Anyone who arrives in Japan and receives a residency card（在留カード）is required to register their residential address with the government within 14 days of establishing a residence. A quick stop by your respective city/ward office will get the job done and will enable you to enjoy the wide variety of services that require verification of your address, including new contracts with mobile phone providers, opening bank accounts, and more. The process will vary from city to city, but this guide should help explain the gist of what you’ll need to do. (Please note that anyone visiting without residency, i.e., those on the tourist visa waiver program, or those with short-term tourist visas, do not need to register their address with a respective city hall.)
Step 1 — Have an address.
You won’t be able to register an address with the city office if you don’t have one! Since this requirement is for those with mid- to long-term residency, you should have an address to provide, whether you’re staying in a sharehouse room or an apartment. Take note of this address somewhere accessible to make the process easier. Most paperwork in Japan requires your address information, so it’s a good idea in general to memorize it, or at the very least, keep a note of it handy. If you need to arrange your own housing for your internship program, we have a guide to help you!
Step 2 — Make some time to visit your local city hall.
While a relatively painless procedure, registering your address does take a little bit of time as it is an in-person process. After you’ve figured out your city/ward name (in your address, it’s the bit with the -ku, -shi, -machi, or -mura suffix; e.g., Minato-ku, Chiba-shi, etc.), a quick Google search can help you find the respective city hall. (Many in Tokyo, such as Minato-ku, also offer multi-lingual interpretation services to help foreign residents through the process more efficiently.)
Using the location and business hours information, find a time that works for you to visit city hall. If you are visiting city hall after your first day of work, you may need to coordinate with your work supervisor to make time, as these visits may take at most a couple of hours. However, you will usually need to be registered before starting your first day of full-time employment, so please make sure to have time to visit before you begin work. City halls are usually the least busy during the morning and in the middle of the week.
Step 3 — Get in line.
Most city halls will have a dedicated section for those needing assistance with either immigration or residency-related procedures. You’ll most likely need to take a number for this section and wait until you’re called to be helped. At larger city halls, there are also often representatives that can guide you to the correct location.
Step 4 — Present your residency card and address.
Once someone calls you to the counter, you will need to present your residency card and address. You do not necessarily need a form of address verification, such as a piece of mail, or documentation from a sharehouse provider, but it may help to provide your address more accurately to the city representative. Once city hall has verified your address, they will then print the address on the back of your card.
Step 5 — Get a copy of your 住民票。 (Optional)
In a majority of cases, your employer will also need a copy of your 住民票 (juumin-hyou), an official certificate from city hall displaying your registered address. You should ask for this when you present your residency card. It usually costs about ¥300 and is useful to have copies for your employer or for other circumstances in which you need to prove your registered address. While not always required, it can also be helpful when opening a bank account.
Step 6 — That’s it!
Once you receive your updated card (and pay for your juumin-hyou if you asked for and received one), you’re all done! This card will now act as official verification of your address and status of residency in Japan. Please make sure to follow the proper procedures for updating your address should you move at any time in the future, as your card will need to be updated and city hall notified.