This article has been reviewed by Wego‘s editorial team to ensure that the content is up to date & accurate.

Updated May 2024

Moving to Japan in 2024 is more appealing than ever. With its robust economy, excellent healthcare, and world-class education system, Japan is an attractive destination for individuals and families alike.

Moreover, Japan boasts efficient and reliable public transportation, effortlessly connecting vibrant cities and peaceful countryside alike. Additionally, Japan’s safety, cleanliness, and emphasis on community create a welcoming environment for newcomers.

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Curious about what it’s like to live and work in Japan? Read on as Wego will explore everything you need to know, from visa requirements to the application process, in our comprehensive guide.

Moving to Japan

When planning your move to Japan, securing the appropriate visa is a crucial first step. Whether you’re relocating for work, study, or family reasons, you’ll need to apply for the correct visa category. The requirements can vary, so it’s important to consult official resources for the most current information. This ensures you meet all the criteria and have a smooth transition.

In addition to obtaining a visa, you will need to familiarize yourself with Japan’s practical aspects. The country is known for its efficient public transportation, high safety standards, and excellent healthcare system. Understanding these elements will help you settle in more comfortably and enjoy all that Japan has to offer.

From finding accommodation to setting up essential services, being well-prepared will make your new life in Japan much easier.

Japan work visa

A Japanese work visa is essential for individuals seeking to live and work in Japan for an extended period. This visa is issued for a variety of professions, including professors, artists, and journalists.

The work visa is typically valid for up to 90 days. However, it can be extended to 1 year, 3 years, or even 5 years, depending on your circumstances and job requirements.

Documents required

To apply for a Japan work visa, you will need the following documents:

  • passport
  • one visa application form (two forms if you are a national of Russia, CIS countries, or Georgia)
  • one photograph (two photographs if you are a national of Russia, CIS countries, or Georgia)
  • Certificate of Eligibility (original or copy). Please note that if you have an electronic Certificate of Eligibility, make sure to present it at the visa application counter or print a copy.

For Chinese nationals:

  • copy of the Chinese Family Register
  • Temporary Residence Permit or Residence Certificate (if not registered within the embassy or consulate’s jurisdiction)

Please note that additional documents may be required based on nationality. For more information, please visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan official page or the Japanese embassy or consulate website.

Alternatively, for more information, please refer to our dedicated article on the Japan work visa.

Application process

Follow these steps to apply for a Japan work visa:

  • apply at the Japanese embassy or consulate with jurisdiction over your area.
  • your application will be examined by the embassy or consulate. Please note that you may be contacted for an interview or asked to submit additional documents if necessary.
  • after the examination is complete, retrieve your passport from the embassy or consulate.
  • once you receive your visa, you can now enter Japan within 3 months of visa issuance.

Japan highly skilled professional visa

The Japan highly skilled professional visa is designed to attract individuals with exceptional abilities and credentials. This visa operates on a point-based system, offering longer stay durations and additional benefits compared to other visa types.

It caters to those recognized as “highly-skilled foreign professionals” and aims to encourage the contribution of talented professionals to Japan’s economy and society. Spouses, children, and other dependents can also apply for corresponding visas, allowing families to relocate together.

Documents required

To apply for a Japan highly skilled professional visa, you will need the following documents:

  • passport
  • one visa application form (two forms if you are a national of Russia, CIS countries, or Georgia)
  • one photograph (two photographs if you are a national of Russia, CIS countries, or Georgia)
  • Certificate of Eligibility (original or copy). Please note that if you have an electronic Certificate of Eligibility, make sure to present it at the visa application counter or print a copy.

For Chinese nationals:

  • copy of the Chinese Family Register
  • Temporary Residence Permit or Residence Certificate (if not registered within the embassy or consulate’s jurisdiction)

Please note that additional documents may be required based on nationality. For more information, please visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan official page or the Japanese embassy or consulate website.

Application process

Follow these steps to apply for a Japan highly skilled professional visa:

  • apply at the Japanese embassy or consulate with jurisdiction over your area.
  • your application will be examined by the embassy or consulate. Please note that you may be contacted for an interview or asked to submit additional documents if necessary.
  • after the examination is complete, retrieve your passport from the embassy or consulate.
  • once you receive your visa, you can now enter Japan within 3 months of visa issuance.

Living in Japan

Living in Japan offers a unique blend of modern convenience and rich cultural heritage. The country’s efficient public transportation, clean cities, and low crime rates make daily life comfortable and safe. Whether you’re in a bustling metropolis like Tokyo or a quieter town, you’ll find friendly people, delicious food, and a fascinating mix of traditional and contemporary lifestyles.

From exploring historic temples to enjoying cutting-edge technology, living in Japan provides endless opportunities for adventure and discovery.

Residency in Japan

Achieving permanent residency in Japan brings numerous benefits and a sense of stability. With permanent residency status, there’s no need to renew or extend your visa, as it remains valid indefinitely. This status opens doors to various privileges, including:

  • opening a bank account
  • visa-free travel to some countries
  • healthcare services
  • health insurance
  • residence discounts
  • obtaining a driver’s license
  • apartment rentals
  • work opportunities without visa restrictions
  • mobile phone contracts

Japan student visa

A Japanese student visa allows you to stay in Japan for educational purposes. The length of your stay is determined by the Minister of Justice and can be up to a maximum of 4 years and 3 months. Thus, this visa is essential for those planning to attend school or university in Japan.

Documents required

To apply for a Japan student visa, you will need the following documents:

  • passport
  • one visa application form (two forms if you are a national of Russia, CIS countries, or Georgia)
  • one photograph (two photographs if you are a national of Russia, CIS countries, or Georgia)
  • Certificate of Eligibility (original or copy. Please note that if you have an electronic Certificate of Eligibility, make sure to present it at the visa application counter or print a copy.

