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TL;DR: If I put "September 10" as my arrival date on my visa application form, will I have problems if I enter Japan on another day instead?

I have been hired by an employer in Tokyo, but they have not told me my exact placement yet, and I have not booked a flight.

I just handed in my COE and other visa application stuff to the consulate. The guy who took my application noticed that I had put "TBD" for some fields on the form, and I explained that I was waiting to hear the exact placement details. He said that was fine, except for the "Date of arrival in Japan" which needed a specific date. After I wrote down an estimated arrival date, he clarified that it couldn't be changed, which presumably meant I could only arrive on that exact day.

My employer seems to think the date can be estimated and isn't set in stone. I also do not remember any entry date on my last entry visa for Japan. But will I have problems if I try to enter on different date than the one I put on the form?

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    Have you received a visa yet? There will be a validity start date and you may not enter before that (unless your nationality does not require a visa for entry and then it gets complicated). But GENERALLY, if your visa is valid and the reason for travel is the same as when you applied for the visa then you should be fine to travel on another date. – Ozzy Aug 10 at 5:21
  • I have no experience with Japan but usually the start date you choose is the earliest date you can use the visa to enter the country. I've never heard of visas only being valid for entry on one date, because that would cause problems when flights are delayed or cancelled. – David Richerby Aug 10 at 8:55
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    Yes. As long as you enter after the start date of your visa. I've done it plenty of times. – xuq01 Aug 10 at 9:31
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So when you get your visa in your passport it will look like this:

enter image description here

You'll note "Date of issue" and "Date of expiry" in the upper right-hand corner. You must enter Japan between these dates.

Your actual visa period will start from the day your residence card (在留カード) is issued. For example, if your visa is 1 year, your "period of validity" will end 1 year after you entered Japan.

http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/english/tetuduki/image/zairyucard_omote.jpg

The big date at the bottom is when your visa expires. The date directly above that on the left is the date the card was issued (arrival in Japan).

P.S. This is a little off-topic, but when you first receive your residence card, it won't have an address printed on it. You (legally) need to register with your local city hall (in the city where you'll be living) within 2 weeks of arrival. They will print your address on the back of your card.

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