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Living Guide for International Students in Japan

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Settling Down in Japan

Register/change international student residence card

Foreigners who arrive in Japan undergo immigration screening at their port of entry. Those who are staying mid- to long-term in Japan (more than 3 months) will have a landing permission certificate (label) affixed to their passport, and they will be issued a residence card. (Short-term visitors to Japan that do not qualify as mid- to long-term visitors will not be issued a residence card, and will instead have a short-term residence permit affixed to their passport.)
Once a mid- to long-term resident receives their residence card, within 2 weeks they need to go to the local municipal office where they reside and carry out residency registration procedures. Their address will be inscribed on the back of their residence card.

What kind of card is a "residency card"?

The residency card is a card issued by the Immigration Services Agency of Japan to mid- to long-term visitors to Japan. It notes that person's landing permission, permission to change status of residence, period of stay renewal permission and other information related to residency.
When changes are made to residency-related information, the Immigration Bureau will re-issue or modify the residency card, which is also used as a "certificate" of proof of legal residency status as designated by the Ministry of Justice (Japan's government).
This means that when a foreigner living in Japan must prove their residency status, they will use their residency card (or a Certificate of Residence). The residency card is used to prove residency status in situations such as opening a bank account, signing a contract for a cellular phone, renting a room, or taking admission tests at universities or other institutions.

Duty to carry and show your residence card

According to the laws for issuing residence cards, there is a duty to carry and show your card. This is not just at city offices; police officers may stop you on the street and ask to see your residence card. If you are not carrying your card with you, the penalty can be a fine of up to 200,000 yen. Note that failure to carry your card with you may result in suspicion that you are staying illegally in Japan. Always carry your residence card with you. Note that foreigners under 16 years of age are not required to carry their residence card.

Be sure to copy down your residence card number

Take down a memo of your residence card number. In the unlikely event that you lose your card, if you have the number available the card can be re-issued quickly.

When there are changes to the information on your residence card

When your residence status or personal situation changes, and these changes differ from the information on your card, you must report the change to the Immigration Services Agency of Japan within 14 days, and then submit an application or undergo procedures at the Immigration Bureau to have your card modified.
■When you change your address
When you move, you must submit a notice to the municipal authorities of your former residence, and receive a moving certificate. Within 14 days of moving, you must submit a moving-in notice to the municipal authorities of your new residence, and have your new address written on the back of your residence card. You must also submit a notice when you move outside of Japan (return to your home country). Also, as your National Health Insurance certificate is also issued by the municipal authorities, you must return it when you move, and receive a new one after moving.
■Changes other than your address
If any of the information apart from your address on your residence card needs to be changed, you must submit it to the Immigration Services Agency of Japan so that they can make the modifications. Bring your card to the Immigration Services Agency's service counter to make changes to your name, date of birth, gender, or nationality. When you apply and are permitted to renew your period of stay or change your status of residence, you will be issued a new residence card.

Losing your card and having it re-issued

If you lose your residence card, or it becomes damaged, you can apply to have your card re-issued at the Immigration Services Agency of Japan.
You may also apply to have your card replaced if you want to change the picture or for other reasons.

The residence card and re-entry into Japan

When you leave Japan, if you do not have permission to re-enter (that is, a valid visa at the time of re-entry), you will have to re-apply for a certificate of eligibility and acquire a new visa.
However, your residence card is considered valid re-entry permission. If you leave Japan and return within one year, you will be granted re-entry to Japan if you show your valid residence card and passport when you arrive.
If you plan on leaving Japan and will not return for over 1 year, you will need to apply for and receive re-entry permission at the Regional Immigration Services Bureau before you leave Japan. The fee for this re-entry permit is 3,000 yen for a single re-entry, or 6,000 yen for multiple re-entries. You will receive a re-entry permit label that will be affixed to your passport.

You are legally obligated to return your residence card in the following cases:

■ When you leave Japan for good (not returning to Japan)
Once confirmation of leaving Japan has been received at the port of departure, you should return your residence card to immigration authorities, who will stamp a hole in the card to void it and then give it back to you.
■ If you leave Japan with plans to re-enter, but you do not end up returning to Japan
Because you have left Japan in possession of your residence card, you should return your residence card by post. Please write "Return of Residence Card" on the envelope.
■ If the residence card holder dies
A family member or housemate should return the residence card within 14 days of the card holder's death. Residence cards can be returned directly to the appropriate Regional Immigration Services Bureau or by post. Please write "Return of Residence Card" on the envelope.

Address for returning Residence Cards:
Odaiba Branch Office, the Tokyo Regional Immigration Services Bureau
Tokyo Port Joint Government Building 9th Floor
2-7-11 Aomi, Kotou-ku Tokyo 135-0064

Note: Persons who do not fulfil their obligation to return the residence card may be fined up to 200,000 yen. If the residence card is not returned while the person is out of Japan, they will be subject to a fine upon re-entry to Japan.

Notification obligations

During your period of residence, you must report a change in jobs, leaving of jobs, change of school, withdrawal from school, divorce, living apart from a spouse, or death of a spouse within 14 days to the Immigration Services Agency.
If you change schools or withdraw, you must notify the Immigration Bureau in person or by post as soon as possible. In such cases, failure to submit notification is subject to a fine of up to 200,000 yen. Forging a false notification is punishable by up to 1 year imprisonment or a fine of up to 200,000 yen. Failure to submit notification of a change of address, or the forging of a false change of address may result in the revocation of your status of residence.

The address for sending such notifications is as follows:
108-8255 Tokyo-to Minato-ku Konan 5-5-30
Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau, Residence Status Management Section: Notification Submission Desk

Note 1: On the envelope, write in red ink: "Notification Enclosed".
Note 2: In the envelope, be sure to include 2 copies of your residence card along with the notification.


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