My Japanese Visa Renewal…HOORAY!!

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(There is a brief video included at the bottom of this post)

My First Japanese Working Visa

Did I tell you that I got my visa renewed? Well I am pleased to report that on November 8th, 2010, I received an extension for my Japan, work visa. This means that, if I choose, I can stay in Japan until January 11, 2014. Check it out:

Visa Extension 2010

What is a Visa Exactly?

Essentially a visa is the permission or endorsement from a country to allow an individual to stay in that country for a specified period of time. There are many different types of visas and the one you get really depends on what you’ll be doing while you’re in a given country. There are several major visa classifications and with each respective classification there can be sub-classifications. Although I don’t know them all, here are some examples of the different kinds of visas:

Temporary Visitor’s Visa

For people coming to Japan for sightseeing, tourism, and things of that nature.

Diplomatic Visa

For politicians and foreign officials.

General Visa

Which can include subcategories: College Student, Cultural Activities, Dependent, etc.

Work Visa

This is the category my visa falls under. This is also the visa with the most subcategories in Japan, some of which include (but are not limited to) Engineer, Entertainers (if you’re lucky enough to become a model or actor, you could get sponsorship), Skilled Labor, Specialist in Humanities/International Services (my visa), Instructor (usually for public school), investor/business manager, etc.

Official Visa

For individuals involved in official business for a foreign government

Specified Visa

This visa is for the spouse or child of a Japanese national. So if you were to marry a Japanese person this is a potential Visa classification you could have.

The Japan Visa Renewal/Japan Visa Extension Process

At the Japan Immigration office, it’s formally called the “Application for Extension of Period of Stay.” As that’s quite a mouthful to say, we’ll stick with The “visa renewal” or “visa extension” process when we refer to it. Anyhow, the follows only five basic steps to get your Japan visa renewed:

1) Go to your local Immigration Bureau, or the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau in Shinagawa if it’s more convenient.

2) Submit your visa renewal application- This office has all of the paperwork you can stomach. But for visa renewals and re-entries permits, I haven’t had to fill out any more than a single page of information.

3) Obtain your renewal notification postcard- After submitting your application, you’ll fill out a postcard which will be mailed to you 2-4 weeks later. Or a notification will be stapled in your passport notifying you of when to come back to finish the renewal.

4) Go back to the Immigration Bureau with your renewal update postcard, passport, and proper identification.

5) Obtain your passport renewal stamp…YAY!!

How Much Does Visa Renewal Cost in Japan?

Renewing the visa really wasn’t so expensive. It cost me about 2600 yen for the ride to Shinagawa and the visa itself only required ¥4000 in revenue stamps. I work for a company that paid for both transportation to and from Shinagawa and for the revenue stamps.

Where Can I Go to Get My Japanese Visa Renewed?

When I came to Japan, the first thing I did was to apply for my Alien Registration Card at Tsukuba’s City Hall. Because I am officially registered in Ibaraki, I am able to go to one of two places for renewal:

The Immigration Office in Mito (capital of Ibaraki). The phone number is 029-300-3601.

Mito Immigration Bureau Map


The Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau in Shinagawa (Here’s the Phone Number if you need it: 03-5796-7111). I think everyone has the option of going to this office. For me, it was much cheaper to go here:

Tokyo Regional Immigration Burea Map (Shinagawa)

For you, whichever prefecture you registered in should have an Immigration Bureau in a pretty central location. If it’s a bit far from you (as it is in my case), you may want to find out if you can go to another bureau for your renewal.

What Do I Need to Bring?

In my case I needed to bring the following five things:
1. Company documentation: This was official info about company earnings, my personal income statement, etc. I didn’t have to do anything, it was given to me before I went.
2. Your Passport
3. Your Alien Registration Card (ARC)
4. Your Health Insurance Card-Proof of enrollment in Japan’s social insurance system.
5. Revenue Stamps- I need ¥4000 worth, which my company provided for me. But you can get revenue stamps from any Japanese convenience store. You just have to know what to ask for. In Japanese, Shunyuinshi (しゅうにゅういんし or 収入印紙) means revenue stamp.

