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1. Residency

Residency in Japan

When entering Japan as a foreigner, you must acquire one of 27 statuses of residence depending on the purpose of your visit. Each status has a different range of activities allowed in Japan (such as employment) and period of stay, so confirm and adhere to the rules set forth by the status of residence indicated on your passport.

Status of Residence
1) diplomat 2) official 3) professor 4) artist 5) religious activities 6) journalist 7) highly skilled professional 8) business manager 9) legal/accounting services 10) researcher 11) instructor 12) engineer 13) engineer/specialist in humanities/international services 14) intra-company transferee 15) entertainer 16) skilled laborer 17) technical intern trainee 18) cultural activities 19) temporary visitor 20) student 21) trainee 22) dependent 23) designated activities 24) permanent resident 25) spouse or child of Japanese national 26) spouse or child of permanent resident 27) long term resident

Only foreigners possessing visa status 24) to 27) are able to have the same employment conditions without any restrictions as Japanese nationals. For those with visa status 1) to 17), you can only work as outlined by your status.
For those possessing visa status 23), your conditions vary according to the details of your visa, but you may be allowed to work under prescribed conditions. For those with all other types of visas, in principle, you will not be allowed to work. However, if you have permission to engage in an activity other than that permitted by the status of residence previously granted, you may work under certain restrictions.
* employment-related consultation

Main Procedures Related to Status of Residence

Re-entry Permit
A new “special re-entry permit” system has been introduced. If a foreign national possessing a valid airline ticket and their residence card departs from Japan, they will effectively not require a re-entry permit if they return within one year from their departure date (*) to continue their activities in Japan. This system is known as the “special re-entry permit system” or minashi sainyuukoku kyoka. Foreign nationals who have departed Japan on a special re-entry permit may not extend the period of the permit’s validity from overseas. If a foreign national does not re-enter Japan within one year of their departure date, their status of residence will be lost/terminated, so please take this into consideration.
Furthermore, foreign nationals whose period of stay is considered mid- to long-term (one year or more) who remain overseas longer than one year are required to obtain a re-entry permit, as has been the case previously. The maximum validity period for a re-entry permit is five years, but does not extend beyond the expiration date of the existing period of stay.
(* Note) If your period of stay expires within 1 year after your departure, please ensure that you re-enter Japan before the expiration of your period of stay.

Extension of Status of Residence
If you want to extend the period of your current status of residence, you must apply to renew your Period of Status of Residence before it expires. Please be aware that staying in Japan after your period expires is a violation of the law (illegal overstaying).

Change of Status of Residence
As mentioned above, activities of foreigners living in Japan are limited only to what is indicated under the status of residence. Consequently, for example, if an international student begins working in Japan, or an employee decides to quit and start his own business, the current status of residence must be changed to become valid. To do so, apply for a Change of Status of Residence.

Permission to Engage in an Activity Other than that Permitted by the Status of Residence Previously Granted
Foreigners with employment-prohibited visas such as students cannot, in principle, earn money by working. However, by obtaining permission to engage in an activity other than that permitted by the status of residence previously granted, part-time employment is permitted under certain restrictions. Additionally, even if you have a visa that allows employment, by obtaining this permission, you can have secondary employment under certain restrictions as long as it does not negatively affect the activity permitted by your current visa status. However, there are types of employment that are restricted, such as adult entertainment business, as well as restricted working hours, so strictly adhere to your employment conditions. 
To apply, fill in the application form, and submit it along with other necessary documents and a service charge at the immigration bureau. However, submitting the application does not guarantee that you will receive the permission. For details, contact the immigration bureau. The Fukuoka Gyoseishoshi Lawyers Association offers free consultations on various procedures for status of residence, so feel free to visit them for more knowledge and information.

- Immigration Bureau Official Website

- Fukuoka Immigration Bureau
Tel: 092-623-2400
(Inside Fukuoka Airport Domestic Terminal 3, 778-1 Shimousui, Hakata-ku)

- Foreign Residents Information Center
Tel: 0570-013904 (for IP and PHS phones or when making calls from abroad dial 03-5796-7112)
Time: Weekdays 8:30-17:15

- Fukuoka Gyoseishoshi Lawyers Association Free Consultation

Residence Card

Along with the start of the new residence management system on July 9, 2012 (Monday), the Alien Registration System was abolished and residence cards began to be distributed. A residence card is issued to mid- to long-term residents when granted permission pertaining to residence, such as landing permission, permission for change of resident status and permission for extension of the period of stay. The residence card includes the individual’s photo, name, nationality and region of origin, date of birth, gender, status of residence, period of stay, and permission to work or not, in addition to other information. Applications or notifications regarding residence cards can be made at the regional immigration office or appointed branch office with jurisdiction over your area of residence.

Reissuing a Residence Card
If you lose or soil your residence card, please proceed to the nearest immigration bureau and follow reissuing procedures. (In the case that you have lost the card, please submit an application to have it reissued within 14 days from the day you realized you lost it.)
When all procedures are completed, a new residence card will be issued.

