If you’re a freelancer and planning to visit Japan soon, it may be comforting to know that your requirements and chances aren’t really that different from an employed visa applicant.
Although the news about visa-free pass to Japan that circulated few years ago wasn’t true, the Japanese government did announce that they were relaxing their visa application requirements for Filipinos. This is thanks to their tourism department’s campaign towards Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
In fact, they are now issuing 30-day multiple entry visa that’s valid for up to 5 years. But usually they give them to 2nd time applicants whose first single-entry visa was used without any issue. Not in my case though, so I guess it isn’t standard. (Edit: Apparently, it’s also common to receive multiple entry visas if you apply with your family)
So last June, Joan and I explored Tokyo and Gunma for our Japan summer escapade. Joan became a freelancer a couple of months after we booked our flights in November 2015 but nevertheless, we both got our visas just in time before our trip.
So here are the requirements she submitted during the application:
- Philippine Passport
- Visa Application Form
- Birth Certificate and Marriage Contract (if applicable)
- Daily Schedule in Japan (TAIZAI NITTEIHYO ）
- Bank Certificate
- Income Tax Return (form 2316) original and photocopy
- Additional Supporting Documents (RT airfare, hotel booking, etc)
Before we proceed to more details of each requirement, here’s one important thing that you need to know: your application will ONLY be processed through an accredited travel agency. Japanese embassy in the Philippines WILL NOT process your tourist visa application directly. Below is the list of accredited agencies from the embassy website:
- Reli Tours & Travel Agency
- Universal Holidays
- Discovery Tour Inc.
- Rajah Travel Corp.
- Attic Tours Philippines Inc.
- Friendship Tours and Resource
- Pan Pacific Travel Corporation
Click for HERE for contact details of these companies. We applied through Reli Tours in Dusit Thani, Makati for P950 each. It’s about P250 cheaper than Universal Holidays, the fancier travel office in Dusit.
So now let’s get into the documents you need for your Japan trip. The requirements are pretty simple and straightforward. Maybe it’s the way Japanese do stuff if there is such thing.
Your passport need to be valid for at least 6 months from the date of your intended departure. If your current passport will expire soon, PANIC! Get an appointment from DFA Website ASAP because their next available slot is most likely 3 months from now.
You need to submit your current passport and the latest expired one if this isn’t your first passport. You don’t need to bring all other passports to the agency.
Visa Application Form
You can download the form or ask a copy from the travel agency. During our application, we needed to fill out the same form because they want it to be printed in A4.
Although it’s not part of their list of requirements, I think it’s better if you already booked a flight because the flight details are needed in the application form. Joan and I booked our RT flights from Cebu Pacific last November 2015.
In case you don’t want to risk the ticket amount, you might want to reserve RT flights from any travel agency. It’s a flight reservation that costs around P500 which you can do in a lot of travel agencies.
Prepare at least two and tale note of these:
- Specs: 4.5cm x 4.5cm with white background
- Photo must be pasted on the application form
Birth Certificate and Marriage Contract (if applicable)
First time applicants need to submit the NSO original copy. Second time applicants don’t need to, but you have to show your previous Japan visa/s.
Daily Schedule in Japan (TAIZAI NITTEIHYO ）
Your schedule need to include the dates, activity plans, contact details and accommodation. They don’t need to be your final schedule of course. Check here for sample itinerary and here for a copy of one we submitted.
For middle class mortals like us, this is the most difficult one. I’d seen some blogs saying there’s someone who was approved with BC showing only P50,000 but I can’t find the exact source and the testimonial of the actual person who did.
One thing I can tell you though, Joan who is a freelancer had P83,000 on her account and she was approved. So at least I can say that around 80k is ok.
Income Tax Return (form 2316) original and photocopy
You need to provide your ITR from the previous year. Joan was employed in 2015 so she just used the ITR from her previous employer, doesn’t matter if you are still in the same company or not. If you’re a freelancer for few years now, it should be a copy of the one you filed recently.
I understand that some freelancers don’t bother to pay their taxes voluntarily. I think it’s essential for our struggles to get visas so we can explore the world. Also, of course it’s our responsibility to pay our taxes, whether we are employed, self-employed, or a freelancer. Pay your taxes, not saying to pay the right amount, just pay … whatever 😉
If you don’t have an ITR…
If your travel plan is the following year, you can file your annual ITR as early as January before your visa application. Note that the deadline is usually April 15, and if you will file anytime after that, you will be penalized by BIR.
If you really want to go this year, I read somewhere that you can take your chance and write a letter of explanation as to why you can’t provide ITR from last year.
Additional Supporting Documents
These documents are not officially in their checklist but everyone I know who applied for Japan visa and got approved included them in their submitted documents.
RT Airfare – I think it’s also in your best interest to purchase your RT tickets ahead of time because prices are generally higher and promo fares are rare.
Hotel Booking – this one is quite easy and won’t cost you any. You can book hotels with free cancellations in websites like Booking and Agoda. I usually use Booking for visa applications because most of the properties don’t require guaranteed credit card payment.
Whether you’re employed, self-employed or a freelancer, I think the most important thing to keep in mind when applying for a visa is that you have to convince the embassy that you are intending to come back before your visa expires, and that you have the resources for expenses on your trip.
That’s everything for now. If you have questions, leave a comment below.