So you’ve watched (or at least heard of) the hit Filipino indie movie Kita Kita, and you can’t help but notice how picturesque their location is? Well, it’s no secret that the entire movie was shot on location in Sapporo, JAPAN! And guess what? Traveling to Japan isn’t that impossible now, thanks to airline promo fares and the Japanese government for granting Filipino citizens free tourist visas! Yes, you’ve read that right! FREE! As in GRATIS!! But… there’s a BUT!!! Haha!
This post will mostly focus on how to apply for a tourist visa to Japan when you’re in Manila, Philippines. And just like my other visa-related posts, I don’t know much anything about other types of visas because most of the time, when I apply for a visa, it’s because I’m going to that country as a TOURIST. So as early as now, if you have questions about other types of visas, I SUGGEST YOU CONTACT THE CONSULATE/EMBASSY DIRECTLY. Okay? Okay!
Based on my experience, here are the steps I did to acquire my Japan tourist visa:
FIRST, choose an accredited travel agency by the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines.
This is the “but” part I’ve mentioned earlier. Even if the Japanese government doesn’t collect any fees from tourist visa applications, you can apply for a tourist visa only to one of their accredited travel agencies! And lo and behold, of course these travel agencies charge fees to process tourist visa applications. It’s all up to you to choose the travel agency that’s most convenient for you because each agency has different prices.
The list of accredited travel agencies can be found here: http://www.ph.emb-japan.go.jp/itpr_ja/00_000253.html
Personally, I chose RELI Tours & Travel agency because it was the most convenient for me at that time. For a Japan tourist visa (with no guarantor), they charge Php950 per application. My trip was in June 2017, but as early as April 2017, I already applied for a visa. I chose RELI because they have a branch at SM Mall of Asia (MOA), which means they’re open on weekends! They also accept walk-ins, and that’s what I did. I just made sure that I was at the mall when it opened, so I was the second in line when I went to RELI. Even before I entered RELI’s office, one of their representatives already pre-checked if I had the complete requirements, which brings us to…
SECOND, complete your documents.
The required documents are the following:
- valid passport (for at least 6 months from date of travel to Japan)
- application form printed on A4-sized paper — the Embassy’s strict with this size (you can download the form here or get from your preferred travel agency)
- one 2×2 photo pasted on your application form (taken within the last six months, with white background)
- original birth certificate (ONLY IF you’re a first-time applicant!)
- original marriage certificate (ONLY IF applicable to you — well, it’s not applicable to me… at least not yet! HA HA HA)
- daily schedule in Japan (you can download the form here)
- original bank certificate
- copy of Income Tax Return (ITR)
Other optional documents you may submit (just make sure you’re willing to give them away because the Embassy won’t return them anymore):
- letter of intent (a.k.a. explanation why you want to go to Japan)
- original Certificate of Employment (COE) or other proof of income
- other proof/statements of your eligibility to travel/ties to the Philippines (e.g., investments, properties, stocks, etc.)
For RELI’s complete list of requirements for a tourist visa (with no guarantor), you can go here.
THIRD, pay for the non-refundable handling fee of the travel agency.
As mentioned, the fee will depend on your travel agency. RELI charged me Php950, which I paid in cash when I was at their MOA branch.
FOURTH, wait for your visa to be processed.
Once you submitted everything, the waiting game starts. After about a week, I received a text message from RELI informing me that I can already pick up my passport at their branch. They haven’t told me then whether or not I was granted a visa. When I arrived at their branch, that’s the only time they told me that I had the visa. YAY!
Something you should know about a Japan tourist visa: If it’s your first time to apply, the Embassy usually grants only a single-entry visa. If you want it to be a multiple-entry one, you may try to submit a letter of request (you can ask your travel agency for the correct format) OR just apply and apply for a visa (as in use it, go to Japan, back to Manila, go to Japan, back to Manila, and the cycle goes on! Haha!). Then again, you have to understand that the Embassy always, always has the last say when it comes to deciding whether a visa applicant will be granted a single entry or multiple one. K?!
FIFTH AND LAST (but definitely not the least), ENJOY YOUR #JAFUN TRIP!
I’ll write about my Tokyo trip SOON! Even before leaving Japan, I already promised myself that I’ll go back and include Osaka in my itinerary — and thanks to Kita Kita, I’mma include Sapporo, too, next time!!! 😉 Now, where’s my “Empoy,” huh?! Wahahahaha!
Have you tried applying for a Japan visa in Manila or elsewhere? How was it?
Let me know what you think! 🙂