Aside from the Backpacking Korea package tour, I also availed Travel Factor's Backpacking Japan. A Philippine Passport holder needs a Japan visa in order to enter the country, but I had NO visa to begin with. So, part of my checklist for preparing for that trip was to apply for one.
Applying for a Korean Visa vs. Applying for a Japan Visa
Based from my experience, the major difference between the two is that you cannot personally apply for a Japan visa. It has to course through an accredited travel agency. They will send the documents in your behalf, and you will have to claim the results from them as well.
Another difference is that, part of the requirements to applying for a Japan visa is a Daily Schedule ("TAIZAI NITTEIHYOU" in Romaji). This is basically a formal itinerary of your planned trip to Japan. This will be easy if you are availing a package tour, or perhaps a business trip, since the schedule will most definitely be provided. However, if you are going there on your own or maybe to visit a friend, then perhaps you need to do a little more work researching on the places you need to go during your trip.
And since we're already on the topic of requirements, might as well proceed with it...
- Philippine Passport. Must be valid for at least six (6) months from the travel date and has at least two (2) blank pages.
- Visa Application Form. Travel Factor emailed the form to us as part of their assistance in applying for the visa, but you may also download the PDF copy of the form here.
- Visa Application Photo. There is a specific standard for these photos; the most basic of which is that the size of the photo should be 4.5 cm x 4.5cm. Use a white background for this photo. (Update: A 2x2 ID photo is acceptable as well)
- NSO copy of Birth Certificate. They will only accept copies that were requested within one year from the application. For those who don't have time to apply for their birth certificates personally, you may order them online. (Update: For those with a previous Japanese Visa--regardless if from an old passport or not--this requirement is no longer needed)
- Marriage contract (if married). I don't need this requirement, but FYI you can also request for it online. (Update: For those with a previous Japanese Visa--regardless if from an old passport or not--this requirement is no longer needed)
- Bank certificate original. I was advised that the appropriate balance in your account should be a minimum of 200,000 PhP.
- Income Tax Return certified true copy, if possible. This is the BIR form 2316, filed on the year of your application. You may have it certified by your company payroll officer, if you are employed.
- Daily Schedule in Japan (TAIZAI NITTEIHYOU). This was discussed in the previous section. Ours was just a printout of what was sent to us via e-mail. (Update: A sample of the document can be downloaded here)
- Optional requirements are as follows:
- Certificate of Employment. Include period of employment and salary.
- Proof of Business Ties in the Philippines. Examples are Articles of Incorporation, DTI Registration, etc.
- Other Proof of Financial Capability. Examples are Land Title/s, Vehicle Registration/s, Stock Certificate/s, etc. I submitted certificates from various investment plans from PhilAm life.
- Credit Card Billings
WHERE TO APPLY
TF has chosen Reli Tours and Travel Agency as the accredited agency to apply in our behalf. We applied at their SM Megamall branch, at the 5/F Building B. SM Megamall is located at EDSA cor. Julia Vargas Avenue, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City.
TIPS AND TRICKS
|(Update: A checklist for Japan Visa application, for tourists without a guarantor)|
The visa application fee is
Make sure that you have complete and correct documents before submitting them. This is a no-brainer, but just to emphasize the importance of this tip. Reli Tours will not accept incomplete requirements, and if ever there are incorrect documents missed during the initial submission, the Japan embassy will request for them, which would take up more time. Or worse, reject your application altogether.
It will take an average of seven (7) business days to process your application. Reli Tours will submit your visa application to the Japan embassy on the next business day. But if everything goes well, you can get your visa within two (2) business days. We submitted our application on a Thursday morning, and received a call from Reli Tours on Monday of the following week. Quite fast, eh?
As with the application for the South Korean visa, the contact number and address of the place you will be staying is important. This is required in both the application form and the taizai nitteihyou.
Based on the duration of the trip, you may be given a validity of 30 days up to 90 days. Since our trip will only be for six (6) days, I was only given the 30-day validity, with an allowable stay of up to 15 days in Japan. Pretty shot, huh. (Update: Starting September 30, 2014 the Japanese Embassy has been granting multiple entry visas to tourists as well)
As we are applying though an accredited agency, I'm guessing that they allow proxy application. They also allow proxy pick-up, as long as you representative has the receipt, an also a letter of authorization.