Resident Registration System

Beginning July 15, 2012, the new Resident Registration System will replace the Alien Registration System.

*The following content was taken from a poster created by the Immigration Bureau of Japan to describe changes foreign nationals can expect.
Residence cards will be issued to all foreign nationals residing legally in Japan for the mid- to long-term!
Residence cards will be issued to people working for a company, students, technical interns, spouses of Japanese nationals, permanent residents, etc.
1. The new residence card will not be issued to diplomats, officials, temporary visitors such as people on vacation, and persons without resident status.
A residence card will be mainly issued on the following occasions.
1. When granted a landing permit on initial entry to Japan
2. When granted permission to extend your period of stay, or change your resident status, etc.
3. When applying for re-issuance in case your name changes or your residence card is stolen
4. When applying for updating the validity period of your residence card (permanent residents and those less than 16 years old)
* Current Alien Registration Cards will be deemed equivalent to the new residence cards for a specified period of time, therefore current card holders are not required to replace their Alien Registration Cards with the new residence cards immediately.

The re-entry permit system will be changed!
Foreign nationals in possession of a valid passport and a residence card who will be re-entering Japan within 1 year of their departure (or by the expiration date of the period of stay, whichever comes first) will, in principle, not be required to apply for a re-entry permit.
* If you depart Japan as described above, you cannot extend the re-entry period while abroad.
Read in English in full (PDF)

What does this mean for JETs/WI-ALTs?

  • When entering Japan, you receive a Residence Card (在留カード zairyuu ka-do) instead of an Alien Registration Card (外国人登録証 gaikokujin tourokushou).
  • When you change address in Japan, you must complete Moving-In/Moving-Out paperwork at your local city office, just like the Japanese do.
  • If you travel abroad or visit your home country, you do NOT need to get a re-entry permit. You can exit and enter Japan with your passport and Residence Card.
    • On the plane you will receive an embarkation card with your customs form. Check "Special Re-entry Permission" (みなし再入国許可).
      embarkation card.gif
      *You only need a re-entry permit before departing Japan if you are leaving the country for more than one year, but doing that will require you to break contract...
  • Alien Registration Cards are equivalent to Residence Cards, so if you currently have an Alien Registration Card, you can use it to enter and exit Japan like a Residence Card. You can change to a Residence Card when you change your period of stay, designated activities, or other information. The deadline to change over was July 8, 2015.

Read more about changing your visa and other immigration procedures