Japan Digital Nomad Visa: Requirements and Application Process

The long-awaited Japan Digital Nomad Visa was finally launched on March 31, 2024, which is a significant step toward attracting international remote workers to the country, offering a blend of ancient culture and cutting-edge technology.

The digital nomad visa for the Land of the Rising Sun will be available to nationals of 49 countries, which includes the United Kingdom and the United States. This special visa allows digital nomads to legally live and work remotely from anywhere in the country for up to six months.

In this article, we delve into this eagerly awaited Japan digital nomad visa, who is qualified for it, and other key information for digital nomads looking to experience this innovative and technologically advanced country.

cherry blossoms with mountain in the background-japan digital nomad visa

What is the Japan Digital Nomad Visa?

The Japan Digital Nomad Visa provides a legal and structured visa tailored for digital nomads and remote workers seeking to explore or reside in Japan for extended periods.

Here are the key features of the Japan Digital Nomad Visa, according to the government’s Immigration Services Agency;

  • To qualify for the Japan Digital Nomad Visa, applicants must work remotely for a company registered outside of Japan, earn a minimum annual income of ¥10 million (approximately $68,000 USD), and hold a passport from a country with visa-free entry and double taxation agreements with Japan. This includes countries like the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and European Union nations​​​​.
  • The visa is available to citizens from 49 countries, including Argentina, Australia, Canada, and the United States, among others​​. However, it’s essential to note that some countries with visa exemptions may not qualify for the Digital Nomad Visa due to the absence of tax treaties with Japan​​.
  • Applicants can also bring their spouse and children to Japan​​.

The Benefits of the Japan Digital Nomad Visa

Image text showing benefits of The Japan Digital Nomad Visa

Japan stands out as a popular destination among digital nomads for several compelling reasons, combining unique cultural experiences with high-tech conveniences:

  • Advanced Infrastructure and Connectivity: Japan’s reputation for technological innovation extends to its infrastructure, offering reliable and fast internet connectivity essential for digital nomads. This makes working remotely efficient and seamless, allowing for productivity and connectivity no matter where you are in the country​​​​.
  • Safety and Security: Japan is renowned for its low crime rates, providing a sense of security for digital nomads. This peace of mind is invaluable, especially when residing in a foreign country, enabling nomads to focus on their work and explore their surroundings without undue worry​​​​.
  • Cultural Richness and Diversity: The blend of ancient traditions with modern lifestyles offers a unique cultural experience. From historic temples and shrines to cutting-edge technology and fashion, Japan offers an enriching environment that appeals to a wide range of interests and provides endless inspiration for creative professionals​​​​.
  • High Quality of Life: Despite the high cost of living in some cities, Japan offers a high quality of life, with excellent public transportation, a wide variety of food options, and a strong healthcare system. The cleanliness of cities and the politeness of the Japanese people also contribute to a comfortable living environment​​​​.
  • Vibrant Expat and Digital Nomad Community: With a growing interest in attracting digital nomads, Japan hosts an active community of expats and remote workers. This community offers support and networking opportunities, making it easier for newcomers to adjust and find their footing​​.
  • Natural Beauty and Travel Opportunities: Japan’s diverse landscapes, from bustling cities to serene countryside and scenic coastlines, offer a wealth of travel and exploration opportunities. Digital nomads can enjoy the balance of work and leisure, exploring everything from snow-capped mountains to tropical beaches​​​​.
  • Work-Life Balance: The Japanese concept of work-life balance, combined with the country’s emphasis on wellness and mindfulness, can be particularly appealing to digital nomads looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle while pursuing their professional goals​​​​.

These qualities make Japan an attractive destination for digital nomads seeking a blend of modern convenience, cultural depth, and a supportive community. The ongoing development of visa policies aimed at this group will likely further increase Japan’s popularity among remote workers worldwide.

