Foreign professional athlete engaging in sports in Japan


Professional athletes fall under category 3 of the entertainment visa. The qualifying condition for this category is that the applicant receive compensation equal to or greater than that which a Japanese national would receive for the same activity. In addition, in order for Immigration to consider the visa an entertainment visa, the applicant must have a contract to participate in sports competitions as a professional athlete with a Japanese public or private organization whose business purpose is sports competitions. Therefore, in order for an amateur team (corporate or otherwise) owned by a Japanese public or private organization to allow the applicant to participate in sports competitions held for the purpose of a contest of skills rather than the business of sports competitions, the correct visa category is not an entertainment visa, but a specified visa for “designated activities.” What this basically means is that an athlete who will participate in professional sports will need an entertainment visa, and one who will participate in amateur sports, a designated activities visa.

Outline of steps for engaging in professional sports in Japan

Contract finalized in Japan

Submit documents to the Immigration Bureau and apply for the Certificate of Eligibility When necessary, advance negotiations are held with Immigration.

Receipt of the Certificate of Eligibility from Immigration

Certificate of Eligibility is sent to the professional athlete outside of Japan

Visa application and issuance at a Japanese embassy or consulate outside Japan

Entry into Japan with the Certificate of Eligibility and visa
* Re-entry permits can be obtained when necessary

Sports activities in Japan

Contract ends and the athlete returns to the home country

Staff accompanying

professional athletes Trainers and other staff of professional athletes will need an entertainment visa. Qualification for the visa is based on the conditions that the applicant’s primary activity be the athlete’s activity and that the training or other activity be the secondary activity, and that both the “necessity” and the “integrated nature” of the two activities be recognized.