Working holiday visa for Japan – how to get one

A working holiday visa for Japan will allow you to holiday in Japan for up to a year. You will be allowed to work to fund your holiday (for example by teaching English). But of course you don’t have to work if you already have enough money for your whole holiday.

united kingdom british passport

I’m applied from the UK so my advice is UK centric, but the scheme operates in a similar way in other countries where it is available – at the time of writing this includes Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and others. The Japan Association for Working Holiday Makers has a complete list of eligible countries.

If applying from the UK you’ll want to read the guidance from the Embassy of Japan in the UK.

There are a few unofficial links giving good general advice. This one from Guillaume Erard has a great account of what he did to apply for the Japan working holiday visa. This YouTube video is also a good watch.

As there is good information out there, I’m going to add extra information that I have, rather than just repeating what has already been said.

The Japan visa application form

You need to fill in the standard Japan Visa application form. There isn’t a separate form for a working holiday visa. It isn’t quite clear from the website but the form you need is this one.

For purpose of journey I put ‘Holiday (working holiday visa application)’.

For route of present journey I filled in all three parts. It doesn’t matter if your change your port of entry, date of entry, or flight later on. I think they just want to make sure you know you are trying to go to Japan!

In the passport section I circled ‘ordinary’.

For the ‘guarantor or reference’ I put the name and address of the friend I was going to stay with. Exactly the same as what I put in the ‘where / who are you going to stay with’ section above it.

I glued a 45x35mm passport style photo into the photo space on the form.

The CV

For this I produced a cut down version of my CV. I didn’t think they’d want the same level of detail a recruiter would want, so I made it fit on a single side of A4 – with a bit of space to spare!

I started with the basics – name, address, email, telephone number. I put a run down of my jobs and responsibilities. There was a section with my qualifications, and a final section talking about hobbies.

Proposed itinerary

This was by far the most difficult part of the application to do. It is made more difficult by the almost complete lack of guidance on the Japan embassy website.

In order to write a good itinerary I decided to plan the whole year out. The where, when, what, and how much. I looked at tourist information for where I wanted to go, planned it out on an Excel calendar, and worked out a budget on another Excel spreadsheet.

This I then condensed into a single side of A4. I’ve heard that other people such as Guillaume Erard have had to re-write their itineraries in the Embassy as theirs were too long. Mine was more detailed than his but they were fine with the first version I gave them. When I went to hand it in I had actually brought an even shorter version with me just in case!

I believe what they are looking for is that you are serious about having a holiday in Japan and have done some planning. They aren’t interested in exactly what you are doing. There is no reason why you can’t change you plans later – you don’t have to stick to the itinerary. What I think they want to filter out is people who are just going to go to Japan, stay in one place, and work full time, instead of having a holiday.

The written reason

For this I again stuck to a single side of A4 paper. I’m sure they are very busy in the Embassy and don’t want to read any life stories.

I wrote about what a good time I’d had on my previous visit to Japan, and about what I wanted to do if I was given a visa to spend longer there.

I’m guessing they want to see some genuine interest in going to Japan. Again this part of the application is probably there to dissuade people who just want to work full time from applying.

Bank statements

They want to see evidence that you have enough to get started in Japan (and get back to your home country). If you apply from the UK they’ll want three months worth of original bank statements showing a certain level of cash.

This is a pain for anyone who has swapped to paperless statements. Fortunately I knew I wanted to apply over three months before I needed to so I switched back to paper statements.

Going to the Japan Embassy in London to make the application

Having got all the necessary material together I headed off to the Japan Embassy which is opposite Green Park.

embassy of japan in london

Outside the embassy is a security contractor. You’ll have to tell him or her why you want to go inside. You might have to show some ID or your application forms to get in.

You’ll then go through airport style security. Any bags will be x-rayed and you’ll need to go through a metal detector. So don’t bring unnecessary metal with you unless you enjoy being scanned in more detail!

Then you go up the stairs to a little counter. There was a Japanese lady behind the glass and I told her I wanted to hand in my working holiday visa application. She asked to see the visa form. She didn’t want to check it – she just wanted to make sure I’d filled in the right form before going through.

She told me to go through the glass doors and press the bottom green button on the ticket machine at the end of the room.

On doing this I got a numbered ticket. An electronic board above flashes your number up and tells you which counter to go to. I’d only sat down for a minute and my number came up. Efficient!

I went to the counter and a British guy served me. I told him I wanted to hand in my application. I gave him the visa form, the CV, itinerary, written reason, bank statements, and my passport.

He looked through them and re-confirmed a few details such as my intended length of stay, and the fact that I had no criminal record. He also asked about my job plans in Japan.

He signed various bits of the application form, photocopied the bank statements, and then stamped the form.

He gave me back my bank statements and also a receipt for my application and passport (which you have to leave at the embassy). He said to come back one week later to collect the result of my application.

He said that he couldn’t promise anything but everything on my application looked fine.

One week later – do I get a working holiday visa?

Yes! I was in the embassy for less than 10 minutes. I paid my £6 (Update 2010/11/08: this has now gone up to £20) and I got my passport back with the working holiday visa stuck inside.

japan working holiday visa

It was dated from the day they approved the visa which was a few days before I collected it and valid for a year. So from this date I have one year in which to enter Japan.

Yen and flights

I bought my Yen from the Thomas Exchange Global foreign currency shop in London, and booked my flight with Finnair (flying from London to Osaka via Helsinki).

Getting into Japan with the working holiday visa

When you arrive at the airport in Japan you need to go into the normal foreigners queue. When you get to the counter you’ll need to give the immigration staff member your passport and immigration (embarkation/disembarkation) card. I handed him the passport with the visa visible, but I’m sure you don’t need to as the fact you have a visa should be on their computer system already.

There is a machine to take the finger prints of your two index fingers, and there is a camera as well which takes your photo.

They can give you a short interview at this point as well. On my previous visit to Japan where I didn’t have a pre-arranged visa (I was just going via the normal tourist visa-waiver scheme) I was asked quite a few questions about what I was doing in Japan and how long I was going to be there.

This time though the guy didn’t ask me anything. He stamped the visa to say ‘USED’. Then he printed off and stuck in a landing permission sticker. This is dated from the day you enter Japan, and expires one years after you enter Japan.

