All foreign nationals (except diplomats) who wish to stay in Japan for more than 90 days are required to register at their local government office. In Tsukuba, you can do this at the new City Hall complex which is located next to Kenkyuu Gakuen Station (Tsukuba Express line) (not far away from the shopping center iias).
- Re: What to do you with your Gaijin Card when you leave Japan.
If this advice article doesn’t concern you, then place stuff it into File 13.
Here's an important HEADS UP for those of you who are in the process of leaving the country in the middle of your visa or are leaving Japan with a reentry permit (see NB below) not knowing 100% that you’ll be returning. If you are planning on NOT coming back to Japan, ALWAYS hand your Alien Registration Card (Gaikokujin Touroku Shoumeisho) over to the immigration officer when you undergo immigration procedures at the port of exit (international airport). When you surrender this card at the airport, the Immigration Bureau will inform local authorities where you are registered as a resident that you have officially left Japan. This process will take several months. This card has also been referred to as the Gaijin Card, ARC, Alien Card, Foreigner’s ID Card, etc.
Ideally, you would surrender your card to Immigration Bureau officials at the airport on the way out to end your current status of residence (aka. visa). However, we all know that life doesn’t always go according to plan and people will go where they want whenever they want to. Sometimes, people who fly back home for the holidays never return to Japan even though they were in possession of a round trip ticket, a valid Reentry Permit, and valid visa. Some pack up their things with little preparation time and fly off with no intention of returning in the immediate future. Other cited reasons include a prolonged family emergency back home, following a job lead or educational opportunity back home, unfavorable employment and living conditions here in Japan, etc.
If you plan to leave Japan without returning in the middle of your current visa while in possession of a reentry permit in your passport, MAKE SURE you inform Immigration and City Hall of your intentions clearly, preferably several weeks before you go to the airport. Consult with the local immigration office in Mito (029-300-3601) or Tokyo (03-5796-7112) by phone or in person to see if there is any paperwork you'll need to do. Visit City Hall and inform Alien Registration (Gaikokujin Touroku Kakari), as well as the Health Insurance & Pension Division (Kokuho Nenkin-ka) if you are an insured member. Depending on circumstances, you may need to visit other City Hall divisions as well. The worse thing you can do is leave Japan without going through the necessary procedures. Remember you have not cancelled your visa in Japan until you have received the proper stamps in your passport from Japanese Immigration officials and have returned your Alien Registration Card, technically speaking.
So what's all the fuss about a plastic card and Immigration stamps? Some of you may be thinking why am I not able to leave Japan whenever I want to and however I want to. Why does the Japanese Government feel the need to unnecessarily limit my freedom of movement, right? Here's the kicker. Suppose you leave Japan as I mentioned above leaving a spouse (or dependent family member) here to manage your assets, property, etc. Maybe you have a spouse who is working here in Japan and you decide for the time being to work in separate countries and maintain a transnational, double-income family. Maybe your spouse (dependent) can’t accompany you because he/she is attending school or conducting research. Maybe your spouse is just a homemaker and you plan on sending money by wire until you both can work out the next chapter in your lives together. Or, maybe you left Japan having kept your bank account open in case you plan on coming back for work or as a piggy bank account for when you return as a tourist.
In any case, if your City Hall has not received official notification that you have left the country, you will be treated as if you are still currently registered as a resident for the DURATION of your current visa status, be it several months or several years until official notification is received. This means you will be treated as any other John Q. Public-san and will be liable for local inhabitant's taxes, car taxes, as well as health insurance taxes and so on until your visa officially ends, EVEN IF you are no longer physically present in Japan. Yeah, it sounds crazy. If you are one of those people that fits in one of the categories above and tried to resolve the matter by calling your city office, I imagine you will probably be advised to fly back to Japan to return
Bills will be sent to your registered address as usual and you will be expected to pay these bills. If you have no qualms about this, then everything is fine and dandy. However, if you decide not to pay these bills and you left your spouse or dependents behind, they will be expected to pay any defaulted bills. If your bills go unpaid for an unspecified amount of time, and you have a bank account open or some form of fixed assets maintained in your former city, these assets will eventually be subject to seizure (sashi-osae). Since most people in Ibaraki have accounts with a certain bank whose name starts with the letter “J,” it won’t be hard for tax collection officials to search for your bank account. Even if you haven’t given out bank account information to your City, upon official request, banks will be all too happy to give up this information to tax collection officials.
Be very careful about unpaid taxes of any type. From what I gather these days, many city governments in Ibaraki have been turning up the heat once dunning notices fail to grab attention. One of the reasons for this might be the fact that here in Ibaraki Prefecture, your National Health Insurance premiums or subscriber fees, previously referred to as Kenkou Hoken-ryou, have recently been referred to here in Ibaraki as Kenkou Hoken-zei (National Health Insurance Taxes). One of the reasons for this change that I have heard was the high rate of premium defaults here in Ibaraki. The new classification as a “tax” by definition means not only that these premiums are mandatory as before, but also means that health insurance officials will see their debt collection powers expanded and fast tracked.
If you have left Japan without undergoing proper immigration procedures, there will be no surefire way for you to settle the matter from abroad as far as I know. (If anyone has heard otherwise, please contribute your experiences) Some foreigners have reportedly resorted to sending a copy of their passport, their Alien Registration Card (original doc.), and/or their health insurance card (original doc.) to City Hall from abroad as an attempt to resolve the matter. When you leave Japan, you’re supposed to hand in the Alien Card in person as part of confirmation procedures. Therefore, whether or not by just sending some documents through the mail and pleading with officials over the phone will get you any relief is at the discretion of your local city officials. I suppose the only other option available for those abroad - although I’m not sure what help they can provide - is to consult with the nearest Japanese Embassy. I know the Alien Card makes a good souvenir but if you want to avoid some serious aggravation and bills, remember to heed this advice. When you are leaving Japan to end your current visa (Status of Residence), SURRENDER your Alien Registration Card to Immigration at the airport and explain in explicit language that you want Immigration to cancel your visa. Happy Trails!
NB: There are two types of reentry permits: (A) the single reentry permit and (B) the multiple reentry permit. Single reentry permits “end” upon the holder reentering Japan or when the holder’s current visa ends. Multiple reentry permits, by definition, have no “reentry” limits and will expire at the end of your current visa, usually one year or the current maximum of 3 years.