Life,  Work

Applying for a Working Holiday Visa Japan from the UK

This article is going to walk you through how to successfully apply for a Working Holiday Visa for Japan from the United Kingdom. I will supply the EXACT documents that I used and you are more than welcome to take them for yourself, alter them a little and submit them. Heck you can even just change my name to yours and submit them the way they are!

The Japanese Working Holiday Visa is an amazing visa that will allow the holder to stay in Japan for one year, allowing them to work an unlimited amount of hours. Now they do stress that this visa in NOT for people who are specifically looking to just work or study, the main focus should be travel with any side jobs there to help support this. This is a key thing to remember when filling in all the information for your  application.Below is a list taken form the Japanese government website detailing the general requirements of the applicant and also the documents required to be submitted.

Some Recent Updates Since the Article was Written:

British Passport Fully-loaded with a Beautiful Visa

Requirements of the Applicant

  • Must be a citizen/national of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Republic of Korea, Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark or Norway currently residing in his or her country of citizenship, or must be a resident of Taiwan or Hong Kong. So in other words you need to apply for the visa  at the Japanese embassy in you own country! 

  • Must intend primarily to holiday in Japan for a specific length of time. As mentioned above, if you just say you in your application that you want work all day and find a proper job, then you are not going to be given this visa.

  • Must be between 18 and 30 years of age.

  • Must possess a valid passport and a return ticket or sufficient funds to purchase a return ticket.

  • Must possess reasonable funds for living expenses, including medical expenses, during the period of the initial stay in Japan. For a single person, the minimum is US$2000, for a married couple, US$3000 or equivalent amount of the national currency. For the UK a single person must have £2,500 in cleared funds (last 3 months bank statements must be shown) or £1,500 and a return or onward journey ticket. In the case of a married couple applying for two visas, the minimum amounts are £4,500 and £2,500 respectively.

  • Must be in good health and not have a criminal record.

Period of Stay

  • 1 Year – If you are from New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, France, Germany, U.K., Ireland, Denmark, Taiwan, Hong Kong or Norway, then you can stay one year  with no extensions (you can however change your visa once in Japan, say if you get a proper job).

  • 6 months with extension – If you are from Australia or Canada then the visa will be for 6 months and can be extended by another 6 months by the immigration authorities.

Required Documents

The general forms for applying are pretty much the same in any country and are:

  • Application form: (Downloaded from respective Japanese embassy)

  • Photographs: Identical photograph (45mm x 45mm), to be glued to the application form.

  • Resume: Resume on A4 paper, including educational background, work experience, hobbies, and other relevant information.

  • Outline of planned activities in Japan: Probably the hardest document to get ready. You have to write a plan of the places you intend to visit and activities you intend to do.

  • Written reason for applying: Statement of the reason for applying for the Working Holiday Visa on A4 paper.

  • Proof of travel funds: A return ticket or proof that you own a bank account etc.

  • Proof of sufficient funds to support the initial stay in Japan: As mentioned above, if a single application then need £2,500 in cleared funds or  £1,500 and a return or onward journey ticket

  • Cash for application fee: Aint nothing in this world for free, and a visa is the same. In the case of the UK application fees cost £23 cash.

Japanese Working Holiday Visa

Now that background and general information is over with. I want to talk specifically about applying from the UK. What you need to do, write and say to get that bad boy visa. I will of cause be drawing form my own experience, but will also write about the experience of multiple friends that have applied for the visa themselves and are now in Japan. What more could you want.

For the UK 1,000 Working Holiday Visa are available. Once this number has been reached then no more visas will be issued for that year. The visa year I am told is September – August. I actually applied in August (yeah I know, worst time ever to apply) but before I filled out the forms I just gave them a quick call to confirm if the visa were still available, which it was. So I would alway recommend giving the embassy a quick ring to check availability before applying to make sure .

Ok so first the application form. This can be downloaded from the website for the embassy of Japan in the UK and there is also a sample of how to fill in the application form on that page.

