Until 2016, scoring a Japan visa on an Indian passport was a tedious process. You had to show an invitation letter from a sponsor in Japan, and from what I’ve heard, visa applications were lengthy and often rejected.
Good news! Although Japan still doesn’t offer visa on arrival for Indians, it is now possible for Indian citizens to apply for a Japan tourist visa without a local sponsor. The Japan visa requirements for Indians have become pretty straightforward, with typically a processing period of 4 working days at VFS Japan – the official visa application centre for the Japan Embassy in India.
I recently scored a single-entry Japan visa on my Indian passport, that allows me to stay in the country for 30 days. I was given upto 2.5 months from the application date to use it. Here are the requirements and step-by-step process for Indian citizens to get a Japan visa:
Find the Japan Visa VFS Centre closest to your passport address
Although my passport address is that of Dehradun, I’ve managed to score a Schengen Visa from VFS centres in Mumbai and Goa multiple times. I hate going to Delhi, so I confidently tried to file my visa application at VFS Japan in Mumbai too. But no matter how much I pleaded, they just wouldn’t bend their rules. They gave me two choices: Either produce a concrete address proof for my residence in Mumbai (only an electricity bill or property papers in my name, or in that of my relatives / landlord were acceptable). Or apply in Delhi. I didn’t have a choice but to go to Delhi, where the process was seamless.
See the entire list of VFS Japan Centres in India.
Post your Japan visa application through specific Blue Dart centres
A handful of second-tier cities now have designated Blue Dart centres, from where you can courier your Japan visa application. The processing time is two days longer, and you must send your documents exactly as stated on the VFS website – remember there’s no bending of rules ;-))
Download the visa application form on the VFS Japan website
The visa application form for Japan is pretty short, but make sure you fill all the sections. Under the guarantor / reference in Japan section, fill the address and contact details of your first accommodation in Japan.
Fill the Japan visa form online, then save print and sign it. Or download and print the form first, then fill and sign.
Get a passport photo of the specified size (2×2 inches)
Unlike other embassies, the Japanese embassy and therefore the Japan VFS centre are very specific about the kind of passport photo you need. It must be 2×2 inches – unlike any other passport size photos – and your face should be clearly visible. Luckily the VFS Centres in Mumbai and Delhi have a photo booth and I was able to get mine clicked the required way immediately; it costs more than doing it outside though.
Read about the exact photo specifications for a Japan visa.
Write a simple cover letter, including your trip itinerary clearly
The cover letter is an important part of the Japan visa application. You need to include your travel dates for Japan and why you’re going to the country. Highlight your trip itinerary clearly. I also included names of major countries I hold visas to, or have in the past, including the US, Canada, Australia and Europe. This always strengthens your visa application, especially as an Indian passport holder.
Show confirmed flight and hotel bookings
There’s no getting around this; I had to show confirmed hotel bookings at the time of applying for my visa when I hadn’t even started planning my trip! As always, booking.com came to my rescue – I looked for accommodations that offered free cancellation, and better yet, didn’t need a credit card to be booked.
I showed a confirmed return flight ticket. If your dates are open, you could try looking for a flight that offers full refund upon cancellation and book it with a credit card.
Get your financial documents in order
As with most other visa applications for Indian passport holders, you need to show your recent 3-month bank statements, last year’s income tax return and any other supporting financial documents.
My bank balance is usually pretty low, so I make it a point to include my fixed deposit summary, or ask a friend to temporary lend me money in my account 😉 For an expensive country like Japan, I would aim to show a balance of 1-2 lakhs in my account, plus savings.
If applying for a multiple-entry Japan visa, include ITRs for 3 years
The Japan visa fee for Indian citizens is only INR 440 (plus service charge by VFS Japan), both for a single and multiple entry visa. However, when trying to apply for a multiple-entry visa, I was told at VFS Japan (it’s not mentioned on their website) that I needed to submit 3 years of income tax returns to be eligible for a multiple-entry visa! This makes sense if you plan to pop by to South Korea nearby.
You don’t need an appointment at VFS Japan
You don’t need an appointment to file your Japan visa application at the VFS Japan centre. But note that they don’t allow any electronic devices – camera, laptop, battery packs etc – inside. I could take in my phone, but they told me to keep it off.
It’s best to carry only your documents and phone – both for submission and collection – to avoid any security hassle. Unfortunately there seemed to be nowhere to store your belongings at the VFS Centre.
Track your application online
You can opt for your passport to be couriered to your address, but I always prefer to collect it in person if I can. Either way, you can track your Japan visa application online. Mine was ready for collection on the 4th working day, including the day of submission at VFS Japan in Delhi. Good luck with yours!
Immigration at Tokyo Airport
Entering Japan with my single-entry tourist visa was a breeze! I was asked no questions by the immigration officer before being stamped in. However, during check-in, my airline did ask for my return flight ticket. It’s a good idea to keep that and your first hotel booking handy.
Got any other tips or experiences with an Indian passport and a Japan visa?
For more information about the Japan Visa application, please refer to FAQs on the VFS Japan website. If you have specific questions about the Japan visa process for Indians, you can contact VFS Japan or Japan Embassy by phone or email.
Bookmark these tips for tourist visas for Indian citizens:
- Requirements for a US tourist (B1) visa for Indians
- Tips to get a Canada tourist visa on an Indian passport
- How to score a Schengen visa to travel in Europe
- Is it worth getting an E-visa for Georgia with the recent deporting of Indians at Tbilisi Airport?
Thinking of travelling to Japan? Read my blog posts so far:
Why Travelling in Japan is Like Nowhere Else in the World
Secrets Behind Japan’s Most Intriguing Traditions