UK expats embrace life in Japan after Brexit as it launches remote work visa


The UK’s love affair with Japan is growing, as the Asian nation throws open its doors to British workers looking to work remotely from the country.
Japan this week started offering a six-month digital nomad visa, which tacked on to any existing three-month “tourist” visa will give British Japanophiles nine months to pursue remote work and sightseeing.
Such visas are growing in popularity with Britons looking to flee the cost of living crisis, who are now restricted in how long they can stay in many EU countries by post-Brexit travel rules.
Japan’s visa is aimed at high earners (£52,000 or above) but experts say lower-earning digital nomads could consider just turning up – UK visitors are automatically granted three months’ stay in arrival – or other visas.
“Most citizens of visa-free countries to Japan are able to visit for three months at a time for a combined total of no more than six months per year, while a select few, including the UK, are allowed to stay the full six months consecutively,” notes Melvin Shepard, spokesman for relocation consultant Japan Remotely.
This is known as “visa-free status” or the tourist visa, but working on this visa is in a grey area. Mr Shepard says despite the ambiguity it is best not to work, even remotely, on it despite conditions allowing for “business” activities – making the nomad visa worth the extra effort.
“That visa-free status is not for the purpose of remote work. Japanese immigration clearly states that the purpose of this short-term visa is ‘for tourism, business, visiting friends or relatives’, etc,” he says.
Short-stay and digital nomad visas offer a sweet spot where candidates can enjoy a honeymoon period without having to deal with long-term challenges residents face, such as registering for health insurance, or pay local income tax.
Other options for living in Japan include student visas, working holiday visas (18-30) and a “start-up” visa.