Australia has Working Holiday arrangments with a bunch of countries designed to allow young people to travel and have the means to help fund travelling while abroad. Getting a Working Holiday Visa for Japan is by far the best way to explore the country without breaking the bank (and possibly even coming back with savings).

For Aussies, it’s arguably the best working holiday because the visa is FREE, we get a maximum of 18 months and finding work is fairly easy. Most Australians will spend their working holiday in a ski town (yep, we did too), and if there’s one place to go for epic snow, it’s Japan. Here’s everything you need to get you set up for your WHV with copies of the documents we used.

Snow on Mt Yotei photography
A ski season in Japan is one of the best working holidays!

Who can apply for the WHV?

To be eligible for the working holiday visa, you need to be:

  1. An Australian citizen currently residing in Australia. If you are currently travelling or living abroad, you must return to Australia to submit your application.
  2. Aged between 18 – 30 (inclusive) at the time of the application and must never have previously obtained a Japan Working Holiday Visa.
  3. Healthy and a good bloke. According to the embassy website, applicants need to be in “good health and of good character”. Not quite sure how this is measured or confirmed though – we know plenty of pests who got through.
  4. Both eligible if applying as a married/de facto couple and no kids. Applications are only accepted provided both applicants meet the eligibility requirements and don’t have accompanying dependents.
  5. Cashed up! Well, sorta. The minimum amount for a single person is A$2500 and for a married/de facto couple is A$3500. Japan just wants to make sure that you don’t go #begpacking for your bowls of ramen after spending a week in Tokyo.

When should I apply for my visa?

Once your WHV is approved, you’ll have 12 months to enter Japan from the date of issue. If you plan on entering the country in the next 12 months or are turning 31 soon, then you should apply right away.

The entire process shouldn’t take longer than 2 weeks unless you require additional documents. To be safe, you should allow at least a month to organise everything.

What documents do I need to apply for the Working Holiday Visa?

  1. A valid Australian passport with at least 6 months after your return date to Australia, not damaged (no torn out pages, water-damaged, or unreadable ID pages etc) and has at least 2 spread blank visa pages. If you need to apply for a new Australian passport or renew one, you should allow at least 1 month or can pay additional fees to expedite the process.
  2. A completed Working Holiday Visa Application Form for Japan. Follow this sample if there are any sections you are unsure about. Your signature must be the same as the one on your passport.
  3. Your resume or CV detailing your personal, educational and employment history. We just attached our regular resume.
  4. Proposed Schedule for Japan for the first 6 months must be completed without any “As above”, “Unknown” or other such marks. You’ll need to show that you’ve thought about your proposed trip and have done research into areas that interest you. Don’t state that you plan on staying in one place any longer than 3 months or that you have pre-arranged employment or contracts (particularly if the employment is for longer than 3 months as you may be asked to provide a copy of the contract).
  5. A letter, signed and dated, explaining the purpose of your visit and why you wish to travel to Japan on a WHV. This needs to be typed and at least one A4 page in length. You can see a copy of my visa letter below.
  6. Declaration of Intent showing the name, address and phone number in Japan of either a friend with whom you are staying or a hotel, hostel etc for your first month’s stay. We listed our hostel in Tokyo.
  7. A passport sized photo taken within the last 6 months.
  8. Proof of funds showing at least $2500 AUD (or $3500 AUD for a married/de facto couple) if you have provided a paid flight ticket to support your application. If you only have a confirmed booking or don’t have a ticket, you’ll need to show $4000 AUD and $6500 AUD respectively. You are required to provide your most recent formal bank statement showing that you have been saving for the trip so a lump sum amount deposited prior to applying for the visa won’t be accepted. Japan’s embassy website states that computer printouts of bank statements need to have the bank’s seal stamped on it. We applied for the visa without the stamp and it was approved so we’ll leave that up to you.
Read more:
Exploring Lashio with Myanmar Adventure Outfitters: Where Adventure Meets Social Impact

TIP: We didn’t have a flight booked to Japan so used this website for a “paid booking confirmation” to avoid having to show extra cash. We looked up a real flight and used the flight number, itinerary and cost. It worked!


Documents we submitted as examples

A season of epic views and adventures.

What NOT to say in your documents

It’s important to note that the primary purpose of the WHV is the holiday, not the work part. Your visa is likely to get rejected if you state that your primary goal is work rather than travel.

Japan also strictly prohibits WHV holders from working at “bars, cabarets, nightclubs, gambling establishments, and other premises affecting public morals in Japan” so do not mention any of these in your documents.

Where to submit your WHV application

You’ll need to lodge all the documents above, including your passport, to the Embassy or Consulate-General. See below locations depending on where you reside.

Australian Capital Territory: you’ll need to submit your application in person at:
Embassy of Japan
112 Empire Circuit, Yarralumla ACT 2600

New South Wales: you must book online to submit your application and attend the below office. Residents north of Newcastle, west of Lithgow and south of Nowra can apply by post (to the same address).
Consulate-General of Japan in Sydney
Level 12, 1 O’Connell Street, Sydney NSW 2000

If applying by post, you will need to complete and submit this form too.

Northern Territory: NT residents can submit their applications by post to Sydney’s Consulate-General above and complete this form to accompany the documents.

Queensland (South of Mackay):submit documents between 9 am – 12:30 pm or 2 pm – 4 pm Monday to Friday (except for public holidays). You do not need to make an appointment. Those who reside in remote areas can apply by post.
Consulate-General of Japan in Brisbane
17th Floor,12 Creek Street, Brisbane QLD 4000

Queensland (North of Mackay): submit documents between 9 am – 12:30 pm or 2 pm – 4 pm Monday to Friday (except for public holidays). You do not need to make an appointment. Those who reside in remote areas can apply by post.
Consular Office of Japan in Cairns
Level 15, Cairns Coporate Tower, 5 Lake Street, Cairns QLD 4870

If applying by post, you will need to complete and submit this form.

Victoria, Tasmania & South Australia: can attend the Consulate-General without an appointment to lodge documents. Residents in Tasmania, South Australia and remote Victoria can apply by post.
Consulate-General of Japan in Melbourne
Level 25, 570 Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

If applying by post, you will need to complete and submit this form.

Western Australia: apply in person between 9:00 – 12:30 at:
Consulate-General of Japan in Perth U22/ Level 2
111 Colin Street, West Perth WA 6005

How long is the Japan Working Holiday Visa?

When you receive your visa, you will be granted an initial term of 6 months from the date you arrive in the country. Once you are in Japan, you can extend your working holiday 3 months before its expiry (this can be done twice, giving you a total of 18 months).

Read more:
Backpacking Budget For Japan: A Breakdown of What We Spent (And NO JR Pass!!)
Mountain in early winter with snow and a shrine
Overlooking Mt Fuji

Extending Your Japan Working Holiday Visa

Australians can extend their working holiday visa up to two times, totalling 18 months. To extend, you need to go to an immigration office in Japan within 3 months of your current visa expiring (and not sooner). If you plan on extending the visa twice, both will need to be done at the same immigration office.

Pick an immigration office that you can get to easily (and return to easily if you are extending a second time) and attend with the following documents:

  1. Passport
  2. Japanese Residence Card
  3. Passport sized photo (you can get these from photo booths in supermarkets)
  4. ¥4,000 ($50 AUD) application fee

TIP: Check opening times for offices, don’t attend on Japanese public holidays or weekends and go early to avoid long wait times.

The extension is an additional 6 months from the current expiry of your visa.

Immigration Offices in Japan

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