Things You Need To Know About Your Japanese Residence Card

  • HOW TO
  • A residence card is called a ‘Zairyu Card’. It usurped the alien registration card (gaikokujin-toroku-shomeisho) from July 9th, 2012. Here are some rules and safety tips associated with the residence card every foreign resident in Japan should know about.

    Obtaining a Residence Card

    Before 9th July 2012, the local municipalities or ward offices used to hold the authority to issue foreign residence cards. However after that date, they were issued under the authority of Ministry Of Justice (MOJ), Japan. This new residency management system is intended for mid-term to long-term residents. It does not apply for persons who are staying less than 3 months, temporary visitor, diplomats or special permanent residents. Here is how you apply for a first-time residence card:

    1. At ports of entry such as Narita, Haneda or Kansai airports, a residence card is immediately issued along with the landing permission on passports when you first enter Japan. Your facial photograph and fingerprints are usually taken. Some people with disabilities can be exempted from photographs or fingerprinting.

    2. Later, within 14 days of settling down, you should approach a nearby municipal office with your passport and new residence address. The new address is printed on the back of your card and is entered into the database of residency management system. If you want to change your address, you should visit the municipal office again.

    3. If you want to change your name or if there is any mistake on the card, you should visit the Regional Immigration Office within 14 days of the change. If your card is stolen or lost, you can visit the regional immigration office within 14 days of the event. You can file an application via proxies such as your legal representative or your host organization.


    Persons who intend to re-enter Japan within 1 year of expiry of their departure do not need to apply for a re-entry permit. When you leave Japan, you should show your residence card and indicate the intention of departure by ticking the column on an Embarkation Document for a special re-entry permit. The maximum validity of the re-entry permit is 5 years. However, if you fail to re-enter within 1 year of your departure, you will lose your residence status in Japan.

    Uses of Residence Card

    1. You are expected to carry your residence card in Japan wherever you go; the police have a right to stop you and ask for it.

    2. The residence card is useful to open a bank account or do a bank transfer. It is also used as a legal proof of your residence.

    3. You have to present your residence card to obtain a phone connection, for getting insurance or even renting books from a bookstore.

    However, if you are a minor below 16 years of age, you are not expected to present your residence card. Also, if you still hold the old alien registration card instead of a Zairyu card, you should change it at the Immigration Office. The new Zairyu or Residence Card comes with an embedded IC chip.

    Leaving Japan

    When you are leaving Japan (and not planning to return), you should renounce your residence card at the departure point, usually the airport. An immigration official will assist you in the process and it should not take more than ten minutes. You may be asked to fill out some paperwork by the official. Your residence card has a whole punched in it and then it becomes invalid. Moreover, if the official has found any discrepancies such as forgery or false information or duplication of the card, you may be taken into custody immediately and sentenced.

    For more information, visit this website.

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