Customs Regulations

  • Japan has typical customs allowances for duty-free items; see Visit Japan Customs (www.customs.go.jp) for more information.
  • To bring a sword out of the country, you will need to apply for a permit; reputable dealers will do this for you.
  • Pornography that clearly shows genitalia is illegal in Japan.

Visas

Visas are issued on arrival for most nationalities for stays of up to 90 days.

Visitor Visas

Citizens of 67 countries, including Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, USA, UK and almost all European nations will be automatically issued a tanki-taizai (temporary visitor visa) on arrival. Typically this visa is good for 90 days. For a complete list of visa-exempt countries, consult www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/visa/short/novisa.html#list.

Japanese law requires that visitors entering on a temporary-visitor visa possess an ongoing air or sea ticket or evidence thereof. In practice, few travellers are asked to produce such documents, but it pays to be on the safe side.

For additional information on visas and regulations, contact your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate, or visit the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (www.mofa.go.jp).

On entering Japan, all short-term foreign visitors are photographed and fingerprinted.

Visa Extensions

Citizens of Austria, Germany, Ireland, Lichtenstein, Mexico, Switzerland and the UK are able to extend the temporary visitor visa once, for another 90 days. To do so, you need to apply at the nearest immigration bureau before the initial visa expires; there is a processing fee of ¥4000. For a list of immigration bureaus, see www.immi-moj.go.jp/english/soshiki/index.html.

For other nationalities, extending a temporary visa is difficult unless you have family or business contacts in Japan who can act as a guarantor on your behalf.

Resident Card

Anyone entering Japan on a visa for longer than the standard 90 days for tourists will be issued a resident card, which must be carried at all times.

Working-Holiday Visas

Citizens of Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Taiwan and the UK, and residents of Hong Kong between the ages of 18 and 30 (or 18 and 25 for Australians, Canadians and Koreans) can apply for a working-holiday visa.

This visa allows an initial six-month stay and two six-month extensions. It is designed to enable young people to travel extensively during their visit and there are legal restrictions about how long and where you can work. If you are considering moving to Japan and are eligible, a working-holiday visa is a good strategy: it allows you to work while looking for a full-time position that will sponsor a work visa.

To apply, single applicants must have the equivalent of US$1800 in funds (US$3000 for a married couple), plus an onward ticket from Japan. The working-holiday visa must be obtained from a Japanese embassy or consulate abroad. For more details visit www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/w_holiday.

Work Visas

Holders of student or cultural visas who have filed for permission to work or holders of working-holiday visas can work legally in Japan under certain restrictions. A full-time job requires a working visa. There are legal employment categories for foreigners that specify standards of experience and qualifications.

Arriving in Japan and finding a job that offers visa sponsorship is quite a tough proposition these days; though some do accomplish this, you will need sufficient funds to support yourself during the process.

Once you find an employer in Japan who is willing to sponsor you, it is necessary to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility from your nearest Japanese immigration office. The same office can then issue your work visa, which is valid for either one or three years. This procedure can take two to three months.

The JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) program as well as some large English conversation school chains sponsor qualified applicants. Such jobs are best applied for before leaving home.