The new residency management system

The alien registration system and its re-entry permits were both abolished on 9th July, 2012. A new residency management system is now in place. The new system applies to all mid- to long-term residents in Japan (i.e. all ALTs). Under this system, all foreigners who reside in Japan for longer than three months are included in Japan's Basic Residence Register. Re-entry permits are no longer required if you leave Japan and return within a year.

For more detailed information, please read this page.

The new Residence Card

Under the new system, a Residence Card (zairyuu kaado 在留カード) 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 (your "gaijin card") is currently equivalent to the new-style Residence Card. You do not need to get a zairyuu 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.

Leaving and re-entering Japan under the new system

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. Since July 2012, as long as you re-enter Japan within 1 year of your departure to continue the same activities, you do not need a re-entry permit. 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 ED card and check the box "Departure with Special Re-entry Permission" before going through immigration.

Further information

  • Immigration Burea of Japan
  • 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

See also

Traveling in Japan
V • T
Cars Driving DrivingWinter drivingSpeeding ticketsDrinking and drivingRoadside Station
Licenses International Driving PermitJapanese Licence Transition (Car Course Elements) • Renewing your Japanese license
Acquisition/Disposal Buying a CarDisposing of a Car
Other Transport Trains • Akita Nairiku Line • Shinkansen • Buses • Ferries
Airports Narita International Airport • Haneda Airport • Akita Airport • Odate-Noshiro Airport • Sendai Airport • Kansai Airport
Leaving the Country Residence Card • Travel insurance • Buying flights & travel agents
Other Topics Getting to Tokyo • Traveling in and out of Japan • Akita JET travel guide