I don’t know about all visas, but I think certain things will be standard. Your passport, alien card, and health insurance cards will be a given. The biggest difference lies in the company paperwork that you’ll have to submit. If you are unsure of what to bring, it may be wise to take someone from your company with you. This will keep you from having to make unnecessary trips. Revenue stamps are optional as you can buy them once you get there.

What Times Can I go?

The Immigration Bureaus that I have been to have been open from 9:00am to 12:00pm and from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. I recommend just going early and getting it out of the way, there were some pretty big lines at the Shinagawa Office. Mito wasn’t so crowded, though.

How Long Does the Visa Process Take to Complete?

After my initial visit to the Immigration Bureau to submit my renewal paperwork, it took exactly two weeks to receive notification that the visa process was complete. However, it can take up to one month for a visa renewal to process. I can only speak from an American English teacher’s perspective, though. I would imagine that the processing times, and the application process itself will vary from visa to visa and individual to individual.

If you work for a decent company, your renewal process should go pretty smoothly. Should you run into complications, take a deep breath, and keep in mind that most likely, there’s another foreigner who’s been through the exact same thing and made it through just fine. You’ll be okay, just stay informed.

Thanks for reading,

Donald Ash

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  • Ryan McGuinness

    Congratulations on your Visa renewal!

    • Donald Ash

      Thanks Ryan! I appreciate that. I’m a happy guy.

  • Vivian

    Ran into your article after searching for info about the stamp (if it can be bought at all Mito conbini) and thought it funny.

    Small world, Tsukuba is.

    You are living…..independently and out of the McEnglish now/soon?

    Cheers and take care
    Vivian (MOGer…from the pre-train Tsukuba days!)

    • Donald Ash

      Funny you should ask. My farewell party is tomorrow. I’m going to visit home for a little while, but I’m going to stay here for a bit. It’s good to hear from you, Vivian. I wanted to meet you in person, but never quite got the chance. Maybe some day, ne?

  • Vivian

    I ran into you at the school while hunting for a Santa. :)

    And saw you often randomly while shopping.

    Hard to miss Aeon teachers at MOG.

    Take care. Get insurance after u quite. I recommend Interglobal!!!


    • Donald Ash

      Yeah, I guess I am pretty hard to miss. Thanks Vivian, that’s good advice, I’ll definitely have to look into that. Please drop by anytime. It’s always good to hear from a fellow, former-AEON teacher.

  • Vivian

    perry wants to get in touch w/u too. :) he is a vet around here, has good advice for people and has been there, has a fam now, like me.

    so yeah…we should party sometime after u get bk.

    btw, are you interested in getting students nights/weekends? i was thinking that a bunch of us could get together and post an ad, share the cost for it.

    let me know about it by email!

  • Ike

    thanks! Ive been here for 8 yrs and when my visa is up I always forget about the visa acquiring details .

    Those three year extensions really help you forget the process.LOL

    great post, thanks again!

  • Michelle

    Congrats to you, and THANK YOU for all the info. I’m in the process of renewing my visa right now and I needed some extra help with the revenue stamp (specifically how to spell it properly in Japanese… my boss writes everything in English).

    • Donald Ash

      Thanks, Michelle. I’m SOOO happy it’s helpful. I know visa stuff can be a little intimidating, but I have know doubt you’ll get through it with no problems. Good luck, let me know how it goes :)

  • James

    Hey Donald,

    Thanks for the post! This was really helpful, as I’ve been filling out my Visa renewal application today. I’m one of four fluent English speakers in my office, and the one I usually have help me with these things is on a business trip right now. Living in Odawara, Japan is a challenge if your Japanese isn’t very good yet.

    Basically, my Visa is a Specialist in Humanities/Intl. Services. The only question I’m still having is that there are like 3 pages to this form. Do I only need to fill out the first one? The second two are both referring to Journalist/Researcher/Intra-company Transferees. That’s not what I do, I was hired directly by a company here and do marketing for them. I should only have to fill out the first one right? I’d hate to get to the immigration bureau next week and not have the proper paperwork filled out. Anyway, thanks again! Your article really made me take a deep breath and relax.

  • David

    Just one small correction, I don’t think most convenience stores sell the proper type of revenue stamp しゅうにゅういんし。Most only sell ¥200 versions. Post offices will sell them though.

