Japanese Working Holiday Visa Guide

The mysteries you will uncover in the land of the rising sun are awaiting you. Here's your step-by-step guide to getting a WHV.

Japanese Working Holiday Visa Guide

Getting a working holiday visa for にほん (日本) requires a little bit more legwork than some other countries, for instance the Australian WHV can be done online and just requires personal details but it does come with the downside of costing way more, £250! Considering the Japanese WHV is only £20 in the UK and free in Ireland, the extra legwork seems pretty acceptable.

The process of applying for a Japanese WHV is relatively easy, you will have to sacrifice at least two week days to do it though. You cannot apply online and will need to visit your local embassy:

In the UK: London or Edinburgh.

In Ireland: Dublin.

The process once you get there is relatively simple, grab a ticket, wait for your number, hand over documents and passport, pay visa fee and wait one week to then come back and collect passport with visa stuck inside it (hopefully).

The documents needed are as follows:

Outline of intended activities

This has to be a list of your entire itinerary for your year in Japan.. I know right! Okay so before you worry about your plan to have no plan, it really doesn't matter! I completely made mine up and there were no problems at all.

From the research I did, it seems that a list in the form of months works well eg:

July 2019 - September 2019
For the first few months I intend to travel around the country, exploring the many wonderful sights and experiencing the the food and culture on offer. This time will also be used to gauge the cost of living and how much I may have to work during my stay, I will also look into what kind of work may be available to me later, and where in the country I might look for work.

To make it even easier, here is my whole itinerary that you could just edit into your own wording and save yourself some work.

For people in Ireland there is a specific form for this, which you can download here and fill in (potentially just copy my paragraphs across and reword it).

Written reason for applying

Again this is expected to be a A4 page with your intentions and reasons for wanting to visit Japan. This can be anything and everything about what has inspired you to travel to the land of the rising sun, for instance here is a sample from my letter:

I have been fascinated with Japan for just over 2 years now, it's a country rich in culture and history. I have enjoyed talking with people I met travelling about their adventures in Japan, this sparked my interest in learning the language and as much as possible about what life is like in Japan. Having already travelled extensively throughout Australia on a 2 year working visa I wanted to challenge myself by visiting a country that had a unique culture completely different from my own.

Hopefully this is enough inspiration to set you off on your writing, but if you're still struggling, here is my whole letter for you to download and edit into your own wording.

visa application form

The form is quite straightforward, just fill in your personal details and give the name of a hostel or wherever you want to stay first when it asks where you intend to stay. Use a proper passport photo, I printed one off using my inkjet printer and had to then go get a proper one done at a shop near the embassy.. (doi!)

Here is the application form for you to download and fill in.

proof of funds

Unlike other visa's I have applied for, this was a strict requirement. For instance the Australian visa states that you must have at least $5000 or $2500 and a return plane ticket, but over the 2 years I was there I never met anyone who had been checked for this.

The Japanese WHV requires you to have at least £3000 in cleared funds and at least 3 months of bank statements to prove this (€3200 for Ireland), or £1500 (€1600) and a return plane ticket.

This is where things got a little different for me, I kept my money in a NS&I premium bonds account as I found it much easier to save, with the money being harder to access than a simple transfer via an app. I was asked to print off proof of myself paying into this account from my main bank account as well as the proof of the money being in the premium bonds.. it got a little complicated and the lady handling my visa forms had to consult her manager leaving me worried it might not be accepted.. but it was fine in the end.


Make sure you update your CV before you bundle it with your documents, I'm not sure what difference the CV makes to your total visa process but they ask for it and keep it anyway. I guess just another way of making sure you are actually able to hold down a job and wont end up stranded in Japan unable to afford a flight home!

Again for the people of Ireland, there is another specific form to fill in for this part, download it here and then copy your CV details across.


You will need to bring your passport and be ready to let them hold onto it for a week while they process your application, this is the only thing they will give back to you as they keep all they other documents you handed over. 


The visa application fee as of 2018 is £19 (free in Ireland), considerably cheaper than many others!

And that is it, you're ready to go! For any more info head directly to the Japanese embassy websites:

London // Edinburgh // Dublin

Hopefully you are now one step closer to stepping foot in the mysterious land of fleeting cherry blossoms, vast white snowscapes, tropical coral bays and futuristic cities. がんばろう!

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Thanks for reading!

Taran here, owner of Nomad'er How Far. I'm fond of psychedelic rock, photography & videography, anything to do with space and I'm also partial to the odd gaming session. Oh and I love to travel :P Get to know me here!

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