Alien card

Foreigners staying in Japan longer than 90 days need to obtain a Certificate of Alien Registration, also known as an Alien Card. It’s easy to get, but I had to get mine updated several times. If you leave the country without a visa and re-entry permit, they take away your alien card and you have to get another one when you return. Then, when your visa status changes (e.g. you get an extension or finally get your work visa) you go back and they put more stamps on it. I spent a lot of time at the Alien Registration counter in my local ward office in Shibuya.

Live and Work in Japan

Around 2007, the government plans to introduce a smart card system. The details of the new system are mostly similar to the current one. Of course, the new cards will be harder to forge. Also, electronic exchange of information will make it easier for the Japanese authorities to keep track of foreigners. Therefore, once these new cards are introduced, you will probably have to be more careful about notifying the authorities about changes to your situation; for example, if you change your job or address.

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18 comments on “Alien card”

  1. 1
    John said (18 June 2005 at 5:21 am)

    Hi, I will be visiting japan for maybe 3-4 months. I understand that I will need to register for the Gaijin Card. Can I register for the gaijin card immediately once I arrived? or Do i only apply it when my 3 months visa free is out? Do I need the fill in any reasons of staying? Cause I will be there only for holidays & relax. Thanks

  2. 2
    Bennett said (20 June 2005 at 2:53 pm)

    John: If you’re going to be in Japan for more than 90 days then you need to get your Alien Card before the 90 days runs out. But they probably won’t give you the card unless you can show that you are allowed to remain in the country for longer than 90 days. Most tourists are limited to 90 days — how do you plan to stay for longer than that?

    For example, when I first arrived I was on a 90 day visa exemption. After a couple of months I got this extended to 180 days, and at that point I was able to get my card.

  3. 3
    John said (20 June 2005 at 8:36 pm)

    Hi Bennet,

    I was thinking of extending my tourist visa while i am there. Is it possible?

    Do you mean that the Immigration there will ask when I apply for the Alien Card? or Will they check some other things?

    The reason why I am asking about the Alien card is because I intend to travel quite frequently to Japan. It will definitely be a Bonus as I will be able to transfer the funds there and will not need to carry too much cash there.

    I might also consider staying there premanently, setting up my business there.

    Hope you can advise me more on this. If you have any tips. It would be Great!


  4. 4
    Bennett said (21 June 2005 at 12:03 pm)

    John: It all depends on your nationality. For many nationalities (e.g. Singapore), when you arrive in Japan as a tourist, you are given permission to stay for 90 days. This is not a visa.

    If you are a citizen of Austria, Germany, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Switzerland or the UK then you may be able to get your permission extended to 180 days. Otherwise you’ll need to get a visa to stay longer than 90 days.

    You won’t be able to get an Alien Card unless you get the permission extension or a visa that lets you stay more than 90 days. Generally, Alien Cards are not for tourists; they are for foreign nationals who live in Japan. For more information about living in Japan, read the rest of this website!

  5. 5
    GoDDess said (10 May 2006 at 11:45 pm)

    Do they issue alien cards for tourists too?

  6. 6
    Bennett said (12 May 2006 at 2:55 pm)

    Foreigners staying in Japan longer than 90 days need to obtain a Certificate of Alien Registration, also known as an Alien Card.

    This is true whether or not you’re a tourist. As I said, generally, alien cards are not for tourists; but any foreigner staying longer than 90 days should register for one.

  7. 7
    Phil said (18 July 2006 at 12:53 am)

    I am planning on leaving Japan in August for 2 weeks. What is the process involved for getting a re-entry permit?? I keep looking online but the Japanese Government has not made it especially easy to figure out. Any help would be very much appreciated.

    Thank you very much,

  8. 8
    dana said (19 May 2007 at 8:12 pm)

    Hi! I have a a visa of 30 days stay in Japan. Do I still need for an alien card? and can the immigration grant me an extension for another 3 months? I will be flying on July 2007 which on the other hand, I’l be back in August but my husband will be back in Japan by September, he’s in military service and their ship is based in Japan. Kindly please reply regarding my concerns.


  9. 9
    Ki said (15 January 2010 at 7:19 am)

    You can work in Japan with only a alien registration card, right?

  10. 10
    Bennett said (16 January 2010 at 11:54 am)

    Ki, no, an alien card doesn’t give you any rights. You need some sort of work visa in order to do paid work in Japan.

  11. 11
    ki said (1 February 2010 at 10:26 am)

    Can you switch from an Alien card to a visa, or is it hard to do?

  12. 12
    Bennett said (1 February 2010 at 1:25 pm)

    Alien cards and visas are different things. Foreigners need a work visa to work, but they don’t need an alien card unless they’re going to stay in Japan more than 90 days.

  13. 13
    ki said (2 February 2010 at 8:20 am)

    But what if you have a Ailen card now and you found a job and are wanting to switch to a visa? It is hard switch and take months or can they get it processed in a couple days?

  14. 14
    Bennett said (8 February 2010 at 6:30 pm)

    ki, you don’t “switch” to a visa. Even if you get a visa, you have to keep your alien card. They are for different purposes.

    After you apply for a visa, it can take weeks or even months before it comes through.

  15. 15
    Dhiraj Kumar Karki said (30 April 2010 at 5:57 pm)

    Dear Benett,
    My wife is in Japna since month.She has gone there in language student VISA.
    Now I also want to be there either in visitor visa or dependent please let me know what is the minimum requirement for dependent visa and visitor visa.Also let me know what is the minimum documents required for issuing certificate of eligibility for much bank balance should have be shown for tourist visa of more than 1 month and also for dependent visa.
    waiting your reply.
    Dhiraj Kumar karki

  16. 16
    Bennett said (30 April 2010 at 7:02 pm)

    Dhiraj Kumar Karki, you should ask the Japanese Embassy closest to you.

  17. 17
    Anonymous said (10 March 2016 at 6:07 am)


  18. 18
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