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Upon arrival…

Things to do upon your arrival

Once you’ve arrived in Shizuoka on the JET Programme, there are a few things you must get done rather quickly. Here is a list of the common things that need to get done, where you can get them done, and what you need to get them done!! After all, you can`t quite take your self-intro lesson to the local bank to open an account 🙂

Alien Registration Card aka. “Gaijin Card”
外国人登録証明書 (gaikokujin touroku shoumeisho)

All foreigners living or working in Japan must register with the local authorities. For this, you will need two passport photos taken recently (you can get them done at a photo booth at a supermarket or photo store here – about 500 yen). You will also need your passport. The process may involve finger prints. It takes between two to four weeks to get your card, and you need to go to the office again to pick it up.  In some cases, you will be given a piece of paper that has a date on it, which is the date on which you need to pick up your card. If you cannot make it on that date, there is a chance of having to re-start the process.

You have to carry this card with you at all times, as you can be arrested if you fail to present it when asked by a police officer. Needless to say, your supervisor will be getting a call and will need to come to the police station to pick you up (it has happened!). But luckily, in reality, you will likely never be asked to show this card. It will outweigh your passport in terms of official identification for use just about anywhere.

Hanko / Inkan
はんこ

A hanko is your own personal stamp that acts as your signature. To “sign” official documents in Japan, you don`t sign, but you stamp. The stamp is required on all official documents. It is very small and carried in what looks like a lipstick case. The writing on your Hanko will be KATAKANA, as you are a foreigner. If you are of a nationality that uses Kanji characters, you can of course use Kanji as well.

A Hanko can be ordered for about 2,000 yen at a book shop or hanko store, sometimes your school will just do it for you and pick up the tap, but don`t count on it. You should ask where you can get it made, and unless otherwise mentioned, assume it`s your responsibility to have it made. You will need it to sign your contract and any other agreement (phone, electricity, rent etc), so you should take time to get the hank made in the first few days here –  your school may give you time off on your first few days to run these kinds of errands, or your supervisor may take you to have it made.

Don’t lose your hanko, as someone who finds it along with your bankbook (not the bank debit / credit card, but simply the book in which your balances can be printed)can withdraw money from your account – that is how powerful the hanko is. Keep it safe. Japanese people usually have three or more hanko – one for the bank only, which they leave at home and only bring with them when going to the bank. Another for official documents to sign at school etc., and one for miscellaneous uses when they don`t want to sign their name in pen.

Stamps which have ink within the stamp (i.e. you don`t need to dip them in ink before using them each time – one popular brand you is `name pen` which is a pen that has an inked hanko stamp on one end) cannot be used for official documents.

Taxes
税金 (zeikin)

Please check with the tax office in your home country to see what tax agreements your home country and Japan have, and/or what taxes you are liable to pay while in Japan.

Medical Care / National Health Insurance
社会保険 (shakai hoken)

If you need to go to the doctor, remember that the medical care here may not be the same as you are used to back home. But as Japan is a first-world country with state-of-the-art medical facilities, it should be perfectly adequate though many things may strike you as unusual.

You must carry your Health Insurance Card (保険証、houkenshou) at all times in case of an emergency. It entitles you to 70% off all doctors’ bills, hospital bills, and prescribed medicines. Your school will give you this card soon after you arrive. If you have dependents then register them under your name.

Pension Handbook
年金手帳 (nenkin techou)

Please do not lost this little blue book. Every month a portion of your paycheck goes into the Japanese Pension Fund, but at the end of your time here in Japan, if you are returning to your home country indefinitely then you can apply to get the money back. Your school will either give you this book or hold onto it for you. Make sure you know where it is.

Bank Account
口座 (kouza)

You will need to open a bank account in order to receive your salary and, in most cases, have utilities fees automatically withdrawn. Your supervisor should help you open an account at a local bank (such as Shizuoka Bank). You must bring your passport and hanko. They will normally ask for your alien registration card as well. If you have yet to receive it, you can use the temporary card issued to you.

Note: It is important that the account name matches the name on your alien registration card, as any differences can cause problems later down the line. Your bank account is under your name in surname-first name-middle name order, usually using the Roman alphabet to match your passport.

Re-entry Permit

If you are planning to travel outside of Japan, then it is very important to obtain your re-entry permit. This goes into your passport and is required for re-entering Japan after traveling abroad. If you leave the country and attempt to re-enter without it, you will be detained, questioned and fined. Once obtained, it is valid until the end of your present 3-year Instructor visa. In order to get your re-entry permit, you will need to go to either the Shizuoka or Hamamatsu branch of the Nagoya Regional Immigration Bureau. The offices close early, so you will be unable to go to the office after school. It also takes at least half an hour to obtain your re-entry permit. As a re-entry permit is unrelated to your work in Japan, you will have to take paid holiday (年休, nenkyuu) in order to go and get it, and you will have to pay for the cost of transportation there and back yourself. You do not need to get a re-entry permit right away; going to the Immigration Bureau a few weeks before your scheduled departure will be plenty of time.

There are two types of re-entry permits. The first is a one-time re-entry permit and allows you to leave the country and re-enter only once. The second is a multiple re-entry permit, which allows you to travel in and out of the country multiple times. We recommend obtaining the multiple re-entry permit if you plan to travel outside of Japan more than once.

To obtain a re-entry permit, you will need the following:

  • Your passport
  • Your alien registration card
  • 3,000 yen for a one-time re-entry permit, or 6,000 yen for a multiple re-entry permit
  • The application for re-entry permit, which can be downloaded here. (Forms are also available in the Immigration Office in Japanese, English, and Portugese.)

Shizuoka City Immigration Office
6th floor ABC Plaza Bldg., 9-4 Tenma-cho, Aoi-ku, Shizuoka City, Shizuoka
TEL: 054-653-5571
5-minute walk north from JR Shizuoka Station

Hamamatsu City Immigration Office
1-12-4 Chuo, Naka-ku, Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka
TEL: 053-458-6496
10-minute walk north from JR Hamamatsu Station
or, take the Akaden or Entetsu Bus to Enshu-Byoin Station and walk 3 minutes east

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Michael Schauer permalink
    July 5, 2012 8:50 am

    A note for the Shizuoka City Immigration office: Payment is made by using ‘stamps’. You can get these stamps at the convenience store next to the Immigration office. Go there after you find out how much you’ll need in stamps, then go back to the Immigration office and make your payment in stamps.

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