Applying for a Visa to Japan

The guide below is no longer relevant to Malaysian tourists since Malaysians are now either (1) exempted from obtaining a visa or (2) require a less stringent visa application process. Read about the new application process here.

Japan Visa I

Quite a couple of people have asked me to explain how to apply for a visa to Japan (yes, you need a proper visa to enter Japan, if you haven’t heard). The Japanese government has strict laws against illegal immigrants, so they make it tough for foreigners to enter. The process can seem taxing at first, so troublesome that I had to hire an agent to do it for my first visit. After getting used to it, applying no longer became a hassle. I thought it’d be a good idea to write it, so that it’ll serve as a guide to anyone who’s planning to visit Japan.

According to the Japanese Embassy, you need several documents:

  1. Original passport
  2. Visa application form
  3. Photo
  4. Itinerary
  5. Employment certificate
  6. Personal savings account
  7. Proof of relationship with other applicants

Okay, let me break them down.

Japan Visa II

1. Original passport

Get your passport ready. You’ll be submitting it altogether with all of the documents below.

2. Visa application form

Fill this form up with black pen. They’re also so awesome to have provided a sample form for your reference.

3. Photo

The photo must be taken within six months of the application date. Its size must be 4.5 x 4.5″ and the background must be white. Mention to the photographer that it’s meant for the Japanese visa and they’ll know what to do. I’m not sure what’s the rationale behind this, but some photographers say you’re not allowed to smile in the photo and that you have to show your ears.

4. Itinerary

They need you to have an idea of where you’ll be heading to while you’re in Japan, not to trace where you go or what, but to assure that you have a clue of what you’re doing, and not trying to work there illegally, I think.

Fill this itinerary form. Provide:

  • All the dates of your visit
  • Major activity for each day e.g. Visiting Tokyo Tower
  • Your own mobile number or the number of the person you are visiting
  • The name and address of the hotel or residence you’ll be staying at for that date

5. Employment certificate

Purpose? The Japanese embassy wants to make sure that you are earning to support your trip, that you will return and  because you have a commitment back home, you won’t be migrating to Japan illegally (correct me if I’m wrong, but this was the information that was given to me).

If you’re working…

You need to get workplace to issue an official letter which confirms that you are working for them – not an offer letter.  The letter must provide:

  • Your position in the organization
  • Length of service
  • Salary

If you’re not working…

The Japanese Embassy states that you can provide a self-explanatory letter providing how your expenses in Japan will be borne. It’s an option, but I didn’t do this though.

My trip was self-sponsored before I started work, but I still had my mom as my guarantor. She managed to get her letter of employment providing the details mentioned above, also stating in the letter that she was a guarantor and would bore the cost of my trip.

6. Personal savings account

You need to present at least one certified copy of your accounts latest statement – it could be from your:

  • Personal savings
  • Fixed deposits
  • Tabung Haji
  • ASB

Make sure that the statement provides your name, account number and current balance.

I often go to the ASB branch at PNB early in the morning to get my latest statement copied and certified there. You can do this at your bank, too. If you’re not working yet and are relying on parents or guardians as guarantors, get their statement copied and certified.

7. Proof of relationship

If you’re visiting with family…

You need to show proof of relationship:

  • Husband and wife need to show a copy of their marriage certificate
  • If you bring children along, you need to provide a copies of their birth certificates, to prove that your children are in fact your children

If your guarantor are your parents…

  • You need to provide proof that your guarantor are your parents, too, with a birth certificate

If you’re visiting somebody there…

I don’t know if this is necessary at all, but once upon a time an agent suggested that I provide copies of Reza’s passport, Japanese ID and even a picture of us together to show that we know him.

Japan Visa III

Finally! Once you’ve gotten everything, arrange them properly in the order provided above and submit them personally to:

The Japanese Embassy
Persiaran Stonor
Off Jalan Tun Razak
50450 KL
03-2177 2600

Office hours:
8.30 a.m. – 12.00p.m
2.00 p.m. – 4.00 p.m.

But please do this at least two weeks before the trip. The visa is valid within three months of the issue date. After submission, they’ll issue you a confirmation slip and expected date of pickup. Your visa will be ready within three days and if there are any problems, they’ll give you a call 🙂

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  • Peri PiA
    May 26, 2012 at 7:27 PM

    hope masuk malaysia pon sesukar ini 🙂

    • Miasuraya
      May 27, 2012 at 6:27 PM

      Tourist malas nak datang nanti.

