilkinson

      Hello Tootsie, yes you can apply for SOFA Tourist Visa. My husband was a guarantor when my best friend applied and she was approved. Just submit all documents. And since you are friends, you need to show proof of relationship like photos of you together or emails and chat.

  • Aileen

    Hi Ms. Ada, i don’t have a guarantor or a person for reference in Japan. What shall I put in the visa application form? Thanks

    • Ada Wilkinson

      Just put None 😉

  • Lia P

    Are you already married when you went to Japan? or just boyfriend and girlfriend since you mentioned you used the SOFA Status.

    • Ada Wilkinson

      Hello Lia, right now I’m already married. But when I applied for SOFA Visa for the first time, he was my boyfriend.

      • Lia P

        May i know if where did you get married?

        • Ada Wilkinson

          US 😉

  • Sarah Grace Pillay

    Hi Ms. Ada, I am planning to visit my boyfriend in Japan he is a military guy so I am under the SOFA status also he will be my guarantor. Do I still need to submit 2316 or its okay not to? He will be handling all of my expense when I am there and I will be the one to shoulder the air fare.

    I’m really scared that my passport won’t be stamped. Another question I have is how did you deal with the immigration officers in PH and in Japan? I had an experience before with our immigration they rejected me so I am kind of scared to face them now kindly give me advise and to do and don’ts thanks a bunch! ^_^

    • Ada Wilkinson

      Hello Sarah,

      They are not heavy on Visa applicants with Military sponsors. There’s no need to submit form 2316 because your boyfriend will be sponsoring you. He just need to submit his form 1040 and w-2 and that would suffice it, along with guarantee and invitation letter.

      As for the accommodation part of your itinerary, just write your boyfriend’s place address.

      During my first time visit in Japan, they just ask me whats the purpose of my visit, my emergency contact and that’s it. Just be truthful when answering and relax. :-p

  • anbarasi balamurali

    Last 3 month iwas stay in japan n torist visa… now im n india… and then again i want to go japan..for toursit visa. its posible or not..

    • Ada Wilkinson

      I don’t know your nationality, but if you were able to go to Japan before then yes, you can visit Japan again anytime.


    hellow ms ada .i m from Oman befor in 2008 i go to japan for bussnis tour . now i need to go again aand after go to japan i need start my bussnis and need permanent visa .is it possibel???

    • Ada Wilkinson

      Hello, I’m sorry I don’t know anything about Visa Procedures of Oman Nationals. Please speak to Embassy of Japan near you.

  • ス ジェ

    hi! just wanna ask po for some tips. i’m planning to travel to japan for the first time, and i don’t have any travel history outside the Philippines but japan would be the first. Do you think it’ll affect the chance of me getting a tourist visa, single-entry? because i’ve read one blog saying that “don’t apply for tourist visa if it’s your first time travelling outside the country”. T__T i just wanted to experience japan though; and regarding the requirements, i’m sure that i can provide everything in order. It’s just that, my passport is blank LOL. ^_^ hoping for your generous reply. thank you! ^^

  • r-shane

    Hi good day! I can’t view the sample templates even if i already tweeted and liked it. Can i have copies through email pls? It would be a great help for my japan visa application. Thank you! :)