To be clear the validity of your stay in Japan is from entry to Japan. It is not the dates which are in your visa. The dates that are in your visa are the dates between which you can enter Japan, to start your one year stay.

He also removed the disembarkation part of the immigration card, and stapled the embarkation part of the card into the passport. I had left the ‘Flight No.’ part of the embarkation card empty, as I didn’t know what flight I would be getting back to the country at the end of my travels.

Whereas a tourist landing permission sticker gives the status as ‘Temporary Visitor’, the working holiday landing permission sticker says ‘Designated Activities’.

He handed the passport back, and gave me a small leaflet reminding me that I would have to register as an alien within 90 days.

Finally don’t forget the visa is single entry and is marked as ‘USED’ the moment you enter Japan! So don’t even think of making a short break to South Korea, or back home without sorting out a re-entry permit first.

If you leave without a re-entry permit your one year landing permission will be invalidated, and then your only way to re-enter would be under the normal tourist visa waiver scheme. Which they might not let you do if you have already been in the country for a while!

Can I stay in Japan longer than a year?

A one year working holiday visa for British citizens can’t be renewed. However you can get your residence status changed to a normal working residence status from within Japan if a company is willing to give you the necessary paperwork. This will give an automatic extension to your period of stay by one or three years from the day the status change is granted.

There is a lot of conflicting information on the internet about this, much is out of date, and there is a big difference between what embassy/immigration officials might informally tell you, and what can be done if you actually submit the application. It is probably not worth asking anyone if this can be done as they will probably say ‘no’. Definitely don’t ask about this when applying for your working holiday visa, as with the working holiday visa you are only supposed to be intending to stay for a year.

The actual situation that I have found as of 2011 is that you can submit a ‘change of status’ application in Japan before your working holiday visa expires, and this will (if approved) convert your visa to a normal working visa and give you another year (or three) in the country. There is no need to leave the country to get this done. All you need is a company who is willing to sponsor you. I may post more about this topic in a future post.

So if you want to change a working holiday visa into a work visa, don’t ask – just submit the application and it will probably be ok. I managed to get my Working Holiday designated activities residence status changed to a three year Specialist in Humanities a few weeks before it expired so it can be done!

109 Comments on “Working holiday visa for Japan – how to get one”

  1. Hi,
    I was on my way to the embassy with all my documents this week when my step-dad sent me the URL of this post…. STOP! I rewrote all of my stuff, especially my itinerary, based on what you say…. however, all the info given by you, Guillaume and the dead posh fella on youtube is really excellent and concise and all but I think from the position of a future applicant it’d be much more helpful to get the experiences of someone who got denied the visa! And find out why! I think I’ve ticked all the boxes you, and the other two, have outlined, but I’d really like to know the specific reasons people get denied a WHV….
    anyone, slightly panicked ramble over….
    thank you very much for all the information, really handy… wish me luck! Robin

  2. Hi Robin,

    Thanks for your comment. Before getting my visa I was like you and was worried that it might get denied. I think the reason there aren’t people writing about why their working holiday visa application was denied is because the embassy are approving almost all applications.

    The impression I get is that as long as you fit their criteria (which you can self-assess before applying) then you should have no trouble. If you are in the correct age bracket, have no criminal record, have proof of funds for your holiday, etc, then you should be given the visa.

    There is a quota of visas available per year (1000 at the moment in the UK), but it seems they get way less people than that applying (maybe 300-500 based on figures from There therefore is no competition, so it is simply a matter of whether you meet the criteria.

    Good luck with your application, and please leave another comment on the post to let me know how you got on!

    And if you make it into Japan you may find my post on doing the alien registration useful.


  3. Hello again,

    Good news, I succeeded in getting my Japanese WHV without any setbacks!

    The only issue was where the funds in my bank account came from, but when the clerk dealing with me asked I produced evidence of various investment bonds in my name and this settled the issue. Other than that everything went through really smoothly and quickly exactly as you say.

    My application differed slightly from yours, in that I didn’t have a contact in Japan to put on the Application and I didn’t mention a financial breakdown of my travels in my itinerary. So these two issues aren’t essential, though I’m sure that it doesn’t hurt!

    Now to start booking flights! Thanks again for all the info & help… turns out I was worrying a bit too much.

    All the best, Robin

  4. Hi Robin,

    Congratulations on getting your working holiday visa! Have a great time in Japan. It is a really amazing country!

  5. Hi Guillaume,

    Thanks for the link – your article helped me a lot when I was applying for my visa.


  6. Wow, thanks for all the info everyone!
    Me and my boyfriend are planning to go next March or thereabouts, and I’ve only recently looked up the visa details. Pretty late I know but we’ve just graduated, got full time jobs and time is passing like a blur.
    reviewmylife, the link you gave for the number of working holiday visas Japan gave out to the UK has made me feel a lot more relieved. I was getting worried that my application might be rejected because we’d be applying pretty late in the year and all the visas would be taken. But going by those figures (even though they only go up to 2007) we should be ok. Also, I guess if we do get rejected cause they’ve filled their quota we only need to wait a few more weeks before we apply for the next year.

  7. Hi Miranda – If you want to go in March then it is probably still too early for you to apply! When I visited the embassy they would only accept the application if you were intending to travel to Japan within the next three months.

    Worth checking with them but I think if you want to travel during March you’ll have to wait until December before you can apply.

    Don’t worry about them running out of visas – I don’t think that ever happens!

    Let us know how your application goes.

