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Do You Need a Visa to Go to Japan?

If you're looking for information about Japan visas for US citizens, chances are you're not headed to the country for a short visit. US travelers (who hold US passports) don't need to apply for a visa to Japan in advance, provided they seek entry to the country for tourism purposes. On the other hand, if you're an American who intends to work, study or otherwise reside in Japan long-term, you'll definitely need a Japanese visa.
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If you’re not sure whether or not you need a visa for Japan, make sure to continue reading. Although most US citizens and permanent residents can enter Japan visa-free, it’s better to know this information for sure before you book flights to Tokyo.

What is a Japan Visa?

A Japan visa is a document pasted into your passport that indicates you meet the minimum requirements to enter Japan for a given purpose. When it comes to Japan visas for US citizens, the most common types of visas are for students, employees and business owners and travelers who intend to travel in Japan for longer than 90 consecutive days.

Can I Enter Japan with Only My US Passport?

Although Japan visa requirements are more complex for people who want to take cheap flights to Japan for education, employment or marriage, tourists who want to visit Japan for up to 90 consecutive days can enter Japan with only a US passport. Upon entry, the immigration officer will place a “Landing Permission” sticker into your passport. Make note of the date on this sticker, which is your last possible date to exit Japan legally.

Situations in Which a Japan Visa is Necessary

In most situations besides (relatively) short tourist stays, Japan visas for US citizens are necessary. These include:

  • Working, for a Japanese company or any other company
  • Studying, including Japanese language courses
  • Attending business events
  • Marrying a Japanese national
  • Settling in Japan long-term

There are other instances in which Japan visas for US citizens are necessary as well, though it’s likely you’re aware of these if you have a highly specialized reason for needing to visit Japan.

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Types of Japan Visas

There are several different kind of Japanese visas, each of which correspond to a particular travel situation. Here are the most popular types of Japan visas:

  • Education visa
  • Employment visa
  • Business affairs/conference visa
  • Spouse visa
  • Long-term stay visa

Additionally, you may need to apply for a Japan tourist visa if you plan to travel in Japan for longer than 90 consecutive days, or for more than 90 days out of any 180 day period.

Where to Get Your Japan Visa

The most surefire way to get a Japanese visa is to apply for one in person at a Japanese Embassy or Consulate. However, you shouldn’t simply turn up at the Japanese Embassy in Washington DC (unless, of course, you live in the city). Japan maintains more than a dozen consulates within the United States; you’ll need to apply at the one that corresponds to the region where you live.

Most Japanese consulates in the US offer the option to submit your Japan visa application form by mail, regardless of which visa you want to obtain. Alternatively, you may choose to work with a third-party visa agency, particularly for applications that are very specialized or complicated.

Conclusion

While it’s true that the topic of Japan visas for US citizens is irrelevant for most tourists with American passports, you should make sure you don’t need a visa before boarding the plane. If you plan to work in Japan, to study the Japanese language or to say in Japan longer than 90 days at a time, you’ll need to obtain a visa in advance of your flight. Speaking of flights, make sure to search Skyscanner for the best prices on flights to Japan. Or input your details below 👇

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