Picture: Has 45mm x 45mm written on the page but can just be standard passport size of 45mm x 35mm, no problem.

Date of Arrival, Port of Entry and Name of Ship or Airline: Even if you don’t have have the ticket yet (£2,500 in the bank option) you can fill this out with a provisional flight information. Use your itinerary list to give you a rough date and port of entry. Of cause doesn’t matter in the future if any of this information actually changes. Alternatively my friend left this section blank when applying and there were no problems at all.

Purpose of visit to Japan: For this I just put down Travel. Simple as.

Intended Length of Stay in Japan: Just got off your itinerary. Just because it is a year visa doesn’t mean everyone who gets it are going to stay the full year. Just make sure it is long enough to warrant the visa (longer than a Tourist visa – 6 months) then you should be fine.

Names and address of hotels or persons with whom applicant intends to stay: Again if you want to link to your itinerary then just put the name a guest house in the area you said you are going to go to first. If you mentioned you were going to stay at a Japanese friends just put their name and address down, you are not going to be grilled about this.

Guarantor or reference in Japan: If you have put down a friend for the above then you can put the exact same details here, no problem. I put the name and address down of a Japanese friend whom I used to live with during my year abroad. After I talked to him later, he mentioned that he was never actually contacted or anything regarding my visa. For relationship I just put down friend, occupation office worker and nationality Japanese. If you don’t know anyone then you can just leave it blank no problem. Bam done.

In regards to the application form that is pretty much it. Rest of the questions are pretty straight forwards.

Now moving on to the  personal history, resume or curriculum vitae typed on A4 paper. I just used an up to date copy of my CV at the time. In my case I had studied Japanese at university and had JLPT N1. However you do not need have a degree or any real Japanese language skills to get the visa. Just write about any job history, skills and hobbies. Make sure that it is easy to ready and not too long. Probably best to stick to a single side of A4

The itinerary is probably the hardest thing to write for the entire application. But saying that it should not take you too long and is definitely not something you need to sweat over. As the idea of the visa is to encourage travel and cultural understanding, this is the main topic we want to write about in our itinerary. We also want to touch on the topic of work (for the purpose of funding the above activities) and accommodation. Nothing has to be definite, such as an exact dormitory name or job application, but just enough to show that you have put some realistic thought into this entire trip.

A copy of my itinerary is here. As you can see I have highlighted the places I intend to go to as well as the activities I want to do there. I show that I have put some thought into where I plan to live and work. I even went as far to talk about accommodation prices and names, but  you don’t actually need to be this detailed in your own itinerary if you don’t want to. Another thing you will notice is that I make it very clear that I intend to come back to the UK. That my main purpose is to travel and visit friends.

Of cause none of this needs to actually be true. In my case I did have a lot of friends, who had been or were in Japan as mentioned in my itinerary, but it is not like there is any way of checking it. There is no limit on the length but I say that one side of A4 is more than enough and if you split it in ‘periods’ it not only makes easier to read but also easier to write.

Next we have the personal statementHere is the one I submitted. Essentially why Japan? Why do you want to spend a year of your life there? Chances are if you are considering applying for this visa then you have some kind of interest in Japan. It could be the history, literature, or language, whatever. Talk honestly about why you have that interest and what this year in Japan means to you. If possible link it to your itinerary. If you say the reason you are visiting Japan is because you love the history then you will probably want to mention visiting historical places in your itinerary, and vice versa. Even if everything on your itinerary isn’t true, I think it is best to talk honestly about why you like Japan and what got you interested in it in the first place, if nothing else it makes it a lot easier to right.

Don’t get me wrong we still need to pepper it with some key information, like you know the purpose is not to find a job but to travel etc. As you can see in my personal statement I make it extremely clear (just like I did in my itinerary) that I fully intend to come back to the UK. Finally the statement needs to fit on a single side of A4.

