COE Application (Application for CERTIFICATE of ELIGIBILITY) is a certificate that the Immigration Office acknowledges your eligibility for one particular visa status which you claimed by the application. It certifies you are eligible to stay in Japan under the visa status for specific period stated on the COE.

In case you are outside Japan and plan to stay in Japan for the purpose which is not applicable to Temporary Visitor Visa, you have to apply for COE of a VISA STATUS appropriate for your intended activity. Basically, COE application must be done through a visa sponsor/proxy living or staying in Japan.

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In case you are beginner of the Japanese immigration system, it is efficient to check INTRODUCTION page to know about overview of VISA, VISA STATUS and VISA SPONSOR etc. before you learn about COE application.


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There are around 30 categories of VISA STATUS. It is categorized by the activity and purpose for stay in Japan and each VISA STATUS has the requirements.

You need to certify your eligibility for the VISA STATUS by the documents, the Immigration Office will judge it comprehensively based on your background and situation/circumstance (e.g. visa sponsor, financial stability and relation between your purpose for staying Japan and your experience etc. depending on the category of VISA STATUS you are applying for). You should note that they will not issue you the COE if they recognize you don’t have specific purpose and you don’t need to stay in Japan to engage in the activity.

For more details, jump to;


In case that you change your activity in Japan applicable to other category of VISA STATUS, you can change it by applying for Change of VISA STATUS. For the application for CHANGE of VISA STATUS, jump to the following page;



The Immigration Office decides your period of stay based on your application.

Basic and maximum period of stay for each VISA STATUS is prescribed by the Immigration Law. The Immigration Office decide specific period of stay for each applicant considering the applicant’s circumstance based on all the documents the applicant submitted for the application.

In case of the COE application, the period of stay granted is stated on the COE together with the category of VISA STATUS. When you receive your Residence Card after you enter Japan with the COE, you will see the period and the specific date of expiry on the Residence Card.

The period can be extended by applying for EXTENSION of PERIOD of STAY (VISA Renewal) in advance of the date of expiry. For the Application of EXTENSION of PERIOD of STAY, jump to the following page;


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It takes around 1 – 3 months for the screening of the Immigration Office after submitting the application. In some cases, especially the application at the Tokyo Immigration Office, the Immigration Office might need more time to complete their screening.


COE has its expiry date – it will be expired in 3 months after the date of issue.

After your COE is issued and you received the COE, you need to apply for entry visa with it at the Japan Embassy in your resident country. After your visa is issued, you have to enter Japan with the entry visa and COE before the COE is expired.


Here is the general process for COE application;

  1. DECIDE VISA STATUS TO APPLY and CHECK THE REQUIREMENT : Check what VISA STATUS of COE you should apply for and whether you (both you and your VISA SPONSOR especially in case of VISA STATUS for work) can satisfy the criteria and requirement for one particular VISA STATUS.
  2. ARRANGE THE SITUATION: Look for a VISA SPONSOR who is in Japan and is willing to act as your proxy for the COE application. It is different who to be a VISA SPONSOR depending on VISA STATUS. For example, in case you are applying for COE to work in Japan, your employer-to-be must be your VISA SPONSOR. Your Japanese spouse or his/her relatives has to be your VISA SPONSOR in case of Spouse of Japanese. Even if you or your employer hires an immigration lawyer, VISA SPONSOR is required.
  3. DOCUMENTATION: Prepare and collect documents required for the application. In case you hire an immigration lawyer, he/she will assist the whole process and will submit the application on behalf of you and your VISA SPONSOR after examining whether you would be eligible for the VISA STATUS.
  4. SUBMITTION of APPLICATION: Your VISA SPONSOR signs the application form and submits it to the Immigration Office which has jurisdiction over address of your workplace or visa sponsor/proxy. You might need to come to Japan as Temporary Visitor at the time of application depending on which status you are applying for.
  5. SCREENING of YOUR APPLICATION: General processing period is around 1-3 months. The Immigration Office might contact your VISA SPONSOR (Immigration Lawyer if you or your visa sponsor hires one) if they would like to request additional documents or ask about something.
  6. IN CASE OF APPROVAL: Your COE will be issued and sent to your visa sponsor (Immigration lawyer if you or your visa sponsor hire one). They forward the COE to to your residence address outside Japan.

