How to get a Japan Working Holiday Visa

Earlier this year (in October) I applied for a Japanese Working Holiday Visa.

I want to share my experience with you of getting one, although the way of getting one might be different, depending on where you are from.

I won’t go overboard with information, as many people have blogged the same stuff before me and I don’t really want to repeat everything. If you would prefer to my video instead about the Working Holiday Visa, click here.

Before applying for the Japanese Working Holiday Visa, I was really nervous and checked many blogs and Youtube videos of people who had applied previously. Some people had supplied a lot of information on applying for the Visa, and some had filled in hardly information…and still received the Visa.

As I currently live in West Yorkshire, England, I had to make my way to London to apply for the Japan Working Holiday Visa. If you live for example North of here in Newcastle or further afield, then you have to make your application at the Japan Embassy in Edinburgh.

Application Requirements

To apply for the Working Holiday Visa from in the UK, you need to follow the following requirements…

  1. Be British Citizens who are resident in the United Kingdom
  2. Intend primarily to holiday in Japan for a period of up to one year from the date of entry
  3. Be aged between eighteen (18) and thirty (30) years both inclusive at the time of application for a Working Holiday Visa
  4. Be persons who are not accompanied by children
  5. Be persons who are not accompanied by spouses unless those spouses are in possession of a Working Holiday Visa or otherwise
  6. Possess a valid passport and a return travel ticket or sufficient funds with which to purchase such a ticket
  7. Possess reasonable funds for their maintenance during the period of initial stay in Japan
  8. Intend to leave Japan at the end of their stay
  9. Have not previously been issued a Working Holiday Visa
  10. Have good health

What You Need To Apply

The documents you need to apply can be found on the UK Japan Embassy here, but at the time of my application, these are the items needed.

  1. Valid UK passport (British Citizen)
  2. One completed visa application form
  3. One passport-sized photograph approx. 35mm x 45mm (taken within the last 6 months)
  4. A personal history, resume or curriculum vitae typed on A4 paper
  5. A proposed itinerary for the whole stay in Japan (up to 12 months), including details of prearranged employment, if any
  6. A written reason for applying for a Working Holiday Visa typed on A4 paper
  7. Either £2,500 in cleared funds (last 3 months bank statements must be shown)
  8. Or £1,500 and a return or onward journey ticket or a receipt for such.
  9. (Traveller’s cheques, credit cards and overdrafts are not acceptable as evidence of sufficient funds)
    (In the case of a married couple applying for two visas, the minimum amounts are £4,500 and £2,500 respectively.)

In some cases, additional documents may be required.

When applying for the Visa, I had read that people had written down so much information down, that they had been told to write everything down once at the Japan Embassy. I kept all my information for each document to one piece of A4 paper, although I also brought other variations that were of a different size (in case the font-size was too small).

Part One, Application and Traveling to the Embassy in London.

On traveling to the Japan Embassy in London I was pretty nervous, but I made my way to Kings Cross in London, and then from there to Green Park tube station.

From Green Park if you exit on the side nearer the buildings and not the park, then it’s a few minutes walk to the embassy.

The Japanese Embassy

Gouka Seishi, Japan Embassy in London
The Japan Embassy without the flag.

The Japanese Embassy is pretty easy to spot, which usually has a Japanese flag outside (only on weekdays, I think).

When I arrived at the embassy, a private security contractor employee met me and asked why I was at the Japanese Embassy, to which I answered “For the Working Holiday Visa”. He let me through, and then I went through a usual security check which you usually find at an airport.

Once through I made my way to woman behind the glass door, where I had to mention about my reason for being at the embassy and then she mentioned to press the bottom button in the next room.

The button in the next room say’s “Visa” on it and then as mentioned on other blogs, a ticket is given out and you have to wait to be seen.

I didn’t have to wait long in the lobby area before my number appeared on the display, where I made my way nervously to the counter to be seen by a Japanese gentleman.

I had everything prepared in my folder in an order as mentioned in the list above, but he asked me for everything at once. I felt a bit disorganised at this point, and I had to rush to get my things out of the wallet I had put everything into.

When I handed everything over, he looked at everything really closely and read every item I handed over.

Below is a brief overview of what I did for each document piece.

Visa Application Form

This form is pretty easy to fill in, apart from the “Name of ship or airline” field for which I wrote the airline which I hoped to fly with (as I hadn’t bought a flight just yet). Another part which through me was “ID No.issued to you by your government“, as this was no where to be seen on my passport.

The photo box at the top also mentioned for the picture to be 45mm x 45mm, where as on the official website it mentioned 35mm x 45mm.

I questioned all of the above, and I even took a spare picture just in case at 45mm x 45mm. The person I saw just took my 35mm x 45mm picture (the normal one you can get from a photobooth), and said I didn’t have to fill in the ID part.

