Starting a company in Japan implies several steps. Among these, the preparation of the company’s incorporation documents and their filing with the Trade Register will guarantee the registration of the business and the first step towards having an operational enterprise.
Then, the company registration procedure implies obtaining certain licenses and permits with the Japanese authorities. Businesses in Japan are many times required to obtain permits and licenses if they want to activate in certain sectors.
Below, our company formation agents in Japan offer detailed information on the licenses and permits to be obtained in various industries in this country.
We can also help you if you are interested in immigration to Japan.
Table of Contents
The residence and work permit for Japan
The first and most important permit to start a business in Japan as a foreigner is the residence and work permit. This will allow a foreign investor the right to live in Japan for a determined period of time, as well as the right to do business here.
It is also helpful to know that a work or residence permit grants a foreign investor the right to become a director in the Japanese company.
Foreign investors will be required to submit proof of their Japanese residency when starting the company registration procedure with the Trade Register. Our local consultants can provide the necessary support in applying for a business visa in Japan. After this step, we can also proceed with the incorporation of the business.
Our immigration lawyers in Japan can give you more details about this permit.
The investor or business manager visa
An important requirement for company owners is to comply with the conditions for obtaining the investor or the business manager visa. This is mandatory for those who wish to open a company, however, it is nor required by those who are the spouse of a Japanese national, those who have the permanent residence status or those who are the spouses of a permanent resident or a long-term resident.
The applicant is required to prepare for the visa application by submitting the business plan and commencing the steps to open a company in Japan, as well as obtaining the required permits for the business to be valid. Our team ca provide more details on the needed procedures for those who do not yet have the status of resident. Those who are not present in Japan will need to apply for a short-term visa and travel to the country to handle the needed steps to apply for the investor or the business manager visa. We can offer more details as needed.
You can find out more details about this visa from our immigration lawyers in Japan.
The business license in Japan
The business license is the first permit issued to a company which was taken into the evidence of the Companies Registrar in Japan. This license is issued upon the completion of the incorporation of the business with the Trade Register, with the tax authorities and the social security authorities.
For certain companies, the business license is the only permit required to start operating on the Japanese market.
Main business permits and licenses in Japan
Below, our Japan company formation agents list the main types of business licenses. In this article, our team touches on some of these in more detail, however, if you need complete information on any of these license before starting the business, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. Our team can give you more details and can answer any questions regarding the actual application procedure. The main business licenses you may be interested in obtaining are the following:
- Restaurant, coffee, bar: the permission issued by the public health center or the prefectural governor;
- Import and sale of alcohol: this is a license, not a permission and it is issued by the head of the taxation office or the local taxation office;
- Hairdressing or barber: a permission issued by the public health center in the area where the business will be located;
- Confectionery: this is a permission also issued by the local public health center;
- Travel agent: this is a registration and it is submitted with the Minister of Transport, the Transport Bureau;
- The sale of antiques or secondhand dealers: a permission issued by the public safety commission/the local police station;
- Wholesale or import of medical products and/or cosmetics: a license issued by the prefectural governor/the pharmaceutical administration;
- Real estate: a license issued by the prefectural governor/prefectural offices; detailed below by our agents specializing in company registration in Japan;
- Human resources: to act as an agent a permission is needed and it is issued by the Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare/the local employment security offices.
Please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, it contains the major business licenses and permissions and for each of these licenses the applicant is required to satisfy a number of conditions as well as provide the needed documents in Japanese (the documents are established by each licensing authority). Our team can help you with more information.
License requirements for the construction and real estate industry in Japan
In order to activate in the construction and real estate industry in Japan, a company must obtain a special license.
When the license applicant is represented by a business, at least one director has to meet the following requirements:
- • he or she must have an experience of minimum five years as a “Person Responsible for Management and Operation (PRMO)” if the applicant has been working in the same construction activity as the type of license which he or she is applying for;
- • he or she must have an experience of minimum seven years working in a similar job as a PRMO, in case the applicant has been working in a different building activity;
- • he or she must have must have experience in working in a similar position as a PRMO, in certain circumstances. Our company registration advisors in Japan can offer more details on what these other circumstances may consist of.
We invite you to watch the following video on obtaining special permits and licenses in Japan:
Licenses and permits for export activities in Japan
The Japanese authorities are very strict when imposing the regulations related to doing business here, one of the most important rules being related to applying for specific permits and licenses for various types of activities, among them trading.
