A few questions about freelancing in Japan

Hi, I have plans on moving to in 2 years after graduating university to live with my girlfriend. I am currently doing an apprenticeship where I work full time and do uni part time, meaning I will be graduating in Computing Science with 4 years experience. I also study Japanese (currently n3, hopefully soon to be n2).

Previously I planned on getting employment at a foreign company in japan or a Japanese company, which should be relatively simple. However I have been thinking on this more and more lately and am not sure working for a company, particularly a Japanese one, is what I necessarily want to do in the next chapter of my life.

As a result the idea of freelancing has taken my interest and so I plan on making a start on the side over the next 2 years. I know it wont be easy but I want to take a shot at it.

If I was to move over first on a working holiday visa (no idea what state my freelancing level could get to in 2 years) I was thinking I could use that year to further expand my clients and number of jobs, maybe particularly Japanese clients. However I do not understand how taxes work in regards to this. Would I need to file them under sole proprietor?

I think currently thinking further past the year of a working holiday visa is a little too far into the future, I’ll cross that bridge once I cross this one, but any help or advise would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks :slight_smile:

A sole proprietorship just involves filing a single form with the local government. I think even that might not be strictly needed, though it may confer some tax advantages. As a sole proprietor, you just pay personal income tax. It is pretty straightforward to do yourself, and not something I would worry about too much until you start living in Japan.

Besides that, it doesn’t look like you have any other specific questions. If you’re interested in freelancing, you’re on the right track to start it before you move, as you’re likely to have an easier time getting the hang of things in your own country.

Hi Ross,

Best to check if you’re eligible to work freelance on a working holiday visa. (There’s no visa for freelancers, as far as I know). Allowable activities on particular visas can be quite restrictive and although many government agencies have poor communications with each other, you don’t want to run the risk of getting in trouble with Immigration after paying your taxes. Good luck!

As my understanding goes, you can freelance on any visa, provided the work falls within the allowed category of work. For example, on an Engineering visa, you can do software development related freelancing. Since the working holiday visa allows you to do almost any work, freelancing on it should be fine. Of course, consulting a professional about this would be the safe way to go.

The trouble is that you can’t get a new visa as a freelancer, only renew an existing one. This may mean it is impossible to transition from a working holiday visa to a normal working one while freelancing. Personally though, I wouldn’t worry to much about that aspect. If you’re entrepreneurial enough to be a successful freelancer, you can probably find a way around it.

@pwim @DPR
Thanks for all the help guy’s!
I will try to research it as much as I can over the next little while and in the meantime will try to get a start on freelancing before I move :blush:
The blog and forum have been a great resource so far, thanks