A handful of local travel bloggers have written about this already, but I thought you might still pick up a few more helpful tips from me. Besides, I promise to make the entire application process as easy as it really is. 🙂
The first time I visited Japan was back in July 2013. I went to Osaka and Kyoto with my bestfriend Diane and her sister Donna. I can’t recall much about my application then. All I remember now was that I coursed it through Rajah Travel, and they got me approved. 🙂 So the second time I applied–I had to apply again because they only gave single-entry tourist visas before, I made sure to do it with the same agency again as I didn’t want to take chances with an untested travel agency. #SiguristaModeON
The first thing you have to know when you apply for a Japan visa is that you can’t do it on your own–and that’s not me belittling you capabilities. It’s simply because one is not allowed to go directly to the Japan Embassy to apply. The upside of this, aside from the obvious–that agencies make our lives easier, is that we don’t have to face any consul anymore for an interview. For me, that’s enough reason not to get scared and just go for it. I say, APPLY!!!
The first thing I did was I emailed Rajah Travel and requested for an updated list of visa application requirements. Below is what they gave me:
As you can see, their service fee is PHP 1,500. I was told that the cheapest you can go, which is with a different travel agency (not sure which one), is PHP 800. But I am already satisfied with Rajah Travel’s service, so I didn’t mind the PHP 700 difference.
Regarding the requirements, here are some things I thought you might want to know, and also have, as some files are available for your easy download (just click the hyperlinks and you can thank me later):
- PASSPORT/S: This is stating the obvious, but having multiple stamps on your passport will always be helpful in any tourist visa application.
- JAPAN VISA APPLICATION FORM:
- Fill up the blanks with your answers completely on your computer, and then print. This is the better option as opposed to writing down answers manually, because I heard that erasures can be a reason for your application denial. I’m not sure if this is true, but it won’t hurt to make sure you don’t look sloppy. 🙂
- Upon filling up the form, you’ll be asked for your intended place for your stay. I clarified this with the agency and they said it’s not mandatory that you book your hotel or apartment ahead of your visa application. So since this is the case, you can just use a nice and affordable hotel in a tourist-friendly area which you’ll most likely be visiting frequently during your trip. 🙂
- Similarly with hotel booking, they also do not require your flight booking. I brought a printout of mine because #SiguristaModeON as always, but they didn’t get it no matter how much I insisted on giving it. LOL.
- 2×2 PHOTOS: Be reminded that photo background should be white, and that you should wear something relatively dark (not white definitely, unless you want a floating-head look) with sleeves and a collar. For those of you, like me, who don’t have a lot of collared tops with sleeves, you can always opt to wear a blazer on a dress or a nice top. Also, you are not supposed to smile with teeth, and your ears must be seen in the photo, so tuck your hair in!
- NSO BIRTH CERTIFICATE (valid within 1 year from time of filing): This is only for those of you who haven’t had a previous/used Japan visa. I actually made a mistake of getting one again this time around, because of careless reviewing of requirements. I ordered via NSO Helpline, which is very quick and efficient and I prefer going thru them because they allow credit card payments, which is fuss-free. It only took about 1-2 working days upon request and payment for me to receive mine.
- NSO MARRIAGE CONTRACT (only if applicable of course; valid within 1 year from time of filing): You may also get this via NSO Helpline.
- DAILY ITINERARY IN JAPAN [SAMPLE ONLY]:
- This can be overwhelming to make especially when you’re not familiar with your destination yet. So my tip is to group your activities and destinations according to general area/location. In my case, since I’m visiting Tokyo, I categorized them to (a) Western Tokyo, (b) Central, (c) Northern, etc. and allocated a one day to each of them.
- How did I go about this? Japan-Guide.com came to rescue. Here’s what I used as reference: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2164.html#section_whatToSee
- CERTIFICATE OF EMPLOYMENT: You can easily request this from your HR. As for those who are self-employed, unfortunately I don’t have any tips to share. Hehe.
- BANK CERTIFICATE:
- For this, you just need to bring your passbook, and they can print out your certificate for you right away. For service fee, BPI charged me PHP 100, which was deducted straight from my account right after certificate was printed.
- As for how much money you should have in your bank, I overheard at Rajah’s office that PHP 100,000 should be the minimum for a 5D4N trip. But personally, it’s better to have more than that.
- If you’re not very confident with the amount you have, you can always ask financial support from your parents and have it on paper. Here’s a templated Letter of Guarantee, which needs to be notarized once accomplished.
- COPY OF ITR: You can also easily request this from your company’s finance team. They’ll give you your last year’s ITR, which is what’s needed anyway. What you’ll need to submit is only a photocopy so keep the original for personal record.
Compilation of these requirements can be completed in a week’s time, or two at the most. The only tedious part is actually just the itinerary making, but you can cheat that and just use a sample one from the internet or the one I uploaded up here. (I enjoy making itineraries, though, so I didn’t fake it anymore.) Once you have all requirements in one folder, you may proceed to your preferred travel agency’s office for the final application step: the actual filing.
Since I have work on weekdays, I chose to do my agency visit on a Saturday. Rajah Travel’s Makati Branch at Gercon Plaza is open from 8:30AM to 12:30PM on Saturdays. I arrived there with my college blockmate and new travel buddy Kisses around 10:30AM, and finished around 11:30. Much of our time there was spent waiting, but it’s still pretty fast overall.
Rajah Travel gives five working days as their minimum processing time, but I got my visa approval three working days after submission of requirements. So speedy, right? 🙂 Aside from the quick wait, another surprise I got was a five-year, multiple entry visa, with a 30-day maximum stay per trip! ❤
Domo arigato, Japan embassy!