  8. Oh man!
    I stumbled across the Japanese Working holiday Visa when planning the rest of my proposed trip…Now i’m not sure what to do! some advice from experienced travelers might help me make a decision here.
    So, i’ve already pretty much planned my itinerary for a 5 month travelling trip, then a year working holiday visa in Australia. My 5 month travelling itinerary includes:
    – Trans-Mongolian from Moscow to Beijing (2 weeks)
    – Japan (3-4 weeks)
    – China (3-4 weeks)
    – Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore (2.5/3 months)
    – Oz (year)
    My immediate reaction when i looked at how relatively simple it was to get a working holiday visa for Japan was “I wanna do that now!!” But as Japan is one of the first places i’m going, i will still want to see the rest of the countries on my list. Thing is, i’m amazed by Japan, i can’t wait to go there, it’s #1 on my list of top places to visit. I think i could definitely be there for a year, soak up the culture a lot more ya know?
    Question is, what would you do in my shoes?! I am hopeless when it comes to making these sorts of decisions! I mean the logical thing to do is test the water, check out Japan for a month and see if i would like to stay there longer later on in life?
    I’m 25 years old. I guess i’m just scared of not getting the opportunity to utilize the year visa. One route i could go down is to apply (and hopefully get) a holiday visa for when i go travelling. Then if i like it that much there, i can just stay?! But then if i feel i love it there but want to travel around some more, i’ve wasted the visa!
    crikey, this is going to be a tough decision to make…..
    Do you know whether i would be able to apply for the Japanese visa if i were to be in Oz, but still a UK citizen?! Or is that pretty much impossible? And do you know where the cutoff point for the yearly quota is?
    Any advice, or details of your experiences would be very much welcomed!!! This has definitely thrown another ‘spanner in the works’ as they say…

  9. Hi Craig, Sounds like you will have a really amazing holiday with all those countries to go to. Here’s a few bits of info that might help.

    If you are a UK citizen then you must apply via the Japan embassy in London. You therefore need to be in the UK to do it.

    You can only ever be issued with one working holiday visa for Japan, so it only makes sense to apply if you are going to spend a significant amount of time in Japan. If you are only going to spend a few months in the country you can just enter a tourist visa.

    One idea could be to use Japan as a base to see other countries in the area *as long as* you get yourself a multiple re-entry permit once you are in Japan. This would allow you to leave and re-enter Japan as many times as you like during the course of your visa’s working holiday year.

    There are two types of re-entry permit – a single re-entry permit, and a multiple re-entry permit. The multiple one is double the cost of a single one, so if you are going to travel out and back into Japan at least twice you might as well get one of those.

    If you have a working holiday visa and you leave Japan without a re-entry permit then your visa is automatically cancelled when you leave. It is very important not to forget this!

    As far as the visa quota goes, from what I’ve heard from others, and from the embassy staff in London – they never run out – there are always less people applying for them then there are visas available.

    That doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get one though – but as long as you meet all their criteria you should be alright.

  10. Hi,

    I’m going to hand in my visa application very soon and this site has been invaluable!

    I’m still very nervous about the whole thing though- can anyone tell me what kind of questions I am likely to be asked at the embassy?


  11. Hi Christine, In my case I was only asked a very small number of questions. The man just asked if I had a criminal record, how long I intended to stay, and if I had any job plans over there. My ‘interview’ lasted literally 2-3 minutes.
    Good luck – and let us know how you get on!

  12. hi, i had a quick look at this website and applied for my holiday visa last week, i’ve just received it today but id jus like to say i gave them one photocopy bank statement and everything was itinerary was also very brief and had no problems it seems. Also got the option to extend the visa to a 3 year if i present my koseki! which is handy :P

  13. Hey R, you got a option to upgrade to a 3 year one if you present your koseki? What is that? I’m applying for my working hol visa tomorrow, I was worried about it until I read all these comments… Wish me luck :)

  14. KK – a koseki is something you’d only have if you are part of a Japanese family. It is like a birth certificate, death certificate, and marriage record all in one.

  15. hey there… my visa has been permitted yesterday… and it wasnt much of a big deal… sure i spend some hours on it, but in the end it seemd to be easy… when i found this website ive been a little confused if my application was good enough, because i didnt have any financial planings in it (for example)… im not sure if you really need them, but i did include them in the end… though i wrote nothing special about it… just name and price of one hostel per main island… i think in the end its enough when you ensure them somehow that you’re going to work and travel, let the main focus be travelling (what you’re doing there doesn’t matter anyway after your visa is permitted)… we just went there with the information they wanted (each embassy has the information on its homepage). filled out an application form, they read through everything and after 15 minutes they just asked about our current jobs and five minutes later they told us “yo, come back in two weeks to get your visa”… i think it doesn’t really matter what kind of work you’re doing ( for example, i don’t work at the moment, since my company has been shut down a month ago), they just wanted to know it for their files…
    regards and have fun while applying, gorden

  16. Hi there,
    Just wanted to thank you for this really helpful guide. I have just been granted my WHV, and your advice really helped me!


  17. Hi there – I have a quick question. Following your guide I got my working holiday visa issued in December. I plan to fly out to Japan in the first week of March. As the visa is valid for a year, does the year start when i enter the country or did it start when they issued it in December?

    Thanks in advance – Tom.

  18. Hi Tom – this is something I was wondering about too when I got my visa.

    The date is from when you enter Japan in March. You have one year from the date of your visa to enter Japan, and then once you enter the country you can stay for a whole year.

    Also don’t forget to get a re-entry permit (once in Japan) if you plan on leaving Japan and returning back to Japan during the validity of your visa.

    Have fun on your holiday!

  19. Hi there,

    finding all this stuff immensely useful. My only problem is I didn’t know about the bank statements. Is there anyway they will accept electronic statement print outs? What can I do?


  20. Hi Lyndsay, you’d have to ask at the embassy to find out if they’ll accept electronic statements. I switched my statements back to paper about 4 months before applying for the visa so I wouldn’t have to find out.

    If the Japanese embassy won’t accept print outs you might have to back order some statements from you bank – they might charge you for this. If you find out what the embassy’s stance on statement print outs is please leave another comment. Good luck!

  21. Thanks! I’m going to telephone the Embassy and ask. I’ll get back to you about that. Another thing I wanted to ask is not about the Visa but about health. I am on a few medications I need to keep taking while I’m out there. Nothing life threatening. What happens out there in terms of health and medication prescriptions?


  22. Hi Lyndsay, I’m no expert but if you need to take in medicines make sure you can legally bring them into the country!

    You may need to get an import certificate. Make sure you apply in plenty of time as you have to apply a Japan address.

    The Japan Embassy for the US has information which looks like it might be relevant for those in the UK –

    And make sure you have adequate health insurance for emergencies (backpacker type insurance can cover you for a year).

    But if you think that you will have to have medical appointments over there you should investigate if you want to join / are eligible to join the Japan National Health Insurance (NHI). Medical services are much happier to accept people with NHI than private insurance. I don’t know much about NHI so you’ll have to do some research – there does seem to be a fair bit of info on the internet about it.

