Are you a foreign resident who is considering becoming permanent in Japan? Looking for a way to maintain a stable life in Japan that will allow you have easier access to mortgages, loans from banks, and have freedom to work in most jobs in Japan? If so, you might want to consider getting permanent residency (永住権). Permanent residency allows you to live in Japan without worrying about renewing your status of residence. Your residence card will need to be renewed every seven years. Also, permanent residency will give you a freedom to work in mostly any field that you want. Plus, keep in mind to those who are considering paying property in Japan. Permanent residency will show that you have a stable footing in Japan, and you will not be considered that much of a risk.

There are several ways in which you can apply for permanent residency.

  1. Are you married to Japanese national or a Permanent Resident?
    • Then you must be married for at least three years, with one of those years living in Japan.
  2. Are you a child of Japanese parents?
    • Then you must stay in Japan for at least one year.
  3. Are you a holder of a “Long Term Resident” status?
    • Then you must have lived in Japan for five years consecutively under this status.
  4. Are you a recognized as a refugee?
  • Then you must have lived in Japan for five years consecutively under this status.
  1. Are you recognized as a Highly Skilled Professional?
    -After acquiring the recognition, you will have to wait for four years and six months.
  2. Are you applying by regular application?
  • Then you must have lived in Japan for ten years.

If any of these categories apply to your current situation, then you may apply for permanent residency.

Besides the waiting times, there are also other prerequisites: First, you must have good conduct. In other words, you must observe Japanese laws and do not invite social criticism. Second, you must have sufficient assets or ability to have an independent living in Japan. Third, you must be in accord with interests with Japan. In order to qualify for this, you must have lived in Japan for ten years consecutively AND have 5 years of a work permit or status of residence consecutively. Please keep in mind that the first and second prerequisites do not apply to those who are applying by having a spouse of Japanese national or holder of permanent residence and child of Japanese parents applications. The second requirement does not apply to for those who are recognized refugees.

These qualifications can be troublesome for many individuals especially those in the language teaching industry and certain others who work under contract due to migrant nature of the business. Usually a full explanation is needed in order to show reasons why the “job change” was necessary. You must have paid all of your Japanese taxes and have no criminal record. Furthermore, the maximum period of stay allowed with your current status of residency has to fully utilized before applying.

Most permanent residency applications are denied due to failure to pay Japanese taxes and social insurance premiums (health insurance and pension). Another reason is that people do not have enough money to pass the current financial threshold. The current thresholds are the following:

  • Single person: 3,300,000 yen
  • Married: 4,000,000 yen
  • Married with child: 4,500,000 yen

When applying for permanent residency, you are required to submit copies of bank accounts and tax records to immigration. Also with the implementation of the “My Number” system that will be in place soon in Japan, immigration officials will have an easier time to determine if you are paying Japanese taxes and check records of payments for social health insurance and pension programs.

Now, you are going to have to write out an application form (can be written in English) and have to submit a plethora of documents.

The documents vary from those applying by regular applications and highly skilled professionals and those who are applying by having a spouse who is a Japanese national or holder of permanent residence, child of Japanese parents, and recognized refugee. Please keep in mind that the list of necessary documents for the application are not listed in English but only listed in Japanese on the official Ministry of Justice immigration website.

Here are the necessary documents.

Spouse of Japanese national or PR/ child of Japanese parents/ recognized refugee

  1. Application form
  2. Photo
  3. Copy of the following documents:
    • Marriage to Japanese: family register of spouse (配偶者の方の戸籍謄本)
    • Child of Japanese parents; parent’s family register(日本人親の戸籍謄本)
    • Marriage to PR: marriage certificate (配偶者との婚姻証明書)
  4. Certificate of Residence (住民票)
  5. Documents to show employment:
    • If employed by a company: employment certificate (在職証明書)
    • If you are company executive: certified copy of corporate register
    • If you are self-employed: final tax return statements and record of payments into the National Health and Pension programs. (確定申告書控えの写し/営業許可書の写しある場合)
  6. To show payment of Japanese taxes and overall income: copy of your recent residential tax payment record and tax payment record in which your gross salary and tax situation is described for one year. (住民税の課税又は非課税)証明書及び納税証明書年間の総所得及び納税状況が記載されたもの) Also, in some cases you may need to submit a copy of your bank account.
  7. Passport
  8. Resident Card
  9. Guarantor
    • Application for guarantor (身元保証書)
    • Guarantor’s seal (身元保証人の印鑑)
    • Documents to show profession
    • Income certificate of guarantor (職業を証明する資料/直近(過去1年分の所得証明書)
    • Resident Certificate (住民票)|

