"It has been said that a pretty face is a passport. But it's not, it's a visa, and it runs out fast." -Julie Burchill
Travelling to Japan to learn about the Japanese language, culture, and history is the dream of many UK citizens.
According to recent statistics, tourists visiting Japan hit a record 31 million in 2018, and these numbers show no sign of slowing down, more are projected to visit in the years to come.
Tourists mostly arrive from other parts of Asia, Oceania, North America, and Europe.
Visitors mostly flock to the most commonly talked about islands of Japan such as Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu to visit the cities located in these areas such as Sapporo, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Yokohama, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, and Okinawa.
Therefore, to help all adequately prepare for a trip to the land of the rising sun, Superprof has prepared some tips to know before to make your stay as pleasant as possible!
Before Arriving in Japan: Useful Things to Know!
A certain amount of information is needed before preparing for your trip to Japan and booking your plane ticket. We will consider some necessary information before departure.
Plane Ticket and International Insurance
Since it's impossible to drive from the UK to Japan, the first thing you need to do is look for plane tickets and eventually book a roundtrip flight.
It is essential to state that to make a short visit to Japan, a return ticket is needed since many airlines may deny boarding if only a one-way ticket has been purchased.
As is the case for travelling to many foreign countries, having a passport that is valid for six months after the return date is mandatory.
The UK government states the following about visits to Japan:
"If you have a 'British Citizen' or 'British National (Overseas)' passport, you can enter Japan as a visitor for up to 90 days without a visa. You may need to provide evidence of a return or onward ticket."
It is essential to follow the rules of your home country and the ones you will visit when travelling; show respect at all times, and you'll do great in Japan!
For booking flights, I use skyscanner.net for the best deals. By using Skyscanner, travellers are guaranteed the best prices and the site is well designed, making it possible for users to compare the tariffs of the flights during distinct months.
Booking cheap flight is an art and a science; therefore, it is essential to remember that London-Tokyo flights may be more expensive than buying a flight to other Asian airport hubs such as Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, or Taipei and then purchasing a low-cost flight from one of the previously mentioned destinations to one of Japan's largest cities.
Also, visitors should not be worried about safety in Japan, since it is one of the safest countries in the world; even for solo female travellers. It is essential to state that an earthquake is more likely to happen than suffering violence on the street.
Since Japan is so secure, some individuals may put off the importance of purchasing international health insurance. However, if an incident occurs without travel insurance, astronomical sums will have to be paid since Japan is a very pricey country.
In my personal experience, I highly recommend purchasing travel insurance since you never know what may happen. For example, last year, I got into a scooter accident in Indonesia because of unkept roads. My body was quite banged up, and I needed to go to a nearby hospital to receive medical care. Although Indonesia is not nearly as expensive as Japan, I was thrilled that my insurance paid for all the expenses.
In some cases, credit cards, banks, or places of employment take care of travel insurance; nevertheless, it is essential to ensure that all things are covered before leaving.
Also, if a serious problem occurs, it would be a wise decision to get closer to a British embassy in Japan to make sure that your rights are recognised.
Before concluding this section of things to know before arriving in Japan, it is essential to state that life in Japan is costly and visitors should have enough financial resources to pay for all their expenses; you don't want to be bumming off the street after spending all your cash!
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Communication With the Locals
As you probably know, the mother tongue of Japanese natives is, Japanese! English speakers are very rare, and outside of tourist areas, there are very few inscriptions of signs in the English language.
If the organisation of the 2020 Summer Olympics had to encourage the Japanese to multiply the amount of Japanese-English signs and translations, anyone currently visiting Japan without previous knowledge of the Kanji or Hiragana might be lost in translation upon arrival at the airport.
Our advice to travellers is to become familiar with specific phrases and symbols of the Japanese language previous to arrival. Taking Japanese classes at an introductory or intensive level with a professional tutor in the UK is highly recommended to order food, finding lodging, and ask for directions.
Find Japanese courses online.
Who Needs a Visa When Visiting Japan?
For the grand majority of developed countries, only a valid passport is required to visit Japan for 90 days, or three months maximum.
This visa waiver of 90 days that was decided by intergovernmental agreements applies for countries from many continents such as the following:
- Europe: France, Belgium, Poland, the Netherlands, Norway, Iceland, etc.
- North America: Canada and the United States.
- South America: Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, etc.
- Africa: Tunisia and Lesotho.
- Oceania: Australia and New Zealand.
There is even more excellent news for citizens of Austria, Germany, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom since they may easily apply for an extension of stay with the Ministry of Justice for up to six months.
Did you read that correctly Brits? You could stay and learn Japanese for half a year!
Nevertheless, it is essential to state that the 90-day or 180-day visa is purely for touristic reasons. Paid activity is strictly prohibited and severely enforced by the Japanese government with this travel stamp.
For UK citizens who have been granted the visa extension for up to six months and want to stay for longer, a specific visa is necessary. For example, if you are planning to work in Japan and make loads of cash, a work visa is needed along with a Certificate of Eligibility.
