Zairyu Card (在留カード) - Registration Card for foreigners in Japan

From Go! Go! Nihon Japan WIKI


There were some big changes to the immigration laws in Japan in July 2012. Go! Go! Nihon has put together things that we think will be important for future foreign students in Japan.


The Big Changes

  1. Alien Registration Card will be replaced by the Zairyu (resident) Card
  2. No more re-entry permits
  3. Work permit no longer in passport
  4. Local governments will no longer be handling immigration matters
  5. Longer periods of stay for qualifying individuals (Doesn't apply to students)
  6. Visa extensions lengthened for qualifying individuals (Doesn't apply to students)

So what do these changes mean?

Zairyu Card

The previous ARC will be abolished and replaced with the Zairyu card which is embedded with an IC chip and better anti-tampering measures. One of the key differences between the ARC and the Zairyu card is where you receive it. From July 2012, every foreigner entering Japan with the purpose of staying long-term will be issued a Zairyu card at the port of entry. So if you're flying into Narita airport, you will be issued the Zairyu card at the airport.

If for some reason you aren't able to receive your Zairyu card, you will have to visit the nearest immigration office as soon as possible. This is a big change since receiving an ARC was a lengthy process done at your local city/ward office.

You are still required to carry this card with you at all times. Failure to show your Residence Card to the authorities or keep the information updated can result in a fine of 200,000yen or deportation.

No More Re-entry Permits

Under the previous immigration law, a foreign resident of Japan was required to obtain a re-entry permit if he/she wanted to leave Japan and re-enter. You were required to go to the regional immigration office and obtain the re-entry permit and if you failed to do so, you could potentially be rejected at customs in the airport. Under the new law, re-entry permits are no longer required as they are already included on your visa. This is a big change for people that frequently leave Japan as it takes the time and frustration out of remembering and obtaining a re-entry permit prior to leaving Japan.

Visa and Work permit no longer in your Passport

Your visa will no longer be on your passport, but now listed on the Zairyu card itself. The application for a "Permit to Engage In Activity Other Than That Permitted By The Status Of Residence Previously Granted" will now be included with the Zairyu card application and the permit itself will be located on the Zairyu card. However, students must apply for this at a later date through their school.

Ministry of Justice will handle all immigration matters

Previously, it was up to the local governments to monitor and take care of foreign residents' needs; however, after the new immigration law kicks in, it will be up to the Ministry of Justice. This means an important change from the old system.

  1. Zairyu registration will now be handled by your regional immigration office. Unlike before where you could register/change your alien registration card at your local city/ward office, you will now be required to go to the regional immigration office instead for these matters.
  1. Instead of going to one of the hundreds of available local city/ward offices, you will be required to go to one of the regional immigration centers here.

Local Government's Responsibilities

The local government will still be handling some things directly:

  1. National Health Insurance
  2. National Pension Plan
  3. Address changes

So for the above stated matters, you will still be required to go to your local city/ward office to enroll or revise these. We highly recommend that you visit your local city/ward office to enroll in the national health insurance the moment you get to Japan.

You are required by law to enroll in the national pension plan, but as a foreigner, if and when you decide to permanently return to your home country, you will be reimbursed the full amount.

If you decide to move while you're in Japan, you're required to report the address change to your new local city/ward office within 14 days.

What to Prepare for the Zairyu Card upon Entry to Japan

  1. You will not be required to provide a passport-style photo as they will use the photo from your certificate of eligibility as your Zairyu card photo.
    1. Although it is not required, please make sure you know the address of where you will be staying when you come to Japan. If it isn't decided, or the place you will be staying is only short-term, your Zairyu card will have a blank in the address field.

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