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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

LIFELINES

Will I have trouble re-entering Japan if I lose my gaijin card?


Rosie lost her alien registration card while abroad.

"How do I re-enter Japan if I lost my alien card in the Philippines, and are there any additional requirements?" she asks.

Officially you are required to have your alien registration card with you when re-entering Japan, but in reality not everyone is asked to present the card. (See our Oct. 25, 2011, column, "To carry or not to carry your 'gaijin card' upon re-entry?" for more on this).

As long as you have a valid re-entry permit and passport, simply explain (if asked) to the immigration officers that you lost your alien registration card while abroad. We were also told by Immigration that if you received a police report indicating the card was lost, this would be helpful to have on hand. If by any chance you have a copy of your gaijin card, showing this at re-entry, if asked, would also be a good idea.

The immigration official we spoke to said not having the card due to it being lost or stolen most likely wouldn't be a problem, but that it might "take longer" to get through immigration.

After you arrive back in Japan, you must go to your local municipal office or nearby kōban (police box) or police station, depending on what documents your city hall or ward office requires, within 14 days to report that you lost the card and need a replacement. If you have a copy of the card, you should take this with you to city hall with your passport, as it may speed up the process of getting a replacement.

Considering the alien registration system is going to change on July 9 this year, we also asked how this procedure might differ then, as re-entry permits won't be required if you leave and return to Japan within one year. They answered that "it has not been cleared up yet," and didn't offer any further information.

Has anyone experienced any problems re-entering Japan after losing their gaijin card while abroad? If so, please drop us a line.

For more information on what to do if your alien registration card is lost or stolen, please see our March 15, 2011, column, "All is not lost when 'carded.' "

Thanks to David Thompson for his research assistance. Ashley Thompson writes survival tips and unique how-tos about living in Japan at www.survivingnjapan.com. Send your questions to lifelines@japantimes.co.jp


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