There are many reasons why you might want to move to the land of the rising sun, a place with beautiful landscapes as well as bustling cities and a vibrant culture blending the ancient and the modern.
Whether you’re moving for a new job, or looking at buying a house in Japan for a fresh start, you need to make sure you have all your paperwork in order before you pack your bags.
Do you need a visa to live in Japan?
British citizens don’t require a visa to enter Japan, and can stay for up to 90 days without a tourist visa. While you can apply for an extension, if you’re planning to work in Japan then you will need a visa.
A working holiday visa allows anyone aged between 18 and 30 to stay in Japan for up to a year, and means you can work while you’re in the country. Numbers for this type of visa are limited – just 1,000 a year - so apply in advance if you’re relying on the opportunity to work in Japan while you’re there or supplementing funds for a round the world trip.
For a standard work visa, the exact details depend on your profession but you’ll need a certificate of eligibility from a Japanese employer which shows that you have an offer. Once you have received the visa, you must travel to Japan within three months. Once you’ve arrived, you must register within 14 days as a temporary resident for the visa to remain valid.
Becoming a permanent resident of Japan
If you have lived and worked in Japan for ten years, and are already registered as a resident, then you can apply for permanent residency. For many people, you are required to live in Japan for ten years before you can apply, but there are some exceptions. If you have a Highly Skilled Professional work visa, you can apply after three years. New rules introduced in March 2019 reduced this to just one year for anyone with multiple degrees who earn a high salary.
You don’t have to be a high flyer to make your home in Japan. If you are married to a Japanese national, you only have to wait three years before applying for permanent residency. Even with this route, there are some requirements that you must fulfil. There is a minimum earnings threshold to demonstrate that you can support yourself financially. While earnings are taken into account, equally important is that you can demonstrate you’ve been paying taxes and submit a reference from a Japanese national or permanent resident to act as guarantor.
How can I apply for my Japanese visa?
You must apply for your visa in person, at the Japanese embassy, and will need to take your application forms, together with your passport and other relevant documents. Make sure you allow enough time for the process – you can’t book an appointment, which means you may have a long wait when you get to the embassy, and you may have to return on another date if your form is incomplete or you’re missing key documents. Once you’ve submitted your application, it takes a minimum of a week to be processed so again, make sure you allow enough time and don’t leave your application to the last minute.
Opening a bank account in Japan
Opening a bank account in Japan requires some of the expected paperwork and an understanding of Japanese culture. You’ll need your residence card and a personal seal – known as an inkan or hanko – although some banks do now accept a signature instead. You don’t need to make a large deposit; most banks will open an account with a minimum deposit of just 1,000 yen (~GBP7.00) to open your account.
The rest of the process is very similar to applying for a bank account in the UK; you will be able to select a PIN and will immediately receive a bank book and your card will arrive within ten days, together with information on how to manage your account online.
What is the name of the currency used in Japan?
Yen is the currency used in Japan, and is the third most traded currency in the world. Japanese Yen (JPY) is often used as a reserve currency, and is under a strict anti-inflation policy from the Japanese government. The currency is available in the denominations 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000, 5000, 10,000, and every yen is comprised of 100 sen.
Foreign currency exchange for moving to Japan
If you’re moving to Japan from the UK on a permanent basis, you’ll most likely need to transfer money between your Japanese and UK bank accounts on more than a few occasions.
Whether buying a house or transferring your earnings, sending money to Japan from the UK is an essential part of emigrating to the country. And, with some high-street banks charging as much as £40 in transaction fees per transfer, making these international payments regularly could cost a considerable amount.
That’s why, as a team of foreign currency exchange specialists, we are dedicated to saving you time and money on every overseas payment you make. We offer low transfer fees and competitive exchange rates when you exchange GBP to JPY.