I’m Takashi Akeyama, a representative of the Niseko VISA & Immigration Support Centre. As the only administrative office in Hokkaido specializing in VISA & Immigration and tourism, we help foreigners living in Hokkaido, mainly in Niseko, Otaru and Sapporo areas, to apply new or extend VISA, to change the status, such as working visas and spouse visas etc.. In this article, I will explain how the working holiday visa holder obtains a working visa in Japan.

What is ’working holiday’?

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan explains on its website that a working holiday is “a system that allows young people from the partner country to enter the country for holiday purposes and to take incidental work to supplement their travel and accommodation funds during their stay”. As of 2020, Japan has concluded agreements on this working holiday with 26 countries and regions. Specifically, these countries are,

Australia / New Zealand / Canada / Korea / France / Germany / United Kingdom / Ireland / Denmark / Taiwan / Hong Kong / Norway / Portugal / Poland / Slovakia / Austria / Hungary / Spain / Argentina / Chile / Iceland / Czech Republic / Lithuania / Sweden / Estonia / Netherlands

There are young people from the 26 countries mentioned above who have come to Japan under this working holiday scheme; in 2019, more than 13,000 people came to Japan using this system. They are allowed to ‘work to supplement their travel and stay funds’ and can be employed and work for Japanese companies if they wish.

Status of residence (visa) for working holiday

Working holidaymakers have the status of residence ‘Designated Activities No.5’ or ‘Designated Activities No.5-2’. This status of residence can be obtained by,

-Healthy young people aged between 18 and 30 from the above 26 countries (some countries have an upper age limit of 25 or 26).

-The main purpose of their stay must be to spend a holiday.

-The period of stay must be a maximum of one year (extension is not possible).

-Must be travelling alone.

-The applicant must have a passport and a return ticket.

-The applicant must have enough money to live on for the time being.

-You have never been issued a working holiday visa before.

This status of residence cannot be changed after entry to Japan, for example, from a short-term stay, so you must complete the necessary procedures before travelling to Japan.

Any restrictions on work?

You are only allowed to work within the scope of the job specified on the ‘designation letter’ affixed to your passport. Usually, in principle,

-No restrictions on working hours.

-No activities related to the sexual industry are allowed.

This means that it is possible to work under the same conditions as a full-time Japanese employee, i.e. 40 hours per week plus overtime. However, work related to the sexual industry, such as cabarets and nightclubs, where customers are entertained andIt is not possible to work in establishments where customers are served food and drink, such as cabarets and nightclubs, or where sexual services are provided.

What if you want to continue working as a full-time employee after your working holiday period ends?

Under the working holiday system, the maximum period of stay in Japan is one year and cannot be extended. After the end of the working holiday period, you cannot stay in Japan unless you change your status of residence. However, as of 2023, only nationals from the following five countries can change from a working holiday visa to another visa in Japan.

Countries where a change of status of residence is possible in Japan: Australia / New Zealand / Canada / South Korea / Germany.  

Those from the other 21 countries must return home (leave the country) once. They then apply for a new visa in their home country and enter Japan.

How to change visa.

The procedure for changing from a working holiday visa to a work-related visa differs depending on whether you are from one of the five countries where you can change your visa status in Japan or one of the other 21 countries where you have to leave Japan.

If you are from one of the five countries whose status of residence can be changed in Japan

You can apply for permission to change your status of residence at the Immigration office. The documents required for the application and the requirements for the applicant depend on the status of residence being changed, but if the company you are going to work for has not yet been decided, or if you do not have an employment contract or other documents, you cannot apply. Please note that the application for this change of status must be completed within the period of validity of the working holiday status.

For those from 21 countries whose status of residence cannot be changed in Japan

Apply to the Immigration office for a ‘Certificate of Eligibility’. Then, submit this certificate to the Japanese embassy/consulate in your home country to obtain a visa for entry into Japan. After immigration clearance, you will be issued with a status of residence and a residence card. This procedure is the same as the procedure for bringing in a new foreigner from abroad, whereby the new status of residence is re-acquired, and the foreigner enters the country.


Working holidays are a great way for young people to broaden their horizons by experiencing foreign cultures while earning money for travel and accommodation. Therefore, the purpose of the visa is only a ‘holiday’ and the maximum period of stay is one year, so it is not intended for full-fledged employment. However, it is possible for those who wish to remain in Japan to obtain a work-related status of residence if they meet the requirements for academic and work experience. If both the company and the foreigner agree, it may be possible to consider employment after the working holiday.

The Niseko VISA & Immigration Support Centre help and support foreign nationals who are trying to overcome language, cultural and custom barriers and live as a member of Japanese society. If you have any questions or enquiries about this article, or changing working visa from working holiday visa, please feel free to contact us by phone or via the ‘Free Consultation Form‘ on our website.