Japanese passport
The front cover of a contemporary
10 years Japanese passport
Identity Information Page of a 10 years Japanese biometric passport
Issued byMinistry of Foreign Affairs
First issued21 May 1866[1][a]
(letter of request)
1 January 1926[1]
1 November 1992[1]
(machine-readable passport)
20 March 2006[2]
(biometric passport)
31 August 2013[3]
4 February 2020[4][5]
(current version)
EligibilityJapanese citizenship
Expiration10 years or 5 years
or shorter [6] after acquisition for adults,
5 years for ages under 17
Cost10 year adult passport;
5 year passport for 12-year-old or over;
5 year passport for 11-year-old or under;

Japanese passports (日本国旅券, Nihonkoku ryoken) are issued to Japanese nationals to facilitate international travel. From 2018 to 2022, it was ranked first on the Henley Passport Index for visa-free travel,[8] and third as of July 2023, with holders able to travel visa-free to 189 countries and territories.[9]


The first travel documents for overseas travel by Japanese citizens were introduced in 1866, near the end of the Tokugawa shogunate. These documents took the form of a stamped "letter of request" allowing Japanese citizens to travel overseas for business and educational purposes. The first person to be issued with a Japanese travel document was the acrobat and magician Namigorō Sumidagawa [ja], who received his travel document on 17 October 1866 in order to perform at the 1867 Exposition Universelle held in Paris, France. The term "passport" was formally introduced into the Japanese language in 1878, and in 1900 the first regulations governing the usage of Japanese passports were introduced. The modern form of the Japanese passport first came about in 1926, and the first ICAO-compliant, machine-readable Japanese passports were introduced in 1992.[1]

Types of passports

All Japanese passports issued after 20 March 2006 are biometric passports.

Japanese passports have the Chrysanthemum Imperial Seal of Japan inscribed in the centre of the front cover, with the Japanese characters reading Nipponkoku Ryoken (日本国旅券) inscribed above in seal script and its English translation JAPAN PASSPORT in Latin letters below the Seal. Ordinary passports valid for five years feature dark blue covers, and those valid for ten years feature crimson-coloured covers. Additionally, official passports feature dark green covers, and diplomatic passports feature dark brown covers.

Data page

The information page ends with the Machine Readable Zone.

Passport photo requirements

Photo for Japan passport should meet specific requirements:

Passport note

The passports contain a note from the issuing country that is addressed to the authorities of all other countries, identifying the bearer as a citizen of that country and requesting that he or she be allowed to pass and be treated according to international norms. The note inside of Japanese passports states:

In Japanese:

日本国民である本旅券の所持人を通路故障なく旅行させ、かつ、同人に必要な保護扶助を与えられるよう、関係の諸官に要請する。 日本国外務大臣

In English:

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan requests all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer, a Japanese national, to pass freely and without hindrance and, in case of need, to afford him or her every possible aid and protection.


Japanese passports are entirely printed in both Japanese and English, except for the note of caution that is found at the end of the passport (e.g. on page 51 of the ten-year biometric ordinary passport), which is only printed in Japanese. This note contains information about what the bearer should know when encountering various situations in a foreign country.

The surname, given name and other personalised mentions (like registered domicile) are only indicated in Latin uppercase letters. Japanese names are in principle transcribed according to one variant of the Hepburn romanization system, but exceptions are admitted in certain cases, notably when the name comes from the katakana transcription of a foreign name (such as Japanese spouse or Japanese child of a foreign national), in which case the original spelling of the name in the Latin alphabet (with no diacritics) may be used.

The signature may be written in any language and in any spelling the individual desires.

Visa requirements

Main article: Visa requirements for Japanese citizens

Countries and territories with visa-free entries or visas on arrival for holders of regular Japanese passports

Visa requirements for Japanese citizens are administrative entry restrictions by the authorities of other states which are placed on citizens of Japan. As of 20 July 2023, Japanese citizens had visa-free or visa on arrival access to 194 countries and territories, ranking the Japanese passport the most powerful passport in the world in terms of travel freedom according to the Henley Passport Index.

Gallery of Japanese passports

See also


  1. ^ 7 April 1866 in the Old Style lunisolar calendar.
  2. ^ A former surname (旧姓, kyūsei) is a legal surname that an Japanese national used to possess, hence limited to the former family registries (koseki) to which they belonged.
  3. ^ a b An appellation (呼称, koshō) differing from the legal Japanese name (氏名, shimei) can be printed on the passport, enclosed in parentheses: an alternative surname (別姓, bessei), or an alternative name (別名, betsumei). An alternative surname (or given name) may be applied when, for example, another surname (or given name) is recognized by a foreign country of which the bearer is or was a citizen. These optional items are based on the fifth article of the Enforcement Regulations of the Passport Act.


  1. ^ a b c d "旅券の変遷と最近の動向(海外渡航文書150周年に際して)" (PDF). 外務省. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  2. ^ "Council of the European Union - PRADO - JPN-AO-02002". www.consilium.europa.eu.
  3. ^ "Council of the European Union - PRADO - JPN-AO-02003". www.consilium.europa.eu.
  4. ^ "2020年旅券の申請受付開始について". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.
  5. ^ "New Japanese passports featuring ukiyo-e by Katsushika Hokusai to be issued from this month". 3 February 2020.
  6. ^ "こんな時、パスポートQ&A". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.
  7. ^ "パスポートの申請から受領まで(初めてパスポートを申請するとき等の例)". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.
  8. ^ "Major Shake-Up in World's Passport Power Ranking". Henley & Partners. Retrieved 2023-07-20.
  9. ^ "The Henley Passport Index Global Ranking 2023" (PDF). July 19, 2023. Retrieved July 20, 2023.