Starting in March 2024, Japan will introduce a digital nomad visa program, allowing individuals from 49 countries and territories to work remotely from Japan for six months.
This six-month visa requires you to have an annual income of more than ¥10 million (around USD 68,000). It's an excellent opportunity for freelancers and self-employed individuals who don't need to be affiliated with a Japanese company to qualify. To self sponsor a visa, you normally need to open a Japanese company and apply for a manager visa to qualify.
Japan, with its advanced infrastructure and rich culture, offers a fantastic backdrop for digital nomads. This visa not only aims to enrich your remote working experience, but also to boost Japan's tourism and innovation sectors.
If you're from a country that has tax agreements and visa exemptions with Japan, like the USA, Australia, or Singapore, you can even bring your family along. However, keep in mind that you won't be considered a resident, which means you can't apply for long-term housing or certain government benefits.
The choice of a six-month stay comes from feedback indicating that digital nomads prefer a duration that extends beyond the usual 90-day visa-free period. By offering this visa, Japan is aligning with over 50 other countries that recognize the growing trend of remote work and the significant economic contribution of digital nomads.
What does the Japan digital nomad visa program entail
You will need to prove that you make over ¥10 million a year. With the digital nomad visa you are allows to stay in Japan for 6 months. During this time, you will need to sign up for a private medical cover while in the country.
At the end of 6 months, you will need to leave Japan for 6 months before reapplying for this visa. While this sounds like a lot of fun, it is not in any way a long term visa, nor one which enables you to become a resident.
Is the Japan digital nomad visa worth it?
It depends on your passport. If you're from a country (see below) that has a visa exemption agreement with Japan allowing stays of up to 6 months, and you plan to stay longer than 90 days, you must apply for an extension of your stay with the Ministry of Justice (Regional Immigration Bureau) before your current permission expires.
These are: Austria, Germany, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Mexico. As a British or German passport holder, this visa seldom makes sense. However, if you are from the USA, for example, then applying for a Japan digital nomad visa is worth it.
How can I stay in Japan long term?
If you want to move to Japan as a self-employed individual, your only option is to set up a company in Japan. You need to invest a minimum of ¥5 million in your Japanese business, have a sound business plan and have a physical office.