  • Anonymous
    May 26, 2012 at 8:00 PM

    regarding the photo, i was in china and my friend and i were travelling from beijing to shang hai. she used to be kindda on the plum side she lost a lot of weight after that and she looks sooooo different in her passport photo. so the immigration officer did check her ear o.O”

    • Miasuraya
      May 27, 2012 at 12:16 PM

      LOL. That’s why then! Thank’s for clearing that up 🙂

  • Anonymous
    May 26, 2012 at 8:06 PM

    aduh banyaknya benda.
    aussie punya visa pun tak tedious mcam ni.

    • Miasuraya
      May 27, 2012 at 6:22 PM

      Itulah pasal. Mula-mula tengok serabut, tapi I think if you’ve prepared the photo, forms (isi borang 30 minutes je I think) and letter, you can go to ASB at 9 and go to the embassy at 10 (no queue!). Consumes only half a day of your leave 🙂

  • Liya Laa
    May 26, 2012 at 11:29 PM

    Difficult much I think. Even visa to Indon pun I rasa dah susah,apatah lagi yang Japan. huuuu

    • Miasuraya
      May 27, 2012 at 6:24 PM

      Indonesian visa cane?

  • Hannah
    May 27, 2012 at 10:24 AM

    I have visited Japan numerous of times but never realized how tedious the visa process can be.. Usually dads office will help with the forms etc.. OZ visa way easier, online pun dah settle..

    • Miasuraya
      May 27, 2012 at 6:26 PM

      Lucky you then! Before I knew how pun I had my mom to sort it all out. Yeah OZ’s cool. No need to have those fancy stickers on your passport either (though I’d prefer it that way).

  • amy
    May 28, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    It’s actually not that difficult . You don’t really need the employer certificate etc. But you have to have at least RM 10000 in your savings before they let you have the visa . I have a friend who’s actually working for japanese embassy , he says malaysian very rarely being rejected for visa . In couple of years you don’t really need visa when malaysian government and japanese government sign the free trade agreement . So if you really want to visit japan frequently then you better hope they move thing fast . 🙂

    • Miasuraya
      May 28, 2012 at 1:21 PM

      Despite the low probability of rejected application, I provided all anyway (I remember the agent being so strict about it), so that I didn’t have to return to the embassy to provide more documents.

      No employment certificate needed (and since you mentioned etc. I suppose the rest of the letters)? Next time I may need to talk to your friend haha! I’ve also heard that the RM10k floor is a story created by travel agents – I called the embassy once to clarify, she answered “No such thing”. Now I don’t know what to believe.

      But yeah, I hope that happens. If no visa required senang sikit jalan-jalan 🙂

    • Peri PiA
      May 28, 2012 at 1:53 PM

      sorry menyampuk hehe,i pon penah terbace kat blog tentang 10k ni
      oooo terasa “ringan” sikit lepas bace ni 😉

  • Anonymous
    May 28, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    That is why I preferred visit Korea than japan. No offense just because Korea doesnt need any Visa to apply. But I want to go to Japan. 1 day perhaps

    • Miasuraya
      May 29, 2012 at 6:39 PM

      Seriously? Only because of the visa? But I guess if you really want to go, you would, right. No offense taken.

  • MOMOKO-chan
    May 28, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    Been there done that!!
    memang sangat tedious.
    i applied mine when i was in the UK.
    Since I was staying at my friend’s, they wanted an invitation letter from my friend, his copy of alien card etc.
    They did go through the itinerary very thoroughly. My friend lived in Kagawa but I also included Tokyo and Osaka as one of my destinations in the itinerary. But I didn’t put the details of the hotels i’ll be staying..(I x booked lagi accommodation mase tu).
    The guy in charge said kalo macam tu there is a possibility that my visa application will be rejected. But then he suggested that I take out Osaka and Tokyo from my itinerary and just put Kagawa as my destination for the whole 2 weeks. senang citer.
    nasib baik lepas kalo tak memang i nangis la tickets sume dah booked kan.

    • Miasuraya
      May 29, 2012 at 6:48 PM

      Wow. That’s proof that they do check then. I was asked to provide alien card, buttak lah sampai invitation letter! Good thing you got your visa anyway.

      That’s the thing I learned – omit whatever that’s unnecessary, make your trip look uncomplicated.

