Friends A have two kids, B and C, ages 12 and 15. They were thinking of sending them off to Japan for a week's holiday, so, staying with family friends D (D are not relatives of A, just friends).

In fact, can young people actually get tourist visa in such situations? Or do you have to be 18?

What's the deal on that?

(I realise it's likely different for various countries of course; someone may know the specific answer for Japan, or perhaps a general overview for major destinations.)

In the specific case of Japan:


I've just realized that nowadays you actually do not need ANY visa, to go visit Japan for tourism only, if you're from most countries.

So in fact: can a 12 yr old kid (from USA) quite simply arrive in Japan for a week's holiday??

Footnote: of course, obviously, all airlines fly UMs. This question has nothing to do with airlines.

  • Americans don't need visas to visit the UK for a weekend. Which appears to just be an aside or ranty sidenote rather than an actual question. Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 12:32
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    Yes. Americans can simply show up at the UK border, with no application in advance. They will, like any visitor, have to be interviewed by an immigration officer (an interview that may, in my experience, consist of "good morning" stamp, "next please", but could easily become much more involved), and they can send you home if you don't meet the criteria for entry, as a number of users here have reported. Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 13:49
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    @JoeBlow VWP travelers, including most Europeans, need to get ESTA authorization before traveling to the US. This is a relatively new requirement; several years ago VWP travelers picked up all the forms they needed from the airline staff while they were en route. Canadians and Bermudans are still generally able to enter the US without a visa.
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 16:42
  • @JoeBlow Americans don't need a visa to visit Japan either. See en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Calchas
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 17:32
  • This is a simple question: "So in fact: can a 12 yr old kid (from USA) quite simply arrive in Japan for a week's holiday??" nobody has answered yet.
    – Fattie
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 19:53

2 Answers 2


Can younger travelers have their own visas, yes.

Can they enter the country without a parent or legal guardian, depends on that country's rules.

Will the airline take accept them as passengers without a parent or legal guardian (UM or otherwise), depends on the airline's rules.

Getting the visa is the easy part, but likely needs a parent's signature, not something they can do totally on their own.

  • MOFA doesn't seem to specify ages for temporary visitor / non-visa temporary visitor visa-types. In fact some answers on other forums suggest the same thing. detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q1183456421 Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 8:41
  • Hi Tom, thanks for the excellent, very general/broad answer. Others may have more specific answers, cheers. TWC - perhaps that, or rather the relevant points, rendered in English, should be an answer, that would be very helpful I'd imagine.
    – Fattie
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 8:45
  • You may prefer to delete line 3, as the question stresses it has nothing to do with airlines.
    – Fattie
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 19:50
  • I think, while line 3 no longer pertains to the edited version of your initial question, it still could be pertinent to folks with similar questions in the future and is not part of this website function to produce answers that will also be useful to future website visitors, not strictly the question at hand?
    – user13044
    Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 0:53

My kids, back when they were underage, used to travel all over the place. Airlines worry about young children (their upper limit for "young" varied from about 5 to 10), but for teens, no problem at all. Domestically, they do not even check ID.

I definitely got the feeling that if a toddler in diapers could somehow get his passport up on the counter, Immigration would wave him through.

We were told to give the child a permission letter, signed by both parents and notarized, and originally we did, but after several years without anyone even asking for it, we gave that up.

  • +1 but could you elaborate on "all over the place" and where your kids grew up (roughly)? I assume US given the use of "domestic" but I guess this Q is aimed mostly at international travel.
    – mts
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 16:28
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    @mts -- "all over" means "all over" and "the place" means "planet Earth". Well, in reality, it was only east Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. I suppose it's possible that some off-the-beaten-path place like Benin or Uruguay might have additional restriction, but when you think of big destination countries like Thailand and France, we didn't have a problem. My daughter once called me from Oslo and said, "Hey, did you know Oslo in in Norway?" She had been there several hours, thinking she was still in Germany... Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 17:41
  • The question has no connection to airlines, a point repeatedly made.
    – Fattie
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 19:51
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    @JoeBlow You are absolutely correct but airlines will try hard to not fly someone who cannot enter the destination country which I think is why people keep circling back around to the airlines.
    – mkennedy
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 21:07
  • @mkennedy -- the airlines are typically much more restrictive than the actual border officials, rightly so, since if you are still at home, you still have the resources to fix the problem. On the particular question of airlines, obviously, any airline -- and any airline employee -- might behave differently, but as a practical matter, I have never seen one treat a 12-year-old more restrictively than an adult. Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 23:07

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