When the time has come for you to leave Japan, there are quite a few steps to take before boarding the plane to go back home. The procedure of leaving Japan might differ a lot from what you had to do when moving out of your country. It’s very important to make sure that you fulfill your obligations, cancel your contracts and let officials know that you are leaving.

Here are the most important things you need to do before moving out of Japan.

Get rid of your stuff

You can sell the things you don’t want or can’t bring back home, either at recycle shops, online or at sayonara sales. Posting items on sites like Facebook marketplace is a tip that saved me the trouble of having to trash almost anything when I left Japan. There are always newcomers in Japan that need to furnish and kit out their homes. If you live in a share house or student dormitory you might be able to sell or donate your things to the next tenant.

In Japan you’re not allowed to simply throw away furniture or large items: they need to be collected for a fee. So getting rid of things in other ways, like donating or selling them is preferred. If you have things that need to be trashed, call the city’s garbage collection service and arrange for a pick up.

Bring/send your belongings home

I’m sure you have accumulated quite a few things while living in Japan, since there is cute and cool stuff for sale everywhere. Make sure to check your baggage allowance and pay for extra luggage if necessary. You can also send boxes through the post office (or with the help of a moving company). There are different rules and guidelines regarding sizes and weights, so check Japan Post for the latest information.

Cancel your apartment contract

As soon as you know your departure date it’s a good idea to contact your landlord or house agency to cancel your lease. Usually you’ll need to give notice at least one month in advance, but check your contract. When leaving you should clean the apartment thoroughly. If you do a good job and there aren’t any damages you might get most of your deposit back.

Cancel utility bills

Electricity, gas, and water bills all need to be cancelled. Make sure to get the final bills and most importantly, make sure that you are available to pay them before leaving Japan. Some bills need to be payed in cash upfront and others might require you to leave some money in your bank account.

Cancel your services

Internet, cell phone contract, TV license and other services you have had contracts for must be canceled. Most cell phone carriers need you to visit the actual shop to terminate the service. Ending your contract early usually comes with a 10,000 yen cancellation fee. Most companies offers English support if you need it.

Make sure your visa is still valid

If you decide to leave Japan just as your visa is about to expire, make sure that it’s still valid on the day of your departure. Otherwise you’ll need to visit an immigration office to apply for Temporary Visitor Status of Residence. Don’t show up to the airport immigration with an invalid visa, or you might be banned from re-entering Japan.

Ward office

Change your status at city hall

When you first arrived in Japan you went to the city hall or ward office to register as a citizen. Now that you’re moving away you must inform those same officials that you’re leaving the city. Bring your residence card (在留カード, zairyū kādo) and official seal (はんこ, hanko) and fill in a moving out form (転出届, tenshutsu todoke). If you’ve obtained a “My Number”, cancel this card as well. If you return to Japan on a long term visa you will actually get the same number again.

Close your bank account

Bank and/or post office accounts must be closed at the counter of each place. Make sure you leave this step towards the end of your stay since some bills might need to be paid through bank withdrawal. Bring your card, bank book, and official documents (seal and residence card) to the bank. You will get the balance of your account in cash.

Pay taxes

If you have worked while in Japan you’ll need to pay your residence taxes. Visit your city or ward’s tax office or talk to the National Tax Agency, if you have any questions about paying tax. Your employer usually withholds taxes, but you might have to take care of this on your own. If you plan to request to get a pension refund it’s a good idea to also appoint a tax representative. This has to be someone you trust, that still resides in Japan.

Get your mail redirected

If you expect to get mail after leaving Japan you can get this redirected to a friend still in Japan. Fill in a change of address notification (転居届, tenkyo todoke) at the post office. Your mail will be redirected for free for up to one year, but the forwarding address must be in Japan.

Health insurance card

The health insurance card should be returned to the place where you obtained it, like your employer, school or the municipal office.

Return your residence card

When you have made it to the airport there is one important thing left, returning your residence card (在留カード Zairyū card). Make sure they punch a hole in your card and give it back, since you will need it to get your pension refund. If your visa is still valid for more than six months you’ll need to give consent to cancelling the visa at immigration.

Once your visa is cancelled, you cannot use it in the future. This means even if you have a student visa which appears to still be valid even after you leave, you will need to apply for a new student visa in the event you wish to return to Japan for long-term studies.

Pension refund

If you have been working in Japan you’ve probably paid into Japan’s pension scheme. After leaving Japan you are entitled to get this money back as a lump sum. You will need your blue pension book, residence card and you need to apply within two years of leaving Japan. Fill out the “Application for the Lump-Sum Withdrawal Payments form” and send it, along with your blue pension book, residence card, and a photocopy of your passport to the Japan Pension Service.

Whenever you decide to leave Japan it’s important to make sure you do it the right way. Leaving without cancelling contracts or informing your ward office can make it difficult for you to return to Japan in the future. Having withstanding debts growing in Japan is not a good idea. So even if these tasks sound daunting, follow this guide and remember to enjoy your last days before leaving Japan!