Here’s What You Have to Do Upon Arriving in Japan
These are for mid- to long- term residents only so tourists are not required.
Stepping into a different world as a new resident for the first time may seem intimidating and hard. Many foreigners living in Japan can affirm this based on their own experiences. It’s a foreign country with a foreign language after all.
For whichever visa you have, from stepping off the airport and into the first few days of your stay, there is a necessary SOP one has to go through: (1) Getting your Residence Card; (2) Registering your address; and (3) Applying for your My Number Card.
1. Getting your Residence Card: Via Immigration or post
Once you get off the plane and go through immigration, you will be issued with a landing permit. At that point, you will also be issued a residence card which you must keep with you at all times. Upon your entry in Japan, this card is your only proof of identity that would be recognized (aside from your passport), and would be required when applying for bank accounts, cell phone numbers, and such.
Take note that Residence Cards are only issued to mid- to long- term residents, so tourists are not issued one. (Photo from the Immigration Bureau of Japan)
Residence Cards are issued upon receiving the new landing permits given to you. (Landing permits are issued at Narita, Haneda, Chubu, Kansai, Shin-Chitose, Hiroshima, and Fukuoka Airports.) In that case, the Residence Card will not be issued on the spot but will be sent by post to your address after you have registered your address. The immigration personnel will also personally explain this to you for better understanding.
2. Registering your Address: Via nearest City Hall or Ward Office
After receiving your residence card (or if you haven’t, this would be the first step you have to do), and have settled into your new home, the next thing you should do is to notify or register your address at the nearest City Hall or Ward Office. This is considered a moving-in notification (simply say juusho no todokede, ????? - juusho means “address”; todokede means “notification”).
Do not forget to bring your residence card with you (if you haven’t received one, bring your passport), as they will write your address at the back of your residence card. You need to do this within 14 days upon settling into your address. This procedure also takes some time that might require you to wait, so make sure you have everything you need first!
Since you are already at a city hall or ward office, might as well register for your My Number next.
3. My Number
The My Number System was introduced back in 2015, in which every person with a registered address in Japan is issued with a unique number (literally “My Number”). There are many uses for the My Number, and the biggest one is for tax filing—this is the reason why companies always ask for the employee’s My Number. For more details, check out the My Number official site.
*As laws and rules may change, the information provided here is subject to change without any notice. Please take note that this serves as a guide only.
(29 May 2019)