A list of questions that have often been asked during consultations.

Questions regarding Visas and Residency

Authorization of Resident Eligibility

When I applied for a visa at the local Japanese consulate, I was asked to submit a certificate of eligibility. How do I apply for such a certificate?

Depending on your nationality (Chinese, Russian, Eastern European, etc.) you may be asked for a certificate of eligibility. This certificate can be issued by Japanese Immigration to your representative in Japan (host researcher, etc.). The procedure is as follows:

(Note: The issue of a certificate of eligibility does not automatically guarantee that a visa will be issued).

(1)-(2) According to Immigration in Tokyo, it takes about 1-3 months to get the certificate of eligibility.
(3) When submitting application of a certificate of eligibility to a Japanese embassy or consulate, you may be asked about the Invitation Fellowship Programs for Research of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). For that reason, please bring the JSPS's bylaws (abstract) with you.
(4)From the time the Japanese embassy/consulate receives the application of certificate of eligibility until they make their decision (Yes or No) will take about 1-2 months for reference with the Foreign Ministry, etc. (In some cases, the certificate may be issued in about a week).
If your representative (host researcher, etc.) applies for a certificate of eligibility for you, you will have to send him/her two 4×3cm photographs of yourself, your curriculum vitae, certificate of employment, a copy of the JSPS Award Letter, a copy of the Doctorate (Ph D) Diploma (or Ph D certificate), etc., and if your family comes with you, you will also need a photograph of each accompanying family member, marriage certificate ( or extract of family register), and maybe other documents.
Have original documents (and copies) ready at hand.
When you apply for your visa, you will need to submit your "Offer of employment," "Marriage certificate" (if applicable) and other relevant documents. These documents will likely be required for other occasions as well, so they are very important. Please bear in mind that if for some reason you have to submit these documents to an immigration office, etc, they will not be returned to you, so you should by all means make copies of these documents.


Questions regarding procedures while you are in Japan

Re-entering Japan: What is the procedure for re-entering Japan after a brief trip overseas?

Before you leave Japan, you should go to the nearest immigration office to receive "permission to re-enter Japan". If you have a Multiple visa, you can re-enter the country multiple times within the effective period without having a re-entry permit. However, you will need to do alien registration each time you enter Japan. Thus, to save yourself some trouble, it is recommended that you get a re-entry permit before you leave Japan on a temporary visit.
In addition, if you plan to take many trips overseas, it would be worthwhile to get a Multiple re-entry permit for the period that you are staying in Japan.

I'd like to bring my family to join me in Japan....

If you want to bring your family over after you have already arrived in Japan, you may have to apply for a visa for your family at the Japanese embassy or consulate in your home country, or you may have to have a certificate of eligibility for your family issued by Japanese Immigration and send it to your family in your home country, who would then apply at the Japanese embassy or consulate. For more information, please contact your local consulate and Japanese Immigration Bureau.

If you make a mistake on your application form, you will have to restart the procedure from the beginning, and your family's arrival in Japan will be delayed. Therefore, please make sure that all forms are always filled out correctly.

My wife is on a dependent visa. Can she work?

Spouses (husbands or wives) of foreign researchers often want to make a little income by working part-time in research institutes or as language teachers. If your spouse is coming to Japan on a dependent visa and would like to work in Japan, he or she will have to apply to Japanese Immigration for a "permit to engage in activities other than that permitted under the status of residency previously granted."


Procedures for Daily Living

Alien Registration

What kind of legal formalities do I need to do after arrival?

You need to register with the local City office within 90 days of arrival. You need to do this in person. Bring your passport and two photos (45mm x 35mm) showing your face clearly. If you have a visa for a year or longer, and are not already insured with your institute, you should enroll in the National Health Insurance Scheme. For detailed information about N.H. Insurance, please call your local City office or JISTEC. Depending on your circumstances (family structure, pregnancy chronic illness, financial status, etc.) various social programs and assistance might be available for you. You can find out about this from your local City office.

Opening a Bank Account

I have been told that I cannot open a bank account without an Alien Registration Card.

To open a bank account, you will have to have proof of identity and proof of having a Japanese address. If you are a foreigner, you can use your passport as identification, and your alien registration card (or an Certificate on registered matters "Gaikokujin Touroku Genpyou Kisaijikou Shoumei-sho") as proof of having a Japanese address.
If you are going to spend less than 90 days in Japan (that is, you don't need an alien registration card), the bank may refuse to open an account for you. To prevent this type of problem, you can register as resident at your city hall or office and get a registration card even if you will be in the country for less than 90 days. However, bills (or receipts) from public utilities like electricity, telephone, water, gas, NHK, etc., also show your address, and sometimes they are accepted as proof of address. Therefore, we recommend that you consult with a bank beforehand.
You may have heard that you need a signature stamp/personal seal ("inkan") to open an account, but some banks will accept written signatures. (However, people whose name in their passport is written in Chinese characters have been told to get a signature stamp, so if this applies to you we recommend that you have a signature stamp made before you leave your country). In any case, you will probably have to have someone from your accommodating organization in Japan accompany you when you open an account.



