‘How do I renew my visa in Japan?’ we hear you cry. We know it’s a baffling subject. Here’s our guide on how to extend or modify your Japanese Visa.
First, a quick disclaimer: we spoke to an immigration lawyer in Tokyo when drafting this article, but it should not be taken as legal advice. Always check directly with the nearest Immigration Bureau about your specific visa situation.
Renewing a Japan visa
Starting from March 2022 residents wishing to extend their visa can now renew their visa online. That means no more spending a whole day waiting in line at the immigration office, no more spending another day waiting to pick up your visa…
Of course, if you like queuing and dislike technology you can still head to immigration in person, too. Let’s have a look at the newest method first.
How to renew your visa online in Japan
Thanks to COVID, the infamously slow Japanese bureaucracy system sat up and dragged its visa application process into the 21st century.
In March 2022 they opened up their online visa management system.
Things you can do with this system:
- Extend an existing visa
- Apply to ‘engage in activities other than that permitted’ (i.e. extra jobs)
- Change your visa
- Certificate of Eligibility (conditions apply)
- Acquisition of visa (conditions apply)
- Re-entry permit (conditions apply)
Things you can’t do:
- Extend a ‘Diplomat’ visa
- Extend a ‘Temporary’ visa (AKA tourist)
Online visa application process
There are two main steps to apply: Registering as a new user, and making an online application (for the renewal). It is recommended to use Google Chrome Ver. 72 for the whole process (since we’re already up to Ver. 100, we assume 72 or greater!).
Register as a new user
Before you can apply, you will need to register as a new user, here.
Things you’ll need before you start
Full list here.
- My Number card (if you don’t have one then find the My Number card online application here. Make sure it’s the type with a chip and photo, not just a paper one)
- My Number card reader
- Physically: from Amazon or another e-site, or ask a friend. List of compatible readers is here.
- Smartphone: download ‘利用者クライアントソフト’ app by JPKI straight onto your phone.
- Guide in English is here.
- iPhone guide is here.
- Android and PC guide is here.
- Residence card
- JPKI app installed on your computer download.
All this installation seems like it takes a long time but trust us, it’s only once! And it beats standing in queues for days at immigration.
The new user registration process
Register link, scroll to the bottom of this page.
- Attach My Number card reader/app
- Enter My Number card number
- Enter My Number card password
- Enter personal details (name, address, residence card no. etc)
Once you have received a confirmation email, you can apply online to renew your visa.
The online visa renewal application
Once you’ve got your user details, apply online to renew your visa, here.
Things you’ll need before you start
The main requirements to proceed online are:
- Scans of the required documents for your visa type, listed on the immigration site here
- Picture for your visa in JPEG format (3cm x 4cm)
Note: a passport is not required, but our lawyer mentioned that they upload a scan alongside the documents.
The online application process
Before logging in, make sure you finish scanning your documents and have your residence card on hand to fill in the details.
- Log in
- Fill in the Extension of the Period of Stay Application Form (specify if you want to pick up your new visa/resident card in person at the immigration office, or receive it by post)
- Upload your documents
- Wait for confirmation email
….the next day (generally)
- Receive an email with your application number
- Wait for the result
… if it’s positive
- Purchase a 4,000 yen revenue stamp
- Take the revenue stamp to immigration upon pick up, OR
- Send the specified form by post with the revenue stamp pasted on to it
- Receive your visa!
How to renew your visa in person
Renewing your visa in person is fairly straightforward, just be prepared to wait a while. More info here (page 4 onwards).
Things you’ll need
These are the items you have to prepare before going to your regional immigration office to apply.
- Extension of the Period of Stay Application Form (download yours here)
- Residence card
- Passport-size picture
- Proof you meet the financial requirements to stay in Japan, such as company tax information (check the government site for more details related to your visa type)
- Any additional documents related to your purpose of extension (detailed list on government site here.)
Tip: Make sure you fill out everything before you arrive.
Process at the immigration office
Once at immigration with documents in hand, you’ll be given a time slot showing when you can enter.
- Many people will then wait outside in lines, so it’s best to bring a book and snacks.
- We also recommend an umbrella in case of rain… or heat, as Japanese summer can be brutal.
Once inside, you’ll wait a little longer, then you’ll get called to the desk.
Hand over your documents and answer any questions they might ask—this will normally be only basic questions, such as your address.
Go home and wait for a postcard summoning you back for your visa. Note: the official site says this can take anywhere from two to four weeks but there are reports of it on Twitter taking up to two months.
Once you have the postcard, head back to immigration with ¥4,000 worth of revenue stamps (you can buy these at a convenience store—they’re called inshi in Japanese) and form and repeat the waiting process.
Hand over your postcard and stamps and receive your new visa (residence card).
Q: How soon can I renew my visa before it expires?
A. You can renew your visa up to three months before it expires.
If you do opt to renew your visa in person, you will receive a stamp on the back of your residence card which extends the validity for the duration of the process (two months). This means that you needn’t worry if the application process extends over the validity of your visa.
Q: Which office should I go to?
A: If you’re in Tokyo, the most common one is Shinagawa, but there are others such as one in Tachikawa, too.
For convenience, it can be tempting to go to one near your workplace, away from your residence, but be careful as you could be turned away. Check on the website or call before you go, as some don’t accept everybody – you might have to be living in that city. You can find a list of immigration bureaus here.
Q: Why do I only get a one year visa renewal instead of a three year or five year visa?
A: It is hard to say for sure. There are many cases of people who applied for five years and only received three years or one year. For people renewing for the first time, one year is the most common.
Conversely, some people who only apply for one year might receive three years…
Q: What time is best to go to minimize queuing?
A: This varies, depending on the office. The general consensus on social media is either that a bit before it opens or a short time before it closes are good times to arrive, to limit queuing. That said, you will still probably wait for around two hours.
Solving visa problems
If you need some expert advice about your visa, we’ve teamed up with some Japan immigration lawyers to answer your enquiries.
This isn’t free, but if you fill out our form, they will give you professional advice on renewing your visa.