A Guide to Japan Digital Nomad Visa

Japan Digital Nomad Visa GuideMore than ever before, people are embracing the freedom to work remotely from anywhere in the world.

With advancements in technology and changing work cultures, professionals are finding new opportunities to break free from traditional office settings.

This shift allows individuals to create flexible schedules that accommodate personal preferences and lifestyles, whether it’s working from home, a co-working space, or an entirely different country.

Lately, Japan has become one of the top destinations for digital nomads.

We’ve put together this in-depth guide to understanding and successfully applying for Japan’s digital nomad visa.

We’ll dive into what the digital nomad visa is and how it can transform your lifestyle, allowing you to work remotely while experiencing the best of Japan.

Why Choose Japan?

Japan is an attractive destination for digital nomads. Not only is it a hub for advanced technology, but the country has some of the fastest internet speeds in the world. It’s known for its technological innovation, with cities like Tokyo and Osaka serving as global tech hubs.

It also just happens to be one of the safest countries in the world, providing peace of mind for those living and working there. Low crime rates and an efficient public transportation system contribute to this sense of security.

The high standard of living in Japan is another major draw. The healthcare system is excellent, public services are reliable, and the environment is clean and well-maintained. Japanese cuisine, known for its health benefits and variety, adds to the quality of life.

Japan has a growing community of digital nomads and expatriates, providing opportunities for networking and building connections. Cities like Tokyo and Osaka have numerous co-working spaces and regular meetups for like-minded individuals. This supportive and engaging environment helps digital nomads thrive.

But beyond its many benefits for digital nomads and remote workers, Japan has endless opportunities to explore. The landscapes are picturesque and the history is diverse. From ancient temples and traditional festivals to modern art museums and theaters, there is always something to experience.

What is Japan’s Digital Nomad Visa?

In March 2024, Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs introduced an exciting new option for remote workers: the Digital Nomad Visa. With this visa, digital nomads can legally work remotely in Japan for up to six months. However, once this initial period ends, applicants must wait another six months before reapplying for the same visa status.

The Digital Nomad Visa is a great way for remote workers in various industries to experience Japanese culture while continuing their professional activities.

If that sounds like you, this could be your ticket for an extended stay in Japan. The visa aims to attract talented professionals from around the world, allowing them to live and work in one of the most fascinating countries globally.

Who Qualifies for the Digital Nomad Visa?

The Japanese Digital Nomad Visa is tailored for individuals who plan to engage in remote work while residing in Japan for up to six months. This visa is ideal for professionals in various fields who can perform their job duties from anywhere in the world.

Some eligible roles include:

  • IT professionals
  • Digital designers
  • Remote administrators
  • Content writers
  • Marketing professionals
  • Virtual assistants
  • Content creators
  • Website developers
  • Freelancers
  • Those managing overseas businesses

To qualify for the Digital Nomad Visa, applicants must be citizens of one of these 50 countries or regions. These countries have been selected based on reciprocal agreements and Japan’s visa policies.

Applicants must also meet certain income requirements, demonstrating financial stability to support themselves during their stay. This visa is designed for individuals earning an annual income of at least ten million yen (approximately $68,000).

In addition to proof of earnings, you’ll also need to provide evidence of your remote work arrangements, such as contracts with employers or clients, and detailed plans for your stay in Japan.

If you meet these requirements, you should have no problem getting a digital nomad visa for your time in The Land of the Rising Sun.

Not a Digital Nomad? Explore Other Long-Term Visa Options in Japan

If you’re not a digital nomad or if the Digital Nomad Visa doesn’t suit your needs, there are several other long-term visa options available in Japan. Let’s explore these alternatives that can allow you to stay in Japan for an extended period.

Tourist Visa as a Business Traveler

For those who don’t require a long-term stay, entering Japan on a tourist visa as a business traveler might be the simplest option. Tourist visas typically permit stays of up to 90 days, depending on your country of origin. While this isn’t a long-term solution, it can be a viable option for short-term remote work in Japan.

