Home > Focus on Japan 2012, Travel > The Devil Is in the Details, And Immigration Doesn’t Say Much about the Devil

The Devil Is in the Details, And Immigration Doesn’t Say Much about the Devil

August 13th, 2012

So I am leaving for a business trip to the U.S. soon, and Japan has just adjusted its immigration laws and procedures. One welcome change: re-entry permits are no longer required.

However, there are other details as well. Rules are different between regular visa holders and those with permanent residency. And there’s a new “Residence” card to replace the “Alien Registration Card.”

I have not had time to get the new card, and after all, I am not required to change until 2015. My last re-entry permit expired, but they say you don’t have to have one any more. Feeling my “Gaijin-ey Sense” tingling, I wanted to make sure: if I travel outside of Japan without a new Residence card and without an old-fashioned re-entry permit, am I still OK?

I called Immigration in Shinagawa to make sure, and they said “yes.” I called the Narita office, and they repeated the same thing. Still paranoid, I called the main immigration office again and spoke with a supervisor. Same answer.

Just to be on the safe side, I spoke with an advisory center for foreigners, who told me the same thing, but added one tiny little detail: on the embarkation-disembarkation card they have you fold inside your passport, a new check box has been added: it reads, “みなし再入国許可” and “Departure with Special Re-entry Permission.”

If you don’t check that box, you lose your visa status, including your permanent residence status.

I called Narita once more after learning that, and they gave me the same vague reassurances they had before. I asked if there was anything else, they said “no.” I then asked about the check box. The guy said, “Oh yes, You have to do that too.”

Well, thanks for giving me the heads-up on that.

Okay, maybe they make sure you check the box at the airport. Or maybe it’s something everyone must do and they did not think of mentioning it in answer to my specific question.

And yet, with the consequences as dire as that for such a tiny little detail, one would think they would mention it in passing. You know, “Just make sure to check the ‘re-entry’ box on you E-D card!” To which most people would reply, “The what on my what?”

I really have to wonder how many people are going to walk into major trouble because that detail is glossed over.

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  1. Troy
    August 13th, 2012 at 16:51 | #1

    the good news is that you’re now the top search item for this topic, LOL.

    yeah, there’s some disagreement here.


    says チェックをせず、再入国許可も取っていないと、出国した時点で在留資格を失うことになります。


    here’s what the card looks like:


    why would you even get the 再入国出国記録 at the airport if you weren’t going to be 再入国?

    but this guy:


    says don’t worry about it:





    but the plot thickens with:


    apparently there is a special stamp you’ll get from the immigration inspector that actually turns your 再入国出国記録 into the special reentry permit:

    The other thing is that I received a black stamp placed on the back of the disembarkation card stapled into my passport. This says in English “Out of the country on a special re-entry permission – The period of validity for special re-entry permission cannot be extended. – Immigration Inspector, Japan”

  2. Troy
    August 14th, 2012 at 05:22 | #2

    I had no idea what みなし was but if they’d just stuck with the kanji (見做し) I could have figured it out.

    The black stamp mentioned above should go on your 再入国入国記録 stub in the passport not the 再入国出国記録 part they keep, of course.

    To think I functioned in Japan for almost a year — even bought a motorcycle — without knowing many kanji, LOL.

  3. Troy
    August 14th, 2012 at 06:40 | #3

    “You don’t have to change to the residence card system at all and you don’t need a reentry permit either, if the duration of your trip is less than a year. I left for my home country on July 16th with my Gaijin Card and no reentry permit. When I went through immigration, they asked if I planned to return and I told them I would be back in 2 weeks. They made me fill in a small card called “Embarkation Card for Reentrant” and stamped it with a special re-entry permission. They were advertising this system everywhere near immigration.”


  4. Luis
    August 14th, 2012 at 09:17 | #4

    Very good to know, thanks! I’m glad it’s ‘out there’ when you get there… but I prefer to know before heading in rather than hoping things will be OK when I get there. So I figure I am cool as is. I’ll get the new Residence card in the Fall.

  5. Kensensei
    August 14th, 2012 at 09:52 | #5

    Good topic, Luis.
    And it sounds like you’re getting lots of advice from the gaijin experts.

    I used to think the Japanese were the kings of useless bureaucracy, but then I went to China. Chinese banks are a red-tape mine field. Immigration is, too, but not as much as the banking system.

    Any chance you’ll be in California on your upcoming business trip? Look us up!


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