Admissions Policy

Yokohama International School serves the educational needs of the international community in Yokohama and the nearby Tokyo metropolitan area, in particular the children of foreign nationals here on temporary assignment for whom the local Japanese education system is not a viable option. We welcome children of all nationalities whose families are committed to an international educational curriculum in English, including children of Japanese nationals who have been educated exclusively or primarily in non-Japanese schools overseas or at other accredited international schools in Japan.

Yokohama International School is committed to the principle of equal opportunity in education and employment. The school does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, disability, age, or national or ethnic origin in the administration of its educational, admissions or employment policies. We may take into account factors including an applicant's prior educational and linguistic background for purposes of admission in order to fulfill the school's mission of providing education in the English language to the international community.

Furthermore, as an international school founded in 1924 and arising out of the spirit of internationalism that prevailed following the formation of the League of Nations, Yokohama International School supports the principles of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

See below for further details regarding our admissions policy.


English Language Ability

English is the language of instruction in all grades, and the ability to successfully access the curriculum within a reasonable time and to thrive in our English-language learning environment are the guiding principles for admission to the school. All YIS teachers are trained to support language acquisition and learning by non-native English speakers, and specialist English as an Additional Language (EAL) teachers provide additional support and instruction. We do not offer a separate ESL track within our academic program.

Early Learning Center and Elementary School: In the ELC and Elementary school children are admitted regardless of their level of English language proficiency, providing there are no other additional learning needs. However, we do not advise mid-year admission for Grade 5 students with minimal English ability. If we have some concerns regarding an applicant’s ability to access the curriculum, we may require the applicant to attend school on a trial basis without obligation.

Middle School: Students entering grades 6 – 8 must generally have sufficient competency in English in order to benefit from our academic programs. If we have some concern regarding an applicant’s ability to access the curriculum, we may administer a test and/or ask the applicant to attend school on a trial basis without obligation. We may also ask parents to provide supplementary English tutoring at their own expense as a condition for admission.

High School: We offer a challenging academic program in grades 9 - 12 geared toward students planning to go on to college or university in North America, Europe and other areas of the world. Applicants must therefore have a fairly high degree of competency in English. Moreover, in order to obtain a YIS graduation diploma, students must have credits equivalent to four full years of high school English. (See Graduation Requirements.) If we have some concern regarding an applicant’s ability to access the curriculum, we may administer an academic assessment test. Assessment tests for Japan-resident applicants, if required, will be administered at YIS in January or February prior to the school year for which they are applying. Assessment tests for overseas applicants, if required, may be administered at the applicant’s current school if the school is able to monitor the test and return the results directly to YIS.

Learning Needs

We uphold the principles of a balanced education rooted in the firm belief in inclusion. Academic excellence is reflected in our philosophy of supporting and celebrating the diversity of learning needs within the school community. We endeavor to accommodate students with diverse learning needs to achieve their highest potential while celebrating their unique learning strengths and needs. Applicants with mild social/emotional issues, learning differences or other learning needs are referred to our learning support staff for review. Admissions decisions are made by the relevant principal based on the recommendation of the learning support staff. If we determine that we are unable to accommodate a candidate’s learning needs, we will endeavor to direct parents to more suitable options. However, it should be noted that there are limited English language-based resources to support children with additional learning needs in the Tokyo-Yokohama area.

Please note that any learning needs or social/emotional, physical or behavioral issues must be fully disclosed and described in detail in the application for admission. Reports of professional assessments, along with details of extra support the applicant is receiving, must also be provided at the time of application. Failure to fully disclose such information at this time may result in revocation of admission or, if discovered after enrollment, require withdrawal from school. Should significant social/emotional/behavioral issues or learning differences become apparent following enrollment in the school, we reserve the right to review a student’s progress and determine the appropriateness of his/her continued enrollment in the school within the context of our learning support resources and capabilities and in consideration of the overall classroom environment. This review will include close consultation with parents but may also involve requiring parents to obtain external assessments as described in our Learning Support Policy. If we determine that we are unable to accommodate a student's learning needs, or if parents are unwilling to obtain requested external assessments, the student will not be able to continue enrollment at YIS.

