A freelancer’s application for a tourist visa to Japan

When I booked my flight to Japan last year, I was still a regular employee, and the Embassy had just announced that they were relaxing the visa application requirements. I was very confident that I was finally going to be able to fly to my dream destination since I was a child. I mean, who wouldn’t dream of going to Japan? Sushi! Sashimi! Ramen! Okonomiyaki!!! Sign me up for all that.

Fast forward to July 2015, my plans had changed, and instead of working in a new company, I chose to be a freelancer, instead.

Cue panic over my visa application.

Fast forward again to September 2015, and I’m smiling like an idiot while staring at my shiny new visa to Japan, watermarked with Mt. Fuji and pretty cherry blossoms.

Like most people with blogs who successfully obtain a tourist visa to Japan, I am now sharing my experience and the answers to the questions I kept asking people so that others may benefit from it.

I started prepping at least five months before my trip
Since the validity of the visa is three months, the earliest we should apply is…tada!–three months before the trip. I took two months to prepare for the application–I’m paranoid like that–but I think you can take just a month, maybe, especially if you already know where you’re going to in Japan.

  • xx months before the trip: start raising Japan trip funds
  • 5 months before the trip: Read the embassy’s website and related blogs about the requirements, selected my travel agency, and maximized japan-guide.com to draft my itinerary. Also explored the Japan visa thread in Pinoy Exchange.
  • 4 months before the trip: Ordered a birth cert, got a photo, gathered my documents into one folder. Also finalized my draft itinerary, and made hotel reservations on booking.com. More on that later.
  • 3 months before the trip: Got my bank certificate, submitted my application to the agency at 4PM. The next day, my visa was approved. A couple of days later, my agency called me at 10 AM to notify me of my visa approval.

I really needed a travel agency
All visa applications have to go through one of the accredited travel agencies listed here. You can’t go directly to the embassy except for very special cases.

I chose Friendship Tours because I personally know a friend who processed her visa there. There is no fee for the visa, but agencies charge a processing fee. For Friendship Tours, their processing fee for a tourist visa with no guarantor is 1200PHP.

While I was being all nervous about my freelancer status, Friendship Tours patiently answered my questions through email. When I went to their office, I saw that it’s clean and arranged in a way that you’ll know what to do even without help from the staff, and when you finally do talk to their staff, they are friendly, helpful, and efficient. Highly recommended!

Friendship Tours
Dusit Thani Manila, Ayala Center, Makati
Tel. Japanese (2) 840-1060
Tel. Filipino 893-8180/893-8183
E-mail (English) visa@friendshipmanila.com

There are a few basic documents to prepare
The Japanese Embassy lists the visa requirements on their website. There are requirements that are required for some, but not for others, like if you’re married or if you’re visiting someone, in which case you’ll need their documents, too. Be sure you’ve read the official list.

I also used other bloggers’ posts as reference. I’ve bookmarked the one by Adventure Accounting and the one by The Poor Traveller.

If you’re like me and you’re an unmarried person looking to get a single entry tourist visa to Japan from the Philippines, the basic requirements are:

  • Philippine passport
  • Visa application form
  • Photo with correct specs
  • Original Birth certificate issued within the year
  • ITR
  • Daily schedule
  • Bank certificate

Let’s get into each one.

I brought all my passports to the agency
The Embassy’s website says that the passport has to have my signature and have at least two (2) blank pages. Check and check.

It also says that broken lamination of the photo part is not accepted. Mine had a soft fold near the photo part, so I panicked a little, but since the lamination wasn’t broken, it turned out okay.

I brought all my passports that had stamps on them, but my agency only took my current one, and the next most recent.

My current passport has a used China visa, and a couple of stamps from Singapore and Malaysia, while my previous passport showed that I had travelled the Banana Pancake Trail (Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand) and came back without overstaying. My agency attached the two using rubber bands to automatically open to the important pages.

The application form is an editable PDF
The Embassy has the visa application form available for download. Accredited tourist agencies also have printed forms available.

I typed my answers into the PDF because I did not trust my handwriting, and I was afraid of getting something wrong and needing to start over. It has to be completely filled out with no blanks. (Use N/A if not applicable.)

For the Current Position blank in the work info section, I indicated Web Developer (FREELANCE). For the Name and Address of employer, I put N/A.

Photo studios know the specs
The Embassy’s website has a page dedicated to the photo specifications. I was a little paranoid that the photo studio might get it wrong, so I brought a copy of the specs, plus I fixed my hair, and practiced my head position and facial expression based on this very helpful guide by Kodak Express Camden. (The facial expression practice doesn’t seem to do much, but I am very thankful I don’t look super duper haggard unlike my other passport and visa photos.)

I went to the Mitsubishi Studio in SM North EDSA, and they chuckled at my paranoia. They knew what they were doing.

