Application for Permanent Residence

Over 10 years ago, I moved to Japan. I didn’t necessarily intend to stay for more than a year or two, but I loved living here and loved teaching students. Teaching had become the most rewarding job I’ve done in my life, so I didn’t want to leave, and it never felt like my time in Japan was complete. Now, this is where I live. A town full of students or parents of students that I’ve helped teach for more than 10 years. And full of friends and connections that I’ve made over the years.

Now that 10 years has passed, I can apply for Permanent Residence in Japan. In simple terms, Permanent Residence means that I no longer have to renew a work VISA after 3 years and I can buy or build a house. But to me, it means that I’m further established as a part of Japan and don’t intend to leave. It’s the near-equivalent to a Green Card in the US.

Applying for Permanent Residence is not a simple process of filling out a couple of forms. There are many parts to prove your legal employment, payment of taxes, and contribution to Japan. I spent about a month working on the application back in October, only to have it rejected because I hadn’t lived here a complete 10 years yet. Now, 4 months later, my application is complete and it ended up being 47 pages long.

It was so long that I wrote a Table of Contents describing everything that I included, and sectioned everything into different folders to make it as easy as possible for them to see what I’ve included.

Here are the table of contents.

0.      Payment of Fee
1.      Application for Permanent Residence
2.      Photo
3.      Statement of Reason
4.      Proof of Japanese Identity
5.      Proof of Residence
6.      Proof of Employment
7.      Proof of Income and Tax Payment
8.      Proof of Pension Payments and Health Insurance
9.      Proof of Financial Assets
10.    Passport Photo
11.    Residence Card Photo
12.    Guarantor Information and References
13.    Proof of Contributions to Japan
14.    Proof of Japanese Ancestry
15.    Application Oath

The instructions for how to apply for permanent residence can be found on the government Immigration website. They are written in English and in Japanese. My table of contents follows the list of required materials from that page.

Even though, they have an English version that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy to figure out what to do. These instructions are machine translated, and you still need to understand what they’re saying in Japanese because of the specific names for forms, and the specific departments and locations you need to visit. There’s a lot of running around involved getting all the correct documents, so I have detailed everything I did to build my application.

Payment of Fee

0.      手数料
This is not required when you submit your application, but it will be required after your application is successful. You must fill out the Payment form and attach an 8000 revenue stamp to it. Revenue stamps can be purchased from the post office. Obviously, if you’ve been in Japan long enough, you already know how to do this from renewing your VISA.

Here’s the payment form:

Application for Permanent Residence & Photo

1.      永住許可申請書
2.      写真
The first document is the application itself. Again, from renewing a VISA, all the same information is here with the addition of a short version of why you want permanent residence, work history, and guarantor information. For my reason, I wrote "I wish to obtain permanent residence to continue teaching in Japan indefinitely and continue my study of kendo and Japanese culture to further enrich myself." It sounds like a lofty reason, but I have fully explained it in the next section.

Here’s the application form:

Additionally, you’ll need a 40mm x 30mm photo attached to your application.

Statement of Reason

3.      理由書
Perhaps the part of this application that will take the longest is writing about why you want permanent residence in Japan. My short version stated that I wish to teach in Japan indefinitely and continue to learn about Japan, but those ideas are weak unless there is proof. In total, I wrote 3 pages about my time over the last 10 years.

I started with detailing my current responsibilities and accomplishments working at my high school: supporting English teachers in class, leading English writing classes, being an assistant Homeroom teacher, leading classes to prepare students for studying abroad, training students for speech contests and winning them, and teaching foreign exchange students Japanese language and culture.

Next, I detailed my accomplishments and responsibilities working in public elementary and junior high schools as part of the JET Programme, such as supporting English classes and training students for speech contests, but also volunteering in town for English conversations classes supporting the hospital and library, developing summer English camp and other events for students, and developing a full English curriculum for elementary schools.

Also, I detailed my responsibilities as a Regional Prefectural Advisory supporting other ALTs in my region and the prefecture by developing our biannual skills conferences and leading lectures and discussions about lesson planning and ideas, as well as lead monthly meeting for the ALTs in my town.

Finally, I closed my statement of reason with my contributions to the kendo federation in my town. I wrote about how I joined students in their club activities and practiced kendo, what I learned from doing kendo both personally and professionally, and eventually reaching the rank of 3-dan.

3 pages might have been too much for a statement of reason, but I wanted to completely show everything noteworthy that I’ve done in Japan. It was very direct and unemotional, focusing on the facts. My approach to writing the statement was very similar to writing a resume for an application. Overall, I don’t think the statement has to be completely emotionless, but I don’t think it should be the main focus of the argument. Show, don’t tell, as I say to my students.