Children of Japanese Nationals

Children whose parents are both Japanese nationals may be eligible for admission if the student has been educated exclusively or primarily at international or non-Japanese schools overseas or at other accredited international schools in Japan where English is the primary language of instruction. A limited number of spaces for Japanese nationals is also available in our ELC. Parents should understand that YIS is not a 'language school' for learning English but rather an international school with a distinct pedagogy in which the language of instruction is English. Admission of Japanese nationals, as is the case of nationals of any country, is also subject to our class balance policy.


YIS is a day school and does not have boarding facilities. Students must therefore reside with their parent(s), another adult family member, or a legal guardian in a location within commuting distance to the school.

Parent Communication

As English is the language of instruction at YIS, it is also the primary language for communicating with parents. It is a requirement that at least one parent or guardian must be able to communicate comfortably orally in English with school personnel. In addition, parents must be able to access and understand electronic communications from the school (email and web-based platforms including the parent portal).

Early Learning Center

All ELC students must be able to use the toilet independently.


Class Balance

We strive to maintain a balance of genders, abilities and nationalities in each of our grade years and classes, and admissions decisions are made in accordance with this aim.

Grade Placement

YIS students come from a wide variety of educational backgrounds, including international and national school systems from around the world, and a complex range of circumstances. Our grade placement policy is based on many years of experience, the need to ensure the quality and consistency of our academic programs, and the ultimate aim to place students in the most appropriate grade for their academic and social development. In almost all cases, placement is determined by age as of September 1st in the academic year of entry. However, in considering grade placement we may make rare exceptions to this age-based protocol to ensure there is a continuity of the student’s education and that they have completed a grade before entering the next grade. In all cases, the final decision on grade placement lies with the school.

Early Learning Center – Early Learning Center is a mixed-age program comprised of children who have turned three years of age by September 1st in the year of entry and 4-year-old children who have turned four by September 1st in the year of entry. The 3-year-olds enroll initially for a half-day program, which can be extended to a full-day program after the October break with the teacher’s recommendation and on parents' request. The 4-year-old children generally come for the full-day program, depending on parental choice.

Elementary School - Placement in all grades is determined by age as of September 1st in the academic year of entry as follows:

Entering Grade
Age by September 1
Kindergarten 5
Grade 1 6
Grade 2 7
Grade 3 8
Grade 4 9
Grade 5 10

Our September 1st cutoff date and grade placement protocol reflect what we believe to be the most appropriate classification for the social, emotional and academic well-being of children attending the school. Therefore, to ensure the most appropriate learning environment for all students in the elementary school, as noted earlier we rarely allow exceptions to the above grade placement protocol. The only exceptions that may be made are 1) when a student may be age appropriate for a certain grade level at YIS but has only completed a short term in the preceding grade, in which case the student will normally be expected to continue at that grade level, and 2) when a student may be age appropriate for a certain grade level at YIS but has already completed that grade level at another international school offering the Primary Years Program or a program closely aligned to the PYP philosophy, in which case the student would not normally be expected to repeat that grade if his/her portfolio suggests success at that completed grade level and depending on the date of entry.

Middle and High School Grade placement for grades 6 – 12 is likewise made according to a September 1st cutoff date. The age and grade placement categories are as follows:

Entering Grade
Age by September 1
Grade 6 11
Grade 7 12
Grade 8 13
Grade 9 14
Grade 10 15
Grade 11 16
Grade 12 17

For the same reasons mentioned above, grade placement for middle school and high school is almost always according to the above protocol. At the discretion of both the principal, exceptions may be made if a student is already established in an equivalent class in another school system (for example, students transferring from schools in the Southern Hemisphere) and is considered able to access the relevant YIS curriculum for the grade. However, students under these circumstances who have completed grade 10 by February, will normally be placed in grade 10 until the end of the academic year. This will ensure the student has two full years in the IB Diploma Program in grades 11 and 12.

Screening, Documentation and Interviews

Early Learning Center Applicants already residing in Japan should apply by April 11th for August entry (see Application Timing) and after initial screening they may be invited to an interview as the next stage in the screening process. Both parents should attend this interview. Applications for children residing outside of Japan will be screened and a preliminary offer of acceptance may then be made. The applicant is then asked to come in to the school for an informal play session and interview before formal acceptance can be offered. For those newly arriving in Japan, we make every effort to schedule the play session/interview and to review and decide upon applications as quickly as possible. The play session/interview, which enables applicants and teachers to meet and interact with each other in the actual school environment, helps to identify any issues that may affect the applicant’s ability to comfortably access the program, while also serving as an informal orientation for the children who are accepted to the ELC.