The Japan Digital Nomad Visa – Benefits, Requirements, and Application Process

Image text showing requirements for The Japan Digital Nomad Visa

Benefits

The Japan Digital Nomad Visa offers several key benefits tailored to the needs of remote workers and digital nomads. Here are the key benefits and features;

  • Extended Stay: Unlike tourist visas that typically allow for short stays, the Digital Nomad Visa is expected to permit longer stays in Japan of up to six months within a year, but without an option to extend.
  • Legal Framework for Remote Work: This visa aims to provide a legal framework for remote working in Japan, clarifying tax obligations and potentially simplifying the bureaucratic process associated with working legally in a foreign country​​​​.
  • Access to Japanese Services and Amenities: With the Digital Nomad Visa, individuals might find it easier to access services such as banking, housing, and healthcare, which can sometimes be challenging for those on tourist visas due to residency requirements​​.
  • Community and Networking Opportunities: The visa could facilitate greater integration into Japan’s growing community of digital nomads, expatriates, and local business networks, offering valuable networking opportunities and community support​​.
  • Exploration and Travel: Beneficiaries of the visa would have the opportunity to explore Japan’s diverse regions, from bustling cities like Tokyo and Osaka to serene countryside locales, enhancing the work-life balance and providing inspiration through travel​​​​.
  • Contribution to Local Economy: By spending extended time in Japan, digital nomads can contribute to the local economy, supporting small businesses and possibly engaging in cultural exchange activities that enrich both the nomads’ and locals’ experiences​​.

Requirements

The Japan Digital Nomad Visa offers remote workers the opportunity to live and work in Japan for up to six months. Here are the detailed documents and requirements needed to apply for this visa, along with qualifications:

  • Age Requirement: There is no specific age requirement mentioned for the Japan Digital Nomad Visa.
  • Stay Duration: The visa allows a stay of up to six months.
  • Income Threshold/Financial Requirements:
    • Annual Income: Applicants must demonstrate an annual income of at least 10 million JPY (approximately $68,000 USD). This income should come from business or employment outside of Japan.
    • Proof of Income: Evidence such as tax payment certificates, employment contracts, or other official documents showing the income level must be submitted.
  • Health Insurance:
    • Applicants are required to have comprehensive health insurance coverage for the duration of their stay in Japan. The insurance must cover medical expenses in Japan to a sufficient extent.
  • Passport and Photographs:
    • Valid Passport: Applicants must have a passport with at least six months of validity remaining and at least two blank pages.
    • Passport-sized Photo: A recent passport-sized photo taken within the last six months is required.
  • Proof of Remote Work:
    • Applicants need to provide proof that they work remotely as an employee, freelancer, or business owner for a company that is based outside of Japan. This can include an employment contract, employer letter, or client invoices.
  • Other Documents:
    • Plan of Activities: Applicants should submit a plan detailing their intended activities and the duration of their stay in Japan.
    • Clean Criminal Record: Most visa applications require a clean criminal background check.

Application Process

Image text on how to apply for The Japan Digital Nomad Visa

Applying for the Japan Digital Nomad Visa involves several key steps. Here’s a detailed step-by-step guide based on the available information:

Step 1: Check Eligibility

Ensure you meet the eligibility criteria for the Japan Digital Nomad Visa:

  • Proof of employment or business outside Japan with a minimum annual income of approximately 10 million JPY (about $68,000 USD).
  • Comprehensive health insurance covering your stay in Japan.
  • Valid passport with at least six months of validity and two blank pages.

Step 2: Gather Required Documents

Collect all necessary documents:

  • Valid passport.
  • Recent passport-sized photo.
  • Proof of remote work (employment contract, employer letter, client invoices).
  • Income statements or tax returns showing earnings above the required threshold.
  • Documents explaining the applicant’s planned activities and period of stay during your stay in Japan.
  • Comprehensive health insurance documentation.

Step 3: Online Application

  • Visit the Japanese Immigration Services Agency’s Online Resident Application System website to create an account.
  • Select the Digital Nomad Visa category and fill out the application form.
  • Upload the required documents.

Step 4: Pay Visa Fees

  • The exact fees for the Digital Nomad Visa have not been detailed but will likely vary based on your nationality and the location of application. Payment details will be specified during the online application process, typically after submitting the application form but before the final submission.

Step 5: Submission and Confirmation

  • After paying the fees, submit your visa application.
  • You will receive a confirmation of your application submission.

Step 6: Visa Processing

  • The processing time can vary, generally ranging from a few weeks to a few months.
  • During this time, your application and accompanying documents will be reviewed by the Japanese Immigration authorities.

Step 7: Visa Issuance

  • Once approved, you will receive notification of your visa approval.
  • You may need to visit a Japanese embassy or consulate to have the visa stamped in your passport, depending on the specific requirements provided at the time of application approval.

Step 8: Preparing for Arrival

  • Plan your travel to Japan.
  • Ensure you have all necessary documents for entry, including your visa and proof of health insurance.

