How to Get a Japan Re-Entry Permit

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So, you’re leaving Japan, huh? You’re not alone. With the aftermath of the earthquake threatening the very safety of the food we eat, the tap water we use everyday. Coupling this with unsettling aftershocks and towns that have been completely wiped out, a number of people are deciding to leave Japan.

Do you blame them for wanting to leave? I know I don’t. Japan is a wonderful place, but safety is important. Under better circumstances, the mass exodus would usually happen during Golden Week, when people have a national holiday to take that hardcore, power vacation of their dreams…the one they’ve been putting off for so long. But, sadly, that’s not the case right now.

Before you leave, let’s do a quick check. Do you have your suitcase? Check. Do you have your cool, leopard print speedos/string bikini to walk around on the beach with? Ummm (barf) check. Do you have your suitcase? Check. How about your plane ticket? Check. Passport? Check. Visa Re-Entry Stamp? No!?!?

Hurry, you don’t have much time! Let me tell you exactly what you need to do.

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Okay, before you get ready to dash off on a much needed vacation, please remember that if you plan to come back to Japan to live or work, YOU HAVE TO HAVE A RE-ENTRY PERMIT. I nearly forgot to get mine before my last trip home, so I know how it can be sometimes. If you didn’t get your visa re-entry stamp at least the day before your trip, you may have a bit of a problem. Now, if you have enough time before your flight leaves I think you could potentially pull it off, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Just get your re-entry stamp way in advance and you can just rest easy, right?

What is a Japan Re-Entry Permit?

A Japan visa re-entry stamp is a small sticker that goes in your passport that allows you to (legally) get back into Japan after having left. There are two types of re-entry permits: 1) a single re-entry permit and 2) a multiple re-entry permit. I definitely recommend getting the latter of the two because then you can enter and leave Japan as you please provided that your visa is still valid.

Why Do I Need a Japan Re-Entry Permit?

Why they make you have one, I couldn’t tell you to be honest. But it’s the way things work here. Even if you have a work visa that’s valid, you have to have this permit to get back into Japan. Without this sticker, not only will you not be able to get back into the country, but your Japan Work Visa will become null and void. YIKES!

Where do I go to get one?

Go to your nearest immigration office. There are two offices that I can choose from. The Immigration Office in Mito (Ibaraki, Japan) or the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau in Shinagawa.

What are Immigration Office’s Hours of Business?

I’m not sure about all immigration offices, but the Shinagawa office is open from 9:00am to 12:00pm and from 1:00pm to 4:00pm, excluding weekends and national holidays of course.

How Much Does a Japan Re-Entry Permit Cost?

A Single Re-Entry Permit will cost you 3,000 yen.
A Multiple Re-Entry Permit will cost you 6,000 yen.

What Do I Need to Bring In Order to Get a Re-Entry Permit?

You will need three items in order to get your Re-Entry Permit: 1) Your Passport, 2) Your Alien Registration Card, and 3) Revenue Stamps for a Re-Entry Permit.

**When you get your permit, you’ll be buying revenue stamps instead of paying the immigration office directly. If you’re not sure how to ask for revenue stamps, don’t sweat it. You can go to the immigration office, fill out the paperwork, and they will give you a “Certificate For Payment of Fee” form that you can show to your nearest convenience store clerk and get your stamps (it’s really easy…I promise).**

What Paperwork do I have to fill out to get my Japan Re-Entry Permit?

It’s a one-page document that’s in both English and Japanese. Here’s what it looks like:

You can get this at the Immigration Office.

How long Does it Take to Get a Japan Visa Re-Entry Permit?

From my experience, not very long. Unlike Visa renewals, you can get visa re-entry stickers the same day you apply for them, and the last time I went, it literally took me about thirty minutes from start to finish. Keep in mind that times will vary depending on how busy the immigration office is that day.

What Happens if I Change my Visa Status? Will I need a new Japan Re-Entry Permit

Yes, you will. I was asking about this the last time I went to the Immigration Office in Shinagawa. I currently hold a Specialist in Humanities Visa, but in the next few weeks I will be changing to an Instructor’s Visa.

I was in between jobs when I decided to go home for my last visit, so I was trying to decide if I should purchase a single or multiple re-entry permit. I didn’t know if the re-entry permit would carry over to my new Visa.I didn’t want to waste money buying a multiple permit if I was just going to have to come back and buy another one anyway.

