Japan Digital Nomad Visa Explained: What You Need To Know
Are you a digital nomad? Do you want to work digitally in Japan in some far-flung Japanese city? Or are you a little confused?
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Today, we answer the common questions when it comes to the Japan Digital Nomad Visa scene and other alternatives to work digitally in Japan.
What is a digital nomad visa?
Let’s define what is a digital nomad first. It varies from country to country, but in general, a digital nomad visa is a method for people to legally work remotely while away from their home country. A digital nomad visa differs from a freelance visa, business manager visa, work visa, and investment visa.
Many countries offer their own digital nomad visa under various names including Estonia, Portugal, Barbados, and Costa Rica.
Some jobs are better than others for a digital nomad visa such as a freelancer, software developer, content creator, and consultant. But realistically, any job can be remote if you don’t need to be there in person.
Does Japan have a digital nomad visa?
Yes and no.
Japan is currently working on its version of a digital nomad visa program. With 35 million digital nomads worldwide and an annual $787 billion spending power, the Japanese government is thinking about increasing foreign visitors to pre-pandemic levels with this visa.
Currently, the easiest visa that Japan offers is a tourist visa that allows you to stay up to 90 days, about 3 months. However, you are not allowed to work while on a tourist visa. This circumstance is different from other countries that offer a digital nomad visa, which allows those to stay for up to 6 months to 2 years.
As Japan’s digital nomad visa is a work in progress, there are other ways to work and live in Japan. Continue reading to learn which can suit your situation.
Alternatives to Japan’s digital nomad visa
In general, always make sure your work in Japan matches your visa category. To work outside your work category, you need to apply for “Application for Permission to Engage in Activity Other Than that Permitted under the Status of Residence Previously Granted” (資格外活動許可申請書しかくがいかつどうきょかしんせいしょ).
While there is no special visa for digital nomads in Japan, there are other options to choose to work in Japan. Here are two common working visa options that Japan offers.
1. Working Holiday Visa
If you want a short-term work visa in Japan, then their Working Holiday Visa can work for you.
There are a couple of limits to this visa, though. In general, your home country and Japan must have a Working Holiday agreement, be between a certain age range (18-30), and have enough funds to support your stay.
While you can work as many hours as you like, the main focus of this visa is “holiday,” and is designed for those to travel around while working smaller jobs to help pay for their expenses.
2. Work Visa
To stay in Japan longer, then the Work Visa is the most appropriate follow-through.
The most popular Work Visa in Japan is the “Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services” which covers a lot of job categories such as teaching, engineering, journalism, and other specialized fields.
Japan’s Work Visa generally requires you to be sponsored by a Japanese employer, which means that you need to have a job offer from a Japanese company before applying for the visa. This sponsorship makes Japan’s Work Visa process much easier as they can help submit specific documents and confirm your employment details.
Always check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan’s website for general visa information and up-to-date information on this visa.
Compliance with Japanese taxes
Depending on your visa, working in Japan means that you need to know a little about Japanese tax laws.
Without going too in-depth, you may need to open a Japanese bank account, consider currency exchange, legal and tax obligations, and other Japanese government taxes such as income tax, pension tax, health insurance, etc.
We recommend consulting with a tax professional who specializes in international taxation so that you comply with Japanese tax law and your home country's taxes.
Simplify your digital nomad experience in Japan with MailMate
One of the common struggles of being a digital nomad is that without a fixed address, receiving and handling physical mail can be a logistical challenge. So if you want to receive your mail and important paper digitally with a Japanese address, then MailMate has got you covered.
MailMate is a digital mail management service that will streamline your remote working life by providing you with a physical mailing address and making it possible for you to receive all your mail online, anywhere in the world.
MailMate will give you more time to explore, network, and work in Japan.
Community and networking opportunities in Japan
Being able to work in Japan allows you to build a community and network with international people in Japan.
Co-working spaces in many Japanese cities not only offer office spaces for you to work at but also networking events to build up the coworking space community. There are also many networking events in Japan and using websites such as Meetup.com, Eventbrite, and DoorKeeper can make finding these events easier.
Frequently asked questions
Does Japan offer a Digital Nomad Visa?
As of October 2023, Japan is currently working on its Digital Nomad Visa to attract more remote workers and freelancers.
Is Japan digital nomad-friendly?
Yes, being a digital nomad is quite easy in Japan. While you can work remotely at your accommodation, there are plenty of coworking spaces and work cafes in major Japanese cities that have all your work office needs.
Is it legal to work remotely in Japan on a tourist visa?
In general, if you are working remotely while in Japan for sightseeing and tourism, then yes it is fine. However, if you are working remotely with a Japanese company on a tourist visa, you violate Japan’s visa regulations.
How do I qualify for a digital nomad visa?
Various countries have different qualifications, but in general, you must have remote work compatibility, earn a specific monthly income, agree to not seek any local employment, and have health insurance that can cover your stay.
Working in another country offers the best of both worlds as you can travel to explore its culture while getting paid abroad.
As the Japan Digital Nomad Visa is currently being worked on, consider a Working Holiday Visa as an alternative pathway to temporarily work in Japan. But if you want to work in Japan longer, then their Work Visa option is the better method.
Either way, being able to work in Japan will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience you won’t want to pass up.
Spending too long figuring out your Japanese mail?
Virtual mail + translation services start at 3800 per month. 30-day money-back guarantee.