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Starting business in Japan

Let's learn visa and business through Frequently Asked Questions and our answers.


Q1.What visa do you need to do business in Japan?


Group A: You can do business if your visa is one of the following

  • Permanent Resident (PR)

  • Spouse/Child of a Japanese

  • Spouse/Child of a PR

  • Long-term

  • Business Manager

  • Highly Skilled Professional (HSP) under certain conditions

Group B: Basically, you cannot do business if your visa is one of the following

  • Working visa in general other than Business Manager

  • Student

  • Dependent

Q2. Do I need to register a company to start business?

A2.  No. You can either make a company or do as a solo proprietor (Kojinjugyou). 
To do business as Kojinjigyou, submit Notification (Kaigyo Todoke) at tax office. 
Note that there are some advantage or disadvantage for registering a company. 
Note also that Group B cannot do business even if you register a company.

Q3. Do I need business permit (license) to start business?

A3. Depends on what business you want to do.
★You need license/notification:

  • selling second hand items

  • selling foods

  • recruiting service

  • dismantling cars (kaitai)

  • selling real estate which you don't possess

  • supporting someone’s visa application, et.

★No license/notification 

  • language school

  • garment shop (new items only)

  • consultation service

  • massage/nail salon

  • small construction (less than 5,000,000yen), etc.

Q4. What does it mean my name appears on company tohon (company registry)?

A4. It means you are doing business. If your visa is group B , you cannot register a company as a director even if you are not representative director.  Even if the company are not actually doing any business, it is against the Immigration law. Once you register a company, you need to change visa status to business manager visa asap. 
You can be a share holder even if your visa is B, though.

Q5. Can I do business with 28-hour extra work permit (Hokatsu kyoka, 28-hour Shikakugai)?

​A5.  No.  With 28-hour Shikakugai, you can work less than 28 hours a week only when you are hired. It doesn't allow you to do. 
If you want to do small business, you need to get Individual Shikakugai (Kobetsu kyoka) specifically given for your business.  This applies to working as a delivery staff too.  But getting this kind of Individual Shikakugai is very difficult because you don't work based on any contracts and so proving your working hours is very difficult.

Q6. What do I need to do about my company not operating?

A6. Once you register a company, you need to proceed annual audit (kessan) and pay company tax at least even if you have not started your business. If your company doesn’t do business, you need to report it at tax office or you need to close the company. Closing a company costs more than opening a company.

Q7. Can Highly Skilled Professional (HSP) visa holder do business?

Q7. For HSP (i), you can if the business is related to your main activities.
For HSP (ii), you can do business in addition to your main activities.

Q8. Can I teach English as a freelancer?

A8. A word ‘free-lancer’ is very problematic. If your visa is group B, you could be hired by several companies, but you cannot be a solo-proprietor, Kojinjigyounushi. You had better not register tax office as a solo- proprietor. 
If you are hired by several companies, you need to ask one of them to support your visa extension, that is, provide necessary company documents.

Q9. Do I need to join Shakai hoken if I make a company?

A9. Yes, even if you haven't hired any employees.  All companies need to join.

Contact us if you need our support.

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