Some people might heard of so called “self-sponsored” visa, however, there is no such a visa status in Japan. People often mention about “self-sponsored” visa when you wish to apply for a visa status as a freelance.

Please note the principle – VISA STATUS is to be granted when you need to stay in Japan to engage in a specific work or to live with your family in Japan etc. In case that your job/work is not listed in FOR WORK visa category on the LIST of VISA STATUS and your job/work is deemed to be unnecessary to be done in Japan, your application will not be approved. If your freelance work has been performed mainly outside Japan without reasonable grounds, the immigration office would deny your renewal application depending on the case.


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Based on the premise that your freelance activities in Japan and your background/career satisfies meet requirements for a particular visa status, your contract(s) with a company/individual (or companies/individuals) in Japan has to satisfy the following items;

  • Number of contract: one at least
  • Term/Period of contract: one year at least (In case you have multiple contracts, one of them must be one-year or longer.)
  • Your fees for work: 200,000 yen monthly on average or more, must be stable
  • Place of work: in Japan
  • Type of job/mission: job/mission allowed under a particular visa status listed on FOR WORK category and it requires to be done and carried out in Japan
  • You need to take care of necessary notification, registration, application regarding taxes, national health insurance and national pension etc. as a freelance in Japan

In case you apply for COE through a visa sponsor/proxy in Japan, the visa sponsor/proxy must be a company in Japan which you make contract with as a freelance.

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In case you are currently living outside Japan

In case you are currently living outside Japan and wish to come to Japan to work as a freelance, you need to have at least one long-term contract with a company/organization in Japan as a freelance (including sole-proprietorship). Again, your job is to be considered as the one which has to be done in Japan.

In addition, you will need to apply for COE through the company/organization in Japan. If the company is not willing to be your visa sponsor/proxy, it would be possible that you submit your COE APPLICATION without any visa sponsor/proxy.

However, you will need to come to Japan for the application if you don’t have any visa sponsor/proxy in Japan. It would be risky since you might not be able to do anything without help of the contracting company/organization in Japan if the Immigration Office ask you to provide additional documents during the screening period. Moreover, there are cases that the screening would not be completed within your stay in Japan under TEMPORARY VISITOR visa. Therefore, it would be better to have a visa sponsor/proxy for your application.

In case you are currently living in Japan

In case you are currently living in Japan under a specific FOR WORK type visa status and you wish to continue the same type of job/work in Japan as a self-sponsored freelance, it would be possible to keep engaging in the job as a freelance under the same visa status. In that case, you must provide contract(s) or other supplemental documents to prove your activity as a freelance at the time of application for EXTENSION of PERIOD of STAY.

Example of Situation

You don’t need to change your visa status in case;

  • You are an English teacher holing ENGINEER/HUMANITIES visa status based on an employment contract with an English language school but you decide to work as a freelance English teacher and translator/interpreter based on 2-years contracts with several companies.
  • You are a data analyst holing ENGINEER/HUMANITIES visa status based on an employment contract with an IT company but you decide to become a freelance engineer based on multiple long-term contracts.

If your freelance work would be outside of the scope of work allowed under your current visa status, you need to apply for CHANGE of VISA STATUS to an appropriate visa status before starting the freelance activity.

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Once you become a freelance, you are responsible for the tax return and relevant notifications/reports to the tax offices as well as other things related to taxes and health insurance and pension.

As for taxes, you should consult tax specialists or tax offices directly to know more about the details of taxes in advance if you are considering to be a freelance. You will need to do annual tax return every year and pay several taxes; income tax, resident tax and consumption tax etc.

As for health insurance and pension, you will need to enroll into National Health Insurance (国民健康保険) and National Pension (国民年金) at the city/ward office.