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.
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.
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!!
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.