Even though I wrote all this information in English, I had to rewrite everything in Japanese, too. I had some help with that. I included both English and Japanese versions of my statement in my application.

Proof of Japanese Identity

4.      身分関係を証明する次のいずれかの資料(該当しません)
I am not Japanese, so this was not required for me.

Proof of Residence

5.      住民票
Whenever you move somewhere in Japan, you must register at the town hall so it has a complete and up-to-date record of all of its residents. The application for permanent residence requires a print of this record. It was easy to get from my town’s registrar by filling out a request document and paying 300 for them to print the record.

It has information, such as when you moved to town, current address, previous addresses, nationality, and so forth.

Proof of Employment

6.      在職証明書
In addition to proving that you live somewhere, you also need to prove that you work somewhere. This was pretty easy for me to get since my school is private and not that big. For a larger organization or a government organization, it might take some time for your request to go open the chain and for the document to come back down.

I just went to the office and they created a document that proved my employment. Depending on whichever company you work for, it may be an official document or it may not. I think it just needs to include a statement saying you work there as well as information that can be contacted later. My school/company just made up an official looking document with all the correct information on it.

Proof of Income and Tax Payment

7.      直近(過去年分)の申請人及び申請人を扶養する方の所得及び納税状況を証明する資料
Things start to get more complicated, as a single piece of paper proving your employment isn’t enough. Of course, you need to show that you’ve been paying taxes on the income that you’ve earned. And also show that you’ve been doing it for at least five years.

These documents include the Kazei shoumeisho 課税証明書 and the Nozei shoumeisho 納税証明書. Both documents translate as either Tax Certificate or Taxation Certificate, so looking at the English information about this section may not be helpful. Overall, the Kazei Tax Certificate details how much taxes you had to pay and what taxes you had to pay on your income within a given year. The Nozei Tax Certificate details the amount of taxes you still owe for a given year. Essentially, Kazei is like an itemized bill, and Zozei is the receipt.

Each document you’ll need for 5 years. For my town, I had a single Kazei Certificate for each year. For the Nozei Certificate, each year could be written on the same document. For each document, for each year, it cost 300. So for all the documents, my bill would’ve been 3000.

However, update, when I initially turned in my application, I forgot to get 5 years for the Nozei Certificate. I was able to turn in my application, but I needed to mail in the correct form within two weeks. They gave me an envelope and a sheet that described the document I was missing. Another problem, though: my town only keeps the Nozei Tax Certificate up to 4 years, instead of the 5 years they wanted. I called them, and they said 4 years was fine. So, my bill was actually 2700 for these documents.

Additionally! There’s another version of the Nozei Tax Certificate that is required. Besides the Tax Record office in city hall, I went to my town’s official Tax Office. Requesting the Nozei Tax Certificate from them shows them I’ve paid all debts and taxes across all government departments and agencies, as well as never missed any payment for any bills or loan. This document cost 500 to print.

In addition, to these tax documents, I had to include a photo of my bank book that proved I was getting paid the correct income.

So, for this section, I included the following documents:
·        課税証明書(過去年分)- Kazei Tax Certificate (5 years)
·        納税証明書 - Nozei Tax Certificate (5 years)
·        納税証明書(未払いの税金がないことを証明するためのパート3- Nozei Cert proving no upaid taxes
·        預貯金通帳(写し)- Photo proving income.

Proof of Pension Payments and Health Insurance

8.      申請人の公的年金及び公的医療保険の保険料の納付状況を証明する資料
Now that I had shown that I am legally employed, getting legally paid, and responsibly paying taxes on my legal income, I need to show that I’m paying into either my company’s pension or the government’s pension for at least two years. Also that I have health insurance.

This section was somewhat difficult to follow. Initially, I just took a photo copy of my annual pension report that I had gotten in mail, but (update!) apparently that wasn’t enough. A few days after I turned in my application, I got a letter in the mail requesting another form. The form they wanted detailed all of my pension payments, and each pension that I’ve contributed to. It was called the Hihokenja Chousho Shoukai Kaitou-hyou 被保険者調書照会回答票 or the “Insurance Record Inquiry Report,” I think? I’m not sure why it says insurance when its about pensions.

To get this form, I had to go to my town’s Pension office and request these forms. Prior to going to the office, I had some co-workers give them a call to make sure I was getting the right forms, and they were able to prepare everything for me before I arrived. It turned a possible 40-minute wait into 5 minutes. This document was also 500.

Looking at this document, I’ve contributed into a government pension when I worked for the city as a teacher, and I’ve contributed to a private pension I have with my current job.

The letter wanted me to include receipts from any contributions to the government’s individual pension service, but I never did that, so I didn’t have any.

For the health insurance card, I just took a photo of it and blacked out the account number.

