The Working Holiday program is based on bilateral agreements between Japan and other partner countries. The purpose of the program is to deepen mutual understanding and foster cooperation between the partner countries by allowing its young people to visit each other’s territories for travel and work with Working Holiday visa.
It is important to remember that the stress in Working Holiday falls on a holiday, not on working. This type of visa allows travelers to engage in accidental employment in order to sustain their living and travel expenses. The work should not be the primary intention. If the main reason for your residence in Japan is fulltime employment or entrepreneurship, you should consider getting a work visa or business visa.
We may not stress this enough – it is crucial to remember that requirements for applicants vary depending on the country and are subject to change. This page will provide you with the basic and generalized information on the working holiday visa and its prerequisites. However, it is highly advisable that you always get the latest information from the Embassy or Consulate-General of Japan closest to you before applying. Be sure to study the materials provided by the Japanese Embassy or Consulate thoroughly. An applicant must comply with all the requirements in order to obtain working holiday visa.
Currently, there are two main factors determining the eligibility of applicants – citizenship and age.
Only the citizens of the following countries can apply to the program. Citizens of any other country cannot partake in the program. Applicants must come from one of the following countries:
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Taiwan, United Kingdom.
The program is meant for young people who are 18-30 years old inclusively at the moment of application. For some countries the age frame is 18-25 years old inclusively at the moment of application. Sometimes the upper age limit for them may be lifted to 30 years old by the decision of the competent authorities of Japan.
Other prerequisites may include but are not limited to the items below. Make sure to get the latest information about the requirements, necessary documents, and exact numbers for funding prerequisites from the Embassy or the Consulate-General of Japan before applying.
- For a national of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Spain, Argentina or Chile, an applicant must be currently residing in his or her country of nationality; for a resident in Hong Kong, an applicant must possess a valid HKSAR or British National Overseas passport; for a resident in Taiwan, an applicant must possess a valid passport of Taiwan.
- An applicant must possess a valid passport of their country.
- An applicant has never been issued Working Holiday visa in the past. If you have already been issued working holiday visa once before, you will not get the second one.
- An applicant should be in good health to obtain a medical certificate.
- An applicant should not be accompanied by dependents or children.
An applicant should present the proof of their financial capability to sustain one’s life in Japan during the initial period of traveling.
Duration of visa
If you are eligible for the visa, depending on your country you may be granted from 6 up to 18 months of residency under working holiday visa. The duration of your visa and possibility of renewal depend on the country of your citizenship.
You are not limited in the number of working hours. However, remember that working holiday visa is granted with traveling in mind. If you intend to dedicate the majority of your time to work, it is advisable to obtain working or business visa.
According to The Act Controlling Business Affecting Public Morals (Fueiho), Article 2; Sections 1 and 4, it is prohibited for foreigners in Japan to work in a so-called “gray sphere”. It includes but is not limited to bars, cabarets, nightclubs, gambling and entertainment premises. When choosing a workplace, please consider very carefully, if a certain job may be affecting public morals in Japan.
Failing to follow this rule is considered to be the violation of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act. With exception of those who are considered to be victims of the human trafficking and forced into such labor, the violators will face criminal charges for promotion of illegal work and human trafficking.
Where to apply?
The application should be submitted to the nearest Embassies or Consulates-General of Japan in your country/region or Interchange Association (Taipei Office or Kaohsiung Office). It cannot be done through the Immigration Service. An applicant needs to reside outside Japan at the moment of application.
What documents do I need?
The following list is an average estimate of necessary documents. Since the set of papers depend on the country, always consult the Embassy of Japan or the Consulate to get the up-to-date list of required documents. You may need:
- A filled in application form provided by the Embassy or Consulate of Japan
- Passport sized photo(s).
- A return ticket from Japan or a proof of one’s financial capability to purchase a return ticket from Japan later on.
- A letter explaining one’s motivation to go on a working holiday to Japan.
- An outline of what planned activities during one’s travel, including but not limited to such information as places to stay, activities, possible places of employment, associated costs, etc.
- A resume (curriculum vitae).
- Health certificate.
Obtaining a visa
The application and issuing process is very simple. If you are eligible for application, follow these steps:
- Get the up-to-date list of requirements and necessary documents for your country from the Embassy or the Consulate-General of Japan.
- Collect and prepare all the necessary documents.
- Personally submit them to the Embassy or the Consulate-General of Japan closest to your location.
- Await further instructions and information from the Embassy or Consulate. You will be contacted when the decision regarding your application is made.
- When your visa is ready, come to pick it up to the Embassy or Consulate-General of Japan.
Japan Working Holiday Visa Summary
Working holiday visa is a great way for youth to discover Japan and gain some work experience as well as learn more about Japan’s culture and people.
The application process is easy but requires attention to details as well as careful planning and time management.
Japanese Working Holiday Visa FAQ
Why my country is not on the list?
Only countries whose government has concluded a bilateral agreement with Japan for working holiday program can participate in the program. If the government of your country has not come to such agreement with the Government of Japan, unfortunately, your country will not appear on the list. There is no bypass for this requirement.
Application process seems to be difficult. Are there institutions that can help to acquire a working holiday visa?
No, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan does not cooperate with any organizations for visa issuing. Beware of fraudulent entities claiming to assist in obtaining a working holiday visa. Applications are done in person; the applicant may be subject to interview as well.
How long does it take to obtain the working holiday visa?
We would recommend you secure at least 3 months. Consider in advance the traveling times to the embassy, time to get your paperwork done, and processing time. There are no urgent procedures to speed up visa issuing process.
Can I change my working holiday visa to work visa?
Yes, if the following conditions are satisfied. Firstly, your desired workplace must comply with the work visa categories. Secondly, you personally meet all the requirements need to obtain the visa. You can read about those on our work visa page.
Do I need to speak Japanese to secure a workplace?
While there is a variety of jobs that do not require Japanese language skills, being proficient in Japanese at least the basic level will widen the pool of your working possibilities a lot and make it easier for you to communicate with co-workers and clients. In general, English language skills are not so widespread in Japan. There are significantly fewer jobs for English speakers only. If you speak neither Japanese nor English, finding your way in Japan may be extremely hard.
How can I prepare for my working holiday?
There is no specific way to do it, but coming up with a travel plan is a good way to start. Think about your travel wishes and possibilities and develop an outline. Consider how much time and money you are ready to spend in each location and what are your working and salary options may be. Will you be able to stay within the planned budget?
It might be a good idea to contact the companies in advance and negotiate your working conditions and possible income to secure a workplace before entering the country. The same goes for your living arrangements: plan your accommodation, transportation, sightseeing, etc. in advance and add those to your travel outline. Having such plan may spare you a lot of nerves and financial losses. Also, you can later use it during your application holidays.
What should I keep in mind when going to Japan?
Remember that cultural differences do exist. The everyday surrounding, work ethics, perception of time, personal space, and behavior may differ significantly from your own country. For example, being late for work or wearing shoes inside the house is not acceptable in Japan. Dedicate some time to research the areas you are about to enter and prepare to adjust yourself to those.
It is normal to experience a cultural shock at some point, even if you have studied the language and country for a significant period of time. Living in Japan is not the same as reading about it. Stay open to your surroundings and observe it carefully. Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance if you are not sure what to do.