Filipinos need a visa to enter Japan. For the purpose of tourism, visa applications must be submitted through the few travel agencies accredited by the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines. The fee for a temporary visitor visa is actually free, but the agencies charge quite pricey handling fees, rendering the whole “free” thing moot.
After some due diligence on the accredited agencies, I chose to submit my tourist visa application through Discovery Tour because their service charge is the cheapest at PHP 800, compared to the other agencies who charge as much as PHP 2,000 (!). Discovery Tour also accepts applications via courier, which is very convenient for provincial applicants.
1. Prepare the required documents
The following documents are the official requirements of the Japanese embassy for a tourist visa without a Japanese guarantor:
- Philippine passport. Passport must have at least two (2) blank pages.
- Completed Japan visa application form. The application form can be downloaded here. It is a fillable PDF file onto which you can type your answers directly before printing. One (1) photo must be pasted on the designated area; click here for specifications.
- Certificate of Live Birth. Birth certificate must be issued by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) within one (1) year from the date of application. In case of non-record, the certification from the PSA must be submitted together with a certified true copy of the birth certificate issued by the Local Civil Registry Office. NOTE: Applicants with used Japanese visas are exempt from submitting this requirement.
- Certificate of Marriage, if applicable. Same as above.
- Detailed itinerary. Click here for the official template.
- Recent original bank certificate.
- Latest Income Tax Return. If submitting via courier, a photocopy will suffice. Do not send the original as submitted documents will not be returned.
In addition to the above requirements, the Japanese embassy encourages the submission of more supporting documents that demonstrate that the applicant is a genuine temporary visitor. As it was my first time to apply for a Japan visa, I also submitted the following for good measure:
- Copies of valid and expired visas to other territories, including US, Schengen, and Australian visas
- Copies of credit card statements from the past three (3) months
- Copies of confirmed round-trip tickets and hotel reservations
2. Pay the service charge
As mentioned previously, I chose to apply through Discovery Tour. I deposited their PHP 800 service charge, along with the delivery fee of PHP 300 (for sending my passport back to me via courier) to their account at BDO Unibank:
Account name: Discovery Tour Inc
Account number: 001230086666
I then sent a picture of the deposit slip to their email email@example.com. Discovery Tour replied promptly, albeit very curtly with a one-word response, “noted” (lack of business etiquette much?).
3. Send the application
I submitted my documents to their main office in Makati City via courier:
ATTN: Japan Visa Department
301 G/F Sagittarius Building
HV Dela Costa Street
I included shipping insurance, which doesn’t cost that much, just in case. A representative of theirs called me to confirm their receipt of my application.
After only a few days, the rep called me again to inform me that my passport will now be sent back to me via courier.
5. Receive passport
I got my passport back around a week after I sent it off. However, the delivery receipt shows that it was sent without insurance, so I wasn’t too happy about that. Still, I got my Japan visa, so all’s well that ends well.
All in all, I had an okay experience with Discovery Tour. I do suggest to request for shipping insurance when applying through them.