A handful of my friends have asked me about how to apply for a Japan visa (in time for spring!), so I’m writing this post for their benefit. :)
I am a budget traveler and I almost always resort to arranging things on my own as opposed to going through a travel agency. First thing I did was look things up on the Japanese embassy website. It was a tourist visa I was applying for and this is where you can get the list of requirements.
One thing you need to know is that the Japanese embassy only processes visas through accredited travel agencies, and there’s none in Bacolod. However, there are travel agencies here that facilitate the processing on your behalf, and from what I’ve heard, it’s around Php 2,400 per person.
At the time of my application, I opted for Discovery Tour in Manila because they had the cheapest rate of Php 800 per person + Php 400 courier fee (that’s Php 1,000 savings). But it looks like they don’t process applications via mail in their Manila office now. However, it looks like they do in Cebu at Php 1,000 per person + Php 300 courier fee), which is still cheaper than coursing it through Bacolod travel agencies.
Although I was visiting friends, I didn’t put that on my application so that I didn’t have to provide supporting documents. Under purpose, as far as I can remember, I only put “to experience cherry blossom season.”
Here are the requirements:
- PHILIPPINE PASSPORT
- VISA APPLICATION FORM
- PHOTO (4.5cm x 4.5cm) w/ white background – IIRC, one was pasted on the application, the other was for the visa.
- NSO BIRTH CERTIFICATE OF APPLICANT (+ NSO MARRIAGE CONTRACT if you’re married) – you can get this online – This has to be valid (within a year); I don’t understand this, really, because our birth dates don’t expire nor change. :P I submitted the original birth certificate, BTW.
- TOUR ITINERARY – This doesn’t have to be your exact itinerary.
- BANK BALANCE CERTIFICATE (original)
- PHILIPPINES INCOME TAX RETURN (BIR 2316)
In addition, I also provided a certificate of employment, my confirmed flight details, and photocopies of pages from my old passport with stamps and visas from other countries I’ve visited. These are not required, but we’re encouraged to submit these.
Before you mail your documents, call Discovery Tour to inform them that you will be sending in documents and they will provide you an account number to deposit your payment to. Your deposit slip will form part of your requirements, so you have to include this. If the process remains the same, they will also give you their corporate account number for the courier (DHL, if I’m not mistaken), and you will have to call DHL to pick the documents up (or go to their office) and you won’t have to pay them anything (that was what the Php 400 courier fee was for, which already includes return shipping). Make sure you put your return address. Take note of your waybill number.
Now, I was overly excited and I called Discovery Tour to give them a headsup, as well as my waybill number, and checked the DHL tracking system every day. They wouldn’t tell me over the phone if I got my visa because apparently, it’s sealed when the embassy returns it to them. All I could do was wait with bated breath. It just took them a little over a week to return my passport (with visa – yaaay!); however, on their website, it says it takes 14 to 21 working days via Cebu.
Now, if you’re not comfortable doing this on your own, you could always course it through a travel agency.
This is just a guide to get you started. Processes may have changed from when I applied for my visa last year (2015) so it’s always best if you check with the Japanese embassy and/or their accredited travel agencies.
Hope this helps. :)
* Images are all mine, unless otherwise specified. Please do not use without permission.