[How to Start Life in Japan] Residence register and other procedures

Moving to Japan and starting a new life can be very stressful. Being prepared by knowing what procedures are needed and how to perform them can reduce unnecessary problems. In this series, written by people who have lived in Japan for several years – your sempai – aims to make your transition to Japan as smooth as possible.

The first required procedure is the registration of your residence. This is the most important document you need to complete once you have left the airport. You must complete this process within 14 days of arrival.

  • You must register your residence within 14 days of your arrival.
  • You must bring your passport, residence card and cash.
  • You can apply for national health insurance and the national pension system in the same place.

Why do I have to declare my residence?

Registering residence will allow you to complete other procedures, such as applying for a mobile 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 you, and this is where you can register your residence in Japan. In metropolitan areas, you can register your residence with your local neighborhood office.

How to complete the form?

Once you pick up a form from the counter, it will seem very intimidating. But, depending on how busy the office is, there is usually someone willing to help fill out the form. In most cases, there is also a sample form you can follow.

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

This also applies to your name and address.

name: Surname 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/village, address-district, apartment/room number. For example: Tokyo, Shibuya-ku, Sakuragaoka 18-9, House 202.

The next point is usually the Date of Birth section. Confirm with your local office if they require it to be written in Japanese calendar format (Reiwa, Heisei, Showa, etc.) or Western format (eg, 2001). It is strongly recommended that you know your date of birth in 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 have filled in the necessary fields, proceed to obtain a ticket or go to the counter for further instructions.

What should I bring with me?

You will need your passport, residence permit and some cash. Passport and residence card will serve as proof of identity. The way you write your name on the residence registration form must be consistent with your passport and/or residence card.

The money is used to print a copy of your residency file. This printout will be used as proof of your residence in Japan so that you can register for a new mobile phone, or bank account, and other procedures.

What else is required at the Resident Registration Office?

Depending on your visa status or work situation, you need to register for national health insurance and the national pension system.

For people with a student visa, the application for national health insurance is sufficient. You may need to apply for the national pension system once you get a part-time job.

For other visa statuses, please check with your employer or sponsor and ask if you need to apply for National Health Insurance or National Pension Scheme. In some cases, your employer may enroll you in a company plan or your sponsor will enroll 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 File/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) Neighborhood Office

町役場 (まちやくば | machi yakuba) City Hall

Read more articles on [How to Start Life in Japan] to JAPAN Striker.

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