A guide to the Japanese Residence Card

  1. What is a Residence Card?
  2. Renewing Your Residence Card
  3. Submitting Your Application & Getting Your New Card
front side of a residence card
front side of a residence card

back side of a residence card
back side of a residence card

Photo credit: Immigration Bureau of Japan


I. What is a Residence Card?

A residence card (在留カード/zairyu card) is issued to any foreign national who plan on staying in Japan beyond the length of the visitor/tourist visa (beyond 90 days). The residence card serves many important functions, some of which are acting as a physical representation of your visa (student/worker/etc.) and being a valid form of identification in Japan. Signed by the Ministry of Justice, it proves that you are a legal resident, making it the single most important document you will own in Japan next to your passport. Therefore, it is paramount that you keep it on your person and do not lose or damage it.

However, because this card acts as your visa, it comes with an expiration date as well. When it expires, your stay in Japan abruptly will, too, regardless of whether you’re ready to leave or not. This section will discuss how to update your residence card to make sure it stays active and your stay doesn’t get cut short.


II. Necessary Documents for Renewing Your Residence Card

Before you can renew your card, you will need to gather several documents to submit along with your renewal application.

  1. Application form: Print out and fill in an A4-size copy from here (all 4 pages): http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001290202.pdf
  2. Photo: This photo can be taken at any photo booth in Japan, but make sure your photo meets the following requirements
    • Photo (4cm × 3cm) 1 copy
    • A photo that shows the applicant pictured alone.
    • The applicant should face forward and remove any hats, caps or head coverings.
    • There should be a plain background with no shadows.
    • The photo must be sharp and clear.
    • The photo must have been taken within three months prior to submission.
  3. Your Current Residence Card: This soon-to-expire card will be returned to you after your application has been processed, with a hole punched into it to void its validity.
  4. Certificate of Residence: Not to be confused with the Residence Card itself, this document states your current home address in Japan, and it must be the same as listed on your card. Generally, a Certificate of Residence will not be accepted if it is more than 3 months old.
  5. Proof of Employment and pertinent documents to be provided by your employer: A copy of your most recent contract must also be attached to the application, symbolizing your ongoing employment in that field. Make sure that it contains your name as well as the company’s name and location.
  6. Your Passport

III. Submitting Your Application & Getting Your New Card

Where to Submit
Once you’ve gathered all the necessary documents, it’s time to take your application to the nearest Immigration Bureau. Operating hours are 9:00~16:00, Monday through Friday. For CC2 staff in Fukuoka, it’s located here: https://goo.gl/maps/ZDFDk4cuYSV12aH79


After Submission
Assuming there are no problems with your application, your application will take anywhere from 2~4 weeks, upon which you will receive a postcard in the mail. DO NOT LOSE THIS POSTCARD. Written on it will be a period in which you can go to retrieve your new Residence Card. Take the postcard with you, along with your passport as proof of ID and show them to the immigration representative. After a short wait you will receive your new and improved Residence Card, thus completing the renewal process.

NOTE: Losing the postcard or failure to retrieve your new card during the designated period will result in you having to reapply for it from the beginning.

Useful links
Japanese Immigration Bureau Website [English available]:

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