Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Applying for a Personal Seal in Japan

This is closely related to official and other important documents.


In a lot of countries, whenever you make a contract or verify an agreement, you are required to affix your signature. However, in Japan, they have unique culture called
inkan (personal seal), or also known as name stamp. Since this is closely related to official and other important documents, here are some facts that you should know about this seal. Please be reminded that the following details may differ depending on the City Office’s rules. In this article, we will talk about Shinjuku City.


Why is the stamp important?


When you start living and working in Japan, you will be surprised by the many uses of a personal seal like the following:

  • Notification for moving to or from Shinjuku City.
  • Residence Records.
  • Opening a bank account (although some of the banks have online banking services and doesn’t require a personal seal for registration).
  • Enrolling in National Health Insurance.
  • Enrolling in National Pension Plan.
  • Registering for mail forwarding at the post office.
  • Documents to submit to the company.
  • Enrollment for social insurance system, life insurance, health insurance, etc.
  • Birth Notification.
  • Marriage registration and divorce notification.
  • Purchasing and selling a house and land.
  • Purchasing, selling, and handing over a car.
  • Taking out a loan.


Types of Personal Seals


There are mainly two types of personal seals: the one you register at the City Office, and the one that you don’t. The former one is more official than the other.


Jitsuin
(Registered Seal)


The
Jitsuin is used on official documents such as City Office documents, and contracts concerning a lot of money. Those who are 15 years old or above are eligible to have a registered seal. The allowable number of pieces that can be registered is one per person. The jitsuin’s shape is either a circle, oval, or square. The most popular size is 15-mm but any size is accepted as long as it is not smaller than 8-mm or larger than 12-mm.


Mitomein
(Private Seal)


The
Mitomein is used for daily use such as receiving parcels from delivery services and more. There is no specific age range to apply for a private seal. The usual sizes are circle, oval, or square and the popular size is 15-mm but it doesn’t have any specifications.


Note: Personal seals that cannot be registered.

  • Stamps with letters that do not combine to form a part of your full name and last name, or first name as registered on your residence record.
  • Stamps with other information such as your occupation or degree.
  • Stamps made of rubber or other material that changes shape easily.
  • Stamps with imprints that are unclear or difficult to read.
  • Stamps with inverse engraving.
  • Stamps without an outer rim, cracked stamps, ready-made stamps, ring stamps, etc.


Where can you have them made?


Nowadays, seals can be ordered online. However, there are still retail shops you can visit to get one. You can visit shops like
Mister Mint that is conveniently located in most train stations in the metro or the Hankoyasan 21 that has many branches in Tokyo.


How can you register your personal seal?


You will need to visit the City Office to accomplish certain procedures otherwise you will not be able to use your personal seal.


What to Bring

  • Your personal ID (foreign resident registration card).
  • Your Registered-to-be personal seal.


How to Register

  • Go to the Family and Resident Registration Division of the City Office or local Branch Office.


Shinjuku City Office
Resident Registration Section, Family and Resident Registration Division (Main Bldg. 1F)
1-4-1 Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku-ku 160-8484
By train: About a five-minute walk from Shinjuku Station, Shinjuku-Sanchome Station, Seibu-Shinjuku Station or Shinjuku-Nishiguchi Station
Bus stops: Kabukicho, Shinjuku-Gochome, Shinjuku-eki-Higashiguchi
Tel: 03-5273-3601 (in Japanese)

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  • Registration can be completed within the same day.
  • When the registration has been completed, you will be issued a personal seal registration card. The handling fee for personal seal registration is ¥50.


Note: It is easier to do the registration by yourself but if a proxy applies on your behalf for certain reasons, he or she must bring your identification card, a proxy letter signed by you, and his or her own identification and seal.


How to Get a Personal Seal Registration Certificate

  • If you want to have a personal seal registration certificate at the same time, bring your issued personal seal registration card.
  • Apply for a certificate at the Family and Resident Registration Division of the City Office or any Branch Office.
  • The handling fee is ¥300 per copy.


Note: You can also obtain a personal seal registration certificate through the convenience store certificate-issuing service, or an automated certificate-issuing machine.


When are you needed to report back?


You might need to go back to the City Office in such cases like below:

  • Losing your personal seal. You no longer need to register again.
  • Lost, stolen, destroyed, dirtied or damaged personal seal registration card.
  • Moving out of Shinjuku City.
  • Leaving Japan.


If you are a Shinjuku City resident, this website is very useful in other cases too.


*In the year 2015. Based on a text book edited and issued by Public Interest Incorporated Association of All-Japan Sealing Business Association


 (11 April 2019)

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