Below is a basic introduction to the Japanese immigration system. Please contact your closest Japanese embassy or consulate outside Japan or an immigration bureau inside Japan for official advice.
All foreigners, including foreign residents, get fingerprinted and photographed upon entering Japan as a measure aimed at preventing terrorism. Excluded from this procedure are persons under the age of 16 and a few special groups, such as diplomats and visiting dignitaries.
All foreigners receive a status of residence when entering Japan. There are more than twenty statuses of residence, including “temporary visitor” for tourists, and a range of statuses for students, workers and relatives of Japanese nationals and residents.
Tourists and Business Travelers (Temporary Visitors)
If you are a citizen of one of the over 50 countries with which Japan has a “general visa exemption arrangement”, you need only a valid passport to enter Japan as a “temporary visitor”. Otherwise, you need to obtain a visa before entering the country. Temporary visitors from most countries are allowed to stay for up to 90 days.
If you are a citizen of Austria, Germany, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Switzerland or the United Kingdom, you have the possibility to extend your stay to a total of up to six months. You still initially enter Japan on a 90 day permit, but can then apply for an extension at an immigration bureau in Japan.
Temporary visitors are not allowed to engage in any paid activities. However, short term studies at Japanese language schools are permitted.
All foreign tourists in Japan are required to carry their passports with them at all times.