The Embassy’s website also says that the photo must be attached to the application form. But I’d heard of stories where the agency asked the applicant to get another photo, so I didn’t immediately paste mine onto my application form. On the day I submitted my application, I asked my agency to check if my photo was good. The travel agency had stick glue for moments like this, of course, but I brought my own because I didn’t know. Hehe.

Birth Certificate issued within the year
It doesn’t say so in the Embassy’s website, but I decided to get a new birth certificate, anyway. You can order a copy from NSO online for 315 PHP, and they’ll even deliver it anywhere. But there was an SM mall near our house, so I ordered mine from the SM Business Center for 140PHP + 20 PHP service fee. (Try this blog post for a detailed description of the process.) Ayala malls have government counters like this, as well.

Draft your schedule
The Embassy requires you to submit a daily schedule to Japan to see if you know what you’re doing. It’s a simple document, and you don’t need to write down everything to the last detail. Download the form here. The second page has a sample itinerary! You can use that as reference.

You do need to put your hotel info, but hotel bookings are not required. You can just put the info of the hotel that you’re thinking of staying in. Or, if you’re playing safe like me, choose backpacker hostels that have free cancellation in booking.com, and just remember to cancel your reservation if you’re not staying there, after all. You can print your reservation and include it to your visa application package.

Get the bank certificate on a day that you have the most money
I have no idea what the actual minimum is, and I have seen blog and forum posts that claim to successfully obtain a visa even if their bank balances are only 50,000PHP. I think it’s best to gather as much funds as you can, or get a bank cert on payroll day, and before you pay your regular bills.  And, no, they don’t look at your average daily balance.

My bank is BPI. When they issue a bank certificate, they can make it reflect ALL your accounts. That’s what I requested.

I had the two unexpected but happy circumstances of several checks still not cashed, for some reason, and a client suddenly depositing a hefty sum into my account, so my bank certificate reflected 15x,xxx. Hooray! (Of course, after I paid my bills and the checks were encashed, my bank balance today is very different to the one on that day.)

I’ve also been told that it’s best to get a bank certificate right before submitting your application form. In my case, I got it on the same day that I submitted my application. It took me about 30 minutes including waiting time. I went to a bank branch that I knew only a few people went to for customer service.

Submit an ITR, or explain why you’re not submitting one
The embassy lists that you’ll need to submit Income Tax Return (Form 2316) original and photocopy. No ITR? Try what Rox did and write a letter of explanation.  Another way is to submit a current contract from a client like what Douxie Girl did. Myleene from Freelance Escapade also submitted a Form 1700.

Since I was still a regular employee until recently, I had my Form 2316 from 2014. (I think I’ll have to study what kind of ITR Form I need for next year!) I brought an original and photocopy, as the Embassy’s website said, but Friendship Tours only took the photocopy.

This is originally one of the things that I kept asking people: was it cause for concern that, on my ITR, the name of my previous employer was indicated, and this wasn’t true anymore? Turns out that I didn’t have to be concerned, of course, because people change jobs all the time. This was normal, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see one employer in the ITR, and another in the visa application form.

Bring all the documents you can bring
The objective of additional documents is to prove that you can afford your trip to Japan, and that you’re not going to overstay.

I brought a print-out of my plane tickets. The agency attached that to my application. They also asked if I had a printout of my hotel reservation, but I wasn’t able to bring mine. I also brought my most recent credit card bills, and statement of account for my investment and savings account. My agency didn’t get them from me, though.

For other visa applications, a certificate of employment is like a magic ingredient of sorts, and it makes application packages little more palatable. As a freelancer, I didn’t have one, and the closest thing would have been a contract of my current project. (I didn’t submit one, though.)

It’s best to bring everything you can bring, and let the agency decide what to include and what to leave, depending on the combination of what else you have.

Relax while waiting
After you submit your application, there’s nothing else you can do aside from pray that the Embassy approves of it. There’s no use in worrying and fussing about it.

Like I said in the start of this post, it was three days after I sent my application that I found out that it was approved. But in reality, I imagine it looked like this:

Day 0: I submitted my application at 4PM
Day 1: Friendship Tours took my application to the Embassy, Embassy approves it. (But I didn’t know this yet.)
Day 2: The application gets sent back to Friendship Tours.
Day 3: Friendship Tours calls me at 10 AM, after which I did a victory dance in a cab. My driver probably thought I was crazy.

I can’t say if it’s always this fast, though I’ve seen many similar reports. It’s standard procedure for agencies to tell you that the process takes 7 days, though, in case there’s a heavy load of applications, I guess.

After I was notified that my application was approved, I went to Friendship Tours to pick up my passport. (I did it about a week later, though, because that was the available time for me to go to that area.)

So there you go! I hope that was helpful to someone.