  • amy
    May 28, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    This is my tip to get visa easily .
    a) have RM 10 k in your savings at least! if you can have more that will be even better .
    b) Put just one destinations on your visa .
    c) Book just couple of days of hotel even though you want to stay longer . They give out 3 month max so it doesnt matter .
    d) reasons to visit shopping in tokyo , osaka etc pick your location .
    e) Use flexible ticket flight ie malaysian airlines etc.
    Happy travel .

    • Miasuraya
      May 29, 2012 at 6:37 PM

      Thanks Amy for the tips. A lot of people are going to appreciate this! 🙂

  • Kay
    June 6, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    wahhhh susah gak apply Japan visa dr Malaysia. Saya study NZ apply via masuk Jepun senang je.Apapun Japan besttttttttttt kan Mia????

    • Miasuraya
      June 13, 2012 at 12:07 PM

      Good! MOMOKO-chan had a hard time to apply in the UK. I’m starting to think that it really depends on the Japanese embassies now.


  • Anonymous
    June 6, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    Thanks for the tips Kak Mia & others. I was wondering, diorang check ke our whereabouts while we stay in Japan? Because I was thinking nak visit Japan at the end of the year


    • Miasuraya
      June 13, 2012 at 12:09 PM

      No worries, Nim. I doubt they’d check lah. They just want to know whether you have a good itinerary, as in you’re not going there without a plan. Unless you get in trouble, they just might check. Heh.

      Sorry for not replying sooner, I didn’t notice this.

  • zt
    September 22, 2012 at 7:57 PM

    hi, boleh tau nak submit application visa boleh sorang je hantarkan atau semua yang akan travel sama tu perlu hadir di embassy?
    thanx for this great post

    • miasuraya
      September 25, 2012 at 9:11 PM

      Hello. The embassy only needs a rep, tak perlu semua ada. You’re welcome!

  • V
    September 24, 2012 at 10:27 PM

    I thought Guarantor/Inviter is non-mandotary?

    *The column of guarantor/inviter is not required to fill in

    • miasuraya
      September 25, 2012 at 9:12 PM

      Non-mandatory, but advisable to provide info, especially if a person (e.g. a student) is obviously not earning. They might question the person’s ability to finance the trip if not for a guarantor.

  • mr g
    October 16, 2012 at 6:56 PM

    Darn, I read this after submitting the application. It was all good until the employment letter part. I brought the offer letter instead, and they’ge asked me to submit only a confirmation of my employment. I think the Singapore Japan embassy has a sample of this. They say I’ll get the visa after days. Fingers crossed!

    • miasuraya
      October 17, 2012 at 2:33 PM

      Good luck!

  • LULU
    November 13, 2012 at 4:00 PM

    hi, currently im a university student who wish to go japan ALONE on this coming december. For the employment certificate, i dont have it. So, what document should i prepare?

    – and for the proof of relationship. Izzit that i should prepare my birth certificate? or my parents too?

    THX for ur reply!!!

    • miasuraya
      November 14, 2012 at 9:35 PM

      Just letter from or bank statement of guarantor and your proof of relationship with guarantor i.e. birth cert (must have parents name, right?).

    • LULU
      November 16, 2012 at 6:46 PM

      means i shld have a guarantor first? if my bank acc hv 6k above, i aso nid a guarantor? thx

      • miasuraya
        November 17, 2012 at 9:42 PM

        Not sure about that. Travel agency would tell me that, but it’s best for you to call the embassy for clarification.

  • Setiawan
    November 26, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    hi… regarding the 6. Personal savings account… jz need 1 type rite?? no need all 4?? thx…

    • miasuraya
      February 9, 2013 at 12:01 AM

      Yeah, either one I think.

  • sue
    December 5, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    hi there, nasib baik ada org share tips ni. saya dah keliru. saya dh dptkan maklumat dr embassy, pun keliru juga. kalau hubby bawa isteri hswife, isteri perlu sediakan supporting letter seperti self explanatory atau mmg kena ada co letter dr suami stated ingin bawa isteri, confirmation of apployment, verification of r/shp. macam tu ker? confused to the max. pls advise thanks.

    • miasuraya
      December 8, 2012 at 10:05 PM

      Sorry, never thought of this situation or asked :/ To make things easier my mom would get her company to issue a letter stating who she’s bringing with her and if she is sponsoring e.g. my brother or my younger sister. Verification of relationship is a must I think.

