If you're in Japan teaching English, you will have been provided with a visa from the Japanese government to work for a specified length of time. You may decide to stay and will need to extend your stay. Here are a few helpful links and a short guide on how to renew your residence card.

How to Renew your Japanese Residence Card

  1. Download the forms. (Links provided.)
  2. Fill in the forms correctly. (See all our tips!)
  3. Collect supporting documentation.
  4. Visit your local immigration office.

Ministry of Justice: instructions on the renewal procedure.

FAQs

When should I apply?
The official word is that processing takes between 2 weeks and 3 months, so 3 months before expiration is a reasonable time to start your application.

Any more questions? Leave a comment below.

Step 1: Download the Forms

To renew your residence card, you'll need an Application for Extension of Period of Stay form.

Most ALTs will need the instructor status version (see residence card for status). Married ALTs on spousal status will also need a Letter of Guarantee.

Instructor Visa Renewal Downloads

 

Spousal Visa Renewal Downloads

Ministry of Justice: list of all application forms.

Step 2: Fill in Form Correctly

写真

Photo
Photo

The size of the photo needed is 3cm x 4cm. Just visit a self-operated photo booth outside a supermarket or in a mall.

Ministry of Justice: official photo specifications.

Questions

Some of the questions get a bit incomprehensible so here's a rough guide on how to answer them.

Residence Card Renewal - How to Answer for Instructor Visa
FORM QUESTION HOW TO ANSWER
  1. Nationality
  2. Date of birth
  3. Name
  4. Sex
  5. Place of birth
Copy from your passport!
  1. Marital status
Select one.
  1. Occupation
Write teacher or instructor.
  1. Home town
Where you grew up or where your parents live.
  1. Address in Japan
Copy from your residence card.
  1. Passport
    1. Number
    2. Date of expiration
Copy from your passport
    • Status of residence
    • Period of stay
    • Date of expiration
  1. Residence card number
Copy from your residence card
  1. Desired length of extension
You can write 1 year, 3 years, or 5 years.
(You can probably write 2 years if you want but these are the periods granted.)
  1. Reason for extension
Go with something simple for this one. Renewed contract or Continued employment will probably be safe bets. This reddit thread suggests confessing your love for Japan is acceptable too.
  1. Criminal record
Select one. Enter details if necessary (I hope it's not!).
  1. Family in Japan
Enter the names of your family that are living in Japan.
  1. Place of work
  2. Education
  3. Major field of study
  4. Employment history
Enter as per your personal history.
  1. Teaching certificate
I'm not sure if TEFL or similar courses of study count. Qualified teachers can circle yes. (Most ALTs these days don't have any certification so don't worry about selecting no.)
  1. Teaching experience of the subject that you teach
  2. Total period of receiving the foreign language education when you teach the foreign language
Enter as per your personal history.
  1. Legal representative
Skip this.
Go to the double underlines and sign and date. You're finished!
Residence Card Renewal - How to Answer for Spousal Visa
FORM QUESTION HOW TO ANSWER
  1. Nationality
  2. Date of birth
  3. Name
  4. Sex
  5. Place of birth
Copy from your passport.
  1. Marital status
Select one.
  1. Occupation
Write teacher or instructor.
  1. Home town
Where you grew up or where your parents live.
  1. Address in Japan
Copy from your residence card.
  1. Passport
    1. Number
    2. Date of expiration
Copy from your passport
    • Status of residence
    • Period of stay
    • Date of expiration
  1. Residence card number
Copy from your residence card
  1. Desired length of extension
You can write 1 year, 3 years, or 5 years.
(You can probably write 2 years if you want but these are the periods granted.)
  1. Reason for extension
Go with something simple for this one. Renewed contract or Continued employment will probably be safe bets. This reddit thread suggests confessing your love for Japan is acceptable too.
  1. Criminal record
Select one. Enter details if necessary (I hope it's not!).
  1. Family in Japan
Enter the names of your family that are living in Japan.
  1. Personal relationship or status
Select appropriate. (The options get pretty detailed if your partner and their parents weren't born in Japan.
  1. Authorities where marriage, birth or adoption was registered and date of registration.
Enter your marriage details. If you were legally married in Japan, you'll probably enter the city hall you went to. Can you remember the date?
  1. Place of employment or organization to which the applicant belongs
Enter your employer details.
  1. Method of support and amount of support each month (average)
This question is about how much you spend each month and where that money comes from. (The immigration officer helping me with this form just wanted rough estimates.)
Check the appropriate box(es) to show where your money comes from and then write in how much money you spend each month. (I checked self only.) If you get and use money from any other source, check that box and write in how much that source contributes, for example, if your partner supports you.
Note: your answers here will determine how you answer the following question.
  1. Supporter
You only need to fill this in if you aren't paying your own way in Japan.
  1. Guarantor or contact in Japan
This can be your partner.
  1. Legal representative
Skip this.
Go to the double underlines and sign and date. You're finished!

Step 3: Collect Supporting Documents

Now that you've got the application form done, the next step is to collect any other forms you need.

As specified in the List of Required Documents you'll need to visit city hall to prove you've paid your taxes and ask your employer for proof of employment.

List of supporting documents:

  • Proof of payment of tax
    所得課税証明畫
  • Proof of payment of local tax
    住民税の納税証明書
  • Certificate of incumbency (employment) (a copy of your contract may suffice)
    在職証明書

As specified in the List of Required Documents, you will need to visit your local city hall for several documents. Some you will need your partner to get too. Proof of employment is provided by your employer.

List of supporting documents:

  • Family register certificate
    戸籍謄本
  • Family resident cards
    家族全員の住民票
  • Proof of payment of tax
    所得課税証明畫
  • Proof of payment of local tax
    住民税の納税証明書
  • Certificate of incumbency (employment)
    在職証明書

Step 4: Visit Immigration Office

You've got your stack of papers and you're ready to visit the immigration office. Good luck and don't forget your passport!

At the immigration office, the office will check you have the correct paperwork and issue you a postcard. You'll have to write your address on it and they'll send it to you when your new residence card is ready. When you get the postcard, go back and pick up your new card. Congratulations!

Final Tips

Our final tip is to take a photocopy of your filled-in application form. If you decide to apply for another extension it will help you fill in the form next time and keep your details consistent.

We also have a small request. If you used this page to help you get through your residence card renewal, please come back and let us know how it went, or if we left anything out. Thanks again and good luck with your renewal!

Comments  
# Evan 2018-09-01 11:13
Wow, really helpful. I know I'll need this page next time I renew.
BOOKMARKING!!!
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# Terri 2018-09-01 12:04
Doing the same right now!
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