To Work as a Freelance in Japan

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

Please remind the principle of visa application in Japan once – your intended job as a freelance must be listed in work visa category which allows you work in Japan. In addition, you need to satisfy the requirements for the visa status.

>> BASIC CRITERIA for Visa Status

If you are currently residing outside Japan but you can make a long-term contract as a freelance (including sole-proprietorship) with a company/organization in Japan, it would be possible to get approval of the COE application only in case the company you make contract with is willing to be your visa sponsor for the COE application. We should say it is difficult to get approved when you don’t have any visa sponsor in Japan in case you apply for the COE.
>> Certificate of Eligibility (COE) Application

In case you are currently residing in Japan under a specific work visa and you would like to continue to engage in the same type of job/mission in Japan as a self-sponsored freelance, it would be possible to keep working under the same visa status and renewing it depending on your situation. It depends on terms and condition of the contract(s) – type of job/work, the period of contract, work place and fees for the job. If your freelance work would not within the scope of work allowed under your current visa status, you need to apply for Change of Visa Status before starting the job as a freelance.
>> Change of Visa Status

In each case, it is based on the premise that your freelance activities in Japan and your background/career must meet the requirements for a particular visa status.

Also, your contract(s) with company/companies or individuals in Japan must basically satisfy the following;
– number of contract: one at least.
– term: one year at least.
– fees: 200,000yen monthly on average or more, stably.
– place of work: in Japan.
– type of job/mission: job/mission allowed under the visa status and it should be done/carried out in Japan.


  • In case that an English teacher at the English language school holding Engineer/Humanities visa status intends to engage in freelance activities as a translator/interpreter and an English language teacher.
  • In case that a data analyst holding Engineer/Humanities visa status will become a freelance contracting several companies.

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.

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 insurance/pension. We would recommend to consult tax specialists or tax offices directly to know more about the detail of taxes in advance if you are considering to be a freelance.

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