So, this is what I included from this section:
·        ねんきん定期便(写し)
·        被保険者調書照会回答票
·        健康保険被保険者証(写し)

Proof of Financial Assets

9.      申請人又は申請人を扶養する方の資産を証明する次のいずれかの資料
For the next part, I had to show all of Japanese financial assets. At minimum, I had to take photo copies of my bank statements to show how much money I have in Japan. I don’t have a house, so I didn’t have anything to show there. I do have a car, but I didn’t include any proof of that. Maybe I should have?

Passport Photo and Residence Card Photo

10.      申請人のパスポート(写し)
11.      申請人の在留カード(写し)
I included photo copies of my passport and residence card with my application, but this is not really necessary. When you turn in your application, you’ll need to also show them both of these, and they can take a photo copy themselves, at this time. I included these to save time.

Guarantor Information and References

12.      身元保証に関する資料
A current Japanese citizen needs to vouch for who I am, what I stand for, and state that I would make a contribution to Japan by becoming a Japanese permanent resident. This person should be someone you know pretty well, and have a good relationship with. My principal at school has always sponsored my VISA, as well as other documents that required official clearance, so he was an easy choice as a guarantor.

They need to fill in the guarantor form and prove who they are. For my guarantor, we included the following:
·        身元保証書 - the guarantor application
·        運転免許証 - a photo copy of their ID (driver’s license, in this case)
·        在職証明書 - proof of employment, wherever they work.
·        納税証明書 - proof of tax payments. (Nozei Tax Certificate)
·        住民票 - proof of residence.

Here’s the guarantor form: (Japanese) (English)

Contributions to Japan

13.      我が国への貢献に係る資料(ある場合のみで結構です。)
This is the last meaty section of the application. For this section, I included my letters of recommendation and other certificates and awards of accomplishments.

In the end, I had 3 recommendation letters: one letter from the principal, one letter from the head of our English department, and one letter from head of the Kendo federation in my town. Each letter of recommendation talked about the contributions that I made to my school and kendo in town, and talked about why they think I should be awarded permanent residence.

Additional documents that I included were proof of things mentioned in either my Statement of Reason or their Letters of Recommendation. I included a photo of my kendo license showing participation for 10 years, my 3-dan diploma, and certificates of participation for 3 years in the international budo conference. I also included a photo of my driver’s license to show that not only do I have a license, but maintaining a perfect and safe driving record to be awarded a 5-year gold license.

All in all, here were my documents for this section.
·        推薦状 – Letter of Recommendation (from principal)
·        推薦状 – Letter of Recommendation (from head of English)
·        推薦状 – Letter of Recommendation (from Kendo Federation)
·        剣道免許(写し)- Kendo License Photo
·        剣道段免許(写し)- Kendo 3-dan Diploma
·        国際武道文化セミナー 修了証 年分) - International Budo Conference particpation
·        運転免許証(写し)- Photo of Gold Driver’s License

Proof of Japanese Ancestry

14.      身分を証する文書等(該当しません)
I’m not Japanese, so I did not need to do this.

I’m not sure if this one is proof of ancestry or identity, or what the difference is between part 4 above. For one of these, there is some kind of official family document Japanese people have that shows all of their registered family members, and you need to include a photo copy of it.

Application Oath

15.      了解書 
The final document required is signing the application oath form. By signing this, you agree that if anything information within the application changes over the next 4 to 6 months, you must notify immigration about these changes and update your application. (English)


That’s everything. It doesn’t really seem like all that much once I finished making everything and putting it together. However, a lot of the time spent on the application is figuring out exactly what is required and where to go. The tax and pensions details are pretty tricky. I think my situation is pretty easy because I’ve only had the one job in the last 5 years, and the job is run by a professional organization. I also don’t have a house. Although, getting those documents probably aren’t too tough.

On February 13th, I drove up north to Toyama and turned in my application at Toyama Branch Office of the Nagoya Regional Immigration Bureau. A long time ago, I figured out that very few people actually go to this branch office, so the wait time is never more than 5 minutes. In Gifu, wait times can be as long as 45 minutes. And in Nagoya, a friend of mine waited for an hour and a half once.

Again, the clerk instantly noticed one probably with my application (the Nozei Tax Certificate not being 5 years), so I had to submit that afterward. I also got a letter in the mail on February 17th about the pension document. But, they accepted my application, and I’ve mailed those requested document as soon as I could. All documents were submitted as of February 21st, and I have not received any more letters about any more problems. I think it’s all good!

Typically these application can take up to six months to be completely reviewed and responded to, but the clerk mentioned that it may only take three months to be complete. Over the last three years, thanks to Covid, the number of people moving to Japan has significantly decreased because the government shut down travel. Previously, my VISA application would take 4 weeks to get approved, but it only took a week last year.

Hopefully, by May, I’ll get the postcard in the mail to come back down and get my card. :)