The current residency management system was put into place on 9th July, 2012. This system applies to all mid- to long-term residents in Japan (i.e. all ALTs/CIRs, etc.). Under this system, all foreigners who reside in Japan for longer than three months are included in Japan's Basic Residence Register.
The Residence Card
Under the current system, a Residence Card (在留カード; zairyū kādo) is issued to all mid- to long-term foreign residents. It must be carried with you at all times.
ALTs who arrived in Japan after 9th July, 2012
Residents who arrive in Japan under the new system receive a zairyuu Residence Card upon (or soon after) arrival. A new resident must bring their card to their local municipal office within 14 days of arrival and notify the office of their address in Japan.
ALTs who arrived in Japan before 9th July, 2012
The old-style Alien Registration Card (外国人登録証明書; gaikokujin tōroku shōmeisho; i.e. your "Gaijin Card") is currently equivalent to the new-style Residence Card. You do not need to get a Residence Card (though you can apply for one if you want). You will be issued with a zairyuu card if you apply to change your Status of Residence or extend your Period of Stay, but otherwise you can continue using your Alien Registration Card as before. This alien registration system was abolished on 9th July, 2012. Re-entry permits (see Leaving and Re-entering Japan below) are no longer required if you leave Japan and return within a year.
Leaving and Re-entering Japan
You must present your Residence Card (zairyuu card or Alien Registration Card) and your passport when departing and re-entering. If you don't re-enter within 1 year, or your period of stay expires while you are outside Japan, you will lose your residence status.
When leaving Japan be sure to fill out a re-entry and departure Embarkation/Disembarkation card and check the box "Departure with Special Re-entry Permission" before going through immigration.
The old Alien Registration System, which required foreign residents to apply for a re-entry permit if they left the country temporarily, is no longer in place (abolished on 9th July, 2012).
- Immigration Bureau of Japan's page on the current immigration system
- Immigration Information Center: 0570-013-904 (Weekdays, 8:30-17:15)
- Sendai Regional Immigration Bureau - Akita Branch
Located on the fifth floor. Hours: Mon-Fri 9:00 to 12:00, and 13:00 to 16:00
〒010-0951 秋田県秋田市山王7-1-3 (map) ☎ 018-895-5221
- Sendai Immigration Bureau - Main Branch
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9:00-12:00, 13:00-16:00
〒983-0842 仙台市宮城野区五輪1-3-20 (map) ☎ 022-256-6076
- Sendai Regional Immigration - Aomori Branch
〒030-0861 青森県青森市長島1-3-5 (map) ☎ 017-777-2939
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