Table of Contents
If you are from one of the 67 countries and territories with whom Japan has a visa waiver arrangement (check the MOFA website for the full list) and are staying less than three months (15 days for visitors from Brunei, Thailand and Indonesia), you do not need a visa to enter the country. All other visitors should apply for the appropriate visa at an overseas Japanese embassy or consulate.
New ResidentsAll incomers to Japan with a period of stay exceeding three months will be issued a residence card at the airport, and must register their address with their local municipal office within 14 days. The residence card is proof of one’s permission to stay in Japan and should be carried at all times.
Read more about residence registration here.
The Japanese Government implemented a new social security number system beginning in 2015, nick-named “My Number”. All foreign residents are included in the new system, and will be issued a number after registering their address. The notification letter will be sent by registered mail, and must be signed for. The number is used for matters related to tax and benefits, and should only be disclosed to relevant organisations. Take care not to lose it.
After receiving the notification card, it is possible to apply for a “My Number” ID card through the post or online. Creation of the card is optional, and as all foreign residents are required to possess a Residence Card, you are unlikely to need a My Number card.
If the period of stay of your visa is coming to an end, or if circumstances mean that your current status of residence will no longer be valid, you must apply for a new visa through the local immigration office. Application forms and lists of necessary documents can be found on the Immigration Bureau of Japan’s website.
Extending Period of Stay
The period you are allowed to stay in Japan for is recorded on your Residence Card. If you wish to stay longer under the same status of residence, you should apply for a visa extension 2-3 months in advance. Failure to apply in good time may mean you have to leave Japan and apply from overseas. The expiration date of your new visa will be based on the date on your previous visa, and applying early will not make a difference to its validity period.
Changing the Status of Residency
If, through a change in employment or some other circumstances your status of residence no longer applies to the activities you will be engaging in, you must apply for a change in status of residence. Information on the kinds of activities covered by each visa type can be found on the Immigration Bureau’s website. Those changing from a Working Holiday visa to another type of working visa should complete this procedure.
Re-entry permits allow a person with a valid visa to leave and re-enter the country without forfeiting their status of residence. However, since 2012 it is no longer necessary for most foreign nationals leaving Japan for a period of less than one year to apply for a permit before leaving the country. Instead, at the airport they should fill in the “Embarkation Form for Re-entrant” and check the box stating that they will be returning to Japan within a year, presenting it at Passport Control along with their residence card. On returning to Japan, they should complete the “Disembarkation Form for Re-entrant” (stapled to the passport on departure from Japan) and enter the immigration line for re-entrants.
Anyone leaving Japan for more than one year must apply for a standard re-entry permit at the Immigration Office, to retain their residence status on returning to Japan. Other cases which require a standard re-entry permit are stipulated by the Ministry of Justice. The maximum term of validity for a re-entry permit is 5 years (6 years for special permanent resident).
Required documents for applications as of June, 2014:
*1 Available for download from the Immigration Bureau website.
*2 Depending on the type of residency you are applying for.
*3 Available at the Immigration Bureau.
For full details, see the Immigration Bureau website or inquire directly at your local Immigration Bureau.