Order Your JRPass
Do You Need a Visa to Go to Japan?
Back to blog

Do You Need a Visa to Go to Japan?

2018 saw over thirty-one million visitors to Japan, with America placing within the top 5 for the high number of travelers who hold a Japan visa for U.S. citizens. There are all sorts of reasons to visit, and visitors come for both business and pleasure.

There are five types of Japan travel visas:

  • Japan tourist visas;
  • Japan non-working visa;
  • Japan family-related;
  • Japan business visa;
  • Japan transit visa.

Business and tourism-related visits do not require a Japan travel visa if you stay for less than 90 days, and non-exempt countries have to report their stay and pay accompanying Japan visa fees.

The reason for your visit will play a massive role in the Japan visa application process. It can be a tough process to navigate if you do not know the Japan visa requirements and who needs a visa to enter Japan at all. The requirements changed based on whether you are a regular traveler or a first-time traveler to Japan.

Additionally, if you plan on purchasing a Japan Rail Pass for your visit, it is essential to know what type of visa you qualify for and need to obtain in advance. Before you hop on a plane, here is what you need to know before you apply for a Japan visa for U.S. citizens.

Japan Tourist Visas

A Japan tourist visa is adequate for most travelers, and it is essential to be eligible to buy a Japan Rail Pass during your stay. If you live in a non-visa exempt country, you are required to have a Japan tourist visa.

Single-Entry Visa

A single-entry visa is the most common Japan visa for U.S. citizens, because vacationers and tourists generally plan singular, short-term trips to the country. However, this Japan travel visa is not ideal for multiple trips because you are limited to a single visit, and visits cannot exceed 90 days. Members of over 65 countries do not need a visa for tourism or business purposes, and the U.S. is one of them. Visits are limited to 90 days for those visiting Japan on vacation or business.

Double-Entry Visa

There is also a double-entry visa, which applies to travelers. This visa is necessary when visitors enter Japan twice: once on their way to another destination and again upon the return trip home. In line with the visa policy of Japan, this travel visa is only available to travelers on business and tourists of approved countries. A double-entry visa is valid for up to four months and is not necessary for American citizens.

Multiple-Entry Visa

A multiple-entry visa is available for extended periods, with Japan visas valid from one to five years. Visits are limited to just 30 days at a time, and travel must be for tourism, business, or family-related purposes. To be eligible for visa travel, you must hold a valid passport that does not expire within six months of the trip and at least two blank pages for trip documentation. Business travelers must also show an onward or return ticket that indicates your departure within 90 days. U.S. citizens do not need to hold a multiple-entry visa.

There is also a special exception made for U.S. military members traveling under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). In this case, travel orders and Department of Defense identification should be provided for verification.

Japan Non-Working Visa

A Japan non-working visa is ideal for short term visits that are made for a cultural purpose. Tourists and students are typical applicants for this kind of visa because non-working visas last anywhere from three months to three years. Like many countries, Japan grants tourists a standard 90-day visa upon arrival. Americans may also extend their visas for an additional 90 days if granted.

To receive a Japan transit visa, you must provide proof of onward travel. This documentation shows Japan visa officials that you do have a concrete plan for departure.

Travelers typically must receive a certificate of eligibility and complete a fairly straightforward application process. This includes the purpose of invitation to Japan visa, a letter you submit from friends or family.

Americans are exempt from this policy, although you can still order your Japan rail pass and sign up for pocket Wi-Fi in advance.

Japan Family-Related Visa

Short-term stay visas also include family-related visas. This provision allows approved family members to be granted a short-term visa, enabling them to remain in Japan for an extended period. Permanent and long-term Japan residents may receive family-related visas that will cover not only yourself, but also your spouse, children, parents, and nanny. There are no employment requirements for family members, so a Japan family-related visa offers a flexible arrangement for both long-term and permanent visitors.

Japan Business Visa

Also used for short-term visits, this is a unique Japan travel visa that has rules and regulations of its own.

If you are traveling for business, you can choose between the single-entry or multiple-entry visa Japan requires. A multiple-entry visa will allow travelers up to two business trips within six months. To receive a Japan business visa, there are specific requirements you must disclose, like the nature of your business, your employer, and even your position.

There are different types of work visas like the Highly Professional Visa, also known as HSP or HSFP. It was launched in 2012 as a way to attract highly skilled and educated professionals to Japan. Today it is a five-year visa that still requires a sponsor. Your Japan visa sponsor will need to complete a certificate of eligibility through the Japan Regional Immigration Bureau before you apply for a Japan visa. U.S. citizens do not need to apply for this visa, but their stay cannot exceed the 90-day minimum.

Japan Transit Visa

There are times when your travel destination includes a quick stop in Japan. Your lengthy layover allows just enough time for some quick sightseeing or some much-deserved rest after your journey. A Japan transit visa allows travelers to make a pit stop in Japan while on their way to another country. A transit visa requires specific paperwork, including your passport and appropriate visa forms. You will need to show appropriate travel documents for an onward direction in Asia, indicating that your visit is simply a temporary one.

No matter what kind of Japan travel visa you need, there are standard requirements you’ll need to adhere to. For example, Japan visa photo requirements mandate that you must provide a picture for your visa.

Carefully review your options and see which visa is right for you. In most cases, a Japan travel visa is not required, so it saves you a ton of time, money, and energy that you can devote to your upcoming trip instead.

A visit to Japan is the chance of a lifetime, so don’t allow travel visas to impact your trip.

Find out where to buy the japan rail pass online.

Order your JRPass Now!

We have special prices for children and great first class options. See all tickets or see our range of Regional Passes