Residence Card 在留カード
The Residence Card (Zairyu Card; 在留カード) is an ID card for non-Japanese residents of Japan, and is issued by the Ministry of Justice (Hohmusho 法務省).
The Residence Card (Zairyu Card; 在留カード), with an embedded IC chip, replaced the previous alien registration card (gaikokujin-toroku-shomeisho) on July 9, 2012, which was issued by local authorities.
Most new arrivals to Japan with medium- to long-term residence status are issued a Zairyu Card at Narita, Haneda, Chubu and Kansai Airports.
However, a Zairyu Card is not issued to the following persons:
(1) Persons granted permission to stay for 3 months or less
(2) Persons granted "Temporary Visitor" status
(3) Persons granted "Diplomat" or "Official" status
(4) Persons recognized by Ministry of Justice ordinance as equivalent to the foreign nationals in the aforementioned (1) to (3)
(5) Special permanent residents
(6) Persons with no resident status
Residence Card Stored Information
The information displayed on the residence card system includes:
Date of registration and validity (usually 7 years from the date of issue)
Name (including any legal alias)
Date of birth
Visa status of residence and date of expiration
The Zairyu card replaces the visa stamps (employment visa, spouse visa, permanent resident visa etc) that used to be pasted into the passport of the person staying in Japan on that particular visa.
Previously, when a person renewed their visa they would need to visit the Immigration Office to have the stamps transferred to their new passport. This is NO longer the case as the Zairyu card shows the visa status of the bearer.
Foreign nationals in possession of a valid passport and Residence Card who will be re-entering Japan within 1 year of their departure to continue their activities in Japan will, in principle, not be required to apply for a re-entry permit. (This is called a special re-entry permit.)
When you leave Japan, be sure to present your Residence Card and, on an embarkation-disembarkation (ED) card for Special Re-entry Permit holders, tick the column indicating your intention to depart (and re-enter) under the Special Re-entry Permit System.
Foreign nationals who have departed from Japan on a special re-entry permit will not be able to extend the term of validity of that permit while abroad. Please note that such foreign nationals will lose their resident status if they fail to re-enter Japan within 1 year of their departure. Before you leave, therefore, apply for a re-entry permit at your Regional Immigration Office if you plan to be away for more than 1 year.
If your address changes, report any changes to your municipality office (ward office) within 14 days of moving.
If your name, nationality or gender changes due to marriage etc, report any changes to your Regional Immigration Office within 14 days of the change, along with your passport, Residence Card and any relevant documentation.
If your visa status changes or you are applying for an extension in your period of stay in Japan, apply at your Regional Immigration Office bringing your passport, Residence Card and any relevant documentation.
The Residence Card, like the alien registration cards before them, are necessary documents for obtaining a driving license, purchasing national health insurance, opening a bank account, buying or moving into a house or apartment and other activities requiring legal proof of identity such as purchasing a mobile phone or renting videos/DVDs from a video store.
Foreign residents of Japan above the age of 16 are legally required to carry their Residence Card at all times and must present it when leaving the country for travel outside Japan along with their passport.
Loss or Theft of Residence Card
If your Residence Card is lost or stolen you will need to report it to the police (theft) or fire department (earthquake etc) and then apply for a new card to be issued. You will then need to visit your nearest Immigration Office with your passport to get a replacement card. You may be asked to write a short explanation (in Japanese) explaining how your card was lost or stolen. Ask a Japanese friend or relative to prepare this if you do not write Japanese.
If your zairyu card was lost or stolen overseas you must apply for a replacement at your nearest Immigration Office within 14 days of your return to Japan. Sometimes an airline may ask to see your zairyu card before your return flight to Japan as evidence of your visa/residence status. A friend or relative may apply for an "Application for certification of the re-entry permit deadline" (sai-nyu-koku-kyoka-kigen-shomeisho 再入国許可期限証明願) at an Immigration Office which can be faxed or scanned and emailed to you while overseas. The person applying on your behalf needs to fill in the date you left Japan and the reason for the application (loss, theft etc).
Renewal of Residence Card
Your Residence Card must be renewed within 30 days of the expiry date printed on the card, after a 5-7 year period. 7 years for permanent residents and 5 years for Spouse or Child of Japanese National, persons with employment status as "Engineer," "Specialist in Humanities/International Services," etc. Excluding "Entertainer" and "Technical Intern Training." See the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) website below for further details.
On leaving Japan to return to your country for good surrender your Residence Card to the immigration official at your departure point.
See here for further information on the MOJ website