[Disclaimer: This information is only from my experience, as an American student applying for a Japanese Student Visa. While the information provided on the location and how to reach the office can be applied to everyone, all of the visa tips/application process may only apply to Americans/Foreigners hoping to study in Japan]
Since I am going to study in Osaka this fall, I needed to apply for my visa, but I didn’t know how to get started. Getting a visa is always a difficult process and doing so in another country seems even harder. As an American studying in China, all the information I had about applying for a visa was useless, as it only applies to the United States process. I needed to do some reserch before hand to get in right (the first time, since we all know that one mistake can delay the process for another billion years).
I took to the internet in hopes of finding information on applying in Shanghai or finding the Shanghai Japanese Consulate’s website. Well, I found the website and, low’n behold, it was all in Chinese (no English option and my Google Chrome can only translate at the level of a 5 year old).
So I turned to Googleing other people’s experiences. I didn’t find posts from people’s experiences but I did find some pages on the process (ehow.com and other such websites). But they didn’t all match up: some of the requirements were different, as were the prices. I was getting kind of frustrated with all of the vauge answers. The only thing I was sure of was the Consulate address and that the Consulate’s website did have visa information.
Fed up, I turned to my Chinese friends and had them translate the Consulate’s information. Thankfully, the website also included an application form, which I printed. If you cannot find the form, here is the link:http://www.shanghai.cn.emb-japan.go.jp/apply/images/application1.pdf (you will need Adobe to open it). I finally got the right information and felt prepared.
[IMPORTANT: This form and process is for holders of a COE or Certificate of Eligibility. Though some of the process may be similar for other visas, please check the website for details. (http://www.shanghai.cn.emb-japan.go.jp/cn/apply/shorui.html)]
For foreigners, you will need to have the following items:
- Certificate of Eligibility (also bring a copy, though the center can copy one for you)
- Visa Application
- one 4.5x3.5~4.5cm photo (with a WHITE background)
- Temporary Residence Permit (If you don’t know what that is, it is the pink slip you get once you register with the police)
This morning I grabbed everything and set off for the Consulate. Because I live on Line 9, I went from Qibao (七宝), transferred at Yishan Road (宜山路) (Line3/4) and again at Hongqiao Road (虹桥路), to get off at Yili Road (伊犁路) on Line 10. For all of the other cheap people out there, the following are instructions on how to get there by metro and walking.
Step 1: Take the metro to Yili Road and then take Exit 4.
[Tip: For those of you who don’t have 4.5x3.5~4.5cm pictures laying around, all Metro stations in Shanghai have photo booths. Yili Road Station has one right next to Exit 4, the exit you should take, so make a quick stop. It is 20RMB for four Japanese Visa photos and the process takes less than five minutes. Make sure to have 10 or 20 bills.]
Step 2: Once you take Exit 4, keep turning left. It looks like a dead end, but it actually is an entrance to the park, giving you a short cut and a straight walk right to the road you want.
Step 3: Before you start wandering, stick to the path straight in front of you. If you are traveling during the morning rush hours, just follow all of the business men and woman. If they have a briefcase, its unlikely that they are taking a morning stroll. After about a minute, you will reach the other side: exit through the gate and you should see a big intersection.
Step 4: Cross the intersection (carefully and keep to the left sidewalk). You should be on Loushanguan Road (娄山关路).
Step 5: Walk about 200 meters and look to your left. You should be at 娄山关路55号 (or 55 Loushanguan Road). You should see a building and large red post that look like this (see below):
Now, at this point, all of you are like “Wait… this doesn’t look like the Japanese Consulate.” This, in fact, is not the consulate. This actual consulate is right around the corner on Wanshan Road (万山路), but DO NOT GO THERE. Listen carefully: The Japanese Consulate does not issue visas. You must go to the Shanghai Foreign Affairs Service Center.
As far as I can tell, I believe this Service Center handles all types of visas, not just Japanese visas, but this is only my impression. The Shanghai Foreign Affairs Service Center does have a website (http://www.11fa.com/index.htm) but again it is only in Chinese (though there is an “English Version” button in the corner, there is no way to click on it…), so try and find out more before traveling all the way over there and then finding out they only do Japanese visas.
I believe that there are three centers around Shanghai, but the only one that seems to show up online is the one I have directed you too: 上海外事服务中心出国服务部虹桥受理点. The actual address is 上海市长宁区娄山关路55号新虹桥大厦108室 (in case you decide to take a taxi) and their phone number is 62787790.
Now, you have reached 55 Loushanguan Road: once you enter the building, go to Room 108. This room is hidden way in the back, so I took some pictures to help you find it (since the security guard speaks no English).
Follow the red carpet to the reception desk but, before you reach it, look to your right. You should see a doorway looking like it leads to the restrooms. It does, in fact, go to the restrooms, but it also leads to a hallway that ends with Room 108.
When I arrived, there was no queue: in fact, this process was the fastest government form application process I have ever gone through. But a small warning: there is someone who can speak English, but not very fluently, so brush up on your Chinese or make sure you have everything correct (which… is impossible).
You may have to re-fill-out the second page of the form, but I think it is so she can watch you sign it and allow you to keep a signed copy. While it says on the Consulate website you need your Temporary Resident Permit, I think she didn’t even looked at mine, so it may be unnecessary. She kept my passport (part of the standard procedure) and made a copy of my COE (which she also kept).
She told me to come back a week later, after 10:30am, to pick up my passport. As long as everything is in order, the process should only take a week, but if there are some mistakes, I have heard it can take up to 2-3 months. The hours for the center are Mon-Fri 8:30am-11:00am & 13:30pm-17:00 (though I saw a sign saying 16:00, so get there earlier rather than later). I believe you can apply for your visa throughout the entire day and that you can return to pick up your visa after 10:30am the following week (they will tell you which day to come back).
The visa costs 200RMB, which is only a single entry. Since my COE only allows a single entry, I am not sure what the price for a multiply entry is, but they assured me that I can change it once I reach Japan. You pay at window #6.
Once you pay, you are free to go. I hope that these tips are useful and clearly outline the process. I know that if I didn’t speak Chinese, I may have never found the building or the room (at the consulate, the Security guard simply said “Room 108” and pointed down the street). Bring extra money and any documents you think you may need (proof you can pay for your time in Japan, your school’s acceptance letter, etc.). I didn’t end up needing these things, but different countries have different relations with Japan, so you may need to meet different requirements.
Trying to make Shanghai a bit more navigable for foreigners ~ E