Personal history, resume or curriculum vitae

For this I kept my CV pretty simple, with it cut down to one page. I wrote down my hobbies, including that I had interest in Japanese culture and that I was learning Japanese, which is of course true. I don’t usually include “hobbies” on my CV as I feel many employers find this boring, but make sure you read/tailor your CV before you apply.

A proposed itinerary for the whole stay in Japan

For this I was slightly worried, as in the downloads area/documents, another form is included called “Schedule of Stay“. This form has no mention anywhere else on the website, or on any other websites that I looked at.

The form is pretty daunting as you have to plan out your whole twelve months in Japan, and include the Date, Activity Plan, Contact and Accommodation.

Writing about places I wanted to visit, was pretty easy to be honest as I had been before, and of course I run this blog. The hardest part I found was working out the dates, contact and accommodation as I had no idea where and when I would be, and who to contact. I filled in the dates roughly, for example putting that I would be in Nagoya for a few day’s, and then Gifu etc. I left “Contact” empty as I wanted to question this, and for accommodation I looked at hotels/apartments in places where I was staying, and I even wrote the rough renting cost in some of the boxes.

When the Japanese gentleman saw this document, I mentioned the “Contact” area, to which he replied that the form was fine.

To go with the “Schedule of Stay”, I also filled in my “Proposed Itinerary”, which included a description of everywhere that I had put down on my “Schedule of Stay”. This form I made sure to fit onto an A4 piece of paper.

A written reason as to why I was applying for the Japan Working Holiday Visa

This is pretty easy, and if you don’t know why you are applying for the Visa, then you might want to think why you are applying???

I wrote two versions of this, one which included that I was hoping to work in Japan (to fund my journey), and another without. I had heard that people who review the applications, want to see that people are wanting to go for an extended holiday, and not an excuse to just get a job.

I can’t remember which one I handed in, but no questions were asked at this point.

and finally….

Showing your bank statements

To prove that you have the money needed for the Japan Working Holiday Visa, I had heard that some people had got their parents/family/friends to lend them the money to show they had the money. As many banks here in the UK are going “paperless”, it is harder now to try show your banking records for the previous three months. I took some statements I had, but I had also printed out an online statement from my internet bank. The gentleman who checked my application, took my online statement, as he mentioned that this was all he needed.

After I had handed everything over, he only had one question, which was “Why have you applied so soon, as the Visa only takes a week?”. I mentioned on the documents and also at the time, that I applied so soon as I wanted to save some more before I traveled (although I had the right money needed). I didn’t think much of this, as I thought it would be better to save, rather than have any problems later in my trip.

Another reason I should of mentioned, is that I had read that with the Working Holiday Visa only being available to 1,000 people each year, that most of them are given out around September/early October.

Anyway, after he had read through everything, he then gave me a card with information I needed to bring with me the next time I came to the Japan Embassy. As the Working Holiday Visa takes a week usually to acquire, he told me to come back the following Tuesday and to bring £23 (the current price you have to pay for the Visa).

As the people who interview you at the Japanese Embassy are not the people who decide if you get the Visa, then I was nervous when I left the embassy in London.

The following week I made my way down from here to Green Park, and then to the Japan Embassy where I was so nervous. I went through security process and picked up my ticket and waited about ten minutes to see the person behind the counter.

A Japanese lady greeted me behind the counter and showed me the Visa in my passport :) :) !!, I was really happy and nearly forgot to hand over the money for the Visa. The Visa shows the dates for when it was issued (a few day’s before I picked it up) and is valid for a year, but this is only for the time you have to travel to Japan.

I will travel to Japan at the end of January, and I will keep you updated on how well it goes.

For more information, checkout some of these blogs that I had visited previously.




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About the Author: Keith Morrell

はじめましてキースです。よろしくおねがいします。 Hello I'm Keith. I'm 25, a Graphic and Web designer from England. I love design, photography, Japanese culture and much more. I have travelled to Japan twice and I currently live in Huddersfield, England. I use this blog to try show the World what I like about Japan, Design & Photography.

  • Ged_in_London

    Congratulations Keith! Can’t wait to read about your adventures! So jealous… :-)

  • goukadesign

    Thanks Ged :) . I hope it all goes well for us and that you will enjoy my stories :) .

  • Benjamin Brady

    Hi, found this while looking for advice on applying for the WHV. My partner and I are hoping to get out in summer, and reading stuff like this is really helping us get over the nervous stages. I’l be 31 in May so getting in at the end of April is cutting it fine eh! Anyway, will keep reading so keep posting :)

  • goukaseishi

    Hi Ben, thanks for your comment.

    Good luck with your WHV, I hope you and your partner can get one.

    Let me know how you get on :) .