Japanese authorities require that individuals interested in working in Japan have a signed working contract with a Japanese company.
A visa application is also mandatory for anyone wishing to do the following:
- Live an expatriate experience,
- Study in Japan,
- International Volunteering Abroad,
- Perform in show business,
- Participate in sports competitions,
- Work in foreign language teaching,
- Undergo a paid internship.
The certificate of eligibility must be obtained from the Japanese Immigration Office by the host entity in Japan, who must send the original by post.
Even though acquiring a visa to stay longer in Japan may require significant effort, it is entirely worth all the paperwork and inconvenience!
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What are the Types of Visas to Stay Longer in Japan?
Many types of long-term visas exist depending on a person's activities while in Japan. Nevertheless, it is essential to state that Japan has stringent and severe foreign policy rules about immigration.
The places available for immigrants seeking permanent residence in Japan are quite tricky and very expensive to acquire.
Nevertheless, it is essential to state that everyone will have to obtain an eligibility certificate, which is a right of passage to gain access to Japanese territory. This document proves that the individual in question has entered and desires to stay in the Japanese region for non-fraudulent reasons. Also, possessing an eligibility certificate reduces the total amount of time needed to complete the visa process.
Furthermore, without further ado, the following are distinct types of visas for every situation:
- Work or Long Term Stay Visa: there are more general visas for cultural activities, student duties, and training; however, on the other hand, there are working visas for specific professions such as a professor, artist, journalist, business manager, medical services, entertainer, skilled labour, etc.
- Working Holiday Visa: both the governments of Japan and the United Kingdom are dedicated to creating a stronger bilateral relationship. Therefore, 1000 working holiday visas are issued to British citizens between the ages of 18 and 30 to spend a year in Japanese territory. Fees need to be paid, return tickets need to be bought, and specific requirements are necessary.
- Volunteer Visa: British nationals can apply for this visa to undergo volunteer work for a recognised charitable organisation in Japan for up to one year.
- Medical Stay Visa: British natives have the opportunity to undergo high-quality medical treatment in Japan by applying for a medical visa, and others who possess the same visa may accompany infirm individuals.
- Spouse or Child of Japanese National Visa: British citizens who have married a Japanese native or are the children of a Japanese national born outside of Japan may apply for a specific visa that may be granted for one or three years after relevant paperwork, and a certificate of eligibility has been shown and approved by Japanese authorities.
It is essential to state that a re-entry permit may be required for those who possess a specific visa that is valid for a year or more.
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Where and How to Apply For a Japanese Visa?
To apply for a Japanese visa in the UK, interested individuals must contact the Japanese Embassy in London located on 101-104 Piccadilly, Mayfair.
While helpful information about visas may be found online, your physical presence is necessary to fill out the appropriate documents and application.
Visa applicants may be asked to fill out or present the following documents:
- A completed visa application form,
- Passport style photos that have been taken within the past six months,
- A round trip ticket from the UK to Japan,
- A mission letter from your place of employment with a valid reason and duration of work.
Fees much depend on the visa chosen by the applicant. For example, prices are £20 for a single-entry permit, £41 for multiple-entry visas, and £5 for transit visas.
Nevertheless, it is essential to state that the visa process of young ones who apply for the Working Holiday Visa is quite different. For example, the conditions are the following:
- Be between the ages of 18 and 30,
- Not be accompanied by any children,
- Have a valid return ticket,
- Be a first-time applicant for the Working Holiday Visa,
- Possess at least £2,500 in cleared funds.
Applying for a working holiday visa is a brilliant idea for youth to take advantage of learning more about a foreign country's culture, language, and history; truly an unforgettable experience that should be experienced by all!
For those who can't make the trip to London, there are the following consulate options:
- Honorary Consul of Japan in Manchester,
- Honorary Consul of Japan in Wales,
- Honorary Consul of Japan in Edinburgh.
However, it is essential to state that consulate's do not accomplish the same work as embassies, and in some instances, travel to London is mandatory.
There you go, all the necessary information to apply for a Japanese visa to start your adventure ASAP!
What's a realistic budget for travelling to Japan?
The Definition of "Visa"
Many understand and commonly recognise the visa as a document or piece of paper that is required to enter a particular country.
What is a Japanese Visa?
To enter Japanese territory for a while, obtaining a visa from an embassy is an administrative process to acquire an official stamp affixed to passport.
As we have seen in this article, citizens of the UK obtain a 90-day tourist visa upon arrival in Japan and may extend this visa for up to six months. Other visas for more extended periods and specific reasons can be also be applied for by UK citizens.
Check out these popular Japanese classes in London.
What is a Passport?
A passport is a document that is issued by a person's state of residence, allowing them to travel abroad. This document mentions the legal name, marital status, signature, place of birth, and photo ID of the person. For entry into some countries, a visa is associated with the passport.
Passports issued in the UK are valid for ten years if you are older than 16 and five years if you are 15 years of age and younger.
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