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[How to Start Life in Japan] Residence Registry and Other Procedures

Registering your residence is the most important piece of paperwork you need to do once you leave the airport. You are required to complete this process within 14 days of your arrival.



Moving to Japan and starting a new life can be very stressful. Being prepared with knowledge of what procedures are required and how to complete them can reduce unnecessary trouble. In this series, written by some people who have lived in Japan for several years - your senpai - aims to make your transition to Japan as smooth as possible.

The first required procedure is registering your residence. It is the most important piece of paperwork you need to do once you leave the airport. You are required to complete this process within 14 days of your arrival.

  • You have to register your residence within 14 days of your arrival.
  • You should bring your passport, residence card, and some money.
  • You can apply for the National Health Insurance and National Pension System at the same place.

Why should I register my residence? 

Completing residence registration will allow you to complete other procedures, such as applying for a cell phone, internet connection, national health insurance, and other services that require your proof of residence.

Where can I register my residence? 

There is a town hall or city hall near where you will live, and this is where you can register your residence in Japan. In the metropolitan areas, you can register your residence at your local ward office. 

How do I complete the form?

Once you pick up a form from the counter, it will look very intimidating. But, depending on how busy the office is, there’s usually someone who is willing to assist with completing the form. In most cases, there’s also a sample form you can follow. 

As a general rule, start from the large or main item, and then move to the smaller ones. For example, dates should follow the year-month-day format. The largest element, the year, is followed by smaller figures, the month and day. 

This is true for your name and address as well.

Name: Family name first, then given names. For example: John Smith will be written as, Smith John. If you have a middle name, it goes after your first name.

Address: Prefecture, city/town/village, address-area, apartment/room number. For example: Tokyo, Shibuya-ku, Sakuragaoka 18-9, Maison 202. 

The next point is usually the date of birth section. Confirm with your local office if they require it to be written in the Japanese calendar format (Reiwa, Heisei, Showa, etc) or Western format (e.g. 2001). It’s highly recommended that you know your date of birth in the Japanese calendar format. For example: if you were born in 1992, your birth year is Heisei 4.

The other fields — such as nationality, sex, and head of household —  are straightforward.

Once you’ve completed the necessary fields, proceed to get a ticket or go to the counter for further instructions.

What do I need to bring with me?

You will need your passport, residence card, and some money. The passport and residence card will be used as your proof of identity. The way you write your name on the residence registration form should be consistent with your passport and or residence card.

The money is for printing a copy of your residence record. This printout will be used as proof of your residence in Japan so you can sign up for a new cell phone, or bank account, and other procedures.

What are the other required procedures at the residency registration office?

Depending on your visa status or employment situation, you are required to enroll in National Health Insurance and the National Pension System. 

For people with student visas, the National Health Insurance application is sufficient. You may be required to apply for the National Pension System once you have a part-time job.

For other visa statuses, please check with your employer or guarantor and ask if you need to apply for National Health Insurance or National Pension System. In some cases, your employer may have you enlisted in a company scheme, or your guarantor will list you as their dependent.

What are some useful Japanese expressions?

住民登録 (じゅうみんとうろく| juumin touroku) Residence Registration 

住民票 (じゅうみんひょう | juumin hyou) Residence Record/Certificate

住所 (じゅうしょ|juusho) Address where you live.

生年月日 (せいねんがっぴ | seinen gappi) Date of Birth

国籍 (こくせき | kokuseki) Nationality

性別 (せいべつ | seibetsu) Sex

国民健康保険 (こくみんけんこうほけん | kokumin kenkou hoken) National Health Insurance

国民年金保険 (こくみんねんきんほけん | kokumin nenkin hoken) National Pension System

市役所 (しやくしょ| shiyakusho) City Hall

区役所 (くやくしょ | kuyakusho) Ward Office

町役場 (まちやくば | machi yakuba) Town Hall

Read other pieces on [How to Start Life in Japan] on JAPAN Forward.