But now I know, it doesn’t carry over. If you change visas after getting a re-entry permit, you WILL have to get a new re-entry permit. But again, don’t worry, because it’s not a difficult thing to do.
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If any of this seems overwhelming, keep in mind that there have been hundreds upon hundreds of foreigners who’ve done the same…YOU CAN DO THIS!!

Good luck,

Donald Ash
p.s.-If you need a map of how to get to the Mito or Tokyo Immigration Offices please take a look at the My Japanese Visa Renewal post I did a while back.

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  • Mia

    So, does this mean you’ve gotten your re-entry stamp and you’re coming home until all of this is over??

    • Donald Ash

      Unfortunately, it doesn’t, Mia :(
      I will still be here in Japan. I wish I knew when it was going to be over, but it’s better than a lot of people think (at least here in this town it is).

  • clive bugle

    dont worry about the radiation. stay here and eat curry. i did!

    • Donald Ash

      The legendary Clive Paul Bugle. Thanks for stopping by to post!! Good idea, Clive. I love the curry here in Tsukuba. When you eat it, everything’s just right with the world. Your advice is as clever as your name is cool, lol.

  • William

    Nice job, Donnie. Are these forms available online?

  • jason

    hi donald! thanks so much for posting this! i have a question…hopefully you can provide some insight.

    i’m currently in tokyo on a working holiday visa which will expire on july 1st. i’ll be going to the immigration office sometime this month to extend the visa for another 6 months. my question is: should i also apply for my re-entry permit at the same time? or do i have to wait until my extension is approved before i can apply for it?

    any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated!
    thank you!

    jason

    • Donald Ash

      That’s a good question Jason. Although I have heard from someone that there’s a way to apply for your re-entry permit at the same time as your renewal, I’ve never tried it. If I find out I’ll be sure to let you know.

      I usually wait for my visa approval before getting my re-entry stamp.

      With most visa renewals you end up having to go back to the immigration office again anyway (after being notified via an immigration office post card) so I think it works out perfectly. While renewals aren’t usually finished on the same day you submit the request, re-entry permits are. I hope that helps :)

      • jason

        thanks donald!

        • Donald Ash

          Anytime, man :)

  • zin

    What if you’ve yet to receive your gaijin card but have an official notice saying you applied for one? Can you use that in lieu of a gaijin card?

    • Donald Ash

      Hey Zin

      Awesome question!! Every foreigner who comes gets that official note as it takes time for the card to process. You can use that paper for some things, but I found that I wasn’t able to use the notice for what I wanted most…a cell phone. I do remember using it to sign up at an internet cafe. But that was more than three years ago, so I don’t know if rules have changed. Is there anything in particular you were wanting to do?

      • zin

        Oh yeah, I just wanted to know if I could use that to get my reentry permit.

        • Donald Ash

          I’ve never tried that, before, Zin. I’m stumped on this one. Actually I don’t know anyone who’s tried it before, either. I wonder if it’s possible. Now my curiosity is piqued.

          I don’t know if anyone will reply, but do any readers out there know of anybody who’s gotten a re-entry permit with just their official gaijin card notice?

          Thanks for posting, Zin.

          • jason

            Hi Donald and Zin,

            I’ve gotten my re-entry permit using the official notice! It works!

            Jason

          • zin

            Thanks!

          • Donald Ash

            Anytime :)

  • Sheldon

    I am planning to get my re-entry permit soon on Dec. 27th. I know and I hope that the immigration office in Utsunomiya will be open. Can I get the revenue stamps at the immigration office? What is that special thing I need to fill out when I am leaving Japan at the Narita Airport? Can I get it at the airport or any international prot of departure?

    • jace

      hi sheldon. revenue stamps can be purchased pretty much at any convenence store but i’m guessing there should be one nearby any immigration office as those are the only accepted form of payment. when leaving japan you need to fill out a embarkation card which is provided at the immigration desk at the airport – make sure you pick up the correct version of the form (ie, for re-entry permit holders).

      • Donald Ash

        Nice! Thanks for posting, Jace!

    • Donald Ash

      Hey Sheldon. December 27th, huh? That’s right around the corner…cool! :D As far as your questions go, Jace is spot on. You can get your revenue stamps from any convenience store. After filling out the initial form, if you don’t have the stamps on you. The immigration office will actually direct you to the nearest convience store. Don’t worry though, in most places I’ve been to, convenience stores are all over the place.

