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What you need to know about Japan's digital nomad visa

May 24, 2024

Imagine: it’s spring. You’ve just arrived in Tokyo after a weekend relaxing at an onsen. The cherry blossoms are blooming. The city is vibrant. You can see Mount Fuji’s serene, snow-capped peak on the horizon.

Japan is home to 21 World Heritage Sites, world-class cuisine, unique architecture, and a bevy of natural wonders. If only there were a way to immerse yourself in Japan’s culture for more than a week or two of vacation.

For people who work remotely, there is.

In 2024, the Japanese government announced the country’s first digital nomad visa. Now, visitors who meet eligibility requirements, including specific income and insurance thresholds, have a path to temporarily work in Japan.

Introducing Japan’s Digital Nomad Visa

Japan’s new digital nomad visa allows individuals to live in the country for up to six months while working remotely for companies based outside of Japan. Since this is not a work visa, digital nomad visa holders are ineligible to be employed by a Japanese company during that time.

There is one catch: only digital nomads from specific countries are eligible to take advantage of Japan’s visa. This includes citizens of the U.S., Canada, most of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

Japan’s digital nomad visa is not renewable. However, digital nomads can regain eligibility for future stays after spending six consecutive months outside of Japan and then reapplying. Unlike digital nomad visas in some countries, such as Portugal and Uruguay, Japan’s digital nomad visa does not offer a pathway to permanent residency.

For full details on allowed activities, visa limitations, and the application process, visit the Immigration Services Agency of Japan website.

Eligibility Requirements

Like other countries that offer digital nomad visas, Japan requires applicants to prove they earn a specific income. However, Japan’s income requirement is a bit steeper than what’s normally required elsewhere.

Japan’s digital nomad visa applicants must prove they earn an annual income of over 10 Million Japanese Yen (JPY), or approximately 65,000 US Dollars (USD).

Additionally, to receive a Japan digital nomad visa, you must obtain private health insurance that covers at least JPY 10 Million in expenses related to injury, illness, and death.

Required Documents

Japan offers potential international visitors the opportunity to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) before arriving in Japan.

While a COE is not mandatory and does not guarantee that applicants will receive a visa, the document can help streamline the visa application process at the embassy or consulate and upon arrival in Japan.

Regardless of whether you choose to apply for a COE, certain documents are required when applying for a digital nomad visa.

For all applicants:

  • Visa application form: Completed and signed, with a recent passport photo.
  • Valid passport: At least six months of remaining validity and two blank visa pages.
  • Proof of health insurance: Coverage for death, injury, or illness during your stay in Japan, with a minimum compensation of JPY 10 Million (approximately USD 65,000).

Additional documents required if you don’t have a COE:

  • Planned activities and stay details: A document outlining your work activities and intended duration of stay in Japan.
  • Proof of income: Documents demonstrating an annual income of at least JPY 10 Million (approximately USD 65,000). This could include tax payment certificates, income certificates, or employment and business contracts.

In addition to the documents listed above, spouses and dependents accompanying the applicant to Japan must also provide documentation, including their passports and confirmation of their relationship to the visa holder, such as a marriage or birth certificate.

How to Apply

All application materials — including income verification, documentation of the work you will complete while in Japan, and identification — can be downloaded online and submitted to Japan’s Immigration Services Agency.

Alternatively, applicants can receive printed application materials from a Regional Immigration Services Bureau.

Embracing the Cultural Norms of Japanese Society

Understanding and abiding by Japan’s cultural norms can help to ensure a smooth and enjoyable remote work experience in Japan. A few common courtesies to keep in mind include:

  • Respect hierarchy and politeness: Address elders and those in positions of authority with titles (e.g., Mr., Ms., or job titles). Bowing is a common greeting, though international travelers may not be expected to bow.
  • Be mindful of manners: Maintain a low voice in public spaces, avoid talking on the phone while commuting, and remove shoes indoors.
  • Embrace punctuality: Timeliness is highly valued. Arrive early for meetings and appointments. Being on time demonstrates respect for others’ schedules.

Work with Digital Nomads in Japan

Japan’s digital nomad visa offers employees interested in remote work an enticing way to experience the country’s beauty.

An Employer of Record (EOR) like Remofirst can help support companies that employ digital nomads in more than 180 countries, including Japan. An EOR simplifies the relationship between employers and remote employees by handling hiring, compliance, benefits, and payroll.

Book a demo to see how we can help your company hire digital nomads in Japan compliantly.