There are 2 types of registrations once you arrive in Japan: one optional and one mandatory.
The optional registration is carried out in the Embassy of your country. It is a letter confirming that during the next year you plan to reside in Japan. They will ask you for an address where they can get in touch with you, in case they would need to send any official documentation or to assist or help you in the case of a catastrophe as an earthquake, typhoon, volcano, tsunami, attack from North Korea, etc.
The next type of registration is obligatory. It is required by the Japanese authorities, and will give you a limited amount of time once you land in Japan to do so. They take it quite seriously so we recommend respecting the deadlines.
If you land in Tokyo or Osaka, they will give you your residence card at the airport. If, you land at any other airport, you may have to go to the Town Hall in your area to claim it.
In your residence card, your type of visa, the maximum length of stay and your personal data are indicated and this will become your new ID whilst in Japan. This card will have to be carried with you at all times.
After receiving your residence card, you need to go to the Ward Office in your area to inform them of your place of residence within 14 days of entering Japan. This is MANDATORY and it is important that you start your relationship with the Japanese Authorities on the right foot.
Your Ward Office will be determined by the district in which your current accommodation is located.
In the case of Tokyo, as you may already know by now, it is made up of 23 wards, 5 cities and 8 towns. You can check here the address of all the Wards of Tokyo.
Once you’ve located your corresponding Ward office, you need to go with your residence card and your passport and ask at the counter where you can enter a report in English to register yourself in that district.
Once the form is filled in, they will check that everything is corresponds with your passport and residence card and in about 10 minutes they have recorded the address on your residence card.
Together with the renewed residence card you will also receive a dossier on the information on garbage collection and on the behavior of a good citizen and a complete guide on neighborhood services (hospitals, libraries, pharmacies …).
Also, it is at this point when they will ask you if you need health insurance.
It is very important that you also take advantage of this visit to the Ward office to also request the ‘My number’. A personal and non-transferable numeric code that is essential for some procedures in Japan. It will cost you about 300 yen and only a few more minutes at the same counter.
Each time you change your address, you must inform your new City Ward so they can update your residence card.