    IN CASE OF DENIAL: Notice of Denial will be sent to your VISA SPONSOR (immigration lawyer if you or your visa sponsor hire one). Your visa sponsor can ask the Immigration Office about the reason of denial in person at the Immigration Office where your application has been submitted. If the reason is not critical and can be resolved, it is OK to reapply for COE of the same VISA STATUS right after the denial.
  7. ENTRY VISA APPLICATION WITH THE COE AT THE JAPAN EMBASSY/CONSULATE-GENERAL: After you receive the COE from your VISA SPONSOR in Japan, you need to apply for entry visa with the COE at the Japan Embassy/Consulate-General in your resident country. You should contact the Japan Embassy/Consulate-General directly for the process of entry visa application with the COE or you may hire an agent near you for the application. The process, necessary documents and fees are different in each country. We cannot handle the entry visa application from Japan. The COE is valid for 3 months after the date of issue and you need to enter Japan with the valid COE.
  8. FLY TO JAPAN: After the entry visa with the COE is issued at the Japan Embassy/Consulate-General, you must fly to Japan before the COE is expired.
  9. RECIEVE “RESIDENCE CARD“: You will receive your RESIDENCE CARD stating your visa status and the period of stay etc. in exchange for your COE at the airport immigration counter when you arrive in Japan. After receiving Residence Card, you finally obtain VISA STATUS to stay and live in Japan and engage in the activity allowed under VISA STATUS.
  10. REGISTRATION OF YOUR ADDRESS IN JAPAN: Register your residence address in Japan at the city/ward office in the jurisdiction over the address within 14 days after you decide your residence address and settle down in Japan. After you register your residence address, you may open a personal bank account, make a contract for cellphone etc. In case the period of stay of your VISA STATUS is less than 3 months or your visa status is not subject to the residence registration, you don’t need to register (or cannot register) your residence address in Japan.

After you receive your Residence Card and settle down in Japan, you are subject to process necessary application or notification (both visa-related and administrative procedures) when necessary.

>> Jump to OHTER APPLICATION and NOTIFICATION after you start living in Japan


CASES NOT APPLICABLE TO COE APPLICATION: There are some cases (basically, cases which are applicable to Long-Term Resident visa status or Designated Activities visa status but not designated specifically by the Minister of Justice) that you need to apply for CHANGE of VISA STATUS from Temporary Visitor to relevant visa status while you are in Japan without applying for the COE. In that case, you have to enter Japan under Temporary Visitor visa in advance and apply for CHANGE of VISA STATUS while you stay in Japan.

CASES YOU NEED TO SUBMIT COE APPLICATION YOURSELF WITHOUT VISA SPONSOR: In some cases, there is no way other than you sponsor COE application yourself. In that case, you have to come to Japan for your COE application even if you hire an immigration lawyer for your application (immigration lawyer cannot be your visa sponsor/proxy).

Example cases and visa status; Business Manager based on new company without any representative/staff in Japan, Intra-Company Transferee or Humanities/Engineer based on new company/branch without any representative/staff in Japan, Designated Activities for sightseeing during your stay on Tourist visa, Artist as a freelance, Journalist as a freelance etc.


  • COE Application does not applicable to Temporary Visitor (Tourist Visa). Temporary Visitor Visa must be processed at the Japan Embassy/Consulate-General (or via the agent) outside Japan.
  • Basically, you cannot apply for CHANGE of VISA STATUS directly from Temporary Visitor to a visa status without applying for the COE in advance except for the case which is not applicable to COE application listed on EXCEPTION above.
  • The Immigration Office will not tell anything about the timing of the issuance of the COE during the screening/examination period.
  • During process of COE application after filing it at the Immigration Office, you can fly back and forth from your resident country (or other countries) to Japan as a Temporary Visitor.
  • If you are staying in Japan as a Temporary Visitor at the time of issue of the COE, there would be a possibility that you can convert COE to Residence Card without going back to your resident country by applying for CHANGE of VISA STATUS from Temporary Visitor to your visa status depending on the situation. However, you cannot extend Temporary Visitor Visa for the reason of processing/waiting for the COE appliation.
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Required documents differ depending on VISA STATUS to apply. Immigration Office discloses basic required documents for each VISA STATUS, however, they may ask you more documents or different types of documents since each applicant has different situation, nationality, history, background, purpose of activity in Japan, visa sponsor etc. – there is no one who is exactly in the same situation as yours.

No Application fee (Immigration Tax) is required for COE application. In case you hire an immigration lawyer for your case, the fee will be charged.

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Generally, COE application must be submitted at the regional Immigration Office which has jurisdiction over the address of your workplace in Japan or VISA SPONSOR. In case of VISA STATUS to work, it will be based on your employer’s (company) address or your workplace. In case of family-related VISA STATUS, it will be based on VISA SPONSOR’s residence address.

ONCE YOU OBTAIN RESIDENCE CARD after you enter Japan with COE, any of your visa-related application is subject to be submitted to the Immigration Office which has jurisdiction over your residence address.

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