Step 9: Arrival in Japan

  • Upon arrival, present your visa and any requested documentation at immigration.
  • Once admitted, you are free to live and work in Japan as a digital nomad for the duration permitted under your visa.

Step 10: Follow Local Regulations

  • Stay informed about any requirements or obligations, such as tax implications, during your stay in Japan.
wooden gazeboo with chairs and red temple

Cost of Living in Japan

Living in Japan as a digital nomad involves navigating a cost of living that can vary widely depending on the city, lifestyle choices, and personal spending habits.

Tokyo, being one of the most expensive cities, often sets the upper benchmark for living costs, while smaller cities and rural areas can offer significantly lower expenses.

  • Housing:

Tokyo: 80,000 to 150,000 JPY ($600 to $1,100 USD) for a one-bedroom apartment.

Other cities: 50,000 to 100,000 JPY ($370 to $740 USD).

  • Utilities (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage):

10,000 to 20,000 JPY ($75 to $150 USD).

  • Internet (High-speed):

4,000 to 8,000 JPY ($30 to $60 USD).

  • Mobile Phone:

5,000 to 10,000 JPY ($37 to $74 USD) for a decent mobile plan.

  • Groceries:

30,000 to 60,000 JPY ($220 to $440 USD) depending on dietary preferences.

  • Eating Out:

1,000 to 3,000 JPY ($7 to $22 USD) per meal at an inexpensive restaurant.

  • Transportation (Public):

Monthly pass: 10,000 to 20,000 JPY ($75 to $150 USD), depending on distances.

  • Coworking Spaces:

15,000 to 30,000 JPY ($110 to $220 USD) per month for a hot desk.

  • Leisure and Entertainment:

10,000 to 20,000 JPY ($75 to $150 USD), covering occasional movies, events, and other activities.

  • Health Insurance:

Under the National Health Insurance (NHI), about 20,000 to 40,000 JPY ($148 to $296 USD) monthly, varying with income.

  • Miscellaneous Expenses:

10,000 to 30,000 JPY ($75 to $220 USD) for personal care, clothing, etc.

  • Total Monthly Cost:

For a modest lifestyle in Tokyo, expect to spend approximately 174,000 to 378,000 JPY ($1,285 to $2,790 USD). In smaller cities or rural areas, costs can be significantly lower.

Considerations for Digital Nomads

  • Accommodation: Short-term rentals or shared housing can reduce living costs, with platforms like Airbnb or shared houses catering to nomads.
  • Transportation: Investing in a bicycle or using city rental bike services can be a cost-effective and flexible option for short distances.
  • Coworking Spaces: These can be not just workspaces but also great places for networking and community building.
  • Health Insurance: Enrollment in Japan’s National Health Insurance is mandatory for residents, including those on long-term visas, offering extensive coverage at a reasonable cost.

The cost of living in Japan as a digital nomad requires careful budgeting and planning, especially in major cities. However, the country’s safety, cleanliness, efficient public transport, and the availability of high-speed internet make it an attractive destination despite the relatively high living costs.

Resources to Stay Up to Date with Visa Changes

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

Japanese Immigration Services Agency

Atlys.com

iVisa.com

World Visa Guide

Do I Need a Japan Digital Nomad Visa?

Yes, you need a Japan Digital Nomad Visa.

Living in Japan as a digital nomad can be a rewarding experience, provided you’re prepared for the high cost of living and cultural adjustments. Cities like Tokyo offer numerous coworking spaces, cafes, and libraries that cater to the needs of remote workers. For a more serene setting, towns such as Kyoto or smaller islands like Okinawa provide a slower pace of life amidst natural beauty, which can be ideal for creative endeavors.

Pros of Staying in Japan as a Digital Nomad

  • Cultural Richness: Japan offers a unique cultural experience, from traditional tea ceremonies to vibrant festivals. This can be incredibly enriching for those looking to immerse themselves in a new lifestyle.
  • Technological Hub: Known for its technological advancements, Japan provides high-speed internet access and tech-friendly facilities, making it ideal for those who rely heavily on technology for their work.
  • Public Safety: Japan is renowned for its low crime rate, which adds a layer of security for nomads unfamiliar with their surroundings.
  • Transportation: With one of the world’s most efficient public transport systems, navigating the country is easy and convenient, even without a car.

