Temporary visitors (tourists) :
If you are a citizen of one of the over 50 countries with which Japan has concluded a "general visa exemption arrangement", you need only a valid passport in order to enter Japan as a "temporary visitor", otherwise, you need to apply for a visa before coming to Japan. Temporary visitors from most countries are allowed to stay in Japan for up to 90 days.
If you are a citizens of Austria, Germany, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Switzerland or the United Kingdom, you have the possibility to extend your stay in Japan to a total of up to six months. You still initially enter Japan for 90 days, but can then apply for an extension at an immigration office in Japan.
Temporary visitors are not allowed to engage in any paid activities. Short term studies at certain Japanese language schools are permitted.
Travelers who change airplanes or ships in Japan, may be eligible for a transit visa, which allows them to enter Japan for 72 hours to 15 days for sightseeing purposes, before proceeding to their final destination outside of Japan.
All foreign tourists in Japan are required to carry their passports with them at all times.
Working Holiday visa :
This is a special visa for young citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Korea, France, Germany and the United Kingdom. Visit our working holiday visa page for more details.
Working visa :
Foreigner who wish to work in Japan, need to apply for an appropriate visa before coming to Japan. There are about a dozen types of working visas, each allowing the holder to engage in paid activities only within a defined professional field. For example, there are visas for artists, professors, engineers, instructors and entertainers.
If you change jobs while you are in Japan, you also need to change your status of residence, provided that the new job falls into a different professional field. Most working visas are valid for one or three years and need to be extended before they expire.
Student visa :
Foreigner who wish to study in Japan, need to apply for an appropriate visa before coming to Japan. (An exception may be short stays at Japanese language schools.) There are a few types of student visas depending on the type of studies. Holders are not allowed to engage in any paid activities.
Applicants who are married to a Japanese national can apply for a spouse visa before coming to Japan. Visa holders are allowed to engage in any paid activity. A spouse visa is valid for one or three years and needs to be extended before it expires.
Permanent residence :
People who have resided in Japan for at least five consecutive years and fulfill a few more vaguely defined conditions, may be eligible to apply for permanent residence. Permanent residents do not need to worry about extending visas anymore and are allowed to engage in any paid activity.
All foreigners who stay in Japan for more than 90 days, need to apply for an alien registration card within the first 90 days of their stay. Applications can be made at the local municipal office (e.g. city hall). The alien registration card is an important document required for opening a bank account and similar activities. Foreign residents are required to carry their alien registration card with them at all times.
Re-entry permit :
Workers, students and spouses, as well as permanent residents are required to apply for a re-entry permit whenever leaving Japan temporarily (for example, for holidays) in order to keep their status of residence in Japan. Without re-entry permit, a person who leaves Japan, will lose his/her status of residence. Re-entry permits can be obtained at immigration offices and some airports.
People who have resided in Japan for at least five consecutive years and fulfill a range of other vaguely defined conditions, may be eligible to apply for Japanese citizenship. Japan does not allow multiple citizenship, which means that new citizens will have to give up their previous citizenship(s).