One of the first things you will be told to do if you’re lucky, is to go register yourself at the town office. If you come from the US, this is something that you may not have known about until moving to Japan. Anytime you change residencies in the country you must inform your old ward and your new ward that you’re moving to. If you are working for a company, which most people do, they will give instructions on the steps required to complete this simple, but crucial task. Some companies even hire people to help you settle in, and go with you to set up your necessities for living in the country.
If you’re unlucky and have to do this by yourself, you may have a bit of a rough time getting it done, but it can be done even if you know little to no Japanese. You will need to register your new address within 14 days of moving into your new place. The first thing you need to do is gather all of the documents you need for when you fill out the paperwork. This would be your passport, your foreign residence card, and if your married, your marriage certificate and children’s birth certificates as well. Find the city hall, or municipal office, and there, find the area that is for new residents. If you have a friend or a person who can speak good enough Japanese, you can simply ask for the correct paperwork, and the workers will oblige. Some wards have a complete English set of paperwork, while others will be in full Japanese. If you don’t have a smartphone or help from another person, the workers will try their best to help you through the paperwork. It doesn’t take very long and is usually a process with very little stress.
When or if you decide to move from your current place, you need to give your current ward at least 14 days of notice. If you are moving within the same ward, all you have to do is go to the ward office with your residence card and your MyNumber card, (you get this sent to you soon after you register your initial residence) and submit a moving notice. If you’re moving to a different ward you need two previous items and your notice of moving out from your previous ward.
Remember that if you move to a new ward, you will owe your city the city tax for the previous year at your previous address. You won’t pay your new city tax until the next tax season. If you’re on the national insurance payroll, and not your companies insurance, you will need to bring your current insurance card to the new ward office, and they will send you new tax sheets for your new ward. Different wards have different amounts you will need to pay. Some have higher taxes, while others may be more affordable. The Japanese tax your previous year of income, so when you first arrive and begin to pay, it will be cheaper than your next few years if you stay longer in the country.
Moving to a new country can seem like a daunting task. There are new rules, and most aren’t going to be translated, which can make it more stressful. This is all on top of figuring out how to move your things to your new place. But in terms of getting registered, you simply need to bring all of your needed documents and you will have everything covered.