New Resident Cards to be Released in Japan This July (UPDATE)

June 14th, 2012By Category: Uncategorized

New Resident Cards to be Released in Japan This July

Discussed during the week on the JPOD, (Japan Today’s official podcast) was the new foreigners’ registration cards in Japan. Hosted by Kamasami Kong, special guests include NPR radio host and journalist John Matthews, Japan Today editor Chris Betros, Tokyo Comedy Store’s Bob Werley, resident adventurer, John Adams and Steve Burson, president of H&R Group, who gave the details on the new registration cards.

According to Steve Burson, since Japan has made changes to the immigration law in the country, a new resident card will be released for foreigners starting July 9, 2012. He explains that foreign residents are given three years to change on to the new resident card.

When asked about the differences between the old card and the new one, Burson said that the new cards will still look like the old one, but with less information. New arrivals with a valid medium- or long-term visa will receive a resident card at their port of entry. Current medium- and long-term residents in Japan will get the new card when they apply for visa renewal or extension from July 2012. Also, permanent residents need to go and renew their cards every seven years.

The new process will make it easier for foreigners living in Japan. Changes of name or nationality, employer or school information, and family relations will all be handled by the Immigration Bureau. However, any changes on address and other basic information can now be made at the local ward office. If the resident card is lost, damaged or stolen, foreigners may visit their nearest immigration office for reissuance of the card.

About the advantages of having the resident card, Steve Burson explains that medium-to-long term residents with resident cards will no longer need to apply for re-entry permit if they leave and return to Japan within one year. Additionally, the validity term of the re-entry permit for those going to be away for more than 12 months will be extended from three to five years. Also, foreigners on three-year visa, once they renew it, would be given a 5-year visa.

First-timers in Japan should be able to get their resident cards at the airport and within 14 days, he or she will have to register his or her address in Japan to local authorities and do their citizen registration as well, at the ward office. Also, those foreigners currently living in Japan have three years to change their alien registration card to the new one.

Finally, Steve Burson also shared the efforts of Japanese authorities in trying to find ways for the foreign community in the country to make things easier for them. He says that the Immigration Bureau is doing a good job in pushing through these new systems since 2010, example of which are those for employers or larger companies, so they can get visas for their employees, a new point system for foreigners, which when accumulated, will eventually allow them to do things within the visa, like have a home helper from another country or have their parents live with them in Japan for a longer time and many other things.

Update (June 14, 2012)

For those people who newly arrive in Japan this month, there are a number of things to be careful of, as alien registration cards are now no longer being issued.

Here are the important parts:

  1. Alien Registration (AR) still needs to be done at your local authority (ward, city or town office) until July 8th, but you won’t receive the AR card if you are older than 16 years.
  2. If you are younger than 16 years, the ward office / city office will give you the AR card (paper version) as per usual.*
  3. If you are 16 years or older you will receive a “Resident Card” between July 30th and August 10th. You have to pick this up from the Immigration Bureau between these dates (they will not send them anywhere).
  4. Family members can act as proxies to pick up the card (ie. spouses can go on behalf of their husbands / wives). Legal scriveners (gyosei-shoshi) can also pick up the cards, but general third parties with no family ties to the card recipient cannot be a proxy.

* As children under 16 receive the AR card, they have 3 years to change over to the resident card (or when their visa expires- whatever comes first). Or, when their parents go to collect their own resident cards from the immigration bureau, they can make an application for the resident card for their children at that time.

Update (June 15, 2012)

Question: What if we will just change address but same municipality…can we just go to the city office?

Answer: All address changes are to be made at the ward / city / town office. If you are moving within the same ward / city / town, you will simply need to go to that office and report the change. If you are going to change wards / cities / towns, then you need to make an application for “de-registration” from your old ward / city / town office and then make a new registration at your new ward / city / town office. ie. you need to make 2 applications in 2 different local authorities if you are changing ward / city or town- one application for moving out (of the old address) and one application for moving in.

The reason for the wards / cities / towns doing the addresses is that they are the only ones that can verify that each address exists. The immigration bureau doesn’t have this ability, so all changes of address need to be lodged at your local municipality.

If you have any questions regarding the new foreign residency system, Steve Burson is able to answer them at no cost. Contact Steve at H&R Block through their website, with your message attention to Steve or email him at

Further information can be found on the Immigration Bureau of Japan website.


Author of this article


GaijinPot is an online community for foreigners living in Japan, providing information on everything you need to know about enjoying life here, from finding a job and accommodation to having fun.

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  • Niranjan

    what about the work permit,, ?? should we have to immigration or word/city office for application.


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