How to Apply for a Japan (Tourist) Visa in Manila

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)
please excuse my "resting b*tch face" pose! LOL!

please excuse my “resting b*tch face” pose! LOL!

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!

beside the statue of Hachiko at Shibuya station, Tokyo

beside the statue of Hachiko at Shibuya station, Tokyo

Have you tried applying for a Japan visa in Manila or elsewhere? How was it?
Let me know what you think! 🙂

How to Apply for a (Tourist) Visa for Ireland… if you’re in Manila!

How to Apply for an Ireland Visa in Manila

It has been a little more than a quarter since I arrived from my UK-Ireland trip, and I still have to write a lot about it! Including applying for a visa for Ireland — so here it is!!! Haha 😛

Most people think that when it comes to traveling to Europe, acquiring a Schengen visa is the be-all and end-all of it. That may be true for some. BUT for someone like me who has been an Anglophile since I was seven, the Schengen visa wasn’t the answer to my dream Euro trip simply because the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the UK for short) and the Republic of Ireland (Ireland) are NOT covered by the said visa. So yes, my friends, my dream Euro trip involved applying (and paying) for two separate visas: one for the UK (which I already wrote about here) and one for Ireland. Yes, ganun ko ginustong pumunta sa Inglatera!!! 🙂

Before you ask me why there are separate visas for the UK and Ireland (even if geographically, they’re like one country!), let me already tell you that it all dates back to their history. Now, I’m not going to tell you a history lesson here, so let’s just accept and respect the fact that they’re two separate countries. In short, if you want to go to Belfast (where the infamous Titanic was built), you will need a UK visa; if you want to go to Dublin (the capital of Ireland, and where my favorite boyband of all time — Westlife — was from), you will need an Ireland visa.

If that’s already clear, I can tell you that applying for an Ireland visa is somewhat similar to the process of applying for a UK visa (only with slight differences). In fact, having a UK visa prior to applying for an Ireland visa actually has its advantages! So what are the steps you need to do in order to be able to see the Cliffs of Moher or maybe even bump into one of the members of Westlife?!

FIRST, complete your documents (original and three photocopies of each — yes, this includes photocopying your passport pages three times!!!). I’ll divide this into two categories: the required and the others.

The required documents are only three actually:

  • application form (more on this later)
  • valid passport (for at least 6 months from date of travel to Ireland)
  • 2 photos (45mm high by 35mm wide or passport size, with white background)

The others, or what you call your supporting documents. ALL DOCUMENTS ARE REQUIRED TO HAVE THREE PHOTOCOPIES. As mentioned in my UK visa blog post, these documents will help you “convince” a consular officer that you have strong ties to the Philippines  (a.k.a. hindi ka magtatago sa Ireland dahil may babalikan ka sa Pilipinas!) and that you have enough funds for your trip. Since the Irish Consulate in Manila is document-dependent when it comes to their visa applications (unlike other embassies that require personal appearance/interview), I believe it’s crucial that you really don’t lack any of the following:

  • cover letter explaining your intent to travel to Ireland and itinerary
  • proof of previous travel (i.e., passport stamps)
  • bank certificate/statements or payslips (for the last 6 months)
  • certificate of employment (or proof of business/self-employment, whichever applies to you)
  • booking details/itinerary (it’s not really advisable to book your airfare/accommodation without having a visa first, so make sure that your bookings are not yet final to the point that you can’t refund them anymore)
  • others (any other document that you think might be helpful to your visa application)

More information about their accepted supporting documents can be found HERE.

SECOND, accomplish the application form. The Irish Consulate in Manila doesn’t really have an official website, so all Google searches will always redirect you to Ireland’s government site, https://www.visas.inis.gov.ie/avats/OnlineHome.aspx. Just click “Continue” and follow the instructions. Make sure to remember your application number because you will need it later on.

An important note to remember is when it comes to the Ireland visa, you have the option to choose if you want single entry or multiple entry. Of course, choosing the latter makes the visa fee more expensive. (I just chose the single entry because our itinerary involved going back to London after our Dublin trip. And besides, it was my sister’s decision to visit Ireland anyway, so why spend more?! Haha!)

