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I plan to go to Japan on a regular tourist visa, which is valid for 90 days. I was wondering what the consequences are of missing the return flight (assuming I wasn't at fault, like a cancelled flight, or illness preventing me from travelling, etc.).

Should I take that into account and only book 85 days, or are they understanding if the cause for the delay is out of my control?

For the sake of argument assume I am not a citizen of one of the six countries which can extend the tourist visa by another 90 days while in Japan.

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    I don't know about Japan in particular, but in general smart travelers don't make their plans as tight as leaving at the last possible moment. Even if Japan has rules to deal with force majeure, arguing to the authorities that those rules should apply to you would be an unknowable amount of hassle at a time when you've got plenty of stressors already. And every time you try to enter (or apply for a visa) afterwards there might be delays while the person in charge of letting you in figures out why your travel history looks odd. – Henning Makholm Apr 7 at 9:55
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    I'm sure all countries have mechanisms in place to deal with people who are too ill to travel. After all, you could get hit by a bus and be in a coma in hospital for months. But if something as simple as one cancelled flight causes you to overstay, I wouldn't expect much sympathy. Flights get cancelled all the time, and you need to plan for that reality. (For example, two of my last five or so trips to the US have been extended by a day because of flights being cancelled or severely delayed.) – David Richerby Apr 7 at 20:54
  • You have a possibility of some sympathy (or, rather, a visa extension) if you report immediately to Immigration in the window between the flight being cancelled and your visa expiring. But if you wait until it's expired, you're not going to have a good time. – jpatokal Apr 7 at 22:48
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    @Harper There are thousands of backpackers traveling around countries, using up all the days on their visa, and trying to do visa runs out and back into countries to stay longer. – Erwin Bolwidt Apr 8 at 2:29
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    In some countries you merely have to fill in a form and pay some money, usually per day. I got my date wrong in Laos once while waiting for new bank cards. I went straight to immigration and told them. I had to pay $10 per day overstaid where the fee is $1 per day when extending in advance. Point is all countries can handle it their own way so it's quite fair to ask here about the details. – hippietrail Apr 8 at 11:14
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Give yourself some leeway with your departure date.

Don’t rely on ‘understanding’ from Immigration officials of any country if you overstay your visa. In Japan, according to https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/japan/entry-requirements and https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Japan.html for example, overstaying may lead to eg arrest, detention, fine, re-entry ban. Even if ‘force majeure’ circumstances may apply, why knowingly take the risk for the sake of a few extra days on your trip?

You’d also have to declare the overstay on any future visa applications for jurisdictions that ask about travel history eg UK.

  • -1 You wrongly assume that OP is going to overstay. OP can, and definitely should, get in touch with the immigration authorities as soon as the flight cancellation is known. This will, of course, happen before their status expires, thus no overstay, and the immigration official will advise on how to proceed. – fkraiem Apr 8 at 14:45
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    @fkraiem I didn’t assume anything. I answered the OP’s question about consequences were he/she to overstay. You are welcome to write a better answer about what to do if an overstay occurs if you wish. – Traveller Apr 8 at 15:16
  • Where did you read that OP was asking about overstaying? The word never appears in the question. – fkraiem Sep 5 at 15:05
  • @fkraiem Agreed, but the OP is asking what would be the consequences of staying the full 90 days and then being unable to leave. So the question relates to the risk of overstaying due to unforeseen circumstances. The OP accepted the answer and it has 19 upvotes, which indicates it does address the question – Traveller Sep 5 at 15:51
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Assuming you have not yet passed through the exit passport control, visit your nearest immigration office before your allowed period of stay expires and explain the situation (if you are so incapacitated as to be unable to go in time, at least get someone to call them).

If your reason can be construed as legitimate, they will just hand you an Application for Extension of Period of Stay form, you fill it, you go to a nearby convenience store or post office to purchase the required revenue stamps, and they'll give you the necessary extension to catch your flight (and no more).

Usual caveats, the risk of having an application denied is never zero, blah blah. In reality, as long as you are honest and not trying to game the system, they have no interest in making your life difficult. This is not the UK.

  • Most countries have something like this. The trade off the OP has to consider is whether staying the full 90 days rather than 85 is worth the risk of extra paperwork and formalities, especially if feeling too ill to fly. – Patricia Shanahan Sep 5 at 16:02
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Japan has outbound passport control at the airport, so the big question will be when your flight is cancelled and which side of the passport control desk you are standing on when your visa expires.

If your departure flight is cancelled before you get to the airport you will not get a boarding pass, will therefore not get past security and therefore will not be able to "depart" the country.

If your departure flight is cancelled at the gate, then you are fine. You have a boarding pass, you presented your passport to immigration who stamped "Departed" right beside your tourist visa. You have now officially left Japan. If your airline declines to take you anywhere, immigration will either re-admit you to the country or suggest some place in the terminal building.

Your gamble is which one of those will happen.

If you are on the last day of your visa and the first case happens, you had better hope immigration is in a good mood, because they have NO obligation to do anything for you at this point. Or you buy a same-day ticket to anywhere else.

Just book a departing flight at 85 days. Especially if you are coming in typhoon season (June-October).

If you (or future readers) are thinking of cutting it close, don't forget that "90 days" and "3 months" are NOT the same.

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    Is there a citation for officially leaving and being in the clear once you've passed exit passport control? Certainly within Europe, if you need to re-enter because of things like cancelled flights, you'll be re-admitted as if nothing happened, so in that case, you'd still be overstaying. – qechua Apr 9 at 14:28
  • "you had better hope immigration is in a good mood, because they have NO obligation to do anything for you at this point" Well, of course, they never have any obligation to do anything for anyone. But they are very accommodating as long as you do things by the book and don't try to game the system. Applying for an extension of your period of stay for an appropriate reason before your current period of stay expires is a perfectly legitimate thing to do; they have no reason to be difficult here – fkraiem Apr 9 at 15:25
  • @qechua the "Departed" stamp is immigration's statement that they agree you, well, departed. In the cancelled-flight case you will most likely receive a 3-day shore pass. But they can't create the circumstances that cause an overstay. If you missed your flight (it did in fact depart) then you may be staying airside overnight. Again, depends on who handles your case. – peter Apr 9 at 23:54

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