One of my dream vacations has always been to visit Tokyo (or any part of Japan for that matter). I always thought the difficult visa approval as well as its ranking as the most expensive city in the world were too restrictive to even try for it.
Well, this year, for my 33rd birthday and my daughter’s 2nd, we decided to go for it. Applying for a visa is not as complicated as one would think. I’d like to share my experience about getting a tourist visa for a baby from the Philippines.
First things first, you need to find an accredited travel agency to process your visa for Japan. The Japanese embassy in the Philippines does not accept direct filing of visas. You’ll find the list of accredited agencies here: http://www.ph.emb-japan.go.jp/visiting/new%20visa/list%20of%20accredited%20agencies.htm
Please note that each agency has different handling fees. We went with Discovery Tour. They were pretty efficient, had a very informative site, helped with any questions we had and gave discounts for group applications. We even talked to the Japanese owner when we were in their office (a great guy, really) Since we were applying as a couple traveling with our baby, we were only charged P800/person. The handling fee also applies for the baby’s visa application.
Once you are in contact with the agency, here’s what you need to do:
- Make sure that your passport is still valid up to six months from the time of your planned travel. There should also be at least 2 empty pages in the passport.
- You can go to your chosen travel agency’s office or you can download the visa application form online. Fill this out completely. For those that don’t apply, indicate N/A on the blank spaces.
- Get your photo taken against a white background. Photo size should be 4.5cm x 4.5cm. You need two pieces per applicant. One goes on the application form, the other is submitted to the agency.
- Prepare your personal documents – NSO birth certificates of each applicant valid for 1 year (based on the date the NSO document was requested) and your NSO marriage certificate
- Type up your tour itinerary. This does not have to be overly complicated. Just do a table in a Word document which shows your arrival date to which airport (if flying to Tokyo, you can do either Narita or Haneda), what hotel you are staying in, the cities you plan on visiting and on which dates plus the contact details of your accommodation provider.
- Prepare documents that show your financial capability. This is basically made up of three things:
1. Your bank certificates – You will need to submit the original to the agency and it will not be returned. It needs to state the current amount in your bank. Not all travel agencies will tell you roughly how much you need in there but we asked anyway. They suggest having at least PHP100,000 per traveler.
2. Certificate of Employment – This needs to state your position, length of stay with the company and gross annual income. For self-employed applicants, you can submit your DTI or SEC registration.
3. Your current ITR – Your income tax return should be for the most current year (or last year, if not yet available).
>Yes, you can apply for a visa even if you do not have definite travel plans yet. Most visas will be issued on a 3 or 6 month validity period so you should at least have a vague idea of when you want to travel. You will be asked for travel details such as your hotel or your flight. You can just say you’re flying PAL or JAL or other airlines that have that route. As for the hotel, it is best to start searching for accommodations anyway so go ahead and write the hotel name of your most likely candidate. You will NOT be required to present documents showing you already have travel plans.
>If you are unable to provide any of the requirements for a visa, you will need to write a letter of explanation. Keep it short and sweet and be direct to the point.
>It takes between 3 to 5 days to process the visa. It would be best to apply earlier if you already have set travel dates.
>The agency will call you once your visa is approved. Only the filing party is allowed to pick up the passport with visas from their office.
Good luck with your visa application!