Monday, March 30, 2009

A step-by-step guide to Japan tourist visa application in the Philippines

A lot of things have changed since I first applied for a Japan tourist visa back in 2006. Gone are the days of super long lines outside the Embassy of Japan. These days personal appearance isn't required, all you have to do is secure the complete requirements, submit through an accredited agency, and you're good to go.

1. Go to http://www.ph.emb-japan.go.jp/visiting/new/visa/tourism.htm and check the requirements.

2. Now let's go through the requirements:
  • Philippine Passport - This should be in no less than PERFECT condition. My sister-in-law's passport had this tiny little slit (tear) just a few mm in length near her photo and the Japanese Embassy told her that her passport is considered tampered. She was told to get a new passport before applying again.
  • Visa Application Form - You can either print this out yourself or get it from the Embassy of Japan's entrance. It is also available from accredited agencies. Should you choose to print it yourself, download it HERE.
  • Photo - 4.5 x 4.5 cm, white background. Again, they are very strict with the size so better make sure whichever establishment is taking your photo knows what they are doing. You can't wear hats, headbands, and big fancy hair ornaments that can be considered distracting. For the specific photo requirements, check HERE.
  • Birth Certificate - Must be an original NSO-certified document, and must have been issued within a time frame of one year.
  • Marriage Certificate - To be submitted only if you are married. Again, must be an original NSO-certified document issued within a year's time.
  • Daily Schedule in Japan - In short, your itinerary. You must detail where you will be every single day of your stay there. In our case I put in all the tourist attractions that we would be visiting, hotel details, and flight details.
  • Invitation Letter from Guarantor in Japan - This is not necessary if you're just going there for sightseeing and tourist purposes. For our family vacation we didn't have an invitation letter but we got visas all the same.
  • Bank Certificate - This is a summary of all your money in the bank. Your bank will provide this for a small fee.
  • Income Tax Return - If you are self-employed, your SEC Registration and Corporate Income Tax will do -- provided you or your spouse's name is actually on the SEC registration. People with incomes they deem too small have a chance of getting denied.
*Take note that with the exception of the NSO-certified documents, everything else can be photocopies since the Embassy of Japan will NOT be returning everything you submit.

3. Choose an accredited agency from the list. That is where you will submit all these requirements. The list is HERE. I highly recommend Friendship Tours. Why? Well...
  • Their processing fee is P800 per person, which is very reasonable compared to anywhere from P1500 to P2500 if you apply at other agencies like Reli Tours or Rajah Travel.
  • They can handle ALL types of Japanese visa applications, not just tourist visas.
Friendship Tours
3/F Dusit Thani Manila
Ayala Center, Makati City
893-8180 / 893-8183
http://visa.friendshipmanila.com

4. After you submit all the requirements, your passport is the only thing that will be given back to you via courier. You should be getting it back in 3-4 working days. In our case, we applied Wednesday afternoon and got our passports back by Saturday morning. That is also when you find out whether you are granted or denied a visa.

5. For inquiries you can call the Japanese Embassy Call Center at the ff. numbers from Monday to Saturday 8am to 5pm (charge is P32/min):

For PLDT/Smart/Touchcard Subscribers 1-909-101-0011
For Globe/Innove/Touchmobile Subscribers 1-900-101-0011
For Bayantel Subscribers 1-903-101-0011

P.S. If there are any changes in the procedure please don't hesitate to let me know so I can update this accordingly. Thanks! :)

Going to the USA? Check out my US visa application guide.
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