Studying in Japan

Study Japanese in Japan

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Studying in Japan
The Ins and Outs of the Student Residence Card
December 1, 2023  |  By Amélie Marie Nishizawa

Practical information and tips about the residence card for students studying in Japan.

The residence card serves as your official identification in Japan, effectively replacing the visa you obtained at the embassy. This card displays your entry date, legal stay duration, and student residence status.

When Will I Receive My Residence Card?

Upon your arrival in Japan with the visa issued by the embassy, you will obtain your residence card at the airport. An Immigration agent will issue the card after verifying your passport and Certificate of Eligibility. 

We recommend providing the work permit application form to have the Immigration officer stamp the back of your residence card, indicating your permission to work. This stamp is essential for employment in Japan. While you can also apply for the permit in Japan, approval may take several weeks.

Registering Your Address on Your Residence Card

If you don’t have a fixed residence address upon arrival, you have 14 days to visit your local ward or city office to register. Inform the city officer of your address, which will be recorded on the back of your card. During your visit to the office, consider signing up for the public health insurance scheme. 

With your address on the card, you’re officially a resident of Japan and can access available services. If you change your address during your stay, you must update your residence card address at your new city hall within 14 days to avoid potential financial penalties.

Always Carry Your Residence Card

Japanese law mandates that you always carry your residence card. It serves as your official identification in Japan, effectively replacing the visa you obtained at the embassy. This card is necessary if Japanese authorities stop and question you. Your passport is not a suitable substitute.

If your card is lost, promptly visit the nearest police station, file a notification of loss or theft, and obtain a receipt. Take this receipt, passport, and a new photo to the immigration office. You’ll need to complete an application form to obtain a replacement card there. Inform your school and workplace about the loss to update their records with your new card number.

Renewing Your Residence Card

If your study program at a language school extends beyond a year, your school will assist you in the extension process. Typically, you can renew your residence card three months before it expires. 

The process’s duration may vary from a few weeks to several months. Immigration authorities will stamp your card when you submit your renewal application, confirming an ongoing procedure with the Immigration Bureau.

What Happens to Your Residence Card When You Leave Japan?

Your residence card must be canceled. At passport control, an agent will punch a hole through your card. We recommend keeping this card in case you plan to apply for a new visa for Japan, as a copy may be requested during the application process.

If you intend to stay in Japan after your classes end, you must change your residence status before your card expires. You cannot remain in the country as a student if you are not enrolled. Your work permit is no longer valid after graduation. Do not let an employer tell you otherwise. If you must work, first seek permission from the Immigration Bureau. Guidance on the application process for a new residence status will be provided when applying to a university or job.

If you come from a country with a visa exemption agreement with Japan for tourists, visiting the Immigration Bureau will result in your card being punched and your passport stamped as if you’ve entered as a temporary visitor. This change in status also affects your health insurance. You must inform the city hall and return your health insurance card.

Do Not Lend or Sell Your Residence Card

There are scams involving individuals buying or borrowing personal IDs from international students. They promise to provide money in exchange for using your documents, which they may use for illegal purposes. Never lend anyone your residence card. Moreover, you can find yourself in legal trouble even if you are unaware of their intentions.

If you have any questions about studying in Japan, please contact us at the GaijinPot Student Placement Program.

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