  23. I called up the Embassy to enquire about the paper vs electronic statements. They said I could print out the statements, but they would need to be able to see on the printout something linking me to the account number.

    Thanks for the info about finding out about medicines and health care etc. I’m looking into it further now.

  24. I am about to apply for it, am curious what jobs you did whilst starting out in Japan, are you now on a current sponsored work visa with a company or became a permanent resident?
    If someone came on a WH then considered starting a business in Japan, you mentioned on one of your comments to change residency status within Japan which does not require the applicant to go out of Japan re enter, is there any more info you can help and provide in regards to WH deciding to set up a business in Japan and changing their residency status or more info on obtaining a sponsored work visa from a company whilst in Japan. Your help and information is always very welcomed. ^_^

  25. Hi K, I didn’t do any jobs whilst on my WHV! But I’m now on a work sponsored visa. To get a permanent residency status requires you to have been in Japan for about 10 years (or less if you are married to a Japanese).

    Starting a business in Japan is complex and expensive, and you’ll certainly need a lot of money, and legal help in the country. There is some government information here

    If you just want to stay in Japan beyond your WHV the easiest way by far would be to get an English teaching job.

  26. Hi. I’m thinking of applying for the working holiday visa this year and i was wondering what i could do to continue living in Japan after that 1 year has ended. Do you need a degree to apply for the 3 year working visa? I do not have a degree so i think it may be difficult. :(

    To get a working visa do you just need a company to sponsor you?

  27. Hi Daniel, being realistic it is unlikely you will be able to get a extension to your period of stay. Getting a status of residence that allows you to work usually requires you to have a bachelors degree.

    To get such a status of residence you need a company to sponsor you (which means they have to offer you a job), but you also have to satisfy other conditions from the Japanese immigration. One of the main ones for most jobs is that you have a bachelors degree.

    You may get lucky and find a company willing to sponsor you, but I’m not confident of your chances of getting the application past immigration.

    There are exceptions – for example if you want to study in Japan you can get a student visa (and you can then apply for permission to do part time work). And there are cultural visas for studying some parts of Japanese culture.

    If you are married to a Japanese and get a spouse visa or are married to a non-Japanese and get a dependant visa you would be able to stay as well.

    Sorry if this doesn’t sound very cheerful, but I want to be realistic.

    Have a really amazing time with your one year WHV – Japan is great place to spend a year. You can of course visit again as a tourist in the future.

  28. is it advantageous or disadvantageous to write your resume, itinerary and written reason in japanese? my japanese is good.
    I am planning to work part time with a non profit school for a year (free room and board) and do a bit of travelling, rather than travel and do a bit of working. are they going to check up on me while I’m in japan to make sure I’m travelling enough? can I write my itinerary to make it seem like I’m there for pleasure?

  29. Hi Emma – They’d probably find it a bit odd if you wrote your application in Japanese. I think they are expecting it to be written in the native language of your own country.

    You don’t need to feel guilty about planning to work on the WHV – they are expecting that you’ll need to do work to fund your time there.

    They know that people will need to do a good amount of work just to stay in Japan. A part time job regular job is perfectly acceptable. Just put a nice mix of travel ideas on your itinerary along with your work plans.

    There won’t be anyone checking on you once you are in Japan! There is no need to stick to your itinerary – you can do what you want when you arrive. My theory is that they just make applicants do all this work (CV, itinerary, written reason) to make sure that applicants are serious about going to Japan. They don’t want to give the WHV to people who then decide not to go!

    Good luck with your application and have a great time in Japan!

  30. Hi, I’m also currently on a working holiday visa, and managed to get a full-time job. I still have 3 months left on this visa, but I went to immigration with my employer to change my visa to a work visa, and they were like, “Yeah you can’t do that”. And proceeded to tell me that I have to apply for a work visa from scratch and then go to the UK to apply in person! I mentioned this to a few of my friends and they tell me I’m being screwed around by immigration, and I just don’t know what to think.

    In your case, what happened when you went to change your visa status?

  31. Hi Rachel – it certainly is possible to change the status of your WHV to a work visa without leaving the country. When I submitted my change of status application they accepted it with no problem, and then three weeks later I got my postcard telling me to pick up the visa (or more accurately the change of status stamp).

    I did mine at the main Tokyo immigration office.

    1. Which immigration office did you go to?
    2. Did you submit the application or did you just ask about it?
    3. If you tried to submit the form it was a ‘change of status’ rather than an ‘extension’ application wasn’t it?

    You could try again and hope you get seen by a different official.
    Or if nothing else works is going to Tokyo to submit it at their immigration centre an option?

    Keep us updated on whether you manage to get your change of status. Good luck!

  32. Hi, thanks for your swift reply!

    I went to the one in Kokura, Kitakyushu, as that’s where I live. Well, I went there with my boss with all the documents necessary to change my visa in hand, as we were planning on getting it all sorted today. He’s been running his Eikaiwa business for many years and has had many foreign staff, so he knows what he’s doing. Although admittedly it was his first WHV to work visa change.

    We asked specifically to change my visa, not extend it, but they were like “Nope”. It’s also a small office, and the staff have all changed recently apparently, so maybe that has something to do with it?

    I’ll go talk to my boss tomorrow about trying a different place.

    Can I ask when you got your visa changed? I have a friend who changed hers in Fukuoka about 2 years ago but other than that no real recent anecdotal evidence. My boss is fully prepared to submit a work visa application instead, but then I have to go all the way back to the UK etc. and it’s a lot more hassle than it’s worth, especially if I CAN get it done here.


  33. Hi Rachel – I got my visa changed less than two months ago – May 2011, so I have pretty recent evidence that it is possible. I’m from the UK too so you’d hope they’d be able to apply the same rules to you. They even gave me a three year one, I think I was lucky :)

    Maybe you should try again at your local immigration (unless there is another one nearby). It would be a massive hassle, and cost, to go back to the UK (losing your current residency status) and then having to go through the whole application process again. Can you try to speak to someone more senior, or get them to show you where in the rules it says it can’t be done? Maybe tell them that you know that Tokyo immigration can do WHV->ordinary work visa status changes?

    Maybe they are just less generous, more strict, or perhaps less well informed in Kokura. In Tokyo there are so many people applying, so maybe WHV->ordinary work visas changes aren’t too unusual for them. Good luck!

