So, if you are already in Korea and you are lucky enough to get a job but don’t have a proper visa, then a visa run is in order. In my case, I came over an a tourist visa to get married and and was offered a job. Thus, the need for a visa run.
What is a visa run?
To obtain the proper visa, you need to leave the country because visas can only be obtained outside of a country. To the best of my knowledge, this is the case in most countries, at least in the United States and Korea. So, English teachers in Korea sometimes have to go to a Korean consulate or embassy in Japan to obtain the visa since it is the easiest route. The most common place for the visa run in Japan is Fukuoka (because it is accessible to Korea from both Seoul and Busan and only takes a day to process).
What do you need for a visa run?*
So before you jump a plan to Japan you will need a few things. Here is what I was told to bring as of January 25, 2013:
- The visa application forms
- 2 passport sized photos
- The fee, which is JPY 5,000 (or about USD 60 ot KRW 66,000). *It is important to note that the consulate/embassy only accepts Japanese Yen, so make sure to exchange as your bank or the airport before you come.
I brought everything I was told, but there were some differences. I was only asked for one of the application forms, 1 picture, and only JPY 3,600. It doesn’t hurt to call ahead and ask.
So now that you have everything, you’re good to go to Japan. Be mindful that schools will often only pay your flight to Japan and back. Everything else is up to you to pay for (accommodations, food, visa fee, etc.). The consulates do not work on neither Japanese nor Korean national holidays, so be mindful to check the dates before you go.
To get your visa in a timely manner, you need to plan your trip well. Keep in mind that you can submit your application between 9:00-11:00 a.m. and you can pick it up between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.
How to get to the Consulate
There are a couple of ways to get to Japan from Korea. From Busan, you can fly or take the ferry. Seeing as how I live near Seoul, I cannot give any advice on the Busan ferry route, however, there are plenty of other blogs that can give you detailed information on it. Just type “Fukuoka Visa Run” into Google and you’ll have tons of options to chose from.
Your only option from Seoul is to fly. Currently, the earliest flight out is about 8 a.m. which will have you land in Japan a bit after 9. From the airport, take the shuttle bus (white #1 bus) to the domestic terminal. From here you have several options: taxi (takes around 20-30 minutes, cost about JPY 3,700), bus (not sure on the price of this, nor the time it takes), or train (takes roughly an hour, costs about JPY ____). I opted for the train station since I am most comfortable with trains (thank you, Korea), so you will need to walk to the nearby train station and board. You can go to the ticket machine, chose your location, enter the cash, and it’ll print you a small ticket to board the train. I actually decided to go the evening before to not risk not making it in time and having to stay in Japan another day, so my ticket is to the station where my hotel was, not the consulate.
If you are a risk taker and opt to fly in the morning of, then you will need to get off at Tojinmachi (or Dojinmachi) station (if you do this, don’t bring more than a carry on to avoid wasting time at a the luggage carousels). From here, you will exit out number 1 exit.
Keep walking until you get to the intersection and see a big triangle (you’ll know when you see it), cross the street, and take a right.
You will then see the embassy after a short walk. It is a one-story building with a Korean-style roof and the Korean flag. I hear the Chinese embassy is close so make sure not to go there!
In case you opt for the taxi, here is the address: 1-1-3 Jigyojama Chuo-ku Fukuoka, Japan 810-0065
Once you get to the consulate, enter. They have the option of a photo booth there for you to take pictures if you had forgotten, but if not, just go to the desk and submit your documents/application. You will also need a copy of the picture page of your passport since they will keep yours and you will need it to check in somewhere. Now you are free to enjoy the rest of your trip!
*This is for the Korean Consulate in Fukuoka. If you go to any others like Osaka, you will need to call to affirm if you need any other documents beforehand.