Kobe City is one of fewer than 10 areas in Japan where you can get a Startup Visa.We’re proud to be part of this initiative. In Kobe, if you’re an entrepreneur and you need a visa, we can help.

For startups looking to do business in Japan, overcoming the requirements of the ‘Business Manager’ visa can be a serious challenge. The Business Manager visa requires applicants to open an office in Japan and either employ 2+ people or invest 5 million JPY. This can be a deal-breaker for many entrepreneurs.

The Kobe Startup Visa allows foreign nationals seeking the residence status of “Management / Manager” to enter and stay for up to one year in preparation for starting a business. Even before you do not perfectly meet all of the requirements of “Management / Manager” visa, you can still be granted "Startup" visa by submitting "Entrepreneurship preparation activity confirmation application" to Kobe City, receiving confirmation from Kobe City that you are likely to meet the requirements within a year, and having the Immigration Bureau examine your application based on that confirmation."

For the duration of your stay, Kobe City will provide full support to help you execute and achieve your business plans. (That includes free provision of temporary offices, introduction of offices, introduction of housing, various subsidies, acceleration perform programs, and consultation in specialized fields like law, taxation, and accounting. *).

* Each form of support has specific requirements. Please contact us for details.

Who's this visa for?

Non-Japanese aiming to start a business in Kobe

Which sectors / startups are eligible?

1) Businesses that have introduced and used new technologies in the IT, health, medical / welfare, environmental, and logistics fields.

2) Businesses that produce high added value and innovation in existing products and services regardless of industrial field.

3) Other projects deemed necessary by the mayor of Kobe.

How to get your Startup Visa:

In order to obtain a “Start-up Visa”, Kobe City must approve your “Business Start-up Activity Plan” showing you can meet the “Business Manager” residence requirements within a year. Applicants who have received approval from Kobe City will then apply for and receive a “start-up visa” from the Immigration Bureau.

After obtaining your startup visa:

The total period of stay allowed on the startup visa is one year, but because the initial period of stay approved is 6 months, renewal is required. Using the same method described above, renewal applications must be submitted to both Kobe City and to the Immigration Bureau.

In order to check the progress of the start-up preparation activities, it is necessary to have at least one monthly interview by Kobe City. We may ask you to submit necessary documents (such as a housing lease agreement, bank account balance, etc.)

If a falsified application or other fraudulent behavior is found, this will be revoked, at which time city officials will give you guidance on leaving the country at the end of your visa term.

1) To Start, Get in Touch with Kobe City

Please contact the following e-mail address to confirm whether you are eligible for a startup visa. We will ask you about future activity plans by e-mail or via an online meeting. Please feel free to contact us, even if you are still in a planning phase and are not fully prepared.


2) Application, examination, and approval by Kobe City

The following documents must be submitted to Kobe City:

Required Documents:
  • Entrepreneurship preparation activity confirmation application (Form1) Download
  • Business startup preparation plan (Form 1-2) Download
  • Applicant resume (in English format)
  • A copy of the applicant's passport
  • Documents that clarify the residence of the applicant for one year after this application (a copy of the lease agreement, a copy of the lease application, etc.)
  • Documents that clarify the applicant's stay expenses for one year after this application (a copy of the applicant’s bankbook, etc.)
  • Applicant's certificate of enrollment, certificate of employment, etc. (documents certifying the contents of “Education etc.” in the Entrepreneurship Preparation Activity Plan (Form 1-2)
  • You may be asked to submit other documents.

If you receive approval after the first round of screening, a “Certificate for Entrepreneurial Preparation Activity Confirmation” will be issued. At this time, the application must be localized into Japanese. Kobe City will also support the creation of the application and its localization.

  • Email:

3) Application, examination, and approval from immigration office (initial residence period 6 months)

Please apply for a “Start-up Visa” with the Immigration Bureau with the “Certificate of Entrepreneurial Preparation Activity Confirmation” issued by Kobe City. Kobe City will also support the procedures required by the Immigration Bureau to obtain your visa.