  34. I called on the third week after submitting the application and they requested a flight itinerary. Just wanting to know if a proposed one written by the travel agent prior to actually booking and paying for the airfare is ok? Did they do the same to you also?

  35. Hi k – I wasn’t asked to show any flight tickets during the process. I booked mine after the visa was granted. It could well be that they are stricter in Australia than in the UK about this. You’ll have to ask at the embassy to find out what is acceptable.

  36. They sound a lot stricter with Australian applicants than UK ones! It seems a bit unnecessary of them to insist on a return or onward flight ticket. You might not know when you you want to return until you have been in Japan for a while. Not much you can do though if that is the requirement. Have a fun working holiday!

  37. When you got your sponsored humanities work visa, what things did your employer and immigration require for processing?

  38. Hi, Thanks for an informative blog :)

    Could you tell me a bit more about the interview at immigration. You say you don’t think you’ll be asked many questions on a WHV? What kind of things were you asked on your previous entry??

  39. Hi Donna, I think all they asked me was how long I was staying for, and where I was staying. I wouldn’t describe it as an interview – it was more like a few quick questions on my way through the immigration counter and the customs area. It was pretty painless. Hope this helps.

  40. This should be a link on the embassy website. My story, in New Zealand on a holiday working visa. Want to go and work the ski season in Japan. I have a possible job for the season but I should not mention this? I am going to have to fly back to London to get the visa and just wait the week or so until it is processed. Is there a fast track system? By the time I fly back I will have my flights booked to leave the following week. Should I mention this? With being in new Zealand I can’t get to the embassy. What’s your thoughts?

  41. Just a couple of things I’d like to ask you, as you seem to be the man with the info, I’m 21 I dropped out of high school at 15 (so currently I don’t have any formal qualifications) would this effect my application at all? also I’ve only been a part timer for years switching between part time jobs here n there, do you think this also would affect my application in any way? it’s not a stipulation to be a graduate for the WHV, so I can’t see how any of this would effect my application, but If you could give me your opinions it would help me out allot.

  42. Hi David – as far as I am aware there is no fast track system. I really don’t know what effect mentioning the potential skiing job may have – there is probably no need to mention you have a specific offer – you could just say you’ll be trying to get a job in the skiing industry. You could tell them that you already have the tickets booked, but whether that will speed them up is another matter. Good luck – hope the timings work out!

    Hi Josh – there are no specific qualification requirements for the WHV so this shouldn’t affect your application. I don’t think your work experience will affect it either. I think as long as you can prove you have enough money to meet their criteria, and fill in all the paperwork they ask for, you will get your WHV :) Good luck!

  43. Hey!
    I’m currently going through all the visa form and I was wondering if I need a “Guarantor or reference in Japan” for the working holiday visa? Also i have currently left my job, will it be ok to put unemployed in the “profession” part? Your blog has helped me alot, cheers for any help!

  44. Hi Joshua, when I applied I didn’t need any guarantor or reference in Japan. If that was a requirement then most of the people who currently go on the WHV scheme probably would have been ineligible.

    I can’t say for sure what you should put in the ‘profession’ box but I’d guess that writing ‘unemployed’ would be fine. I doubt they are very interested in your current job, as you will be probably be getting a new one once you get to Japan. Hope this helps.

  45. Hey
    I am going to hand in my WHV application around 15th sept, I am pretty nervous about it to be honest, how long on average does it take to get the visa through?
    Do they check all the info in the application like, place of stay etc? what you are doing, Will i need a police record printout or something?

    maybe im just paranoid eh :)

  46. Hi Pc111, assuming you are handing it into the Japanese embassy in London it will take about a week to get the visa.

    I don’t think they do any checking on the information relating to where you are going to stay, or what you are doing – they know your plans may change. You don’t need a police record printout, you just have to self certify on the form that you have no criminal record.

    Yes you are probably being paranoid :) If you meet their basic criteria (age, money, no criminal record) you should have no trouble getting the visa. Have a great time in Japan :)

  47. Thanks for this.
    My girlfriend wants to stay with me in Japan for as much of this upcoming year as possible, I’m a second year JET participant.
    Do you think it’s worth applying for the WHV? She is currently a student, and would take a gap year. She doesn’t have any savings, if she came out here, we’d be living off my wages.
    How much money would she need in her bank for them to approve a WHV?
    Do you think it’s better in that case to get the temporary visitor visa once in the fall, and then in the spring? I heard from the UK you can extend the temporary visitor visa to 180 days from within Japan.

  48. Hey, is it possible to get a permanent visa if a company is willing to employ you for more than 1-3 years? Or could you just keep getting your working holiday visa extended?

  49. Hi Basilg, If your girlfriend wants to spend a large amount of time with you in Japan then the WHV is certainly worth considering. Assuming she is British she could stay in Japan for a year, and if she is a native English speaker she should be able to get a part time English teaching job fairly easily if she wanted to earn some money.

    To get the WHV she will need £2500 of cleared funds which have been in her account for three months, or £1500 and an onward ticket (see the official embassy page linked in the main article for more details).

    You are right that it is possible for UK citizens to extend the temporary visitor status (it is not a visa) by another 90 days to 180. Or she could come for 90 days, and then another 90 days later in the year. She limited to 180 days in the year using this method – I’ve heard immigration won’t grant a 3rd temporary visitor permit in a single year.

    The WHV is easy to apply for and would give her some big advantages over the temporary visitor status (work is allowed, she’d get a proper government ID, she can stay for a year).

    Of course a WHV can only be obtained once, so if she wanted to visit Japan first before applying for the WHV this is a way of spending more time in the country. e.g. visit for three months first, go back to the UK and get WHV, then come back to Japan for a year.

    Hope this helps a bit with her decision :)

  50. Hi Luke, there is no ‘permanent visa’. What you are probably referring to is permanent residency. It is possible to apply for this after about 10 years of working in Japan, correctly paying all your taxes, and being a good citizen.

    Once your working holiday visa is over you will need an employer to keep on sponsoring you if you want to stay in Japan long enough to be able to apply for permanent residency.

