Introduction to arriving in Japan for a mid-to-long term stay

When I arrived in Japan on my working holiday they had just recently changed the procedures for foreign registration in Japan.

As far as I understand, before you had to present yourself to immigration authorities within 90 days of arriving in Japan and apply for a foreign registration card.  Under the new system a new residence card was issued to me right at the airport using the information provided when I did my visa application at the Japanese consulate back home.

Next one needs to register where they are staying at their local town office.  You will need to bring the following items:

  • Your passport
  • Your residence card
  • Proof of your address (usually a lease agreement with the address indicated.)

First find the form for indicating moving in.  If you need help ask one of the attendants who are usually around to help people with form completion.  Be warned that not all offices have English speaking staff on hand.  So use plain but soft English when asking questions.  Phrases like “before address”, “now address”.

I found when someone spoke to me in quick Japanese, the faster and more words they used, the less likely I was to understand. If you can avoid doing this to Japanese people in English, the more likely they will be able to help you.

Next after your form is complete, most offices will give you a number that will be called when you can go up to the counter to have your paperwork processed.  They will take your passport and make a photocopy of it.  Next they will take your residence card and write in the address of where you are staying on the back. They will stamp this with the city seal stamp.

Next you may be offered to join the national health insurance program.  There are some people who report that if you are staying only 6 months you do not qualify.  I was told under a new set of rules I do, so you may or may not be able to register. I booked health insurance from back home before leaving to avoid any headaches.

Lastly I found this publication recently that answered a lot of the questions I had about procedures, and would have been a huge help with the questions I had at the start.  The link is here: http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/newimmiact_1/e-brochure/en/index.html . More publications related to immigration and questions about your visa status can be answered on the Immigration Bureau under the Japanese Ministry of Justice’s website found here: http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/english/index.html.

If you have any tips that have made your process in arriving in Japan easier, feel free to share them in the comments below.