Elementary School Children applying for admission to grades K – 5 are not required to have a formal interview, although we encourage families to visit the school and meet the elementary school principal if possible. In reviewing an applicant’s eligibility we look at current/prior school records and a confidential recommendation from a classroom teacher countersigned by the principal. Without obligation, we may also invite applicants to attend school on a trial basis to assess their ability to access the curriculum.

Middle School Children applying for admission to grades 6 – 8 are not normally required to have a formal interview, although we encourage families to visit the school and meet the secondary principal and/or the head of academics if possible. In reviewing an applicant’s eligibility we look at his/her school records as well as two confidential recommendations, one from a current English teacher and the second from a faculty member who knows the student well and countersigned by a principal or head of school. In instances in which we have some question regarding the applicant’s ability to access the curriculum, we may also require the applicant to take an assessment test. Prior to or after completion of the test, the student will normally be interviewed.

High SchoolWe encourage all children applying for admission to grades 9 – 12 to visit the school and meet with the head of academics and the secondary principal for an informal interview, especially Japan-resident applicants seeking to transfer from other accredited international schools in Japan. To ensure that candidates will be able to meet academic requirements for graduation from YIS, they may also be referred to our academic advisor, and the IBDP coordinator may wish to meet students applying for grade 11. In reviewing an applicant’s eligibility we look at his/her school records for the last three years (including official transcript(s) for any other high schools attended), as well as two confidential recommendations, one from a current English teacher and the second from a faculty member who knows the student well and countersigned by a principal or head of school, and a math placement recommendation from a current mathematics teacher.

Places Reserved for Students Newly Arriving in Japan

Recognizing that foreign nationals in Japan on temporary assignment sometimes begin their assignments on short notice and at various points within the school year, we try to reserve a certain number of places at each grade level for children in those situations up until our Spring Break (late March), if not already filled prior to the start of the school year. Provided that basic eligibility requirements are met, students newly arriving in Japan are admitted on a first-come, first-served basis. When demand exceeds availability, students will be placed in a wait pool until space becomes available.

Wait Pools

When the number of eligible applicants exceeds the availability of spaces for a particular grade year, students may be placed in a wait pool until space becomes available. Students with siblings already enrolled at YIS are given priority status within the wait pool, as are children of YIS staff and alumni, students returning to Japan who have previously attended YIS, and dependents of organizations participating in our Corporate Contribution Program (CCP). We consider various other criteria in selecting students from the wait pool, including whether the student has other viable educational options, his/her level of English and general academic proficiency, and the gender and nationality balance of the class/grade.

When placing an applicant in a wait pool, we try to provide the candidate with a realistic assessment of the chances and possible timing for admittance. However, candidates should be aware that, like most international schools, the enrollment situation at YIS is dynamic and often unpredictable. We periodically contact parents of applicants in the wait pool to update them on enrollment status and to confirm whether they wish to remain in the wait pool.

Admissions Decisions

Admissions staff, the head of academics and the principal of the school section for which the candidate is applying review all applications. Other school personnel, such as learning and language support staff, may also be involved in the review process. Admissions decisions are made by the relevant principal and the head of academics.

Once the application is complete, including receipt of school records, confidential recommendations and payment of the application fee, we usually issue a decision within a week or two for applicants applying from overseas. Decisions for applicants already residing in Japan are usually announced as follows:

  • By May 31st for Japan-resident ELC applicants.
  • On a rolling basis for Japan-resident elementary and middle school applicants, but possibly as late as April if space is limited.
  • Between late February and April for Japan-resident high school applicants.

When the admissions decision is available, parents will be notified by email and regular mail.

Confirmation of Offer and Enrollment

Applicants accepted for admission are asked to accept or decline the offer within one week of receiving notice of acceptance by contacting our admissions office. Once the offer has been accepted, parents will be sent an invoice for the one-time, non-refundable registration fee. They will also be sent a link to the online enrollment portal, where the enrollment process can be completed. In order to confirm enrollment and reserve a space for the accepted applicant, completion of the online enrollment process and payment of the registration fee is due within 30 days of receipt of invoice, or two days before the student’s first day of attendance, whichever comes first. These commitments must be made on a timely basis so that 1) we may ensure that places are held for accepted applicants who indeed wish to enroll and 2) in instances where accepted applicants choose other options, we may allocate places to other deserving candidates in the wait pool.