Work Visas

Japan offers a wide array of work visas tailored to various industries and job roles. It can get quite confusing, as there are 29 different working visas in Japan. Here are some key options you may want to explore:

  • Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services Visa
    Commonly known as the “Engineering Visa,” this option actually covers a broad range of professions—from science and engineering to other natural sciences. To qualify, you’ll need a relevant university or vocational degree, or at least 10 years of professional experience in your field. Alternatively, passing an approved IT exam can also meet the requirements. The visa duration varies, and while you can request a specific period, approval for longer stays is usually reserved for those with ties to Japanese companies or previous visa holders.
  • Highly Skilled Professional (HSP) Visa
    Introduced in 2015, the Highly Skilled Professional (HSP) Visa is designed to attract top-tier foreign professionals. To qualify, you must score at least 70 points on a system that evaluates your education, age, salary, and Japanese language proficiency, and have an annual income of at least 3 million yen (approximately $20,800 USD). This visa allows for a five-year stay but is tied to your employer, meaning job changes require reapplication.

Working Holiday Visa

For those seeking a balance between work and travel, the Working Holiday Visa is a great opportunity. It allows individuals aged 18 to 30 (with some country-specific variations) to stay in Japan for up to 12 months.

Unlike other work visas, it doesn’t restrict the type of work you can do, as long as it doesn’t involve industries affecting public morals, such as bars or gambling establishments. Applicants must also demonstrate sufficient funds to support them during their stay, including purchasing a return ticket back home.

Documents Requirements to Apply for the Visa

Although similar, applying for Japan’s digital nomad visa involves different requirements depending on whether you are the primary applicant or a spouse or child of a digital nomad. While both categories share some common documentation, specific additional documents are needed for each group to ensure a smooth application process.

Refer to the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for all the up-to-date application requirements.

For Digital Nomads

Applicants must prepare and submit several documents to apply for the digital nomad visa in Japan.

The first step is submitting the visa application form, where a recent photograph is required. Applicants must also present a valid passport.

Once your application has been processed and approved, you should receive a Certificate of Eligibility within 3 months. The Certificate of Eligibility simplifies the application process, as it allows the omission of several other documents.

If this certificate is not available, applicants need to provide detailed documents explaining their planned activities and the intended period of stay in Japan. This document should outline the nature of the work, expected duration, and other relevant details.

Proof of a stable and substantial income is also mandatory. Applicants need to demonstrate that they have an annual income of at least JPY 10 million. Acceptable documents for this requirement include tax payment certificates, income certificates, employment contracts, or contracts with business partners. These documents must clearly state the contract period and the amount involved.

Lastly, applicants must show that they have adequate insurance coverage. The insurance should cover death, injury, or illness, with a minimum compensation of JPY 10 million for medical treatment. Acceptable proof includes a copy of the insurance coverage certificate and a policy summary, as well as documents proving supplementary compensation if covered by a credit card.

For Spouses or Children of Digital Nomads

The application process for spouses or children of digital nomads is similar but has additional requirements. They must submit the visa application form with a photograph and a valid passport. A Certificate of Eligibility is also necessary.

Similar to the primary applicant, the spouse or child must provide documents detailing their planned activities and period of stay in Japan. They must prove that they have insurance against death, injury, and illness, with the same minimum coverage requirement of JPY 10 million. If the insurance is part of a family coverage plan, documents must confirm the scope of coverage.

Applicants must also provide proof of their relationship with the digital nomad visa holder. This includes official documents such as a marriage certificate for spouses or a birth certificate for children.

Finally, a copy of the passport of the digital nomad visa holder must be included in the application to verify the connection.

By ensuring all these documents are accurately completed and submitted, applicants can effectively navigate the requirements for Japan’s digital nomad visa and secure their stay in the country.

What is the Cost?

A single-entry visa will cost you ¥3,000 ($20.80 USD), while a multi-entry visa is priced at ¥6,000 ($41.50 USD).

How Long is the Examination Period?

The examination period for a Japan digital nomad visa application typically takes about five working days under normal circumstances, starting from the day following the application’s acceptance.

