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Japan Medical Tourism / What is the "Visa for Medical Stay"?

Medical tourism in Japan refers to the practice of traveling to Japan for medical treatment or to undergo medical procedures. Because of its advanced healthcare infrastructure, highly skilled medical professionals, cutting-edge technology, and reputation for high-quality medical services, Japan has emerged as a popular destination for medical tourism.

Medical tourists can seek specialized surgeries, advanced medical procedures, cosmetic and plastic surgery, dental care, and wellness and preventive health programs in Japan. Cardiovascular surgery, orthopedic procedures, cancer treatments, and regenerative medicine are among the most popular treatments sought by medical tourists in Japan.

> List of English Speaking Hospitals in Japan

People choose Japan for medical tourism for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, Japan is known for its world-class healthcare facilities, which are outfitted with cutting-edge technology and adhere to stringent quality standards. Second, Japanese medical professionals are highly skilled and well-known. The country places a strong emphasis on medical research and development, which results in novel treatment options. Third, Japan provides excellent patient care, including personalized attention and comprehensive support services.

This article provides information on the medical stay visa system, how to obtain the visa and a list of registered travel agents and coordinators.

What is the Visa for Medical Stay?

The 'Visa for Medical Stay' is a visa scheme issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 2011.

1. The visa will be issued based on the guarantee provided by a Japanese guarantor organization (either the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry or the Japan Tourism Agency) listed and managed by them, for individuals who have a certain level of financial capability.

2. The visa system applies to all medical institutions in Japan that have permission or registration from the prefectural government, regardless of their size or facilities, as long as the treatment is recommended by the medical institution, even if it is not strictly considered as medical treatment in the precise sense, such as cosmetic surgery, acupuncture, hot spring therapy, etc.

3. The duration of stay can be up to 6 months as necessary (15 days, 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months). However, if the stay period exceeds 90 days (assuming hospitalization is required), foreign patients are required to obtain a "Certificate of Eligibility for Resident Status and submit it.

4. Multiple visas may be issued as necessary, with a validity period of 1 or 3 years, but only if each stay period is within 90 days.

5. Accompanying individuals, regardless of their relationship to the foreign patient, can accompany them if it is necessary to take care of them. Accompanying individuals may also be issued visas with the same content as the foreign patient (duration of stay, single/multiple entry) based on the guarantee of their identity. However, as mentioned earlier, accompanying individuals are visiting Japan to take care of foreign patients and are not allowed to engage in income-generating activities or operate a business for compensation.

6. Foreign patients who wish to receive treatment at a medical institution in Japan will request an arrangement for their medical stay from the registered guarantor organization, and the guarantor organization will coordinate with the patient and Japanese medical institutions while preparing the necessary documents (please refer to the relevant page on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for the required documents for visa application). Following this, the foreign patient will apply for a visa at the overseas mission in their country of residence.

Please read "For those who would like to apply for the Visa for Medical Stay" for more details.

Visa Application Process

The following is a quote from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' explanatory page.

1. Foreign patients seeking medical treatment or other medical services at a Japanese medical institution should refer to the lists of guarantors (e.g., medical coordinators, travel agencies) registered for this visa scheme. The lists are at the end of this document. Foreign patients should contact one of the guarantors, and request arrangements for receiving medical services.

2. The host medical institution is determined through consultation with guarantors that foreign patients select from the lists. Foreign patients should obtain, via the guarantors, a "Certificate from the medical institution about the planned medical services and references from the guarantor" (as well as a Medical Treatment Plan, if necessary).

3. When applying for a visa at the Japanese Embassy or Consulate-General, foreign patients need to present the documents below (accompanying persons need to present (A)-(C) and (F)). If foreign patients need to stay in Japan longer than 90 days to receive medical services while staying at a medical institution, a staff member of the medical institution in Japan where the foreign patients are to be hospitalized or their family members who live in Japan need to obtain (G) below, a Certificate of Eligibility, from the Immigration Bureau of the Ministry of Justice on behalf of the foreign patients. Foreign patients then need to present the Certificate of Eligibility together with other documents to the Japanese Embassy or Consulate-General.

(A) Passport

(B) Visa Application Form

(C) Photo

(D) "Certificate from a medical institution about the planned medical services and references from a guarantor"

(E) Documents showing the foreign patient's financial situation (e.g., a bank statement) (Note: The documents which need to be presented may vary depending on the nationality of the foreign patient. Please contact the Japanese Embassy or Consulate-General to see what specific documents need to be presented.)

(F) A document proving the foreign patient's identity (Note: The documents which need to be presented may vary depending on the nationality of the foreign patient. Please contact the Japanese Embassy or Consulate-General to see what specific documents need to be presented.)

(G) Certificate of Eligibility (when the foreign patient needs to stay longer than 90 days to be hospitalized and receive medical services)

(H) Medical Treatment Plan (when the foreign patient needs to make multiple visits to Japan to receive treatment)

List of Registered Guarantors

Use the links below to search the list of registered guarantors (e.g. medical coordinators) and the list of registered guarantors (travel agents) in English. For more information, please contact the listings directly. 

・List of Registered Guarantors (Medical Coordinators etc.)

・List of Registered Guarantors (Travel Agencies)