THIRD, pay for the non-refundable visa fee. As of this writing, the single-entry visa is Php3,600 (but if you have a valid UK visa, it’s around Php4,600); the multiple-entry visa is Php6,000. If my memory serves me right, you can do this on cash basis at the Consulate itself. Which brings us to the next step…

FOURTH, book an appointment (by calling the Irish Consulate in Manila at +63 2 896-4668). Once your documents are ready, you need to set an appointment at the Irish Consulate in Manila for them to schedule you when you can submit your documents and pay for the visa. Upon calling them, you need to give your application number (the one generated in your application form) for easier reference. If you don’t want to go there directly, you may also send your documents via courier. Still, it’s better to call or e-mail them to ask about their preferred couriers.

The e-mail address of the Irish Consulate in Manila is irishcon@pldtdsl.net, and their address is:

Consulate General of Ireland
3/F Max’s Bldg. 70 Jupiter St.
Bel-Air 1, Makati City
1209 Philippines

I suggest you call the Consulate a week before your preferred date. Also, make sure to submit your documents 8 weeks or earlier prior to your planned travel date because that’s how long it takes to process the Ireland visa. If you have a valid UK visa, it takes only 6 weeks — which is probably why the visa fee is more expensive if you already have a UK visa (consider it an expedited process). The reason why it takes long is because in general, consulates are only for citizens; embassies process visas. Since there’s no Irish Embassy in Manila, the Irish Consulate in Manila still needs to submit visa applications to the nearest Irish Embassy — which is in Singapore.

The step-by-step visa application process for Filipinos by the Embassy of Ireland in Singapore can be found HERE.

FIFTH, wait for your visa to be processed. Once you submitted everything, the waiting game starts. After 6 or 8 weeks, you need to call the Irish Consulate in Manila again to ask for your visa status. This is required because no status will be given if you don’t call. If they give you good news (meaning, your visa has been approved) and go signal, you can go back to the Consulate for visa stamping. If the Consulate gives you a go signal on your agreed date and time, the visa stamping can be done within the day — as in submit your passport in the morning, and get it back in the afternoon of the same day with your visa already! YAY!!!

SIXTH AND LAST (but definitely not the least), ENJOY YOUR IRELAND TRIP! And speaking of which, I still have to blog about my own trip!!! Wait for it and read it, please! Haha! 😉


Have you tried applying for an Ireland visa in Manila or elsewhere? How was it?
Let me know what you think! 🙂

How to Apply for a U.K. (Tourist) Visa in Manila

How to Apply for a U.K. Visa in Manila

It’s no secret that I have an upcoming trip to the U.K. Some may think that I’m bragging, but to be honest, I’m just REALLY, REALLY, REALLY EXCITED!!!!!!! My family, boyfriend, and close friends know this. As an Anglophile, I’ve always dreamed of going to the U.K. Heck, I’ve dreamed about this trip since I was seven years old! Yes, almost 20 years in the making!!! I’ve even expressed my Anglophilia on this blog many times, two of which are this post, AND this post where I wrote the following words:

Honestly, I want to go to only two European countries: ITALY and of course — being your resident Anglophile and all that — THE UNITED KINGDOM. 😉 If I’m able to go to the rest, I won’t complain! But I’ll just consider those as my “bonus.” For me, Italy and the U.K. are my “all or nothing” when it comes to traveling to the EU (yep, even the Eiffel Tower takes only third place!). But, and a BIG BUT at that, I told my sister that if we’re going to those aforementioned countries, we have to go to FlorenceMilan, PisaVerona, Venice, and Rome ; England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Uh-huh, syempre the whole Italian and English package dapat noh!!! 😛

Based on that alone, you already pretty much have an idea where I’m planning my next great adventure! Haha! But yep, I wrote that way back in 2012. Come to think of it, this blog itself is U.K.-inspired! Where else did you think I got the idea of “Lady”? The British Aristocracy, of course! *ahem, ahem* So to be honest, if you think that I’m being mayabang or something (hahaha, a friend of mine could relate!), it’s none of my business. My true friends know that I’m NOT, anyway (marami rin siguro sa kanila ang nauna nang nakapunta dun, so they can relate!). In fact, I know that they’re truly, madly, deeply happy for me!!! Mwahahahahaha 😛

Rambling aside, let’s get down to business. If you’re a Filipino and you’re planning to go to a country outside of Southeast Asia (SEA), chances are, you’re required to have a visa. As of this year (2016), Filipinos can travel to only 61 countries visa-free (and some of those countries don’t even have direct flights from Manila, so you might still need to apply for a non-visa-free country’s transit visa! nyek!). Someday, I’ll be able to blog more about my firsthand experience on the visa processes of other countries. I’ll get there — WE will get there — someday… For now, I can only give you my firsthand experience on applying for a U.K. Tourist Visa in my hometown, Manila, Philippines! 😀

FIRST, complete your documents (original and photocopies). I’ll divide this into two categories: the required and the others.

