There are two main changes;
1. The Alien Registration System is changing to a "Resident Card" system (the responsibility of the Immigration Bureau of the Justice Ministry)
2. Foreigners will now be registered on the "Residence Record" or "juminhyo" (the responsibility of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications)
In typical bureaucratic fashion, because 2 ministries are involved in the change, foreigners in Japan are not getting all the information at once. They are getting it in part from the Justice Ministry and in part from the Ministry of Internal Affairs
The following are some links to information on the new system. Best you read these directly.
Change to Residence Card
Change to Residence Record (juminhyo)
Here are some frequently asked questions for your reference;
I am in Japan now and I have an alien registration card. By when do I have to change my card?
You have 3 years from July 9th to change your card. If you wish to change immediately, you can do so at the Immigration Bureau. Otherwise, there is no need to rush. Your alien registration card will "act" as the new residence card until you change over. Most people will need to have their visa renewed within those 3 years, and at that time your new residence card would be issued (you can't renew your visa and hold onto your alien registration card)
I am coming to Japan after the change. Where will I get my card and what is the process?
If you are coming to Japan on a visa with a status of residence that is longer than 3 months, you will receive your residence card at the airport in Tokyo (Narita and Haneda), Nagoya (Centrair) or Osaka (Kansai Airport). The card will apparently take 2-3 minutes to prepare in addition to the other finger printing, photographs and other administration you undergo on arrival. The card that is issued will NOT have your address printed on it. Within 14 days you need to go to your local government office and register your address. At this time the address will be written on the back of the card, and then you will be asked to complete the "Residence Record (juminhyo)" details also. This puts you on the local register of people, and has links to your health insurances, pension, etc.
What happens if I don't come to Japan through Narita, Haneda, Nagoya or Kansai Airports?
You will NOT be issued with a card at the airport, but will still need to report to your local authority within 14 days. At this time you will lodge your address, and then also complete your "Residence Record (juminhyo)" details. The local authority will then send your details to the Immigration Bureau who will issue your card and send it to the address you have lodged. This process might take 2-3 weeks.
Do I need to submit photos for my card?
If you are coming to Japan for the first time on a mid-long term visa (ie. not a 90-day one), you will have sent in photos on your visa applications. These photos will be scanned and used on your residence card. Therefore, there is no need to supply a photo at the airport, as it will already be in the Immigration Bureau system. If you are renewing your visa, your renewal application will require you to provide a photograph (this will change, as photographs aren't required currently). This photo will be scanned and used on your card.
Can I change my alien registration card to my residence card at one of the 4 main airports?
No, you can't. This may change in the future, but as of now, the only people who will receive their residence card at the airport are people that are newly coming to Japan on a new mid-long term visa.
Can I make changes to my alien registration card without getting a new residence card?
From July 9th, the only change that your local goverment office can make on your alien registration card or your residence card is your "address". If anything else changes, you need to report to the Immigration Bureau to make the change, and automatically your alien registration card will be changed to the new residence card.
Do I have to report in person about changes in my employer?
No, you don't need to report in person for this, as your employer will no longer be listed on your residence card. However, if you don't report in person, you do need to submit a form to the immigration bureau by post, to notify the change.
The new Residence Card does not show my passport number. Do I need to report changes in this?
To the immigration bureau, no, your passport number will not be needed. However, it is likely that your passport number will be taken by the local authorities when you are making your "Residence Record". In fact, under this new system, except for the first time when you arrive in Japan, status of residence will no longer be issued by way of a stamp in your passport. Under the new system, your Residence Card will be everything, and your visa status will not appear in your passport (apart from the very first time you arrive). So, everytime you renew your "visa (status of residence)" you will be issued with a new Residence Card.
* It is going to be quite important, therefore, that you always have your residence card with you when you are travelling back to Japan. At the airline check in, they will no longer be able to verify your visa status in your passport!
The new Residence Card contains an IC Chip. What information will be on the IC Chip?
Under Japanese Law, they are only allowed to record on the IC Chip the information that is written on the card. There will be not other private information listed on the card.
What is the point of the IC Chip on the card?
The IC Chip will enable authorities and 3rd parties to verify that the information written on the card is actually correct. ie. This is to protect residence cards from being forged.
Who will be able to read the information on the IC Chip?
Anyone who has a "reader" will be able to view the information. Obviously, readers will be provided by the Immigration Bureau to all their offices, to all airports and to the police. The "readers" will also be sold to anyone who wishes to have one. One can imagine that banks and perhaps mobile phone providers will initially be the type of places who will buy the "readers". I guess you can say the "readers" will be similar machines to those that we are used to at train stations now, where station staff can see the records of where your train pass has been (eg pasmo or suica in Tokyo).
What is the biggest time saver of this new system?
The biggest time saver for new arrivals to Japan is that you won't need to get a re-entry permit. As long as you are going to be coming back to Japan within 12 months, you will be exempt from needing a re-entry permit. This means you won't need to travel to the Immigration Bureau for re-ntry permit procedures like you do now. All you need to do is report to your local ward office.
Should you have any further questions about the new system, please don't hesitate to send me an email; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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