  • keanlay
    January 24, 2013 at 6:18 PM

    I will visit my daughter who is studying in Japan. Was told that her student visa will be sufficient to apply visa for our family planned trip to Tokyo. Need your kind input. Thanks.

    • miasuraya
      February 9, 2013 at 12:00 AM

      Sorry, I’m not sure about that. Best to check with the embassy.

  • aora
    February 4, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    Hi. Thanks for the information on the above. I have always wanted to go to Japan but this visa thingy is stopping me. After I read your blog, it eases my doubt. One question, is it ok if I buy my flight to Japan first and apply for the visa later since AirAsia is having a big slash if the ticket is bought early. What is your advise??? Thanks in advance ^^

    • miasuraya
      February 9, 2013 at 12:00 AM

      Yup, just buy tickets first. Not a problem 🙂

  • ace
    February 8, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    Hye..hope u still into this blog..im goin to japan with my other 2 frenz..just need to clarify some stuff..its must b confirmation letter instead of offer letter? And for bank statement..does it required 3 month reference? Thanks.

    • miasuraya
      February 9, 2013 at 12:01 AM

      Confirmation, I think. I’m not sure about the bank statement, but it needs to be recent.

  • Jen Chin
    March 1, 2013 at 2:07 AM

    Hi I have a question, can I first apply the japan visa, then only buy my flight ticket to tokyo? or I have to buy the flight ticket before I apply the japan visa ? thx for replying!

    • miasuraya
      March 2, 2013 at 10:24 PM

      Don’t think it’s an issue to apply first, as long as your visa doesn’t expire when you go to Japan and return to Malaysia. I usually buy the tickets first though.

  • Santi
    March 2, 2013 at 10:07 PM

    Hi… regarding your statement “it’ll be ready for pick-up within three day” is it true? because I am planning to go but I heard it takes about a month to do the visa. Thanks.

    • miasuraya
      March 2, 2013 at 10:30 PM

      Yup. Mine’s always ready within three days, provided there are no issues with the submission of application. They’d state when you can expect the visa to be ready on the confirmation slip.

  • Chiko
    March 4, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    Hi,thanks for sharing this information!! I’m going to Japan this APRIL..cm sume org,syew pun de sedikit msalah..Like self-explanatory letter tuu..adakah ia bermksud,kitew kne wat 1 lg surat pengesahan?

    • miasuraya
      April 17, 2013 at 12:07 AM

      Hi Chiko. Just tulis surat, terangkan how you will bear the cost dekat sana. Tak payah pengesahan.

  • Francis Ng
    April 12, 2013 at 12:56 AM

    I’m going to Japan on a homestay program (self funded), staying in Tokyo then Kyoto. From the comments, I understand that having a simple itinerary is better for the visa application. What should I put in the itinerary as I think having two locations far away would make it complicated? The agency hasn’t given me the information of the host families yet either. If I mention it’s a homestay would they then require invitation letters also or should I just enter a hotel address?

    • miasuraya
      April 17, 2013 at 12:09 AM

      Hi Francis! I’m not very sure about that. It’s best for you to call the embassy and check with them. I’m guessing that the requirements for a homestay programme would be different as opposed to holiday or visiting. Sorry for not being able to help.

  • Siti Syameen
    May 13, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    Hi! Thanks for this post, I’ve been so pampered my last three trips sponsors did my visa application, but this time have to do it on my own, so glad to have stumbled onto this page 🙂

    • miasuraya
      May 13, 2013 at 11:33 PM

      You’re welcome Syameen 🙂 Glad you found it useful!

  • disqus_w0a3Bq8nSP
    May 28, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    Hi sis mia..just want to ask..macam mana nk sahkan relationship btween friends? Hahah konfius jap..planning to go japan dis coming nov, backpackers with 2 other friends..tq!

  • Alice
    June 7, 2013 at 10:21 PM

    Hi, i am planning to travel to Tokyo for about a month to visit a relative of mine who is a permanent resident in Japan. Regarding the visa i need to apply at the Japanese Embassy, is it true that I can only stay up to a maximum of 2 weeks? I was planning to visit Japan as long as 3 to 4 weeks.. need to book my flights really soon because there’s a promotion for flight tickets and I’m afraid something might go wrong. im planning to visit japan late feb 2014 so i wont be able to actually apply for a visa now right?