How to get a Japanese Working Holiday Visa: It’s easy! 

For those that don’t already know, we’re going to Japan in January 2017 for approximately 8 months. Of course, doing so would not be possible without a visa, so we decided to opt for the Japanese Working Holiday Visa (WHV), which allows you to both work and travel in Japan.

We don’t know anyone that has previously applied for a Working Holiday Visa in Japan, so we had no idea to what to expect when we did so ourselves. The good news? It was surprisingly easy!

We applied for a WHV in both the UK and France because we have different nationalities. Unfortunately, you have to apply in the country that matches your citizenship. This meant that Freckles had to go from France to London to apply and stay in the UK for a whole week while they were preparing the visa (they keep your passport!).  Luckily we had to be in the UK anyway for a wedding, so we just planned it around that.

Requirements for a Working Holiday Visa in Japan

  • You must be a citizen of one of the partnered countries, which today includes:
    • Australia
    • Canada
    • Denmark
    • France
    • Germany
    • Hong Kong
    • Ireland
    • New Zealand
    • Norway
    • Poland
    • Portugal
    • South Korea
    • Slovakia
    • Taiwan
    • The United Kingdom
  • Your main intention must be to holiday
  • You must be between 18 and 30 years old on the day you apply
  • You need a valid passport
  • You need a return ticket or proof of sufficient funds to buy one
  • Be in good health
  • Have enough money to maintain your stay in Japan
  • You should be travelling alone (unless your partner also has a visa)

The requirements were the same in the UK and France, the only difference was that Freckles paid £16 for hers, while Frog got his visa free of charge in Paris.

Note: Please don’t take our word for the requirements, check the official embassy websites because prerequisites they may change over time. 

What documents did we need to provide for a WHV?

The documents required to apply for a Working Holiday Visa were almost identical in France and the UK, but we did notice that it was slightly more complicated in France and the French were very strict.

UK France
Valid UK passport (British Citizen) Valid FR passport (French Citizen)
One completed visa application form (Sample) <-identical
One passport-sized photograph approx. 35mm x 45mm (taken within the last 6months) <-identical
CV <-identical
Outline of intended activities +estimated hours you will work and salary expectations

+cost of said activities

A written reason for applying for a Working Holiday Visa typed on A4 paper <-identical
Either £2,500 in cleared funds (last 3 months bank statements must be shown)
Or £1,500 and a return or onward journey ticket or a receipt for such.
Either 4500€ in cleared funds

Or 3100€ in cleared funds and a return ticket.

Note: The bank statement must be original or a copy/printed version that has been certified by the bank.

For both countries, we were required to apply in person at the correct Japanese Embassy (see embassy websites for more details).


Is it difficult to complete the documents?

The written reason for applying for a Working Holiday Visa was fairly easy and we used an online template for inspiration. The itinerary was a little more complicated because we don’t actually have a plan in mind – we just plan on making it up as we go along! We just wrote a realistic itinerary and it got accepted. You can view both by clicking on the links below. (Please don’t copy, that would be silly 🙂 ).

Example Japan itinerary for a Working Holiday Visa

Example written reason for applying

As for the CV, we filled out the form provided on the embassy website with basic information. Once again, they just want to make sure that you are serious about your work and sane person. They don’t really go into the details here.

We were asked no questions regarding our health.

When can you apply for a Japanese Working Holiday Visa?

You are advised to apply for your WHV in Japan no earlier than 3 months before your expected departure. However, Freckles was successful in applying 6 months earlier because she said that she wouldn’t be in the UK again before the end of the year. It worked for us, but your success may depend on who you talk to and how friendly they are.

Picking up the visas

This was the easiest part of all! We had to go back 1 week later with the collection paper and everything was done. In the UK you have to pay £16 in cash, whereas it is free in France.


What next?

We are required to enter Japan in the year following the date we received the visa, so we are flying out in mid-January. We plan on staying for approximately 8 months, but the visa does allow us to stay as long as 1 year. During that time, we won’t be able to leave and re-enter the country unless we request special permission.

Until then, we are also looking into Working Holiday Visas for New Zealand as we would like to explore there for the last 4 months of 2017. Let’s hope that the process is just as simple!

Tell us about your experiences applying for a Japanese Working Holiday Visa! Have you ever got one for NZ?

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