Cons of Staying in Japan as a Digital Nomad

  • Cost of Living: Cities like Tokyo and Osaka can be quite expensive, especially in terms of accommodation and dining out. This might be a significant consideration for nomads used to more budget-friendly destinations.
  • Language Barrier: While English is often used in business settings, daily life interactions predominantly occur in Japanese, which can pose challenges for those who do not speak the language.
  • Cultural Adjustments: Social norms and business etiquettes in Japan can be quite formal and different from Western practices, potentially leading to cultural missteps for the unacquainted.

For digital nomads, staying connected and productive while soaking in the Japanese way of life can be incredibly fulfilling. As you navigate the complexities of living in Japan, the blend of tradition with modernity offers a unique backdrop that can inspire and invigorate your work.

Best Places To Live In Japan

Image text of the best places to live or explore in Japan

Tokyo

city view with buildings, cars and busses- japan digital nomad visa

Tokyo, the bustling capital of Japan, is a hub of innovation, culture, and technology, making it a top choice for digital nomads seeking an energetic urban environment.

  • Shibuya Crossing: Experience the iconic scramble crossing, a symbol of Tokyo’s vibrant life.
  • Akihabara: A paradise for tech enthusiasts and anime fans, offering an array of electronics shops and otaku culture.
  • Roppongi Hills: A modern complex with offices, art museums, and entertainment, perfect for networking and inspiration.

Kyoto

red/orange two temple- japan digital nomad visa

Kyoto, known for its rich history and preserved traditions, offers a serene backdrop for digital nomads who appreciate cultural depth.

  • Kyoto International Manga Museum: A unique spot to explore Japanese manga culture and its global influence.
  • Fushimi Inari Shrine: Famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, it’s a peaceful place for reflection.
  • Kiyomizu-dera Temple: Offers stunning views of the city and a tranquil environment for those seeking inspiration.

Osaka

aerial city view showing tall building

Osaka is renowned for its culinary scene, friendly locals, and dynamic urban life, suitable for nomads who enjoy a blend of work and leisure.

  • Dotonbori: The city’s entertainment heart, filled with dazzling neon lights and exquisite street food.
  • Umeda Sky Building: Features a spectacular observatory and a garden rooftop for breathtaking city views.
  • Namba Parks: An innovative urban space combining shopping, nature, and coworking spots.

Fukuoka

gazebo in the middle of the body of water

Fukuoka is gaining popularity among digital nomads for its friendly atmosphere, lower living costs, and burgeoning startup scene.

  • Ohori Park: A beautiful park surrounding a large pond, ideal for leisurely walks or jogs.
  • Fukuoka Asian Art Museum: Showcases contemporary Asian art, offering cultural insights and inspiration.
  • Tenjin Underground Shopping Center: Provides a plethora of cafes and shops, perfect for breaks between work sessions.

Hokkaido

canal with houses in the side during winter

Hokkaido offers a refreshing escape with its natural landscapes, outdoor activities, and cooler climate, appealing to nature-loving nomads.

  • Sapporo: The island’s capital, known for its annual snow festival, beer gardens, and spacious parks.
  • Otaru: A charming port city with historic buildings, canal areas, and seafood markets.
  • Niseko: Renowned for its world-class skiing and snowboarding, plus onsen (hot springs) for relaxation.

Okinawa

red structure like a chinese temple

Okinawa provides a tropical paradise setting with its beautiful beaches, rich history, and unique Ryukyu culture, perfect for nomads looking to work in a laid-back environment.

  • Shurijo Castle Park: Reflects the history and culture of the Ryukyu Kingdom.
  • Naha Main Place: A modern shopping mall with various dining and shopping options.
  • American Village: A colorful entertainment complex with a distinctly American flair mixed with Okinawan culture.

Nagoya

circle white structure with people passing by-japan digital nomad visa

Nagoya, a manufacturing and technological powerhouse, offers a blend of history and modernity, suitable for digital nomads interested in industrial innovation.

  • Nagoya Castle: A historic castle with beautiful gardens, ideal for a leisurely day out.
  • Oasis 21: A futuristic park and shopping complex with a unique water-themed roof, providing cool spots to work outdoors.
  • Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology: Offers insights into Japan’s manufacturing excellence.

Kobe

city skyline during night time

Kobe is known for its scenic harbor, international atmosphere, and culinary delights, including the world-famous Kobe beef.

  • Kobe Harborland: A lively waterfront area with shopping, dining, and entertainment options.
  • Ikuta Shrine: One of Japan’s oldest Shinto shrines, offering a peaceful retreat in the city center.
  • Rokko Mountain: Provides panoramic views of Kobe and Osaka, ideal for hiking and nature trips.