Were you a freelancer or ITR-less Japanese visa applicant? Share your experience in the comments below!


106 thoughts on “A freelancer’s application for a tourist visa to Japan

  1. Gee Taleon January 25, 2016 / 10:18 pm

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  2. Gee Taleon January 25, 2016 / 10:18 pm

    Very helpful article! When did you leave your company? I have my 2014 ITR pero nagresign ako nung october 2015. Can I still use my 2014 ITR? Thank you! and I already been to Japan last september 2015, kailangan ko p ba mgsubmit ng ITR?

    • Sarah February 15, 2016 / 2:49 pm

      You can try, but I think the most latest ITR is best. Friendship Tours can answer this better, I think!

  3. Miffy February 13, 2016 / 10:20 pm

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    • Sarah February 15, 2016 / 2:49 pm

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      • Miffy April 4, 2016 / 5:36 am

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  4. Miffy February 13, 2016 / 10:20 pm

    Hi Sarah!

    You don’t know how much hope you gave me after reading this blog post! (Thanks to Google for finding this haha)

    I’m also in the exact situation when you applied for a Japan visa! I resigned from my work about 6 months ago and I’m currently (still) in the process of applying jobs though I’m doing online freelance jobs on the side while waiting for a company to sign me a contract. My college friend and I are planning to visit Japan this April for the sakura season… and that exactly is my concern.. I have all the other documents EXCEPT for a current CoE!!! I also have all my ITR’s from my previous company (latest was 5 months ago from my backpay) and my bank account is enough as well (6-digits). I’ve been told and read through other blogs that it’s a must to have a CoE. Sobrang kabado ako baka ma-deny ako at nakapagbook na rin kami ng plane tickets and airbnb accommodations. My friend on the other hand has no problem on this since she’s currently employed.

    And yes, we’re also planning to apply in Friendship Tours since my other friend who’s been to Japan recommended that agency too. I’m really crossing both my fingers na maapprove Japan visa application namin for April.

    Thanks for sharing your Japan visa application experience! I can be less paranoid now hahahaha!

    • Sarah February 15, 2016 / 2:49 pm

      I’m glad to be of help! Please do let me know what happens. 😀

      • Miffy April 4, 2016 / 5:36 am

        Hi Sarah!

        Sorry if it took awhile to post back. Just to share the good news, my friend and I got an approved visa (2 weeks ago)!!! We’re traveling to Japan this week and we couldn’t be more excited! Our visa application took 3 working days before we got a message from Friendship Tours to claim our passports.

        Again, thank you so much for your info! 😀

      • marlakwatsera July 4, 2016 / 11:51 am

        HI Miffy! I have question regarding with your JP visa application. Did you submit an ITR from your previous employer?

    • JT December 6, 2017 / 8:49 am

      Hi miffy! did you submit your recent ITR ? i have the same dilemma

    • Chell September 13, 2018 / 11:24 pm

      Hi, ask ko lang if nagpasa ka pa ng invoice(or proof ng payments galing freelance job)?

      • Sarah September 14, 2018 / 6:24 pm

        Hi Chell. No, I didn’t provide proof of payment.

  5. Shubhank Gaur April 1, 2016 / 9:49 am

    Did you pre-book (paid) your flight ticket before visa or showing Flight reservation ?
    Normally Visa requirements specifically says to make Flight Reservation and NOT to book it but Japan Visa requirements says CONFIRMED flight tickets.

    I have actually made flight reservations but on the confirmation page/flight itinerary it says “ON HOLD” on status.

    I actually went japan last year (June 2015) and showed myself as a Freelancer (iOS Developer) and amazingly was called for a interview but got visa approved.

    But this time I am applying with my little brother and 2 friends (I kept boasting about Japan to them) so a bit concerned.

    Also, how and where did you show your past trips to other ASEAN countries ? Just passport stamps ? Since we went to Indonesia in August 2015 but I havnt written it anywhere in documents.

    • Sarah April 1, 2016 / 10:04 am

      Hi there! I did book my flight, yes. I’d booked the ticket one whole year before my trip, and it was on sale.

      For my past trips, yup, I just included my previous passport with the stamps.

  6. Paula April 25, 2016 / 2:17 pm

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  7. Paula April 25, 2016 / 2:17 pm

    Hi Sarah! I applied sa Friendship Tours, too. Day 3 na, huhuhu, wala pang tawag.

    Submitted Apr 20 (wed) at Friendship Tours in Dusit Hotel, Makati.

    Submitted the ff:
    1. Application Form
    2. Itinerary (Nagoya) 5D
    3. Birth Certificate
    4. ITR 390,000
    5. Bank Certificate, Savings: 68,000
    6. Roundtrip Tickets
    7. Hotel Reservation
    8. COE (3 years sa company, with compensation)
    9. Passport (One travel to Malaysia)

    • Sarah April 26, 2016 / 10:53 pm

      Good luck!

