Painless application and quick processing
If there is a place that's been in my bucket list for a long time, it is Japan. And this year i finally decided that it is time to go for broke and try to get a Japanese tourist visa. I expected to have a hard time but it was surprisingly easy to get one. All you have to do is to go to an accredited travel agency and comply with the documentary requirements, pay the facilitation fee which varies from agency to agency. The cheapest I found was Discovery Tour, Inc., at P800 the staff who evaluated my documents stressed that the fee was non-refundable in case my application was rejected. The staff at Discovery are very professional and courteous. Waiting time for their service is quite short.
Here are the documentary requirements for first timers like me who plan to tour Japan without a guarantor.
1. Passport. This must be in good condition, valid for at least six months, and with at least two blank pages left. If your passport is damaged in some way or about to expire in a few months, renew your passport first before applying for a Japan tourist visa.
2. Visa Application Form. You can download the application form but the accredited agencies can provide you with one. The form is simple and very easy to fill up. I filled up mine while waiting for my number to be called. You do need to have some essential information on hand as you fill up the form... like your flight details, address of you hotel in Japan, passport details, to name a few.
3. Photograph. 2 copies, 4.5cm x 4.5cm with white background. Make sure that the photo complies with the guidelines. From my experience, the photo studios are well aware of the specific requirements of each embassy. So be sure to tell them what you need the photo for and what kind of visa you are applying for.
4. PSA-certified birth certificate. You can order it online here I paid P315 via Banco de Oro and the birth certificate arrived in 3 days. (This is not required with the submission of an old, used Japan visa.)
o If the PSA (NSO) certificate is not clear, a birth certificate from the local civil registrar is required. In my case, my PSA issued birth certificate had a tear so that the birth year was incomplete. I had to get a copy from the LCR of Manila. You need to fill out a form and pay P50, provide a photocopy of a government issued ID.
o If there is no registration of live birth in the PSA, submit a Certificate of Non-Record from the PSA and a birth certificate from the local civil registrar instead.
o If the birth certificate is a late registration, a birth certificate from the local civil registrar, the original baptismal certificate, the school record (Form 137 or school report card), and school yearbook are required. Note that you also need to submit the contact number of the church and the school.
5. PSA-issued marriage contract, if applicable. (This is not required with the submission of an old, used Japan visa.) If there is no record in the PSA, submit a Certificate of Non-Record together with a marriage certificate from the local civil registrar.
6. Tour Itinerary. The itinerary should cover your entire stay in Japan. You can prepare this yourself or have your travel agency prepare it for you.
7. Bank Balance Certificate. This should be recent (within 3 months of submission of the application) and the amount should adequately cover your airfare and your stay in Japan.
8. Income Tax Return. One original and one photocopy. In my case, I just provided one photocopy as I fear I might need my original ITR sometime in the future.
The process of documentary evaluation as undertaken by the staff of Discovery Tour is painless and quite brief. I asked her how long the processing will take and she gave the standard answer of 5-7 days. But when pressed, she said I can check and call after 3 days, which I did. When I called to follow up after 3 days of waiting i was told that my passport was ready for pick-up but that they cannot tell me the result. So i went to their office at HV dela Costa without a single hint of whether I succeeded or not. Butterflies in my tummy defied my orders to settle down. I shouldn't have worried! It was a success and I am now ready to fly and experience my first winter! How I will fare is another story waiting to be told.