Bank Statements. Personally I had a lot of stress over this, not in regards to getting the funds into my account but trying to know how strict they were towards the definition of a ‘bank Statement’. I read up a lot about it on the internet and many sites mentioned that it needed to be on official headed paper from the bank. Went I went into my branch they just printed off my bank statement onto ordinary A4 paper, which was exactly the same as the online bank statement I had printed myself. When I explained it had to be on headed paper, they said I would have to ring the bank’s head office and get them to send me an official statement from there at a charge of £3. When I actually handed in my papers and talked to the person at the embassy they said the initial online bank statement I had printed myself was sufficient. Another friend I talked to also had no problem with the bank statement they printed from their bank’s website.

Also in regards to the balance. I  personally worked in a box factory (longest 2 months of my life) to earn the money but I know people how just borrowed the money from their parents. In both cases I know of people who have done this and not been asked any questions and others that have needed to show proof that the money was actually theirs to use, and not there just for the purpose of reaching the required figure (which in most cases it is). For those who were asked questions they need to show some kind of signed statement from the person who transferred the money saying that it is indeed theirs and not a ‘loan’.

Right. So now that we have all the documents filled  and everything we just need to  submit that  bad boy. The submission has to be in person, which is a real pain if you are working cause the embassy ‘s opening Hours are Monday – Friday, 9:30 – 16:30! Yeah sucks right. So I took a day off and went down on the mega bus. If like me, you are going to get them to send you the visa in the post then you will also need to take down a pre-paid recorded delivery envelope big enough for your passport to fit in.

Once you hand in the forms they will have a quick scan to make sure that everything is there and that there aren’t any obvious mistakes (bank balance not meeting the requirement etc.). The entire submitting process takes around 20 minutes. Once submitted processing of the application usually only takes one week and you can either go in person to collect or it will be posted if you supplied them with the pre-paid envelope.

Once issued you have one year to enter Japan, the dates are listed on the visa. Then once you have entered Japan you visa will start from that date. You will be given your Resident Card at the airport which will list your period of stay and visa type etc . After that you have 90 days to register an address on the card at your local ward office. Before the visa was only single-entry permit, which meant if you left Japan anytime during your one year you had to make sure you got a re-entry stamp before leaving. However thanks to the new foreign registration system you can leave and re-enter Japan as many times as you like, no re-entry stamp needed. Happy days. Nice summary of the new system can be found here.

I hope this guide on how to apply for a Working Holiday Visa has been helpful. I know that I found the entire process pretty stressful. However all the people I know had no problems receiving the visa and I have yet to hear of anyone being rejected who meets the minimal requirements above. So just follow the general tips above and I am sure everything will go fine.

If you have any questions or want to clarify anything, then please feel free to get in contact with me.



  • Nuran

    Hi Luke,

    I just want to say that this post has encouraged me a lot to apply my working holiday visa for Japan too. Thank you so much ^^

    I called the embassy in London today and they were still accepting applications (Yayyy!!) so I started on checking the documents required etc.

    My only question is that you said that online bank statement is good enough. But on my online statement it only shows my surname not even my initial, do you think that would be a problem?

    • Luke Palfreeman

      Hi Nuran! Thank you so much for stopping by and the great comment! Happy to hear you are taking the step of applying for the visa!! It is going to be awesome.

      OK, I did some research and I am pretty sure my online bank statement did have my full name on it (HSBC). Unfortunately I don’t have the papers at hand or my account any more to check online.

      Maybe the best idea would be to get a statement from your branch as that may have your full name on and not just surname. Otherwise would be a good idea to give the embassy another call to double check.

      If there is anything else I can help you with just let me know!!

      Good luck with the application and thanks again for stopping by!


  • Nuran

    Hi Luke,

    Thank you for getting back to me.
    I have called the embassy and been told to bring my online statement and if anything extra needed I can post it to them. (actually I double checked the online statement, it does show my initial and surname)

    And also just curiosity, do they tell you if you get your visa or not on the application day?