  8. Emmanuel Iluzada April 26, 2016 / 3:39 pm

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  9. Emmanuel Iluzada April 26, 2016 / 3:39 pm

    Ok lang kaya ang BIR Form 2307? Nakalagay ay “Certificate of Creditable Tax Withheld at source. Quarterly sya nirerelease. Thanks!

    • Sarah April 26, 2016 / 10:53 pm

      Hi, Emmanuel! I think it’s best to ask the travel agency. Good luck!

    • Sarah July 4, 2016 / 1:23 pm

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      • Shery ann November 4, 2016 / 7:56 pm

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  10. marlakwatsera July 4, 2016 / 11:47 am

    Hi Sarah! Thank you for sharing this. You gave me so much hope that I can go to Japan next year and celebrate my birthday. Like you, I am also a freelancer since October last year. I am thinking of filing my own ITR or open a business so I can get a JP visa. Thank you thank you! I still have my ITR from my previous employer do you think I can still use it? Thanks!

    • Sarah July 4, 2016 / 1:23 pm

      The ITR I used from my previous employer, yes. To give you an idea of the timeline, the ITR I submitted was for 2014, (I got if Jan 2015) and I’d applied for the visa on September 2015. I’m glad this post gave you hope! Good luck!

      • Shery ann November 4, 2016 / 7:56 pm

        Hi Sarah ask ko lng pano kung Online Business ka & wlang ITR pano kya un!?

      • Sarah November 7, 2016 / 10:01 pm

        Show them something else that ensures your financial stability and that you would return to the Philippines. (Technically, though, online businesses should have an ITR, too, right?)

        Good luck!

  11. riri July 11, 2016 / 3:45 pm

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  12. riri July 11, 2016 / 3:45 pm

    Good day Ms Sarah .. This is my concern ever since ..first i applied visa application with guarantor 2yrs ago . but sad to say i dot denied .. We dont know why ..this year i’m planning to apply again for a tourist visa without guarantor . my concern is i dont have work so that i can get a COE and also an ITR . my income comes from my mom who lives in japan and with my father who lives here in PH and have a work ( he manages *general merchandise* the shop of his sister ) . you can see what’s my concern here . coz i dont know what to do coz i dont have coe and itr . by the way im already 27. What should i do ?? I really wanted to go to japan ..

    • Sarah August 1, 2016 / 10:33 am

      The purpose of showing COE is to prove that you have something that ties you to the Philippines. And the ITR or guarantor is to prove that you can support your trip. If you have anything else that can prove this (volunteer work, etc.) you can provide these documents, as well. But they are more lenient now than two years ago, so you can try again.

      Also, having travel history really helps. Try countries where Filipinos don’t need visas. Better yet, having a visa from another OECD-member country always helps! I might be wrong, but I think South Korea is even more lenient with visa approval–they are an OECD-member country. You might want to go there first, if you like.

      You can also read this post by my friend Ada, a Filipino who lives in Japan now! http://www.travelinboots.com/passports-visas/japan-visa-tips-increase-chances-getting-japan-visa-approved/

      Good luck!

  13. Kat Garcia July 31, 2016 / 3:08 am

    Hi, Sarah! Thank you sooo much for sharing this.

    I have a question, though. Thanks to CebuPac’s promo fares, I’m travelling to Japan next Feb 19 for 5 days. More details: I’m a fresh graduate and it’s only my 2nd month of employment as of writing. I asked my company’s HR a week ago if they can give us our ITR by December, and they said yes. They recently hired an accountant and when I asked the accountant the target release of the ITR, she said that it might be on the last week of Jan 2017.

    Of course, that got me worried, since I might not have an ITR and that might be a huge problem, considering that it’s my first time to fly out of the country, as well.

    Would you have any other tips regarding my problem? I literally have no available ITR, however, I can provide a certificate of employment, salary certificate, a letter showing my leave approval, etc. Do you think it’s also advisable for me to apply on the last week of January? 😦

    Thank you!

    • Sarah August 1, 2016 / 5:43 pm

      Definitely give all the documents you have (COE, salary cert, leave approval). It’s better to bring “too many” documents, and let the agency choose which to use.

      Hmmm if I was you, I might wait for the ITR. It’s cutting it close, but you would have more documents.

      The agencies would have better tips for you, though! Best to ask them. 🙂 You can try calling Friendship Tours and telling them your situation.

  14. Rach August 12, 2016 / 12:48 am

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  15. Rach August 12, 2016 / 12:48 am

    What do you put in ID No. Issued by your government? Is it any ID number or I can just put N/A?