I am covered by overseas traveler's insurance, but what do I do about insurance for my family?

Everyone who has a visa for one year or longer and is not enrolled in any other public health insurance program should join the National Health Insurance program. After you arrive in Japan, please go to your local city office ("shi-yakusho") and apply for this insurance at the same time as you do your Alien registration procedure. If you are in Japan on a short term visa, overseas traveler's insurance may be available to cover your family in Japan. Contact JISTEC for more information.

Illnesses/Hospitalization: I have an illness which requires long-term care/treatment, and I have to stay in a hospital. I'm worried about the costs of my hospital stay.

If your stay in Japan is short, you won't be covered by the National Health Insurance. If that's the case, the company that provides your overseas traveler's insurance would have to pay the expenses. Even if you need to be sent back to your own country to continue medical treatment for a period of time, the overseas insurance may still cover your medical expenses for the treatment in your home country.
Overseas traveler's insurance will only cover the first 180 days after diagnosis, or when costs reach 3 million yen, whichever comes first. These rules apply even after the fellowship period ends, both in Japan and abroad. Thus, patients being treated for illnesses in Japan can sometimes continue to receive insurance benefits after they return to their home country. For more information, please contact your insurance agent.
If you are enrolled in the national health insurance program, you can use both types of insurance at the same time. With national health insurance, the Japanese government will pay 70% of your health care costs, and you pay the remaining 30%. If you had overseas traveler's insurance, that could cover the remaining 30%. However, please note that the two types of insurance can have different applications, so please ask your insurance agent for more information.


After my fellowship ended and I found a job, my new employer asked me for an income tax withholding certificate.

Since JSPS is not involved in employer-foreign researcher relations, we cannot issue an income tax withholding certificate. Please explain that all the income that JSPS fellows earn in Japan is treated as travel expenses (as noted in both the notification of appointment and procedures handbooks).

You can give the same type of explanation if you are required to submit proof of tax withholding ("gensen choshu-hyo") if, for example, you are enrolling your child in a nursery school or applying for a child subsidy at your city office.



Choosing housing

What do I need to know about choosing housing for myself and my family?

Your housing in Japan will depend on the length of stay and whether or not your family members live with you. Housing in Japan can be roughly divided into the following four types:

TypesCharacteristicsConditions of ContractWho it's (generally) for
Private Rental Housing
  • ・Apartments
  • ・Condominiums
  • ・Rental houses etc
  • ・When you sign the contract, you have to pay rent, and usually "key money", cleaning deposit, realtor's fee, guarantor's fee, and possibly other fees as well.
  • ・You will need furniture and appliances.
  • ・You will also need a guarantor in most cases (Some landlords will allow you to pay a guarantor company (about 30% of your monthly rent for a 2-year contract) to be your guarantor. Sometimes, you will also need to buy fire and casualty insurance.
Mostly for long-term residents
Guest Houses・Please note that there are often restrictions about tenants and their length of stay. (For more information, it would probably be a good idea to contact the housing manager at your university or research institute).For long-term and short-term residents
 1)University and research institute dormitories for foreign researchers
  • ・Come equipped with furniture and appliances.
  • ・Are located on university/research institute campuses. Rents are relatively inexpensive.
  • ・There are very few dormitories for families.
2)Regional dormitories for foreign researchers
  • ・Come equipped with furniture and appliances.
  • ・These housing facilities may be away from the university /research institute.
  • ・They come furnished with incidental facilities.
So Called Weekly/Monthly "Mansions"
  • ・These "mansions" can be rented in units of weeks or months.
  • ・They come equipped with furniture and appliances.
  • ・The longer you stay, the cheaper it becomes.
  • ・Some contracts require a guarantor before you can enter a housing unit.
Mainly for short-term stays
(for long-term stays)
  • ・Some research institutes in the Tsukuba area get discounts on hotels, so please consult with your host institute.
For short-term stays

Generally speaking, you have to apply for a guest house before you arrive in Japan. Most researchers who look for private rental housing do so after having lived in a hotel or guest house for a while so they can have time to find a place that best suits their needs. Since there are not many guest houses that can accommodate families, most researchers who are accompanied by their families live in private rental housing. If you have children, you will also have to think about schools.

The following guest houses are available for foreign researchers (accompanied by families) who are working at various institutes. This housing comes with Internet connections, and special events, daily living support, etc., are available for residents.

*** Please apply through your host university or research institute. ***

Guest HouseContact Numbers
Tokyo International Exchange Center
Residence Halls
Japan Student Services Organization(JASSO)
TEL: 03-5520-6000
JST Ninomiya House JISTEC(Ninomiya House)
TEL: 029-858-7000
JST Takezono House
Matsushiro House Tsukuba Center for Institutes
TEL: 029-851-1331

To find suitable housing, we recommend that you consult with your host institute before coming to Japan. Most guest houses are quickly swamped with applications, so you need to start your search as early as possible.