    • Luke Palfreeman

      Hi Nuran,

      No problem! Thanks for updating us on how everything is going.

      Great news about the bank statement. Seems you will have no problem using the online statement for the application.

      Essentially on the day, I handed all my documents to the person on reception. They had a quick look over the documents, making sure that nothing was missing and said that the visa would be in the post next week! The entire process not taking more than 10 minutes.

      I assume that they have a quick once over and if everything looks OK then will tell you that they will get the visa ready. Afterwards they will no doubt have a more in depth look just to double check everything is in order, possibly phoning up to confirm a few issues if something seems a bit odd.

      So though I was told that the visa would be in the post next week on the day of the application, due to the person only skim reading everything, I personally took it as a tentative confirmation. Sorry I don’t have a definite answer, but hope the information helps!

      Best of luck!


  • Nuran

    Hi again Luke:)

    I just wanted to say that I did my application today. It was such a quick process. Everything went well.

    Thanks for all the help^^

    • Luke Palfreeman

      Hi Nuran!

      Thanks for the update and great news about submitting the application! Keep us updated on how everything goes and if you come to Japan.

      Also not too sure if you have anything lined up job wise but there are lots of internship opportunities posted on our FB page that I would definitely recommend a look.

      Thanks again for the comment and update on your application!

      Have a great week.


  • Cameron


    Do you know if it is a big deal if I don’t have the funds? I have work lined up already for when I get out there so what do you think?


    • Luke Palfreeman

      Hi Cameron!

      Thank you for the question! From what I know, the embassy do seem to be kinda strict on whether all the funds are there or not. I know friends that have borrowed the money from family or friends, print of the bank statement and then transferred the money back. Some where asked to get a letter from the person that transferred the money to say that it was the ‘applicants money’ and free to use, that it wasn’t just transferred there to for them reach the requirement (which it was).

      Also even if you do have a job lined up for going over there don’t make it sound like that is the reason that you are getting the visa. As the main purpose of the visa is for tourism which is funded by temporary work.

      If you have any other questions then let me know! Good luck with the application!

      All the best,


  • tilly windsor

    I am in the process of applying for my japanses working holiday visa and i was just wondering if you know if they take your passport off you and give it back a few days or weeks later or if you get to keep it.

    • WiJapan

      Thank you for the comment. It’s been over 10 years since my application for the working holiday visa so I can not remember 100% but believe you need to show your passport during submission. Then you keep you passport during the application process and then after you get the result you will need to re-submit your passport for them to put the visa inside you passport.

      So you are able to travel in between the application and result stage from memory.

      Hope that helps and good luck!!

  • Kiki

    Hi Luke,

    i wanted to say a huge thank you, Im applying for a working holiday visa and was so confused with what i needed, coming across you post was a miricle and its really helped me with my application

    thank you so much


    • WiJapan

      Hi Kiki!

      Thank you so much for the comment. As you might have noticed, I don’t update the website much and lots of the information is pretty old. So I am thrilled to hear that it is still a useful reference for people applying for a working holiday visa even today!

      With you the best of luck with your application and hope you have a safe trip to Japan after you get the visa!

      All the best!


  • Aisha williams

    Hey Luke! This is the most informative blog I’ve come across for the Japanese working hol visa – so thank you so much!!

    I can’t find any info on the embassy site regarding whether the visa is valid from the date of issue or the date of entry (i.e. when does your year to stay in the country start?) – I can see you’ve written that it starts from date of entry – probably a long shot but do you know if this is still the case? 🙂

    Thank you again for this cracking blog!!!

    • admin

      Hi Aisha and thank you for the comment.

      As you mentioned, it was a long time ago but from memory I believe the visa itself is Valid for a year to use, so you can apply unto a year before you enter the country. Then after you enter, you will have a year visa. This is my understanding and based on memory. If in doubt then a call to the embassy is always a good idea too.

      Good luck!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *