How To Get Your Working Holiday Visa for Japan (2023)

Ever wished for a longer stay in Japan to truly soak in its culture? Good news! Japan offers a special visa for young people, allowing an extended stay while working part-time to cover travel expenses.

Photo by Vincent M.A. Janssen

What is a working holiday visa?

A working holiday visa is a special type of visa that allows you to temporarily live and work in a foreign country for an extended period, typically up to a year. The main purpose of this visa is to encourage cultural exchange and allow you to experience living in a different country while being able to work part-time to support your stay and travel expenses. Sounds like something you would be interested in? Keep reading, as I’ll provide you with a guide on how to get your working holiday visa.

Can I apply for a working holiday visa?

Sadly, not everyone can apply. You need to meet specific requirements before you can submit your application:

Aged between 18-30

Depending on the country you are from, you must be between the ages of 18 – 30 years old at the time of application.

Country of residence

You have to be a resident of one of the following countries to be eligible for the working holiday program.

New Zealand, Canada, the Republic of Korea, France, Germany, The United Kingdom, Ireland Denmark, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Spain Argentina, Chile, Iceland, Czech, Lithuania, Sweden, Estonia, Netherlands, Uruguay, Finland, Latvia.

Many countries have a limit on the available Working Holiday Visas for a given year. Before applying, check with your embassy to ensure there are still visas available for the year. You can find the limit of your country here.

Sufficient funds

You must have sufficient funds to cover your initial stay and be in good health. This differs depending on which country you’re applying from. For Dutch citizens (where I am from), they require a bank statement that shows an amount of at least 3800 euros in case you buy a single flight to Japan or at least 1800 euros in case of a return flight.

The application process

Now that you’ve checked your eligibility, let’s review the necessary documents before you apply.

This application process will be relevant for people applying from the Netherlands. However, most other countries will have a similar procedure. Check the embassy of Japan website to make sure you don’t miss any of the documents needed for your country. 

1. Valid passport

Your passport must be valid for the duration of your intended stay in Japan. 

2. A completed visa application form

You can download the form from the Embassy of Japan website. I didn’t know where I was going to stay yet so I used the address of Tokyo. For my flight dates and airline, I booked a dummy ticket.

3. Passport photo

 One photograph approx. 35mm x 45mm in size (taken within the previous 6 months) 

4. Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Include your CV. My embassy provided me with a CV form. The form was quite basic, so I decided to add my CV for some additional personal information.   

5. An outline of the intended length of stay and activities

Write down a rough itinerary of your stay in Japan. It doesn’t have to be perfect. No one knows exactly what they are going to do for a full year. I made a rough outline with activities I was interested in.

Here is my example.

6. A written reason for applying for a Working Holiday

Do some research on what to write. They want to hear you are going to explore Japan, the culture and language. Not that you are just going there to work. I wrote down my goal of learning Japanese and discovering Japanese culture. 

Here is my letter. Use it as a source of inspiration.

7. A single or return flight booking confirmation

 You don’t have to purchase a ticket in advance. I used….. to book a dummy ticket. It cost me 20,- and worked perfectly.

8. Proof of sufficient funds to support initial stay in Japan

 Bank statement showing that you have enough funds to cover your initial stay. This ranges from 1800 Euro to 5000 Euro depending on the country you are from. Check your local embassy website for up-to-date information.

9. Pledge for National Health Insurance (Kokumin Kenko Hoken)

Check whether you will need to fill out this form on your local embassy website.

That should be it! It’s time to get to the embassy now. Check with your local embassy for submission details – for me in the Netherlands, I could just walk in. No, no appointment was needed.

Once you submit your paperwork, be patient – they’ll check it then and there. In my case, I got the visa 5 days after submitting.

Make sure to check the validity period when you are granted the visa. The validity period tells you when to enter Japan. The one year on the visa starts when you arrive in the country. For me, the validity period was 3 months. So after receiving my visa, I had to make sure I would be in the country within the first 3 months.  

And voila, that is!

Frequently asked questions

Can I use the JR Rail pass while on a working holiday visa?

No. While you are on a working holiday visa you are considered a resident in Japan. Therefore you aren’t eligible for JR Pass.

How much does a working holiday visa cost?

The visa is free. However, you Embassy may charge a fee for processing. I didn’t have to pay anything at the Dutch-Japanese embassy.

How many times can I get a working holiday visa?

You can only get a working visa holiday once in your life.

How long does it take to get a working holiday visa?

The processing time for a Japan Working Holiday Visa varies depending on the embassy or consulate. It usually takes one to two weeks. In my case 5 working days.

Can I work in any industry with a Japan Working Holiday Visa?

No, You are forbidden from engaging in employment at bars, cabarets, nightclubs, gambling establishments, and other establishments that impact public morals in Japan while on a working holiday visa.

How long can I stay in Japan with a Japan Working Holiday Visa?

You can stay in Japan for up to one year with a working holiday visa.

Can I leave Japan during my holiday working visa and come back?

You have to obtain a special re-entry permit at the airport of departure when you are planning to leave Japan and come back during your working holiday visa period.

Do I need to speak Japanese for my working holiday visa?

You don’t need to speak Japanese to obtain a Japan Working Holiday Visa. However, having a bit of language knowledge will be very helpful.

The details provided in this article are accurate as of November 2023. Keep in mind that aspects like eligibility criteria and the application procedure can change, so it’s wise to verify the latest information with your nearby Japanese Embassy before proceeding with your working holiday visa application.

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