On 9th July 2012, a new residence system came into effect, read on for what it means to you…

If you’ve been here for a while and used to having that bit of plastic coloquially known as a “gaijin card” in your pocket then there’s a few things you should know.

1. The Alien Registration Card is being replaced by a Residence Card
The new card will contain most information from the current card with a few notable exceptions such as no longer having your passport number. All the information printed on the card will also be contained in an IC chip similar to the new Japanese driving licences.

2. Do I have to go and change the card immediately?
No, especially if you don’t fancy waiting in some very long queues! Luckily you can simply wait until your current card expires (if that’s before July 8, 2015) when you’ll need to go to immigration and not the city office to get the new card. If you’re a permanent resident then you can go anytime before July 8, 2015.

Fingerprint

3. Are there any advantages or is it more paperwork?
The main advantage for non-permanent residents is that five year extensions to your residence will now be available instead of three. Also you’ll no longer need a re-entry permit as long as you re-enter Japan within 12 months.

4. Where do I get the new card from?
The new card will be issued by immigration and not the city offices. We’re told that this should be done on the spot, similar to the time to issue re-entry permits. New entrants to Japan will receive the card on entry.

5. Any changes to travelling outside Japan?
Under the new system changes to your status of residence or period of stay will only be recorded on the card and NOT in your passport. Therefore it’s important to travel with the card. In our opinion it’s also worth keeping a photocopy of the card in case it’s lost while travelling.

Further info:
For more info check out the links below:
Changes to Card – http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/newimmiact_1/en/index.html
Changes to Resident System – http://www.soumu.go.jp/main_sosiki/jichi_gyousei/c-gyousei/pdf/eng_poster.pdf