It should be noted that these specific licenses must be obtained separately from the business permit and will imply registration with certain authorities.
Among the special licenses and permits which can be obtained for a company in Japan we mention the following types of export permits:
- – the import and export permit which is necessary for trading activities in Japan;
- – exporting certain categories of products such as second-hand cars and electronic devices requires special export licenses;
- – the export of construction equipment and machinery is also subject to a special license;
- – exporting antiques will also be subject to obtaining a dealer license in Japan.
When it comes to exporting second-hand products, a Japanese company must obtain a second-hand dealer license with the local police station in the city the company operates in.
Companies dealing with the import of various products must register with the Customs Authorities in Japan and obtain the necessary notifications depending on the types of goods they bring into the country.
The travel agency license in Japan
Japan is one of the most visited countries in the world, which is why opening a travel agency here is a very good business idea. It must be noted that a travel agency license is required when setting up a travel agency in Japan.
Before applying for such a license, the applicant must undergo a course which certifies his or her abilities of a travel supervisor. After the certification is obtained, the license will be requested with the tourist office in the municipality’s office.
Our company formation specialists in Japan can help foreign investors who want to open travel agencies in this country.
Other types of licenses in Japan
In Japan, there are other types of licenses which must be obtained for different fields of activity, such as:
- • restaurants and cafes: according to the Food Hygiene Law at the health department. This license is put in place to ensure that the safety and sanitation are respected by restaurants in which food is served and prepared. Our Japan company formation representatives can provide more details on this matter;
- • retail selling of alcoholic drinks: when importing alcohol in the country with the aim or reselling it, the importer has to obtain an alcohol importing license. Without having it, the importer cannot clear customs, therefore this license has to be obtained by the moment the items enter the ports in Japan;
- • recruitment: licenses for hiring temporary or permanent workers can be obtained by staffing agencies in Japan;
- • financial: different types of licenses and permits for offering financial services are also available for financial institutions;
- • wholesale: license for the wholesale of alcohol can be obtained by beverage manufacturing companies registered in Japan;
- • other licenses and permits: our Japan company formation specialists can provide further details on what these other licenses and permits consist of.
The time for obtaining the license depends on its type and whether or not there are any particular problems with the application. For example, entrepreneurs can expect to wait for approximately two weeks to obtain a food business permit, if all the documents are in order. If investors open another restaurant located in different Prefecture in Japan, they will need to apply for another food business permit as one is only valid for the Prefecture in which the restaurant is located.
How to obtain various types of special licenses in Japan
Our local consultants can help foreign investors who relocate to Japan with the purpose of starting a business. It should be noted that applying for the special licenses required to operate will imply a different procedure which will be completed after the company is registered with the Companies Register.
The procedure for obtaining special licenses and permits in Japan will also imply preparing a new set of documents and a waiting period which depends on the type of licenses applied for.
In order to avoid making mistakes when preparing the documents or to ensure no document or application form is missing, our Japanese advisors are ready to offer specialized consultancy services.
Investors who open a company in Japan need to follow through a number of key steps, from choosing the right type of structure, to obtaining the permits according to industry and, for foreign nationals, obtaining the investor visa. Between these steps, entrepreneurs also need to pay a number of fees to the Japanese authorities, which can be related to the incorporation itself or to obtaining the residence permit or the needed visa. Below, we provide examples of such fees. However, do keep in mind that these fees may change and talking to one of our agents before making the payments is recommended in order to receive information on the most recent amounts to be paid. The fees are related to:
- – 105,000 yen: the registration fee for the incorporation of the share company;
- – 52,500 yen: the fee for the conformation of the prepared documents;
- – 52,500 yen: the fee for the application for the temporary visa (15, 30 and 90 days);
- – 157,500: the fee for applying for the certificate of eligibility.
These are the basic fees. To these, additional charges may apply and in some situations, the additional documents that are requested by the authorities are the reason for these increased charges.
If you need guidance in registering a company and applying for specific licenses in Japan, please note that you can rely on. We remind foreign investors that we offer full support in company registration matters in Japan.
If you would like to know more about the business licenses in Japan, or if you would like to open a company in Japan, please contact our friendly staff.
You can also reach out to us for more information about immigration. If you are interested in matters concerning entry into Japan (if you come from a country or region that needs a visa when travelling to the country), or if you are already in Japan and have questions about permanent residency and how applicants are evaluated, our immigration lawyers in Japan will be able to assist you.