The required documents are only three actually:

  • application form (more on this later)
  • valid passport (for at least 6 months from date of travel to the U.K.)
  • 2 photos (45mm high by 35mm wide, with cream or grey background) — your local Kodakan probably knows this already, so don’t worry!

The others, or what you call your supporting documents. ALL SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS ARE REQUIRED TO BE PHOTOCOPIED. Basically, these are the things that will help you “convince” a consular officer that you have strong ties to the Philippines  (a.k.a. hindi ka magtatago sa Inglatera dahil may babalikan ka sa Pilipinas!) and that you have enough funds for your trip. Since the British Embassy in Manila is document-dependent when it comes to their visa applications (unlike other embassies that require personal appearance/interview), I believe it’s crucial that you really don’t lack any of the following:

  • proof of previous travel (i.e., passport stamps)
  • bank statements or payslips (for the last 6 months)
  • certificate of employment (or proof of business/self-employment, whichever applies to you)
  • booking details/itinerary (it’s not really advisable to book your airfare/accommodation without having a visa first, so make sure that your bookings are not yet final to the point that you can’t refund them anymore)
  • others (any other document that you think might be helpful to your visa application)

SECOND, accomplish the application form. In order to do so, you need to create an account first from this site. Once you already have an account, log in and then start filling it out. It’s really not that complicated. The only heads-up I can give you is to remember your travel history for the last decade! Yes, for the last 10 years! So start backtracking those old passports and their stamps as early as possible…

THIRD, pay for the non-refundable visa fee. The short-stay visit visa is GBP85 or around PHP6,300 (as of February-March 2016). That’s usually valid for six months. The other visa types are priced differently, so better check the U.K. Government’s official site about visas for more info on those. Also, you might be needing a credit card for this. I don’t think they have a bank deposit option (or maybe I just overlooked that one).

FOURTH, book an appointment (through VFS Global). Once you accomplish the form and pay for the visa, you will also see the option there for booking an appointment. However, know that the appointment you’re making is for submitting your documents to VFS Global. VFS Global is “hired” by British Embassy Manila (and other embassies) to collect documents of visa applicants so that applicants don’t need to go to the Embassy itself.

FIFTH, appear at VFS on your appointment date (and have your photo taken and fingerprints scanned). Our appointment was the earliest (7AM), so this was pretty fast. From the time the doors opened until they closed as we exited the building, it took us around 30 minutes max! The only heads-up I can give you are about the TRAVEL TIME and ADDITIONAL FEES. (And oh, the photo they will take using their webcam is the one that will be used on your visa! The 2 copies you will submit are for your application form only. I didn’t know this before, so obvious naman sa visa photo ko noh?! Hahaha! So yeah, make sure you look your best during that time! Anyway…)

VFS Global’s office is in Makati, so plan your routes ahead especially if you’re going to be stuck in the “morning rush hour.”

The additional fees, on the other hand, are optional and only offered for more convenience, so it’s up to you if you’ll avail them. You’ll be asked if you want your passport (and original documents) delivered to you for PHP500, and if you want to receive text updates of your visa status for PHP150. To be honest, I paid for both (a total of PHP650), but I haven’t received any text update — not even one! Hay! So yeah, the only convenience there was the delivery of my passport (with the visa, of course!), right at my doorstep! (But if you don’t want to pay a fee for the courier delivery, you can also opt to pick up your passport at VFS Global. Just coordinate with them).

SIXTH, wait for your passport (hopefully, with the visa!). The normal processing time is 15 business days, but I received mine just after 10 days from the time of our appointment date. YAY!!!

SEVENTH AND LAST (but definitely not the least), ENJOY YOUR U.K. TRIP! But that’s another blog entry altogether! So until then! Hahaha!


Have you tried applying for a U.K. visa in Manila or elsewhere? How was it?
Let me know what you think! 🙂