  51. Cheers for your reply I have another question for you :)

    Yes I meet all the criteria,
    I will have around £2900 to show the embassy, I plan to have more when I go, but it’s been building up over the last few months, as in wages. I haven’t had £2500 cleared for 3 months. I also had a £1000 gift from my grandma in late June paid in via cheque, I got my Grandma to write a formal letter saying that the money was from her as they are bound to question it and the cheque was from her. I will take that letter with my application.
    Do you think that will be Ok?
    I plan to go to the embassy in two weeks time :)

    btw this page is a great resource of information about this subject.

  52. Hi Pc111, I think that you will be fine with the amount of money you have and the letter explaining about the £1000. Of course the decision rests with the Japanese Embassy but I reckon you’ll get the visa. Let us know if you get it!

  53. Hey
    I got my Visa today, I have to say, it was one of the easiest things I have ever done.
    He literally took 1 minute, looked over my papers, photocopied my bank statements and said “Yes, im happy with that, come and get your Visa on the 5th” and that was that lol

    Simple, just make sure you have all the right paperwork I guess.

    Japan here I come, I plan to leave on the 8th of October.

  54. Thanks very much for all the advice on this site. It helped me immensely with my application. I picked up my WHV this morning, delighted !!

  55. Hi there! It’s been a while (since I waited until I got my visa sorted to post), but I finally managed to change my WHV to a Work Visa, so thanks for the information and advice! :D However, the way I got mine was not the same way you seem to have gotten yours for some reason. This might get long, but here goes…

    So basically… after hearing that you had changed your visa status from within Japan, and confirming with a friend who had also done the same, I got my boss to call the Fukuoka prefecture immigration office and ask whether I could change to a work visa, instead of the small Kitakyushu office that we went to. Again, we were told no. At first. Then, the staff said that if we applied for the Certificate of Elegibility (CoE), there MAY be a way to POSSIBLY change to a work visa from within the country.

    I had studied in Tokyo previously for one year, and had neeed a CoE to get my student visa from the Japanese embassy in London, so I was still a bit unsure how I would do this in Japan. Anyway, what we then had to do was apply for a work visa from scratch, as though I was going to go back to England and do it there. Not the application for a change of status.

    So, after my boss had gotten all the necessary documentation, a week later we went back to the Kitakyushu immigration office, asking to apply for a work visa. We were then told again REPEATEDLY that it was not possible to change my visa status and I would have to go back to England to apply. I even had to write “Port of entry: London” on the application form. I was a bit worried, but we said fine, filed for the new visa, and left.

    3 weeks later everything seemed to have been processed without problems and the Certificate of Eligibility arrived. The problem was what to do from here. So I called up both the Fukuoka immigration office, and the Kitakyushu office once more, and asked if it was possible to change my WHV to a work visa in Japan. They asked, do you have the CoE? I said yes. They asked which country, and I confirmed that I was from the UK. They replied, “Sure you can”, as though it was the most obvious thing in the world. I was very frustrated with the way I had been messed around, but was very relieved that I didn’t have to figure a way to take time off work, pay for the flight etc.

    I couldn’t go straight away as I had plans to go to Turkey for a week with my family and assumed they would take my passport to process the visa. So I waited until I came back before going, which ended up being early September, with my WHV due to expire on the 20th September.

    We went in with the CoE and said, “We would like to change a WHV to a work visa, please”. With no hesitation, the staff member was like, “Sure, just fill out these forms please,” and handed said forms over. I’d like to mention that this was the SAME staff member from both previous occasions who told me I would have to go to the UK to get my visa. I then filled out the change of status forms, handed it in with my CoE, passport, alien registration and the 4000 yen stamp I had bought from downstairs. I was told to sit and wait, so I did. About 5 minutes later, I was given my passport, and was told, “Here’s your passport, your new visa is all ready.” I was like ??? and very surprised to receive the visa just like that, but with that I was done and so I left pretty quickly!

    The total process from entering the office to leaving took 15 minutes! Unfortunately the stress of the weeks up until that moment doesn’t make up for it lol. Obviously that was thanks to the fact that the area I live in has very few foreign people, as there was only one other person there besides me.

    So… yeah. That was my experience in Fukuoka changing my visa status. It was stressful and I got conflicting information from start to finish, but I did manage it in the end!! I’m not sure if other people have already had to deal with this, or will experience this in the future. I don’t even know if it’s related to the staff at Fukuoka immigration or what, but I wasn’t able to change it the conventional way.

    Sorry for the long read, but maybe someone in a similar situation will benefit from this? haha

    So glad it’s all over :)

  56. Hi Rachel, thanks a lot for your update, I’m sure the information will help others in the same situation. The Fukuoka office seem determined to make your life a lot more difficult than the Tokyo office! At Tokyo they did mine with no fuss, and no questions asked. I guess at bigger offices like Tokyo this kind of change is normal as they deal with hundreds of applications per day. Whereas at a smaller office the staff member may never have done that type of visa change before, so they don’t know what to do. Congratulations on getting it all sorted :)

  57. Hi, I’m an Australian citizen and I’ve got a job offer in japan. I was wondering how a drink driving conviction would affect the visa application process? And are there any ways to still qualify if the drink driving is a problem? Thanks.

  58. Hi Terry, they do have very strict rules about drink driving in Japan, but I really can’t say if that will affect your visa application. I’ve never known anyone who has applied with a conviction. It may depend on how recent the conviction is. For example if it was 10 years ago your chances would be better than if it was a few months ago.

    The best way to find out is to make your application. If they say ‘no’ to your application then I don’t think there would be any way in, other than to wait a year or two and try again. Do let us know what happens. Good luck!

  59. Hi, thanks for the post. I’m just skimming this quickly at work so sorry if I’ve missed it, but I’m wondering, how much do they want you to have in the bank? I’ve actually lived in Japan 3 years before and visit regularly but am thinking of taking a year out of my career and going back just to work casually if anyone has any Japan related questions :)

  60. Hi there,
    I’m a UK resident. I have plenty of funds in my savings account but I don’t have much in my current account over the past three months. Should I submit statements for both accounts and explain that I’ll be transferring cash from my savings to cover the amount needed? Cheers.

  61. Hi David, I don’t think they mind what kind of account the money is in, just that you can prove you have sufficient money. I’d take both sets of statements just to be safe. They’ll only photocopy the ones they are interested in. Good luck!

  62. Hi Manny, I went to my local government office and filled in the form to sign up to the NHI (National Health Insurance). I then got the health insurance card, and was sent the payment slips allowing me to pay monthly at a convenience store.