Returning a Residence Card
Foreign nationals in possesion of a Residence Card must return the Residence Card to the Minister of Justice within 14 days of the card becoming invalid when their card becomes invalid due to them no longer needing mid- to long-term residency status, due to the expiration of the period of validity of the Card, or due to them not returning to Japan within the validity period of their re-entry permit, etc.
Residence Cards can be returned in person to the Regional Immigration Bureau Branch Offices, or sent to the address below. You may be subject to a fine if you do not return the card within the accepted time frame.
The same process applies to Alien Registration Cards which can be considered Residence Cards.
Address to return Residence Cards to:
Tokyo Immigration Bureau, Odaiba Office
Tokyo Port Bay Joint Office 9F, 2-7-11 Aomi, Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-0064

Notifying Changes
If any of the below changes have occurred, you will need to make notification of the changes within 14 days of their occurrence at the nearest immigration office.
1) Change in name, nationality/region, date of birth, or gender
2) Change in dependants, marriage status, etc. (for those whose status of residence is determined by their status as a dependant, such as “dependant of a Japanese national”, “dependant of a permanent resident”, “dependant of a family”, or “Designated Activities”)

Additionally, if you have newly established a residence or have changed your location of residence, please submit notification to the municipality in which you live.

Also, if you need to change the status of your residence (excluding cases when you wish to change your status of residence to that of a permanent resident), make sure to apply for the change of status after the reason for change has become evident and before your residency status expires.

Regarding the Residency Management System

Since July 9, 2012, a Residence Cards have been issued to qualifying foreign nationals in Japan on mid- to long-term visas. For details regarding this system, please visit the homepage of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

Ministry of Justice: The start of a New Residency Management System (English)

- Immigration Information Center
Tel: 0570-013904, 03-5796-7112 (Weekdays 8:30-17:15)

Changes to the Special Permanent Resident System

Since July 9, 2012, the Alien Registration Card system has been abolished and a Special Permanent Resident Card has been issued.
For details regarding this system, please visit the homepage of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

Ministry of Justice: Changes to the Special Permanent Resident System (Japanese)

- Immigration Information Center
Tel: 0570-013904, 03-5796-7112 (Weekdays 8:30am-5:15pm)

The My Number System

The "My Number" Social Security and Tax Number System began in January 2016
Every registered resident in Japan has been issued with their own individual 12-digit number known as their My Number. The number is issued to all foreigners in Japan for medium- to long-term stays, including those with permanent residency. Notification of each individual number was sent to each registered address from the relevant municipality in autumn of 2015. Complete an application form in your municipality to receive an individual number card which can be used as identification and for a variety of services. Individual number cards will have your photograph, name, address, date of birth, sex and your My Number printed on them.
Your My Number will be required for administrative procedures relating to social security, taxes and disaster prevention measures, including pensions, employment insurance, medical insurance, welfare, child benefits, tax declarations, etc.
Basic Resident Register Cards (Juki Cards) will no longer be issued after December 2015. As long as the Juki Card is still valid, the card can still be used beyond January 2016 until card holders receive an individual number card.

- Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication

- Government Online Public Relations Office

Notice of Birth/Death

In Japan, you must report births and deaths to the local municipal office within a certain period. Report births within 14 days, and deaths within 7 days.

International Marriage and Divorce

If you are a foreigner getting married in Japan, you must submit an official notification (available at the Citizens’ Affairs Section of your ward office) as well as a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage and its Japanese translation. This Certificate proves that you meet all the conditions for marriage in your home country (are of legal age to get married, not already married, etc.), and is issued by the home country, embassy or consulate general. However, some countries do not issue this document, in which case, you must have a similar document issued by your country. For details, please contact your embassy. Also, when getting documents translated, please indicate who translated the documents. You can translate your own documents as well.

There are four types of divorce in Japan: 1) amicable divorce, 2) arbitrated divorce, 3) family court adjudicated divorce, and, 4) district court adjudicated divorce. Amicable divorce is when both parties mutually agree to the divorce, and is finalized when submitting the notification of divorce to the ward office. If both parties disagree, one of the other three types of divorce procedures will apply, with the district court adjudicated divorce being the last resort. In other words, even when both parties do not mutually agree, you do not have to go to court right away, but rather, try to resolve conflict at the family court through arbitration or adjudication. If disagreements still arise, proceedings will take place before a judge in a district court. However, some countries recognize only adjudicated divorce, so it is advisable to contact the embassy for details.

Personal Seal

In Japan, you use a personal seal (inkan) instead of a signature for proof of identification or proof of will. There are various types of personal seals depending on use. For instance, you need to use a registered seal (jitsu-in - registered at your municipal office) for important documents (real estate contract or vehicle purchase). For various situations in daily life where authentication is needed such as filling out application forms at the municipal office or picking up mail, you can use a simple unregistered seal (mitome-in). The seal used to open bank accounts is called a bank seal (ginko-in), and once a seal is registered at the bank, you must use the same seal for all subsequent authentications. Your bank seal and unregistered seal can be the same, but to avoid problems due to lost or forged seals, most people tend to have different ones. Seals with most common Japanese names are sold at cheap prices, which can be used as unregistered seals, but for more important seals, especially for registered seals, most people get them custom-made at specialized stores.
Many places allow foreigners to use signatures instead of personal seals, but while living in Japan, it will be more convenient to have a personal seal. In cases where a registered seal is required, a seal and not a signature is necessary in the same manner as Japanese people are required. The price of custom-made seals depends on the material, number of characters, and intended use. While unregistered seals can be made from approximately 1,000 yen or more, expensive seals can cost up to several hundred thousand yen. For details, contact a stationary store or a store specializing in personal seals.