However, receiving your Certificate of Eligibility may take up to three months. Keep in mind that this timeline can vary based on the volume of applications received within a short period.

If additional verification is requested—such as submitting extra documents, conducting applicant interviews, or responding to inquiries—the processing time may significantly increase. In cases where applicants apply for long-term stays without a Certificate of Eligibility, the process could take anywhere from a few weeks to several months.

Given these potential delays, it’s a good idea for visa applicants to submit their applications well in advance of their intended travel dates. This proactive approach ensures ample time for the embassy or consulate to process the application thoroughly and address any additional requirements that may arise. By planning ahead and allowing for extra processing time, applicants can minimize the risk of delays affecting their travel plans to Japan as digital nomads.

See a complete list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) here.

What Happens if My Application is Denied?

Receiving a rejection on your visa application for Japan can be a frustrating setback, but it may not be the end. Understanding the process and potential reasons you were denied can help to navigate the situation effectively.

Reasons for Rejection

When your visa application is denied, the Japanese authorities typically cite that it didn’t meet the criteria required for visa issuance. The specifics of why an application is rejected are not disclosed to the applicant to prevent potential misuse of this information. Transparency in this regard is limited under Japanese law to safeguard the integrity of the visa examination process and to deter attempts to circumvent immigration regulations.

Certificate of Eligibility and Visa Issuance

Even if you possess a Certificate of Eligibility (COE), which confirms that you meet the conditions for entering Japan under a specific status of residence, it does not guarantee visa issuance. The COE verifies that your intended activities in Japan are legitimate and meet legal requirements but does not cover other aspects crucial to visa approval, such as identity verification and passport validity. If discrepancies or fraudulent information are discovered during the visa examination process, your application may still be rejected, despite holding a COE.

Reapplying After Rejection

After a visa application is denied, you are generally unable to reapply for the same purpose of visit within six months from the rejection date. This policy aims to prevent repeated applications with unchanged circumstances that would likely yield the same outcome.

Exceptions may be made in cases of significant changes in your situation or urgent humanitarian reasons that necessitate travel to Japan. It’s advisable to consult with the Japanese Embassy or Consulate where you intend to apply for guidance before submitting a new application under these circumstances.

Receiving a visa rejection can be challenging, but understanding the reasons and regulations involved can help you prepare more effectively for future applications. Whether seeking clarity on rejection reasons or exploring alternative visa options, proactive communication with immigration authorities and adherence to guidelines will be key to overcoming these obstacles.

Best Cities for Digital Nomads in Japan

Many Japanese cities are ideal for digital nomads, each with their own amenities, culture, and unique communities. Here are five of the best cities for digital nomads in Japan, highlighting what makes each city special and what you can expect:

Tokyo

Tokyo, Japan’s capital, is a hub of innovation, culture, and convenience. It’s an excellent city for digital nomads due to its world-class infrastructure, extensive public transportation system, and endless activities to do. Tokyo’s busy city environment is perfect for those who thrive in a fast-paced setting, and its international community ensures that you’ll never feel out of place.

A great aspect of Tokyo is that it has a blend of both ultra-modern and traditional elements. You can find cutting-edge technology and skyscrapers alongside historic temples and serene gardens. The city’s many neighborhoods, such as Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Roppongi, each have a unique atmosphere and amenities.

Co-Working Spaces in Tokyo

  • WeWork Shibuya Scramble Square: Located in the heart of Shibuya, this co-working space has stunning city views, high-speed internet, and plenty of networking opportunities.
  • Impact Hub Tokyo: A community-focused co-working space in Meguro that supports entrepreneurs and social innovators.
  • The Hive Jinnan: Located in a trendy area of Shibuya, this space provides a creative environment with flexible membership options.
Kyoto

Sometimes referred to as the cultural heart of Japan, Kyoto has more of a relaxed and historically rich environment—especially when compared to Tokyo. It’s perfect for digital nomads who appreciate a slower pace of life and a deep connection to traditional Japanese culture. Kyoto’s scenic beauty, including its famous temples, shrines, and gardens, is a perfect spot for peaceful remote work.