    I signed up to NHI as I couldn’t sign up to employee’s health insurance. Your employer may well allow you to do this.

    It is worth researching the options fully as it can be hard to change once you have signed up.

  63. I should have been more specific in my question but how did you obtain medical insurance for the working visa. It may be different for the UK application, since I am Canadian but did you have to show any sort of medical insurance during the application purchase/Japanese embassy? Thanks again :)

  64. Hi Manny, medical insurance played no part in my visa application process (I applied via the UK embassy). Insurance was something I sorted out once I had arrived in Japan.

  65. Hi, thanks for the information on your site it is very helpful.

    I am from Ireland. I will hopefully travel to japan in june. few questions for you.

    1) Currently i am unemployed. will this have a negative affect on my application do you think?

    i have a job lined up in tokyo whenever i get there. It is in a music school and my students / hours will only increase when i begin working there. At best the only info i can give the embassy is how much i will get per lesson. Is this worth putting on my application?

    I will stay with my girlfriend and her family in tokyo. i plan to work my butt of initally for 3-4 months and then with the money earned from teaching and gigs and start up money i will travel without working. Is 3-4 months in tokyo alone too long of a period in terms of writing my itinerary?
    thanks so much for your time.

  66. Hi Dan, being unemployed shouldn’t affect your application. Yes you could put the wage on your application – it sounds relevant.

    I think your itinerary should be fine. You aren’t supposed to be working full time, but then you are only doing this for a limited time. I’m sure a lot of people do something similar.
    Good luck with the application.

  67. Hi, I live in London but I only have an Irish passport.
    The embassy in Ireland states the visa is only for Irish citizens who reside in Ireland. Does the embassy in London only accept British passports? If so I have no way of getting a visa which I think is a bit unfair.

  68. Hi Hale, the Japan embassy in London is there for Japanese people who are in the UK, and for British people who have some interest in Japan.

    Unfortunately for you it is not there to process visa applications of other passport holders. This is the way most embassies work, so I’m afraid you can only apply for your Japan WHV via the Japan embassy in Ireland.

    But of course as you’ve found out the scheme is only open to Irish passport holders who are living in Ireland. So unless you move back to Ireland you aren’t going to get a WHV.

    However as a native English speaker you can apply for the large amount of English teaching jobs that are in Japan. These jobs will give you a working visa and allow you to move to Japan.

    Good luck :)

  69. Hey there, useful post!

    I’m about to attempt an application for a WHV myself, but the catch is I planned to sort out accommodation AFTER I obtained a visa… and the visa form asks what my accommodation address in Japan will be :/

    Do you have any wisdom to share on this? Is that part of the form even strictly necessary, or will a “undetermined at present time” do?

    Cheers, and hope this gets a response.

  70. Hi Bill, I don’t know for sure but you can probably write something like ‘will be arranged later’. I’m sure a lot of people get the WHV first before arranging accommodation. You could always ask at the embassy if it is close by, or certainly when you hand the form in to check that you have done the right thing. Good luck!

  71. Hi,

    I see there is a similiar question from Terry last year so wondering if you know any more information about drink driving convictions? My partner was convicted 4 years ago at BAC 0.084%. We have jobs already, qualify on the short criteria (ie under 30 etc) and only through looking through the forms specifically you have to write yes or no. In Australia it is considered a traffic offence and does not come up on a federal police history record check? What do you think we should do?

    Many thanks!

  72. Hi
    i was hoping that you could help me my dad has given me some money that helps me reach the required amount for the visa it has only been in my account for a month will this be a problem???


  73. Hi James, The embassy want to make sure that the money is yours, and is not a short term loan that you just got before doing the application. You could get your Dad to give you a letter saying that the money is a gift and doesn’t need to be paid back. That will hopefully satisfy them. Or you could wait until the money has been in your account for three months before applying.

  74. Update from Dan:
    Ah! I forgot to give you an update.

    I went back to Sendai Immigration a week ago. They put a big red “CANCELLED” stamp over my Working Holiday Visa, and then gave me a shiny new residence card with “INSTRUCTOR” on it.

    It’s valid for one year, but I can renew it for up to five years.

    And that’s the end of the story. :D

    In my case, having the Certificate of Eligibility seemed to help a lot.

    Anyhow, once more, thanks for the assistance that you and your previous adventures (as documented on your site) provided in helping me steer through these cloudy and utterly proverbial waters.

  75. Hey,

    Unbelievably, I have stumbled back to your site. I thought it was familiar! I posted on this thread on November 7 2010. Nearly 2 years ago, strange!

    So, I did my trip and am still on it. Did my itinerary as I said in my post, lived in Sydney for 10 months and loved it (nearly stayed) and am now in South America. Loving life!

    Japan however has still been my favourite place so far, and I still really want to go back. In fact, I’m itching to go back. Made some good friends there, loved the culture. Everything about it. So, I will be applying for the WHV fe sure. I was there for the earthquake as well and Tokyo had its energy saving scheme. So I’m keen to see what impact this has had and see Full-fledged Tokyo!

    Have a few questions regarding the application…

    1. Is the application period still September – September? My mate mentioned that it might be March to March? Reason being is that I arrive back in the UK just before Xmas and wanted to apply then. Is that a good time to apply? Do you know if they still don’t reach anywhere near their annual quota?

    2. It’s cool to mention that I have already been and have friends in Tokyo? Or should I leave that out?

    Think that’s it!


  76. Me again,

    Also, I have a contact in Tokyo who should be able to give me a job teaching and also have some contacts for web design agencies that I hope to follow up when I arrive in Tokyo too. Is it worth putting that? Or should I leave that out? I don’t want them to think I’m not ‘travelling’ and just going out primarily for the work.

    Thanks again, your site has been a great help.


  77. Hi Craig, thanks for updating us. I can’t find the information about the application period on the embassy website, but I don’t think it matters as I’m sure they don’t reach their quota. You could mention you have Tokyo friends, it won’t do any harm. I also doubt it will do any harm to mention you have some ideas of where you can get work. Just make sure you itinerary is a good mix of holiday and work. Good luck!