    • Sarah August 17, 2016 / 5:14 pm

      I put ID type, and then the number. I used my SSS ID, so it’s something like this: SSS/12-3456789-0

  16. lhein August 17, 2016 / 2:02 pm

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  17. lhein August 17, 2016 / 2:02 pm

    Hi Sarah,

    Good day. Thanks for sharing this. I would like to ask, do I still need to pass my ITR from my previous company (filed from Jan-May 2015)? I have two ITR for year 2015 since I resigned last May 2015 and started my current job on the same month. Or is it good to pass only the ITR from the current (filed from May-Dec 2015)? Thanks a lot.

    • Sarah August 17, 2016 / 5:11 pm

      Hmmmm I think it’s better to give the more recent one. BUT I would advise you to ask your agency. Or bring both! 🙂

  18. Anne August 20, 2016 / 10:03 am

    Hi good day! I am planning to go to japan next month with my 1 year old baby. My father will shoulder our expenses he is a government employee in the philippines. What to i need to submit his itr? And i will just write a letter of explaination? And about the daily schedule what date should i write if i will apply on september? Please help thanks

    • Sarah October 19, 2016 / 8:19 pm

      Thanks, Rox!

  19. Clara Ortega October 20, 2016 / 10:28 pm

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  20. Clara Ortega October 20, 2016 / 10:28 pm

    Hi, in your application form did you write all accommodation you written in your itinerary?

    • Sarah October 20, 2016 / 10:31 pm

      I did! I eventually changed my accomodations, though. Hehe 🙂

  21. Jihanna November 4, 2016 / 4:11 pm

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  22. Jihanna November 4, 2016 / 4:11 pm

    Hello Ms. Sarah!

    I just want to ask, I’m a former bank employee for almost 10 years. But now I’m working as a preschool teacher for almost 2 years. But it’s part-time. My schedule is from 9am-2pm. Basically I have no ITR now since it’s part-time but I do have my old ITR which I requested from my previous bank employer. I have 2 credit cards under my name. I have a bank account amounting to 220K+. I am planning to go to Japan next year Mar 31-Apr 6 with my friend. We had booked free cancellation accommodation both in Tokyo & Osaka where we plan to visit in time for Sakura. I have traveled to Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia & Cambodia. I have 2 stamped visas (Korea & UAE). What are the chances of my approval in getting a Japan Visa without an ITR but with a written letter of explanation?

    Please help me with this dilemma. Please reply thank you.


    • Sarah November 7, 2016 / 10:00 pm

      I think given your travel history and fund in the bank, you have a pretty looking package. I would advise attaching a cover letter stating how you intend to visit Japan, and that you have something tying you here and that you would come back to the Philippines.

      But, again, I am NOT the Embassy; it’s really up to them! Ask the travel agency. They would know better. 🙂

      Good luck!

  23. Chelsea November 8, 2016 / 4:53 pm

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  24. Chelsea November 8, 2016 / 4:53 pm

    Hi Ms. Sarah!

    Just wanted to ask if they really don’t look at your average daily balance? I have a 68,000 in my bank account but my average daily balance is just close to 20,000. Im really worried and discouraged because of this. Very informative blog, by the way! Thank you so much! 🙂

    • Sarah November 8, 2016 / 7:29 pm

      Hi, Chelsea! There is no required average daily balance on the website, so I’m not sure if it matters. But my bank cert did show mine. If it makes you feel any better, I think my ADB was also rather low at the time! (A client deposited quite an amount right before I requested my cert, so while it elevated my show money, the ADB was still on the low side.) It’s best to ask your agency, because your bank cert works with the rest of your documents.

      Good luck!

  25. Meg R November 22, 2016 / 9:12 pm

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    • Sarah November 22, 2016 / 9:17 pm

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      • Meg R November 22, 2016 / 10:00 pm

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  26. Meg R November 22, 2016 / 9:12 pm

    Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for the helpful blog. I wanted to ask what you placed on the current occupation and name and address of employer with your application? I’m doing this query in behalf of my sister since she’s in a similar situation as you were, recently freelance (she has a recent ITR but no employer). Did you place “not applicable”?

    Thanks for your help!

    • Sarah November 22, 2016 / 9:17 pm

      Hi Meg! Thanks for stopping by! As I mentioned in my post, for the Current Position blank in the work info section, I indicated Web Developer (FREELANCE). For the Name and Address of employer, I put N/A. (as in Not Applicable, yup!)

      So for your sister, she just has to replace my “web developer” with whatever she’s freelancing as. Just remember to put “Freelance” on there. (I’m not sure if it matters, but that’s what Friendship Tours told me!

      Good luck to your sister!

      • Meg R November 22, 2016 / 10:00 pm

        Thank you for letting me know. Sorry I missed that detail in your entry!

      • Sarah November 23, 2016 / 1:51 am

        No worries! Good luck to you guys!

