After running out of time in the UK to attain my working visa for Korea I had to go on a visa run to Fukuoka, Japan. I was extremely nervous about this as all websites I had been on had stated you needed to get your visa in your home country if you were to be working in a private school. I was very lucky with mine as my school gave me fool proof plans, maps, paperwork to ensure it ran smoothly. They also organised the travel and accommodation which meant all I had to worry about was my visa.
Looking through the internet it is filled of correct/incorrect information which can be very confusing!!! After doing it myself it couldn’t be more simpler! (This was as of May 2013)
The visa run takes 3 days. 1 day to get there, the next day to drop off your passport and paperwork and the 3rd day to pick up your passport and go back to Korea. I got the earliest ferry from Busan and did not arrive until 12. (Half 12 after going through customs) The embassy only accepts passports between 9-11am so you will not get there in time in one day.
There are two different types of ferry, the overnight ferry which takes 13 hours and the one I got which was the hydrofoil (The ferry comes out of the water so it is very smooth!) which takes 3 hours. Despite my ticket being paid for, you MUST pay tax (each way) at the ferry terminal which was 30,000 won. ($30) It is also important that you change your money into Yen BEFORE you get to Japan as there is not too many places who will change it once you are there.
Once I had arrived I grabbed a taxi to the hotel in Hakata and headed out to explore. You will have quite a bit of time to kill so it’s worth looking at what to do before you come so you don’t end up walking aimlessly around.
The next day I got up and out the hotel for 8am and took a taxi to the embassy. The taxi was about 2,000 yen ($20) and if I had known I would have got the subway which will get you there for 25o yen ($2.50) however I wanted it done as soon as possible. I was first one in the embassy and it was actually extremely easy. All you need is your passport, your application form with your visa insurance number and 1 passport picture. (They have application forms there as well as a passport picture machine) I had all mine filled out and was in and out the embassy within about 4 minutes. The visa charge was 9600 yen ($95) which was cheaper than what I was quoted (12,000 yen)!
I was told tome come back between 1.30pm and 3.00pm when visas are handed out so I went off exploring.
The next day I jumped on the subway, although the machines look tricky they are actually easy. Just find the station you want on the map above the machine and the number is the price of the journey, pop your money in and select the price…simple! The best station to get off at is Tojinmachi. Once you are out of the station head straight along the road towards the gas station and BMW garage. Cross the road and walk to the BMW garage, you will come to an intersection, turn right so you follow the BMW garage round the corner. Keep walking up that road for about 500m until you come to a Shell gas station and the Korean embassy is straight ahead across the road.
Otherwise take a taxi to the Fukuoka dome and walk down (you can see how close the dome is below!)
It’s worth a mention if you have time to kill, get off at Ohorikoen station (1 station early) and visit Ohori Park and the ruins of the Fukuoka castle! Also if you keep walking straight past the embassy you will reach the Hard Rock Cafe!
I popped in and again the whole exchange took about 4 min! I jumped back in a taxi and went straight to the ferry port which cost me about 1,900 yen. ($19) Once I had checked in again I had to pay the tax which was 1,800 yen then a further 500 yen as I boarded so 2,300 ($23) yen in total.
And that was it, as long as you have your visa insurance number you can do a visa run even if you are employed by a private school!!
If you want to know how to spend you time here is some of the bits and bobs I got up to here.
What you will need
Visa insurance number
1 passport picture
30,000 won tax for the outgoing journey
2,300 yen tax for return journey
9,600 yen for the visa
Points to note
Embassy only takes applications between 9am and 11am
You can only collect your passport between 1.30pm and 3.30pm
Change your money to yen BEFORE you leave Korea
You will need a copy of the address you are staying at to fill in your immigration papers (Both ways) So make sure you have a note of your hotel in Japan and your address in Korea
Take a photocopy of your passport to give to the hotel as some want to keep your passport