  78. Hi there,

    This has all been really helpful, however I am still worried about my bank statements. I have just left university and have not had time to save before my trip, however for various reasons my parents want to transfer me £2500 for my trip so technically I will have sufficient funds. If they transfer me the money and my father writes a short letter saying the money officially belongs to me should this be sufficient for my trip to the Embassy? Unfortunately I cannot wait 3 months for the money to sit there as I am hoping to go before then.

    Any further advice would be really appreciated!

    Many thanks again,


  79. Hi Flora, the money with a letter saying it is yours will probably be acceptable for the embassy. You can never know 100% though until you apply, but I think you’ll be fine. Do write back to let us know the outcome. Good luck!

  80. Hi there, was just wondering if you could help out with a quick query. I was looking on the Embassy of Japan website and it mentions that “Intend primarily to holiday in Japan for a period of up to one year from the date of entry”. Does that mean that the year starts upon entering Japan at immigration or it is valid for a year when it is accepted at the embassy. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, Jonny

  81. Hi Jonny, the year starts from when you enter Japan. And you must enter Japan before your visa expires. Hope that helps.

  82. Hey, yea thanks for the help, was confusing myself. Another question, you say it was around a week later that you got your passport back with the approved visa. Where you contacted to call back for your passport? I’m asking this as I live in Northern Ireland so I would have to fly over to London to apply so if I was to be approved I wouldn’t have my passport to return home… although some airlines are fine for UK citizens to travel without a passport.

  83. Hi Jonny, I didn’t get a call. They just told me to come back a week later. I guess your options are to make sure the airline is ok for you to travel without a passport, or just have a weeks holiday around London. Good luck!

  84. Hi,

    Me again! I am looking at writing my proposed itinerary for Japan. I am a bit confused and worried in regards to how detailed the Itinerary should be. Wondering if you could help me out…

    With the itinerary, do I need to give names of employers, budgets, hostels i want to stay in for each 2-4 month period like Guillaume Erard has done in his itinerary? I have started my itinerary and it does´t give any details on budgets, costs or anything. It is more a paragraph for each few months saying where I want to go, what i will do there, How I will get there with a few places I want to visit, festivals etc. Can you advise on this, or better still show me a snippet of what you put on your itinerary?


  85. Also, one other thing.

    Where it says you need to be healthy to apply for the visa, does that mean you need to have a check up with your doctor and have a medical certificate?


  86. Hi there, I thinking to apply the WHV to japan , so my worried is about the age limit. On the embassy website it say between 18 – 30yo. I’m 30yo now until jun 2013, and my question is would that be ok if I apply the visa just a couple month before jun 2013 before I turn 31?

  87. Hello RML,

    I am applying for the WH Visa with pre-arranged work in Tokyo.
    I am worried about my bank statements as I have a small overdraft and not enough at the moment to meet the criteria for my Visa application. I am selling my car which will more than satisfy this, but is it ok to show them a savings account, if I put the sale money in there, or do they need a current account?

    Also, when inserting large amounts of money you do advise to get the person making the donation to write a note explaining this is OK. If I sell my car and put that money in, who should be writing my note??



  88. Craig – I don’t think you need to be that detailed with the itinerary. I think rough ideas of place and months is enough. With some details of what you will do, and what type of work you might do. Put enough to make it look like you have planned your trip and will be making good use of your time there.

    Craig – When I applied (in London) I didn’t need any kind of doctor’s certificate.

    Jack – Yes that will be ok. As long as you are 30 when you apply.

    Emma – Yes a saving account should be fine. Not sure what to do about a note in this case – you could just tell them you have sold your car, or if you have some other proof (receipt) you could attach that.

    Good luck all!

  89. hi i am a uk passport holder i was recently deported from australia, how much would this affect my chances of being aloowed into japan for a working holiday? would they share information?

  90. Hi Henry, I don’t think this will affect your chances as I don’t think countries usually share information about deportations. The only way to find out for sure though is to apply. Good luck.

  91. Hello,

    All these are very useful! I am planning to apply for the visa later this year once I have enough money to sit in my account over three months! Before this I just have a little query – Do you know if I have to fly from UK to Japan or they wouldn’t care as I assume flight ticket can be booked after getting the visa?? Because I would like to go to Hong Kong for a few months before heading off to Japan and hope this won’t cause any problem.


  92. Hi Tracy, I’m sure flying to Japan from Hong Kong will be fine. You can definitely book your plane ticket after getting your visa. That’s what I did, and someone else I know did that very recently as well. Good luck.

  93. Hey,

    I am going to apply for a Japanese working hoilday visa and there are a couple of things I want to clear up before I apply.

    On the application I’m not quite sure if I should mention that I will be living and staying with my Japanese girlfriend and family. I am worried about this because there are no partner visas in Japan so I am worried if I mention her and her family the embassy may not accept my visa. My plans revolve around staying with her family and getting a job in her hometown.

    If I don’t mention my girlfriend on the visa form it looks like I am disorganised. Do you think it will be a problem to mention I will be living with my girlfriend in Japan?

  94. Hi Greg, It would probably be fine, but you never can tell until you apply. Or you could just write that you are intending to stay with a friend for the first week or so, and will get a flat via Leopalace (or similar). Good luck and let us know how it went.

  95. please am from Ghana but am living in china as a student and i would like to travel to japan to spend one week in japan please can you help me to get visa to japan becuase japan is my dream country to visit?thanks looking forward to hearing from you….thanks once again …by Robert

  96. Thanks for the information so far.

    Do you think it matters if I have never been to Japan(vacation or otherwise) before applying for the WHV. Would it be beneficial for me to take a regular tourist visit before applying – in the interest of showing I am genuinely interested in the country.

  97. Hey,
    This information was so helpful!
    I’m about to start applying for my WHV (but due to the bank statements I can’t actually go to the embassy until June) and the information you gave really helped a lot.
    I do have one question, obviously the minimum amount of money you have to show the embassy isn’t enough if you’re intending to stay the whole year and I do intend on teaching English to obviously help myself not run out of money. Is there a certain why you advise I put this on my application? Is putting ‘I will look into teaching English for a period of time once in Japan in order to keep a sufficient amount of funds’ OK? Or would you recommend that I just leave the ‘possible work’ aspect out completely and keep it completely travel focused?

  98. *appear* the fee is now £17!
    I think it’s “actually” a straight 4000 yen, but the exchange rate keeps changing.

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