3 procedures you MUST DO at Japan’s City Hall

15 November 2022

Student Tiffany Chan explains the important administrative procedures for foreign students in Japan

こんにちは (ko-ni-chi-wa)! Hey Everyone! ๑(◕‿◕)๑  

Can’t believe it’s been more than a month since I first arrived in Tokyo, and I cannot emphasise how amazed I am by the place, the culture and the people here in Tokyo. Looking back, it was quite daunting to navigate around a buzzling and busy city so far away from home, but now that I have settled in more, I am having more time to explore around Japan. 

I am currently living in the International Residence Hall Ikkyo-ryo, which is based in a city called Kodaira. This Residence Hall is shared by domestic and international students across 4 universities: Hitotsubashi University (international and domestic), Tokyo Gakugei University (international and domestic), Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (domestic), and the University of Electro-Communications (domestic). It takes roughly 30 minutes to travel to University via the train and around 20-30 minutes to cycle to school (approx. 6km). 

Looking back, one of the things I wish I knew more about was the various administrative procedures that foreign students have to sort out when they arrive in Japan. Therefore, in today’s blogs I want to write about 3 things you must do as an exchange student at Japan’s City Hall. 

1. Registration of Address on Residence Card

When you first arrive in Japan with a student visa, you’ll be given a Residence Card (在留カード). all foreigners staying in Japan for medium- or long- term must register their address at the City Hall within 14 days of their arrival. To successfully register your address, you have to bring 2 things: (1) Residence card and (2) Passport. Once the staff members have checked all the documentation and relevant information, your address will be stamped at the back of the Residence card (see image to the right). 

2. National Health Insurance 

As required by Japan Law, foreigners staying in Japan for more than three months have to sign up for the national health insurance (国民健康保険). If unfortunately, you need treatment of any sort during your stay in Japan, you will be exempted by 70% of the treatment cost if you have applied for the national health insurance (note: this procedure can only be complicated once you have register your address). At the city hall, you will have to search for the Insurance and Pension Division and apply for the national health insurance there. The staff will look through your residence card and ask you a few basic questions (e.g., When did you arrive in Japan?). [Don’t worry if you can’t speak Japanese, the staff are very friendly and nice!] Once the procedure is completed, your national health insurance card will be issued. After around 2-3 weeks, you will receive payment slips in your mail box. You can then pay your insurance fee at any convenience store or post office each month (~¥1000 per month), or alternatively, you can pay all your slips at one go. 

3. Pension Plan Exemption 

In Japan, it is obligatory for people between the age of 20-60 to pay for pensions, but students can request for an exemption from pension payments. This can be completed under the Insurance and Pension Division at the city hall. To complete the procedure, please bring your (1) student ID card and (2) passport. It will take a few months (approx. 2 months) before the exemption application is approved. During this period, you will likely receive the payment slips for the pension plan, you do not have to pay these payments slips.

If you are planning to study abroad in Japan and will be going to Hitotsubashi University, I strongly recommend living at Ikkyo-ryo! It is a very cosy city and takes only 20 minutes to walk to the City Hall to sort out the abovementioned procedures. 

Check-list for things to bring:
•    Passport 
•    Residence Card 
•    Student ID Card

Here are some photos of Kodaira, and the spectacular view of Mount Fuji from my dormitory! 

Kodaira Train Rail
 Image 1: Kodaira Train Rail
Entrance of Residence Hall
 Image 2: Entrance of Residence Hall
Mount Fuji at 5pm
 Image 3: Mount Fuji at 5pm 
Mount Fuji at 6am
Image 4: Mount Fuji at 6am