Kyoto’s charm lies in its well-preserved heritage. The city is less hectic than Tokyo, making it ideal for those who want to focus on work without constant distractions. The presence of many universities also adds a youthful and intellectual vibe to the city.

Co-Working Spaces in Kyoto

  • Co-nnect Kyoto: A creative co-working space that was built to connect people together.
  • Impact Hub Kyoto: Located in a historic building, this space combines traditional Kyoto aesthetics with modern amenities.
Osaka

Osaka is known for its friendly locals, diverse food scene, and bustling nightlife. As Japan’s second-largest city, it has more of a laid-back atmosphere compared to Tokyo but with all the conveniences of a major urban center. Osaka’s affordability and energetic vibe make it a great choice for digital nomads.

Osaka’s distinct Kansai culture and sense of humor set it apart from other Japanese cities. It’s a food lover’s paradise, famous for dishes like takoyaki and okonomiyaki. The city’s central location also makes it a convenient base for exploring other parts of Japan.

Co-Working Spaces in Osaka

  • The DECK: A creative space in the heart of Osaka that caters to startups and freelancers with a focus on innovation and collaboration.
  • Regus Namba Parks: Located in a popular shopping and entertainment district, this space offers professional work environments with flexible terms.
  • Osaka Innovation Hub: A government-supported co-working space aimed at fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.
Fukuoka

Found on the northern shore of Kyushu Island, Fukuoka is known for its high quality of life, affordable living costs, and excellent food. The city is compact and easy to navigate, making it ideal for digital nomads who prefer a smaller, more manageable urban environment.

Fukuoka’s proximity to other Asian countries makes it a strategic location for international business. The city boasts a strong startup ecosystem and is often praised for its work-life balance. Its coastal location provides beautiful beaches and a mild climate, enhancing its appeal.

Co-Working Spaces in Fukuoka

Sapporo

Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, is known for its beautiful landscapes, colorful seasonal festivals, and delicious cuisine. It’s perfect for digital nomads who love outdoor activities and a more relaxed pace of life. The city’s cold winters are balanced by beautiful summers, offering a unique living experience.

The city’s distinct four seasons provide a diverse range of activities throughout the year, from skiing and snowboarding in winter to hiking and enjoying flower fields in summer. The city’s lower cost of living and friendly atmosphere make it an attractive option for digital nomads.

Co-Working Spaces in Sapporo

Remote Worker Must-Haves in Japan

When preparing to work remotely as a digital nomad in Japan, ensuring you have certain essentials can greatly enhance your experience and productivity. Here are some must-haves to consider:

High-Speed Internet

Japan is renowned for its exceptionally fast and reliable internet infrastructure. Whether you’re staying in a major city like Tokyo or a more rural area, you can expect access to high-speed internet connections. Finding a place to stay with the internet is crucial for conducting video calls, uploading/downloading large files, and maintaining seamless communication with clients or colleagues abroad.

SIM Card

Having a local SIM card is essential for staying connected while on the go. Japan offers various mobile service providers with competitive data plans and coverage across the country. Purchasing a SIM card upon arrival allows you to have reliable internet access on your smartphone or portable hotspot device, ensuring you can navigate, communicate, and work efficiently from anywhere.

Portable Wi-Fi Device

Alternatively, consider renting or purchasing a portable Wi-Fi device (pocket Wi-Fi) during your stay in Japan. These devices provide a secure and stable internet connection for multiple devices simultaneously, making them ideal for digital nomads who need connectivity while traveling or working from different locations.

Japanese Language Apps

While English is widely understood in major cities and tourist areas, having a basic understanding of Japanese can greatly enhance your experience. Downloading language apps or dictionaries can help you navigate everyday interactions, read signs, and understand cultural nuances, fostering smoother communication and integration.