Regular application/Recognized as a Highly Skilled professional

  1. Application form
  2. Photo
  3. Reason for Permanent Residence (written in Japanese or professionally translated)理由書 1通 ※ 永住許可を必要とする理由について,自由な形式で書いて下さい。 ※ 日本語以外で記載する場合は,翻訳文が必要です。
  4. Copies of the following documents:
    • Family Register 戸籍謄本
    • Birth Certificate出生証明書
    • Marriage Certificate 婚姻証明書-Recognition of Matters Certificate 認知届の記載事項証明書
    • A combination of the above listed items (Basically give them as much as you have!)
  5. Certificate of Residence (住民票)|
  6. Documents to show employment:
    • If employed by a company: employment certificate(在職証明書)
    • If you are company executive: certified copy of corporate register
    • If you are self-employed: final tax return statements and record of payments into the National Health and Pension programs. (確定申告書控えの写し/営業許可書の写し(ある場合)
  7. To show payment of Japanese taxes and overall income: copy of your recent residential tax payment record and tax payment record in which your gross salary and tax situation is described for one year.(住民税の課税(又は非課税)証明書及び納税証明書(1年間の総所得及び納税状況が記載されたもの)
  8. To show your income, you will need to submit copies of the following: ① a copy of your bank account,② real estate holdings, or combination of the two. 預貯金通帳の写し/不動産の登記事項証明書上記(1)及び(2)に準ずるもの
  9. Passport
  10. Resident Card
  11. Guarantor
    • Application for guarantor (身元保証書)
    • Guarantor’s seal (身元保証人の印鑑)
    • Documents to show profession
    • Income certificate of guarantor (職業を証明する資料/直近(過去1年分の所得証明書)
    • Resident Certificate (住民票)
  12. Documentation to show how you contributed to society: letters of recommendation 我が国への貢献に係る資料(※ある場合のみで結構です。
    • (1) 表彰状,感謝状,叙勲書等の写し 適宜
    • (2) 所属会社,大学,団体等の代表者等が作成した推薦状 適宜
    • (3) その他,各分野において貢献があることに関する資料 適宜

For a more precise list, check out:

Please note that those links are all in Japanese. Also, it is important to note once again that the list of the needed documents is not stated in any other language. Also, most of the documents like copies of family registers, marriage certificates, and tax certificates can be obtained by going to your local ward or city office.

After handing in your application with the necessary documents, you have to wait at least six months before you would hear the result of your application. During this waiting period, immigration will remind you that if your current status of residence is close to expiration, you will have to apply for an extension. Please keep this in mind when thinking of when to apply for your permanent residency.

If you’re successful in gaining permanent residency in Japan, you can still lose your status a few ways. If you commit a crime in Japan, you can be subject to a forcible deportation. Also if you leave Japan for more than six years then you may come back to find that your status has expired. Lastly, if you fail to return to Japan within the re-entry permitted time frame, you could lose it as well. The normal re-entry permit given upon departure at port in Japan states that you must return to Japan in 364 days or less. If you need to leave for a longer period, then you can apply at an immigration office. The special re-entry permits obtained there can be granted for up to five years under the current immigration law in Japan.

Once granted permanent residency in Japan, your life will become more stable and secure.

Additional benefits include making it easier to get full pension benefits from the National Health Insurance scheme and also the ability to acquire loans and credit cards from banks. If you are planning to be in Japan for the rest of your life and you don’t want Japanese citizenship, becoming a permanent resident is the best choice.
By the way, I became a permanent resident this year by following the same course of information, so while it may be tedious, it is not impossible.

For more information, please check the following links:

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Andrew Sekeres III has been living in Japan for 11 years. Prior to living in Japan, he was living in Chicago (his hometown) in the United States. He is interested in many topics ranging from food and drink to travel to social political issues. He is an avid blogger and social media user. He created two blogs that are named Dining Dojo and Craft Beer Chubu. Dining Dojo is a general blog that primarily focuses on two of his main interests: martial arts and cooking. Craft Beer Chubu showcases craft beer from Japan and around the world. Andrew is a firm supporter of craft beer and craft cocktails. He is always looking for new tastes and sensations. Besides these two blogs, Andrew is social activist. Having a B.A. in Criminal Justice and Asian Studies, Andrew is always researching on the social issues that affect him. Andrew is a supporter of human rights and a advocate for teaching others about their rights.

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