First Steps

Things to do upon entering Japan

Application for alien registration

You are required to visit your local municipal office within 90 days of your arrival in Japan and apply for an alien registration card, which you can then collect at a later date. When applying, you will need to bring your passport with two passport photographs and fill out the appropriate form. For more information on the application procedure, please contact your local municipal office. Please be aware that opening hours may differ among municipalities.

  • Seal Certificate

    We encourage you to also register a Seal Certificate at this date, since you will most probably need it when signing contracts inside Japan.


Once you have decided your move-in date, it is time to contact the customer center of your local electricity company. After you have set up the necessary wiring and turned on your circuit breakers, you have to send an application, indicating the date you started using the electricity supply, to your provider. In cases you are unable to get a power supply, please contact your electricity company's customer center. Should your provider be Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), please refer to their website for details.


You will have to inform either your municipal water service or a local water company, or send off a paper application in order receive a water supply.
Please refer to the websites of the waterworks bureaus for details:


Your gas connection has to be set up by your local gas company. Before you may safely use gas at your home, you will have to let your gas appliances, their connections as well as their ventilation systems be inspected and checked by a representative of your gas company.
Please refer to the Tokyo Gas website for details:


To receive mail, please write your name on your mail box and your door.

Driver's License
  • Citizens of countries which are part of the Convention on Road Traffic (Geneva,1949) may use their international driving permit for one year in Japan. If you wish to drive in Japan after the first year, you will need to obtain a Japanese driver's license.
  • Switching from a foreign license

    The following 23 countries and 1 region are exempt from a written and driving test examination. In order to receive a Japanese driver's license, you will have to get a Japanese translation of your current license at your embassy and present it to the JAF. Iceland, Ireland, United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, Austria, Netherlands, Canada, Korea, Greece, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Czech, Denmark, Germany, New-Zealand, Norway, Finland, France, Belgium, Portugal, Luxembourg, Taiwan
    For citizens of countries not included in the list above. You will have to visit the driver's license center and pass both a written and driving test to receive a Japanese driver's license. For more details please refer to the police department's website.
Car Registration

This procedure does not differ a lot between Japanese and non-Japanese residents. For people in possession of a seal certificate, please present this to the authorities. If you do not hold a seal certificate, please collect a signed letter of proof from your embassy or consulate. For more information, please contact your nearest Department of Motor Vehicles.

Mobile Phones

There are a number of different mobile phone companies in Japan with differing prices and services. Make your decision on which provider to choose after you have thoroughly researched the choices available to you.


In order to use the internet in Japan you will have to make a contract with one of the numerous providers available. Other options include internet and manga cafes which offer relatively cheap internet access.

About your home

One of the easiest ways to search for a new home is to use real estate agents. Recently however, the number of people using the internet for their house hunting has been increasing as well. There are a variety of options available to you: serviced apartments, with or without furniture and/or kitchen appliances etcc Standard Japanese voltage is 100V and the broadcasting is in NTSC. Please also make sure whether or not there is a ceiling light provided. Finally, Japan is home to some very unique fees which have to be paid when moving in to a new home.

  • Initial Costs

Deposit (Shikikin)

The deposit is meant to protect the landlord from any damages or unpaid rents which may unfortunately occur. This money is usually returned, however any costs which occur due to repairs or unpaid rents will be deducted. Final cleaning costs can also be deducted, so it is unlikely that you will receive the full amount back, but generally, the cleaner you leave your apartment, the more money you can expect.
In order to retrieve the most of your deposit, please watch out for the following points:

  1. Do not smoke inside the house.
  2. Clean your house regularly.
  3. Do not leave marks on walls with nails, screws or pins.
  4. Do not leave scratches on the floor or the walls.
  5. Do not leave the kitchen in a greasy state.

If there are any other damages or problems due to the tenant, the costs for repairing these may have to be covered directly by the tenant.

Key Money (Reikin)

This money is intended as a thank you to the landlord. There are some areas where the payment of a key money is not necessary. This payment is non-refundable. The standard rate for key money is about 1 to 2 months rent and is to be paid when the contract has been completed.

The following list includes some of the other costs which have to be paid when moving in.

  1. Fire insurance

    Most likely you will be required to join a fire insurance. Payable upon completion of contract.
  2. Agent's fee

    This commission is to be paid to the real estate agent that helped to close deal. It is legally limited to 1 month's rent.
  3. Paying upfront

    Initial rent payments are required to be paid upfront at the time of contract completion. Should your moving-in day be in the middle of the month, the rent for the days prior to your move will be deducted, but you will most probably be required to pay the next month's rent as well.

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