Paying Taxes as a Digital Nomad in Japan

Managing taxes as a digital nomad in Japan can be intricate, with various factors such as residency status, income sources, and duration of stay influencing your tax obligations. Here’s an outline based on the current guidelines:

Residency Status and Tax Implications

Your tax responsibilities in Japan are primarily determined by your residency status. Japan classifies residents for tax purposes into “non-permanent residents” and “permanent residents.” Non-permanent residents are subject to taxes on their income sourced from within Japan and any foreign income brought into Japan. In contrast, permanent residents are liable for taxes on their worldwide income.

Income Derived from Japanese Sources

If you generate income from sources within Japan, you might need to pay taxes on this income. This includes earnings from work performed for Japanese companies or revenue generated from services provided within Japan.

Avoiding Double Taxation

Japan has established Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs) with numerous countries to prevent individuals from being taxed twice on the same income. These agreements typically allow for tax credits or exemptions in one of the countries. It’s crucial to understand how these treaties apply to your situation to avoid double taxation.

Tax Filing Obligations

As a digital nomad, if you are considered a resident for tax purposes in Japan and have reportable income, you are required to file an annual tax return with the Japanese tax authorities. The tax year in Japan runs from January 1st to December 31st, with tax returns due by March of the following year.

Health Insurance and Pension Contributions

Residents in Japan, including those on work visas, generally must enroll in the national health insurance and pension systems, which involve monthly contributions based on income. For digital nomads, especially under the new visa category, it is advisable to seek clarification from Japanese immigration and tax authorities on how these requirements apply.

Understanding these tax regulations will help you navigate your financial responsibilities while living and working in Japan as a digital nomad.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) 

Q: How long can I stay in Japan with a digital nomad visa?

A: The digital nomad visa allows for a stay of up to six months in Japan. Extensions are generally not permitted beyond this period, and holders must ensure they comply with all visa conditions during their stay.

Q: What are the benefits of obtaining a digital nomad visa for Japan?

A: The visa provides digital nomads with legal residency status in Japan, allowing them to live and work remotely without violating immigration laws. It also offers an opportunity to experience Japan’s unique culture, technology, and lifestyle while maintaining employment abroad.

Q: What are the requirements to apply for a digital nomad visa in Japan?

A: Applicants must provide proof of employment or self-employment, demonstrate sufficient financial means to support themselves during their stay, and show a clear intention to engage in remote work while in Japan. Detailed documentation and evidence of eligibility are essential for a successful application.

Q: Can I bring family members with me on a digital nomad visa?

A: Yes, dependent family members (spouse and children) can accompany the primary applicant on a digital nomad visa. They must fulfill specific criteria and provide supporting documents as required by Japanese immigration authorities.

Q: Can I work for a Japanese company or take up local employment with a digital nomad visa?

A: No, the digital nomad visa specifically allows individuals to engage in remote work for foreign employers while residing in Japan. Taking up employment with a Japanese company or engaging in activities not permitted under the visa conditions may result in legal consequences.

Q: Are there any restrictions on where I can live or travel within Japan on a digital nomad visa?

A: Digital nomad visa holders are generally free to choose their place of residence and travel within Japan. However, adherence to local laws, regulations, and visa conditions is essential throughout their stay.

Q: Where can I find more information about the Japan Digital Nomad Visa?

A: For detailed information on eligibility, application procedures, and updates regarding the Japan Digital Nomad Visa, applicants are encouraged to visit the official website of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs or contact the nearest Japanese Embassy or Consulate in their country.

Wrapping Up

Before heading out to Japan to live the digital nomad lifestyle, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the visa requirements and any additional travel documents you may need. Proper preparation will help you avoid issues at immigration and reduce the risk of being denied entry. By securing the appropriate visa, you can enjoy an extended stay in Japan without worrying about legal complications.

With a clear understanding of the visa options and their specific requirements, you are well-equipped to begin your application process for a seamless experience in Japan.

Don’t have your dream job as a digital nomad yet? Explore our remote job opportunities that can support your lifestyle on our job board. Whether you’re looking to start your journey or enhance your current remote career, find your next opportunity and make Japan your new home base for the next six months!

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