  27. ivy November 25, 2016 / 10:26 am

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  28. ivy November 25, 2016 / 10:26 am

    if i don’t have a bank certificate, it’ll be a guarantee that i can’t get a visa? yes? HUU

    • Sarah November 25, 2016 / 10:51 am

      Hi, Ivy! Well, a bank certificate is a requirement to show that you can, in fact, afford your trip. The only alternative I can think of is to find a guarantor (parent in the PH, family/friend in Japan) and apply for a visa with a guarantor. The Japanese Embassy website lists the requirements for that, as there are other documents required for that.

      I advise you to ask your travel agency about it. 😀

  29. Khaye November 28, 2016 / 9:33 pm

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  30. Khaye November 28, 2016 / 9:33 pm

    Hello Sarah,

    I will be applying for a visa sa January siguro after makarenew ng friend ko ng passport nya. First international trip ko to (hopefully) kaya medyo kabado ako ng madeny ang application ko. Ask ko lang if kelangan ba may plane ticket na ko agad or di pa naman kelangan? naisip ko kasi sayang yung ticket pag nadeny naman ang application. hehe nega. sorry 😦


    • Sarah November 28, 2016 / 9:53 pm

      Hindi naman, pero makakatulong yata. Do the hotel bookings na lang to show your determination. Meron namang mga free cancellation.

  31. Ady December 7, 2016 / 5:43 pm

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  32. Ady December 7, 2016 / 5:43 pm

    Hello, what do mean by this “And, no, they don’t look at your average daily balance.”

    • Sarah December 8, 2016 / 2:16 am

      Hello! In the Japanese embassy’s website, they don’t specify a required average daily balance. I’m sure having one close to 100K helps, though, again, they don’t give a requirement in the website.

  33. Jomer December 12, 2016 / 8:53 pm

    Hey Sarah nice blog!

    Meron lang akong isang katanungan about sa ITR. Currently I am working under sa DOH and sila ang nag release ng aming ITR from last year 2015. Kaso yung sa akin is nawala ko at sabi nila di na daw sila makaka provide ng another copy ng ITR. Naka book na ako ng ticket which is next year sa January na at next week na ako mag aaply ng visa. And sa pagsaba ko sa blog needed talaga ang ITR. Completo na yung ibang mga papers ko at ITR nalang talaga ang kulang. Ano ba ang maipapayo mo sa situation ko.

    Thanks you soo much!

  34. angelmymy December 31, 2016 / 9:05 am


    My hubby & I are planning to go to Japan this 2017. Here is my dilemma

    1. My hubby is a stay at home husband 🙂 no ITR or COE but I’ve read that I can make a letter/affidavit of support indicating that I will be shouldering my hubby’s travel expenses will this be sufficient enough?
    2. For Bank Cert we have a joint account – do we need to ask for 2 copies of bank cert? I have other accounts under my maiden name as well but the amounts are sufficient for the both of us not including my investments as well – I am also an employee of a known hotel for almost 12yrs & I can provide COE & ITR
    3. My hubby had a old visa 12yrs ago but he overstayed in that one will his chances be diminished? He only overstayed not deported nor did he work while he was in Japan

  35. Haru January 3, 2017 / 9:55 pm

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    • Sarah January 3, 2017 / 11:44 pm

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  36. Haru January 3, 2017 / 9:55 pm

    Hi! Thank you so much for this post! My anxiety and panic ensuing aside, reading your post helped me calmed my nerves (^^;;;) The thing is, my flight is already on March but I still haven’t applied for a tourist visa due to my bank account problems. Do you think it’s still within the application validity period if I apply on February (one month before the trip)? Would my application be processed? Thank you ;;;

    • Sarah January 3, 2017 / 11:44 pm

      That sounds just about right!

      • Haru January 4, 2017 / 1:00 am

        *insert long sigh of relief* :))))))
        Hello again! Thank you for the response! Okay, that totally calmed my nerves now, thank you! I panicked because I thought visa application should be done at least 3 months prior the actual flight, but thank goodness for your answer 🙂

  37. yaksukuAdhel January 6, 2017 / 2:22 am

    Hi, I’m planning on visiting Japan this April for cherry blossom season, I’m a freelancer but I have a part time in a school and could also provide a COE. In my ITR probably I can only present a small amount in salary but I think I have sufficient amount in my bank, it is my first time traveling outside the country so my passport is blank, I’m anxious if I will have my visa approved, do you think those are enough?

    • Sarah February 26, 2017 / 11:56 am

      Hi! I didn’t even have a COE when I applied. I think COEs are pretty powerful! If you want to add to your documents, you can prepare a cover letter expressing your desire to see the cherry blossoms (this is to imply that you’re a genuine tourist– and not someone who will to overstay) and that you have full intention to come back home with your treasured experience. As to if those are enough, that’s really not for me to say! You can ask your travel agency, as they would know better. The one that can really answer that is the embassy, though! 😀 Good luck!

  38. cyko11 January 25, 2017 / 3:59 pm

    This comment was deleted.

  39. cyko11 January 25, 2017 / 3:59 pm

    Hi Ms. Sarah,

    Thank you so much!
    Your blog really help me to be confident to travel my dream country. Hehe

    I’m Cy from Quezon City and we have the same situation. I’m currently working as freelance for almost a year now, I don’t have an ITR but I can provide CoE. Thank you so much!

    One last thing, about the hostels booking.
    You mentioned that you cancelled it, right? May I ask where you stayed; Relative or Japanese friend? I’m planning to do the same.

    I will submit my application before Mid-February. Looking forward to your reply. 🙂

    • Sarah February 26, 2017 / 11:53 am

      Hi! Oh dear, I’m sorry for the late reply! Have you sent your application?

      I’m happy my blog post helped you be more confident. Yes, I cancelled the reservations I had in my application. Instead, I stayed in the hostel Khaosan World Asakusa (in Tokyo) and in Gojo Guesthouse (in Kyoto). I stayed with a relative for only one night when I visited them. Good luck!

  40. michelle April 2, 2017 / 5:12 pm

    This comment was deleted.

  41. michelle April 2, 2017 / 5:12 pm

    Hi Sarah,
    My family of 5 is planning a trip to Osaka this coming December with my extended family. My husband and I retired young. We are ages 44 and 50. We have not filed any itr for the last two years, but we have enough savings and investment to finance the trip with our 3 kids. The kids are enrolled for the school year, we have all the necessary documents except for the ITR. Would this situation make applying for a visa harder? Thank you.

    • Sarah April 5, 2017 / 3:47 pm

      Hi, Michelle! I really don’t have authority to say whether or not it’s harder for you to be granted visas. I recommend preparing a cover letter expressing why you want to travel to Japan and that you’re coming back. But it’s really best to ask your travel agency! 🙂 Good luck!

  42. Ardiana April 6, 2017 / 8:47 pm

    This comment was deleted.

  43. Ardiana April 6, 2017 / 8:47 pm

    Hi, Sarah! I hope you can help. I’m planning to travel to Japan between 26th to 31st of July but I want to apply for the visa as soon as possible because I’m watching a concert and I’d like to be sure first before purchasing the ticket which scares me as they might sell out. I understand that it’s only valid for three months, so my questions is it ok to apply for Japanese visa exactly three months before the end of its validity? Or at least during the week? Which means I’ll apply May 5 so my visa’s validity would end August 5?

    • Sarah April 10, 2017 / 9:47 am

      Hi, Adiana! I think it’s best that you wait before April ends so that your visa covers your whole trip. My visa validity also covers my trip almost exactly, too. If you apply on May 5–and let’s say it takes 3 days for your visa to be approved–then that means your visa will be valid from, say, May 8 to August 8. I think you can submit your application as soon as April ends. Good luck!

  44. ChenChen April 27, 2017 / 8:07 pm

    This comment was deleted.

  45. ChenChen April 27, 2017 / 8:07 pm

    Hi Ms Sarah!
    My siblings suddenly decided to visit Japan and as a freelancer I’m panicking because of course because it might affect my application, good thing I researched and luckily came across your blog (thank you so much for giving hope to me ^^). We have the same situation last year I worked full time as a Software Developer and an opportunity came to work as home-based Developer this year. I still have my ITR for 2016 (Jan-Dec) when I resigned. This will be my first time travelling to Japan, we are not really travellers, my international travel is HK and Macau last February 2017 (though there are no stamps from HK immigration only stamps, a slip was given instead of stamp but I threw it but there is a stamp from the PH immigration)
    Do you have any suggestions what kind of employment proof I should submit?
    Thank you so much! 🙂

    • Sarah May 5, 2017 / 3:51 pm

      Uh… I didn’t show any, actually. I was told before to show a portfolio, if I had one. But I didn’t, so I didn’t have proof of employment.

      I’m not sure if my answer is helpful, but good luck! 😀

  46. Hannah S. June 22, 2017 / 7:04 pm

    It seems easier to apply for a Japanese visa than a Chinese one Though I was able to get mine without an ITR! It’s true, it’s better to over-deliver on your documents if possible. Definitely gonna check out Friendship Tours when I apply for a Japanese visa in the future 🙂

  47. Ivy September 27, 2017 / 10:05 pm

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  48. Ivy September 27, 2017 / 10:05 pm

    Hi Sarah! I’m planning to travel in Japan this November alone as first timer. And since I’m visiting the country alone, is it true that chance’s are my application for visa will be denied? I just renewed my passport recently and there are no stamps yet. my old passport has an employment visa from Dubai I don’t know if I need to include it to my new passport.
    I won’t have any problems in submitting all required docs.