      I do remember filling out the embarkation/disembarkation card when coming here, but I don’t remember if I did it when I was flying home. Don’t fret too much about these either, they’re really short and straightforward.The form just asks basic questions like your name, address in Japan, your home country’s address, purpose of your visit, money/items you’re bring into the country, etc. I don’t remember exactly but I want to say the Narita staff will keep the disembarkation section, and the embarkation piece was stapled into my passport…I think that’s right. I don’t know if that was the case when I was returning after visiting home, though.

  • Amy

    TTTTHHHHHAAAAAANNNKKKKYYOOOOUUUUU!!!!

    • Donald Ash

      Haha…ANNNNNYYYYYYYTIIIIMMMME!

  • gusan

    great post, it really helped out; but i made one tiny mistake and hope you can answer my question.
    i got my re-entry permit and then realized ,once i got home, i wrote down the wrong airport; will this be a problem?

  • http://www.shakti.jp shakti

    This is the most useful explanation I’ve seen. Thank you very much for being so thorough and making it so simple. I know it is just as you state it but I forget about after 5 years when the last one runs out.
    I really appreciate your effort.

    I’ll keep coming back to eat curry too. (though maybe not in Tsukuba)
    I love it here.
    Shakti

  • Zandro Flores

    how about having technical trainee visa can we apply this re.entry permit?

    • Donald Ash

      I don’t know if they’ve changed the reentry permit system yet, but I think all foreign visas prior to a certain date have to get a similar reentry permit to be able to leave and return to Japan freely. Please be sure to ask, and check the immigration website if you’re unsure.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lovelyleng.com Emily Matsuda

    hello.can i ask something about the change of residence card….if ever we change the alien card ..how about the re entry permit? still the same ,to get re entry permit to immigration …thank you …

  • Noor

    my re entry permitto Japan will end 26/6/2012 and i cant make it there before that time.
    what will happen with my permanent resident visa, Advise pls

  • criselda

    how about the half japanese,,,4th time to visit me in philiphines ,,,he need re entry permit ,,how its faster we will go in 10 of august

  • Karim

    There is a new rule since the 9th July 2012, you don’t need to apply to reentry permit if you will be reentering Japan within 1 year of your departure.

    Please check :
    http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/newimmiact_1/en/point_3-4.html

  • Dennis

    I like your clear delivery of useful content. I have lived in Japan as a foreigner for 42 years and I agree with your recommendations. “Get the multiple re-entry. After being in Japan for 20 years, I got a single re-entry permit to save money. Long story short, I had to prove 20 years of paying taxes and prove I still lived with my Japanese wife and two children to keep my permanent residence (which they wanted to cancel.) Do you think an extra 3,000 yen was worth all that experience?

  • vartan askerian

    hi to everyone
    about me : i’m syrian armenian i holding syrian passport and i’m in japan almost 6 months by extending visa 90day and i want to apply refugee because the situation in my country is verry danger and i have loss my job there and my home but still my family there , so i will apply on refugee in japan and stay here until immigration give me right to work visa and i know that’s i can’t go outside japan until 3 years or 5 years, but my important question can come my fiancee here in japan by visitor visa and we get married here in japan and she get right visa to live with me and any time if she need to go to visit her family and come bag again in japan ???? or not she will live like me also without go outside japan ? this is my question to know about. for my question answer please re-mail me on onemanisdream@hotmail.com thanks .

  • idiot

    THIS INFORMATION IS OUTDATED AS OF 2013. THE SYSTEM CHANGED. DO NOT GO TO THE IMMIGRATION BUREAU FOR A REENTRY PERMIT IF YOU’RE JUST TAKING A TRIP HOME. DO NOT BE AN IDIOT LIKE ME. FUCK.

    This should be the heading for the whole article, goddamn.

  • JEN

    I am a Bahraini National and currently in Japan on a tourist visa. During my 90 day stay, I want to
    travel for 10 days outside of Japan and return to Japan. Do I need a re-entry
    permit before I leave Japan, or will I be given another 90 day tourist visa upon
    my return to Japan?

  • tony

    I visit japan as a USA citizen was there for 90. but need to go back cause my girl friend is given birth what do i do?

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