Kanazawa

brown concrete house near body of water

Kanazawa, often referred to as a smaller Kyoto, is famed for its well-preserved Edo-era districts, art museums, and regional crafts.

  • Kenrokuen Garden: Considered one of Japan’s three most beautiful landscape gardens.
  • 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art: Known for its innovative design and contemporary artworks.
  • Higashi Chaya District: A historic district with traditional teahouses where geisha performances can be enjoyed.

Yokohama

night time view of the city with tall buildings near body of water - japan digital nomad visa

Yokohama, just south of Tokyo, offers a vibrant international port atmosphere, beautiful parks, and a rich cultural scene.

  • Minato Mirai 21: A seaside urban area with futuristic architecture, shopping, and entertainment.
  • Yokohama Chinatown: The largest Chinatown in Japan, offering a vast array of authentic Chinese cuisine.
  • Sankeien Garden: A spacious Japanese garden that features historic buildings from across Japan, providing a serene environment for relaxation and contemplation.

Japan Digital Nomad Visa – Summary

As Japan opens its doors wider to the global digital nomad community with its new Digital Nomad Visa, the country offers a blend of ancient culture and cutting-edge technology that’s hard to match. This visa simplifies the once-complex process of legally residing in Japan for remote work, allowing digital nomads to experience a fast-paced technological environment with serene, tradition-steeped surroundings.

The benefits of this new arrangement are substantial. Digital nomads can now enjoy extended stays in Japan, experiencing its safe streets, efficient public transportation, and high-speed internet, which ensure both productivity and exploration are seamlessly integrated. The cultural depth—from cherry blossoms in Kyoto to the bustling streets of Shibuya—provides a stimulating backdrop to enhance creative endeavors and a refreshing change of pace.

However, these benefits come with their set of challenges. The high cost of living, particularly in major cities such as Tokyo and Osaka, can be challenging for those accustomed to more economical destinations. Additionally, the language barrier and distinct business etiquette could require significant adjustments. Adapting to these aspects demands flexibility and openness from digital nomads, traits that are indispensable for thriving in a foreign country.

With the Japan Digital Nomad Visa, the country acknowledges the growing trend of remote working, but while there are challenges to navigate, the cultural and professional rewards make Japan a worthwhile choice for those seeking a unique, enriching experience.

The opportunity to live and work in one of the world’s most fascinating countries is indeed an enticing prospect that you will find rewarding, enrich your professional life, and enhance your personal growth and global perspective.

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Japan Digital Nomad Visa – FAQs

Does Japan have a Digital Nomad Visa?

Yes, Japan launched its Digital Nomad Visa on March 31, 2024. This visa allows remote workers from various industries to live and work in Japan for extended periods. It is designed specifically for individuals who earn their income online, enabling them to enjoy Japan’s unique culture and technological conveniences while continuing their professional activities.

Can I move to Japan Without a Job?

With the introduction of the Digital Nomad Visa, you can move to Japan without a traditional job offer from a Japanese company. However, you must demonstrate that you have a stable online income or sufficient financial resources to support yourself during your stay in Japan. This visa is ideal for freelancers, entrepreneurs, and remote workers who meet these criteria.

Which Country Offers the Easiest Digital Nomad Visa?

While “easiest” can vary based on individual circumstances, countries like Estonia and Barbados have been praised for their straightforward and welcoming Digital Nomad Visa programs. These countries offer clear guidelines and efficient application processes. Japan’s new Digital Nomad Visa also aims to be accessible, though it requires proof of income and a clear intention to work remotely.

What is the Best Country to Live as a Digital Nomad?

The best country for a digital nomad largely depends on personal preferences and lifestyle. Factors to consider include internet reliability, cost of living, climate, and cultural offerings. Countries like Portugal, Bali, and Thailand are popular for their supportive environments for digital nomads. With its new visa, Japan is quickly becoming a top choice for those seeking a blend of modern infrastructure and rich cultural experiences.

How can Digital Nomads Legally Work in Japan?

Digital nomads can legally work in Japan by obtaining the Digital Nomad Visa. This visa requires applicants to provide proof of their online employment or business activities, along with evidence of sufficient income to sustain their stay in Japan. It is designed to ensure that digital nomads can work legally and without complications, reflecting Japan’s recognition of the growing global trend towards remote working.

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