Visa: Volunteer Visa



From May 1, 2003, the Government of Japan started a Volunteer Visa Scheme, which allows British nationals to undertake voluntary work for charitable organisations in Japan for a period of up to one year.
Volunteers can work for a registered charity and all proposed work should be closely related to the aims of the organisation. The work must be carried out on a voluntary basis, although payment of a limited allowance for board, accommodation and pocket money is permitted.

Applicant Prerequisites

Volunteer Visas, valid for a period of one year from the date of issue, will be issued to persons who satisfy all of the following requirements:

  • Be British Citizens who are resident in the United Kingdom
  • Intend to work for one year as a volunteer (the scope of permissible activities does not include administration, food preparation, laundry and other manual work. Also, a person qualified as a doctor or nurse in the UK may not practice or use their medical knowledge in any way without the necessary Japanese qualification).
  • Only work for an organisation that meets the required criteria (to include national or public organisations, NGOs, the Red Cross, social welfare organisations, non-profit organisations and public service providers.)
  • Receive no payment (it is permitted for volunteers to receive a small amount of pocket money and in some cases board and lodging).
  • Be persons who are not accompanied by children
  • Be persons who are not accompanied by spouses unless those spouses are in possession of a Volunteer Visa or otherwise
  • Possess a valid passport and a return travel ticket or sufficient funds with which to purchase such a ticket
  • Possess reasonable funds for their maintenance during the initial period of stay in Japan
  • Intend to leave Japan at the end of their stay
  • Be in good health


Those wishing to apply for a Volunteer Visa are required to submit, along with a valid UK passport, one copy each of the following documents to the appropriate consular mission of the Government of Japan in the United Kingdom. Statements made in these documents must be true and accurate.
(In the case of presenting a Certificate of Eligibility issued by the Ministry of Justice in Japan, only 1, 2 and 3 of the below required documents, together with the original and a photocopy of the Certificate of Eligibility, are required in principle.)

  1. Valid UK passport (British Citizen)
  2. One completed visa application form (Sample)
  3. One passport-sized photograph approx. 35mm x 45mm (taken within the last 6 months)
  4. Confirmation letter from the charitable organisation for which the applicant plans to volunteer
  5. Brochure/prospectus of the organisation (including e.g. name, address, outline of host institution, name of a representative, number of staff etc.)
  6. Document providing a summary of activities at the organisation, location, timetable etc.
  7. Document outlining the conditions of the placement (details should include payment including living, board, travelling expenses and any amounts of pocket money to be given etc.)
  8. Appropriate evidence of either a travel ticket to and from Japan or a confirmed reservation for travel to and from Japan along with appropriate evidence of funds such as copies of the applicant's bank statement, traveller's cheques etc.
  9. Schedule of activities in Japan after the voluntary work has ended.
  • *In some cases, additional documents may be required.
  • *You should provide an original of each document.
  • *We do not return any of the documents submitted. Therefore, if you need to keep any of the original documents, please bring the original plus a photocopy.

Application Procedure

Applications must be made in person and applicants may be interviewed.
Visa applicants living in Scotland and the North of England (Cumbria, County Durham, Darlington, Gateshead, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Newcastle upon Tyne, North Tyneside, Northumberland, Redcar and Cleveland, South Tyneside, Stockton-on-Tees and Sunderland) must apply to the Consulate-General of Japan in Edinburgh

A visa fee must be paid in exchange for the visa issued.

Other Information

  • It is recommended that appropriate insurance coverage be arranged before leaving the United Kingdom, as under the conditions of engagement for the Volunteer Visa the period of the activity is usually not long enough to qualify for coverage provided by the host organisation.
  • Volunteer Visas are for single entry. However, if the Volunteer Visa holder has to leave Japan for any reason and wishes to return to Japan within thier original one-year period of stay, they can depart from Japan with a Special Re-entry Permit (further details).
  • Within 14 days of moving into an address in Japan, Volunteer Visa holders must apply for Resident Registration at a local government office near to where they are living (further details).