    Another document which you will likely need is proof that you’ve paid residence taxes. nozei shoumeisho or similar.

    Good write up. Better than a lot of similar on the web. I have had numerous renewals over the years—don’t really want to mess with a permanent visa, but may next time. Even my wife, who is Japanese, has problems understanding what is needed at the government website.

    And it’s all gonna change this summer anyway.

    • Donald Ash

      Thanks for your post, David. Really? At that immigration office in Shinagawa, the clerk sent me to the convenience store to get revenue stamps from a Family Mart inside the bureau. In Mito, they sent me to a convenience store, too. I’m not sure, could it be different from place to place?

      Oh, yeah, taxes. You’re right. I guess this job is the first one where I’ve had to handle the tax stuff on my own. Before, my company took care of that side of thinks. Add nozei shoumeisho to the list, for sure.

      Change this summer? Are you moving?

      • Random Poster

        Well, it’s different for conbinis that share the same building as the immigration bureau. But if you just go on up to a conbini, you’ll find it’s not available.

    • DeathToBakla

      Why not apply for citizenship?

      • Harumaki

        Japan does not allow dual citizenship and not everyone is willing to give up their original citizenship. Also getting the citizenship is said to be a lot harder than getting the permanent residency. I have been in Japan 6 years now (on spouse visa), and I am filing an application for permanent residency this month. Wish me luck…!

  • Rana khan

    hi donald Ash, thanks for your information about Japanese visa Renewal system. There one of my nephew face to problem some documentation, but after reading your post i think this is too help him to find out his main problem and i hope this time he successfully submit his paper. thanks a lot.

    • Donald Ash

      Hey Rana, I’m really glad I could help. Thanks for checking out my site :)

  • marie

    thank u so much for sharing! very helpful indeed.

  • Honey

    I am honey.i have work visa of one year,but i came back to my country pakistan last visa expiry time was 17 of apirl 2012 with single re-entry, but due to some reason i cant come to japan again. Now what will i do apply for again get my visa either renewing application from my home country ?
    Or i again will apply eligibility certificate? Plzzz any guy guide me about that matter. I want to come on my same status. Thanks. Above was a very interesting description and very informative.

  • Random Poster

    Most times you can get the revenue stamp at the immigration office, but not always. Best to check, or if all else fails, go to your local post office.

  • susana

    Hello Donald. My nephew will return to Japan and I’m making his electronic permission to transit for Mexico. But, I don’t know wich is the Japanese visa number, he has the first visa and then EXTENSION PERMIT (that small one). If you know, could you tell me which is the Japanese visa number?. Thank you

  • Vandredz

    Hey donald, Your visa is a single entry only. It means that when you go out from Japan, your visa will reset again and it depends to the immigration of how many days he will give you when you enter to japan again. You need to apply for a Resident visa based on the extension of your visa period of stay. Understand???

    • Donald Ash

      Hey Vandredz!

      Yeah, it does say single on the visa, but around the same time, I had gotten a multiple re-entry permit to enter and leave Japan freely for the three years that my visa is valid. But with the new immigration system, even the reentry permits won’t be necessary unless you’re staying out of Japan longer than a year. Pretty cool stuff.

      Thanks for posting :D

  • ahimsalove

    Nice article, but would have been a little easier if you put links to the documents we need to apply for visa renewal. Anyway thanks for the info. Im sure it will help people

  • jamir

    Hi! How did you go to Japan and get a job? What visa did you obtain? Is it a Tourist Visa?

    • DeathToBakla

      Does any country give you a tourist visa to work???

      As for what type of visa?….There is a picture of it on the page…


  • Mike

    Hi , the immigration ask me for additional document with a return envelope which I need to send on or before 9/26 .The deadline of immigration for me to provide the docs is set on 9/26. My question is, would it be possible if I will go to immigration office and give the additional docs in person or do I really need to use their return envelope and send it via post mail. My concern is if I use postmail it might not reach immigration by 9/26. Please advise

  • Paula Ford

    Hi Donald, Where can I get about four lines on a bank statement translated from Japanese to English?
    Thank you

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