Way back in March, a group of friends and I decided that because the world was ending in December of this year (uh it’s not — feel free to ignore that part) we might as well go off on that Japan trip we’ve been putting off forever.
The planning process from start to finish was pretty painless and actually a lot of fun — mostly because we were equipped with a lot of insider information from my previous trips to Japan. If you’re planning your own trip to Japan soon, here’s a series of posts that can help you from start to finish.
Part 1: Getting a Visa
Before we could make concrete travel plans, we all had to secure tourist visas. Standard Japanese tourists visas last for fifteen days, expire in ninety days, and can be secured in as little as three working days.
Step one is to visit the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines website for the list of tourist visa requirements. We also looked at the list of accredited agencies for Japan visa applications, as applications cannot be lodged directly with the Embassy.
The documents you supply will be the sole basis to approve your application, and the accredited travel agency will process the application for you. The Embassy does not conduct face-to-face interviews.
We downloaded, filled-in, and printed out the Japan visa application form found on the site. We had Japan visa photos taken based on the Embassy specifications. We also made sure that we had at least six to seven months of validity left on our passports — if there was less than that, we had to get our passports renewed ASAP.
Some requirements are strictly necessary while others are optional, depending on the situation. In our case four out of five people in our party were going to Japan for the first time, so Birth Certificates printed on NSO SecPa needed to be supplied (if you are a previous Japan visa holder, this is optional).
All five of us were employed, so we also supplied copies of our latest BIR Income Tax Certificates. Lastly, we supplied Certificates of Deposit from our banks (both Peso and Foreign Currency accounts are acceptable; joint accounts are also acceptable).
A short note on bank accounts: it’s not just the amount of money that’s in the account — it’s also how long the account has been active. Even if you had PhP1M in your account, but it was created just one day before you filed your visa application, there is a huge chance your application will be denied.
Since we were paying for our own trip, there was no need for Guarantee Letters and Residence Certificates from a Japanese guarantor — however if somebody else was paying for your trip (for example, friends or relatives in Japan) these two documents are required.
Last but not least, I designed a travel itinerary that we would all submit with our papers. If you have no idea how to make one, here’s a sample Japan travel itinerary you can base your own from. You don’t have to show hotel vouchers or airlines tickets, since these will not guarantee that your visa will be granted.
When everything was ready, we submitted our documents to our travel agent and paid the processing fee. In about four business days all of us had secured our tourist visas, hassle-free.