    Thanks in advance

    • Sarah September 27, 2017 / 11:27 pm

      Hi Ivy! When applying for visas, it’s always better to have travel history first. But that’s not to say that you will be denied if you don’t have travel history, or that someone with travel history will automatically be approved. There are a lot of factors involved. I think the best thing to do is bring all the documents you have (yes, including your old passports) to your accredited travel agency. They will know better which documents to include or exclude in your application. Let them know about your employment visa, of you’re doubtful about that. Good luck!

  49. thelakwatshiera October 4, 2017 / 9:37 am

    Hi Sarah, we’ve already booked a flight to Korea for next month. I am currently employed and I work from home but my employer refused to provide a COE due to falsification issues in the past. I know it’s a huge risk but I can’t let this opportunity pass. I am thinking of providing them an explanation letter with a print out of my salary which is being sent through paypal on a weekly basis. Do you have any suggestion on this matter? TIA!

    • Sarah October 4, 2017 / 4:57 pm

      Oh, I haven’t been to Korea yet, so I don’t have personal experience with their process. I hear that they take explanation letters in consideration, though! The paypal printout might help, but I think your bank cert and ITR is better. 🙂 Maybe bring both, if you’d like. As for COE, I actually didn’t use a COE when I applied for a visa to Japan. I applied for a new one this year and used the Form 1701 I used when I paid my taxes in January.

      Good luck!

  50. Shirley Tagapan October 5, 2017 / 11:26 am

    This comment was deleted.

  51. Shirley Tagapan October 5, 2017 / 11:26 am

    Hi Ms Sarah, ung 2316 na sinubmit mo may 2 signatures ng employer? Ung akin kasi scanned copy lang with one signature ng employer’s representative then ung signature ko. I just scanned it before ko binalik skanila yung 2316 para may copy ako. Wala ung isang signature ng employer sa lower part.

    • Sarah October 6, 2017 / 10:00 pm

      Uh… Hindi ko na maalala, e! Sorry! I think isa lang? Not sure.

  52. Slash October 27, 2017 / 9:26 am

    Hello Sarah,

    Thanks for this info. 🙂 I’m planning to go to Japan with my h2b for a honeymoon. I’m a full-time employee and I earn small amount of income monthly. However, I’m also a freelancer and I earn decent amount online. Through freelancing I was able to save a huge amount of money. My concern is, would that be an issue since my COE (stating my salary as a full-time employee) vs my Bank Cert doesn’t actually match in figures?


  53. Little Girl November 8, 2017 / 2:45 pm

    Hi Sarah,

    Ask ko lng sana if ang embassy will look on ADB. I have low ADB kasi less than 10k. And my show money is around 60k. Sa tingn nyo buh may chance na ma approved ako? Submitted all documents including COE, Round trip ticket and Hotel Booking.

    Nakapag travel na rin ako last March sa Japan and hoping ma grant dis month kasi I’m planning to go back in Japan for vacation again.


  54. Bhevs January 20, 2018 / 12:02 am

    Hi there! I just wonder, since I am also a freelance but I got a certificate of engagement from the company… Should I still put “N/A” to the Employer part since it is just an engagement certificate and not employment certificate? It is stated in the certificate that there is no employer-employee relationship. or… better not submit this Certificate of engagement? Thanks a lot!

  55. Adi January 27, 2018 / 8:56 am

    Hi Ms. Sarah,

    Good day! Thank you so much for this informative article. Somehow I find our situation similar. I’m Filipino who was born and raised in the Philippines. I’m planning to visit Japan on April 2 for 15 days. This is going to be my first time to apply. I work as a Virtual Assistant, Freelancer as of the moment. I have a Japanese friend living in Japan who will serve as my guarantor for this trip.

    I saw on the list of requirements that “Submission of supporting documents not listed above is encouraged (e.g. applicant’s economic or social ties with the Philippines, urgent reasons for visit: medical certificate, wedding invitation).” I learned from reading many blogs that others had submitted documents such as ITR, COE, Company ID, Leave of absence, and other proof that they have a strong indication to come back to the Philippines. Normally, those who I notice that submit those documents apply for a tourist visa without a guarantor.

    Unfortunately, in my case, I don’t have such documents to show any proof. I have a been working as freelancer online, and my two bosses are based in the US. I can ask a boss of mine who is currently in Dubai to send to me a document proving that I work for her, although it might take a long time to wait for the documents to arrive here (I don’t know if a digital signature would be accepted by the Embassy that’s why it must be hand-written). Do you think that I really need to submit those documents or not? I’m wondering how can I address this matter.

    Thank you very much. Looking forward to your response. 🙂

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