February 9, 2012

As of Monday, July 9th, 2012, Japan will start a new residency management system, which will be applied to all foreign mid- to long-term residents in Japan. The Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act was promulgated during the Regular Diet session of July 15th, 2009 and is to go into effect on July 9th, 2012.

What’s Changed?

The current alien registration system will be abolished with the start of the new residency management system.

The new resident cards will be issued to mid- to long-term residents when granted landing permission, permission of change of resident status, and permission for extension of the period of stay.  The cards will include the card holder’s basic biometric and personal information.

The new system will allow the Japanese authorities to increase the maximum period of stay to five years instead of the previous three years, and will also introduce a new reentry permit system which waives reentry permit formalities for foreign nationals who leave and reenter Japan within one year of the date of their original departure.

Who will receive the new residence cards?

The new system will apply to mid- to long-term residents as follows:

  • Foreign spouses of Japanese nationals;
  • Japanese descendants (“Nikkei”) having “Spouse or Child of Japanese National” status;
  • Long Term Residents;
  • Overseas employees in Japan having the status of Specialist in Humanities/ International Services, Engineer, Intra-Company Transferee, Investor/Business Manager,  Skilled Labor, Researcher, Professor, etc, excluding “Entertainer” and “Technical Intern Training”
  • Students;
  • Permanent residents.

Procedure at the port of entry/departure

Upon arriving in Japan, mid- to long-term residents will have a seal of landing stamped in their passports and will also be issued a resident card. Resident cards will be issued only at Narita, Haneda, Chubu, and Kansai Airports.  At the other ports of entry/departure, the foreigners will receive the seal of landing verification along with a description, which will be affixed near the stamp.  Those who have received their residence card at a port of entry are asked to visit the municipal office where they live with their resident card, and notify the Ministry of Justice where they live within 14 days of establishing residence.


According to the new regulations, foreign employees and their dependents who already are in Japan are not required to replace their alien registration cards (ARC) with a new residence card immediately after the start of the new system (although they may do so, if they wish). The current ARCs will be deemed equivalent to a resident card for a certain period from the enforcement date of the amended act.

Mid- to long-term residents will generally receive their new resident cards when granted permission for an extension. Once the extension visa is granted, the applicant must visit the regional immigration bureau to apply for a new card.  Traditional re-entry permits will no longer be extended.

If a mid- to long-term resident changes his/her residence before his/her current ARC has expired, he or she must notify the regional immigration bureau within 14 days of moving to the new residence and he/she will be issued with a new residence card. The same applies in case of a name change, gender, nationality, lost, stolen, or severely damaged card.

Permanent residents will be required to apply for a resident card, in principle, within three years from the start of the new residency management system.

The new residency management system requires organizations sponsoring foreign nationals to notify the Ministry of Justice upon termination of employment (e.g., dismissal, retirement, etc.) of mid- to long-term sponsored workers.  Notification will be done with a Regional Immigration Office or by sending a notification to the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau within 14 days of change in condition of employment. In those cases where assignees end their assignment in Japan, Pro-Link GLOBAL will be happy to work with its clients to notify the appropriate Japanese authorities.

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader 

This content is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or final guidance for any immigration matter. Readers are reminded that a country’s immigration laws and requirements may change with little to no advance public notice. Questions regarding specific immigration matters should be addressed to your Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist.