The End of the Alien Registration Card

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Changes to the Immigration Control Act and the Basic Resident Registration Law will mean that from 2012 the Regional Immigration Bureau and municipalities will be collaborating in exchanging and managing personal information of foreign residents.

The Immigration Control Act: Major Changes 入管法の改正ポイント
Foreign residents will see 3 major changes:

1)   An extension of the maximum period of stay from the current 3 years to 5 years (from 2 years & 3 months to 4 years & 3 months for those with College Student visas).

2)   Revision of the re-entry system. A re-entry permit will not be required for short term departures of less than 1 year (a valid passport and visa are still required). However, a re-entry permit will still be required for short term departures of more than 1 year. The maximum departure length will be extended from 3 to 5 years.

3)   The issuance of a new IC chip-equipped residence card (zairyu card在留カード). The chip will prevent forgery and alteration, and will record all or part of the information included on the card.

  • Compared to the Alien Registration Card there will be less visible items on the residence card, these instead will be stored on the chip; these include place of birth, passport number, occupation, and name & place of employment.
  • The card will be valid until the expiration date of the holder’s status of residence, or 7 years from the date of issue for Permanent Residents.

When? いつからはじまるの? いつ在留カードに換えるか?

Upon introduction of the new system of residence management, the current alien registration system will be phased out. The new system will be implemented by July 2012. Unless you are a permanent resident, you will receive your new residence card when you take the procedure such as applying for an extension of the period of stay. If you are a permanent resident, you will be required to apply for your new residence card within three years from the implementation of the new system of residence management.

Who will be affected? どういう人たちが対象になるの?

All foreign nationals (there are some exceptions – see below) residing legally for a medium to long term with a status of residence under the Immigration Control Act will be subject to the new system of residence management.

Persons NOT Subject to the New System: Persons staying in Japan for short periods of time (i.e. for sightseeing), persons granted the status of residence of “Temporary Visitor”, “Diplomat” or “Official”, special permanent residents (ethnic Korean residents), and persons with no status of residence.

Special Permanent Residents 特別永住者の制度について

The new system of residence management does not involve special permanent residents (ethnic Korean residents). So, in lieu of the alien registration certificate, special permanent residents will be issued a special permanent resident certificate to special permanent residents and changes in registered information and reissuance of the certificate can be done at city hall / ward office as before. The requirements of the re-entry permit system will also be eased.

Reporting Changes 新たな在留管理手続きの流れ

If you change residence you will be required to register your place of residence at the office of the city, ward, town or village where you reside within 14 days of moving in your residence. However you will be required to report the following changes in person to the nearest regional immigration bureau within 14 days of the change:

  • A change to your name, nationality, date of birth, or sex
  • A change to the organization to which you belong (if it is the basis for your status of residence) – including a change in the name or address of the organization. If your status of residence is based on your personal status or position such as “Spouse or Child of Japanese National”, you are not required to give notification of the change in the organization to which you belong.
  • A change to your personal status or position (if it is the basis for your status of residence); for example if your status of residence is “Spouse or Child of Japanese National” and get divorced.

★Revision to the Basic Resident Registration Law 外国人住民に係る住民基本台帳制度について
The Basic Resident Registration Law which currently does not apply to foreign nationals has been revised, making it applicable to foreign nationals. Consequently, foreign residents will be listed on the Basic Resident Registration along with Japanese residents.

  • This revision enables municipalities to have a better grasp of the members of multinational households (family composed of Japanese and non-Japanese individuals), compared with the current two-tier system that lists Japanese members and non-Japanese members of the same family in two separate systems (Basic Resident Registration and Alien Registration). Municipalities will also be able to issue certified copies of the residence record (“juminhyo”) listing all members of such household.
  • Under the Alien Registration Act, foreign residents who have moved to another municipality are required to submit their change of address to their new municipality but not to their old one. However under the new system, foreign residents will be required to notify their municipality before they move out and obtain a “move-out certificate”転出証明書before notifying their new municipality. This is the same procedure Japanese residents go through when they change their address.
  • The Basic Resident Registration is the basis for the provision of various public services. Therefore when a foreign resident moves to another municipality, he/she can continue receiving necessary services such as national health insurance just by completing the registration (“move-in notice”) at the new municipal office.

■Transition Period: Provisional residence records “juminhyo” 移行措置(仮住民票の作成)

In order to facilitate a smooth transition to the new system, provisional residence records (provisional “juminhyo”) will be made before the amendment comes in to affect for those foreign nationals who are listed on the alien registration kept by municipalities and who are expected to reside in those municipalities after July 2012.

Eligible foreign residents will be informed on the items appearing on their provisional records and asked to make corrections if necessary. Provisional records will then be changed over and filed in the Basic Resident Registration during July 2012.

Due to the larger number of foreign residents in Nagoya City, provisional record check notices will be sent out to eligible foreign residents throughout 2011; the first notices were sent out in June.

Any questions or inquires about the Basic Resident Registration and switch over can be answered by calling the special Nagoya City call center at 052-972-3165. English will be available weekdays (09:00 – 17:00) between February 1 and March 31, 2012.


Further Information
The Ministry of Justice has released a detailed guide to the new immigration system. The guide is available in Japanese, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, and Chinese (simplified & traditional).

To learn more about the Nagoya International Center,
please watch our video.

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