For Chinese nationals:

  • copy of the Chinese Family Register
  • Temporary Residence Permit or Residence Certificate (if not registered within the embassy or consulate’s jurisdiction)
  • questionnaire (available from approved agencies or the Japanese embassy/consulate website)
  • graduation certificate
  • employment certificate of the financial supporter.

Please note that additional documents may be required based on nationality. For more information, please visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan official page or the Japanese embassy or consulate website.

Application process

Follow these steps to apply for a Japan student Visa:

  • apply at the Japanese embassy or consulate with jurisdiction over your area.
  • your application will be examined by the embassy or consulate. Please note that you may be contacted for an interview or asked to submit additional documents if necessary.
  • after the examination is complete, retrieve your passport from the embassy or consulate.
  • once you receive your visa, you can now enter Japan within 3 months of visa issuance.

Japan permanent residency

The Japan permanent residency status grants individuals freedom from visa restrictions, allowing them to engage in various activities without limitation. With this status, there is no need for visa renewal as it remains valid for life, offering a sense of security and stability.

Moreover, it facilitates easier access to loans from Japanese banks, providing financial flexibility.

Eligibility

To be eligible for permanent residency in Japan, applicants must demonstrate good behavior, sufficient assets or ability to support themselves and meet all requirements to maintain their current visa status. There are 3 main paths to eligibility:

  • residency of over 10 years in Japan, with continuous presence being crucial.
  • achievement of a certain amount of time as a “highly-skilled professional” and meeting point requirements.
  • marriage to a Japanese citizen or permanent resident, with a minimum residency requirement and marriage duration.
Documents required

To apply for permanent residency in Japan, you need to prepare the following documents:

  • recent photograph meeting passport photo requirements
  • completed and signed application form
  • passport with photocopies
  • annual income statement, such as bank statements or employment contracts
  • employment status certificate or relevant business permits
  • current residence certificate
  • proof of resident tax payments
  • bank statements from previous months

Please note that additional documents may be required if applying as a spouse of a Japanese citizen, including family registry papers, marriage certificates, letters describing the relationship, and proof of the spouse’s employment and financial responsibility.

Furthermore, your guarantor must prepare a few documents, including a residence certificate (not older than 3 months), a signed letter from the guarantor, proof of employment and a tax certificate.

Application process

To process your application, you need to fulfill the following steps:

  • submit the application and required documents to the local Immigration Office, either in person or through an authorized representative.
  • wait for processing, with varying wait times depending on application volume.
  • upon approval, receive notification and collect the permanent resident card from the Immigration Office.

Japan resident card

In Japan, the resident card or the Zairyu card serves as your primary form of identification, essential for various tasks such as opening a bank account, renting a property, or setting up utilities. Most foreigners staying in Japan for more than 3 months receive a resident card, which is issued each time you renew or change your visa status.

This card replaces the previous system of having a visa stamp in your passport, making it the official proof of your visa status in Japan. Residents already living in Japan will receive a new card during their next visa renewal or change of visa status

Please note that a resident card is not issued for tourist visas or any other visas valid for 3 months or less.

Financial aspects of living in Japan

Living in Japan entails managing several key expenses. Accommodation costs can vary significantly depending on location and dwelling type. For instance, renting a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Tokyo can range from JPY 100,000 (USD 637) to JPY 200,000 (USD 1,275) per month, while property ownership is even more costly.

Additionally, utilities such as electricity, water, and gas typically amount to JPY 10,000 (USD 64) to JPY 15,000 (USD 96)  monthly. Moreover, groceries and dining out expenses fluctuate, with an average monthly grocery bill ranging from JPY 20,000 (USD 127) to JPY 40,000 (USD 255).

Furthermore, public transportation in Tokyo costs around JPY 10,000 (USD 64) to JPY 15,000 (USD 96) per month. It’s essential to budget for additional expenses like city taxes and insurance. However, it’s worth noting that individual experiences may differ.

Japan income tax

When it comes to income tax in Japan, the rules vary based on your residency status. Permanent resident taxpayers are taxed on their worldwide income, while non-residents are only taxed on income sourced within Japan.

For non-permanent resident taxpayers, income from sources outside Japan that aren’t remitted to Japan, along with part of their foreign-sourced income sent to Japan, is taxable. The tax rates also differ depending on your income level, ranging from 5% for those earning up to JPY 1,950,000 (USD 12,429) to 45% for incomes exceeding JPY 40,000,000 (USD 254,960).

Additionally, a 2.1% surtax is imposed on national income tax, and local governments levy a flat 10% local inhabitant’s tax based on the taxpayer’s prior year income, with an additional per capita tax possible. Non-resident taxpayers, on the other hand, face a flat 20.42% national income tax on Japan-source compensation.

Japan expected salary

In Japan, the average annual salary hovers around JPY 6,200,000 (USD 39,518), equating to roughly JPY 516,000 (USD 3,288) per month before taxes, inclusive of benefits such as housing and transportation.

Furthermore, salary ranges for employees in Japan vary widely, spanning from approximately JPY 130,000 (USD 829) to JPY 2,300,000 (14,660 USD) per month. The median salary, representing the midpoint where half the population earns less and half earns more, stands at JPY 472,000 (USD 3,008 ) per month.

Additionally, Japan follows a 40-hour workweek, with the national weighted average minimum wage as of April 1, 2023, at JPY 961 (USD 6.13) per hour, though Tokyo boasts the highest minimum wage in the country at around JPY 1,113 (USD 7.09) per hour.

 

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