Aka-chan Admin: registering a birth in Japan

The past few weeks have involved a lot of feeding, sleeping, pooping – and paperwork!

It may come as no surprise that registering the birth of a baby (aka-chan) in Japan is an admin-heavy process (particularly when the baby is non-Japanese; more on this later). Had I done a bit more homework in advance, I could’ve saved myself a couple of early morning bouts of bureaucracy. Even 5 minutes more in bed is a luxury these days!

The “must-dos”

All births in Japan must be registered within 14 days, in person, at the local ward office.

Documents required for the registration are:

  • Birth Certificate (shusseitodoke, 出生届), provided by the hospital where the child was born, on the day of birth);
  • Birth Registration Form (given by the hospital, attached to the birth certificate, with child’s name and parents’ signatures);
  • Mother and Child Handbook (boshi-techo, 母子手帳), given by the ward office and used throughout pregnancy);
  • Parents’ ID (Residence Cards).

When a birth is registered, the ward office will issue an A4 size piece of paper to prove that the process has begun, along with an application form about a home visit by a midwife. The latter should be completed and sent back in a pre-paid envelope to the ward office. (I tried to hand it in at the counter and was told that it would be better if I posted it . . . )

Within a week, a postcard-size sticker showing successful registration of the birth will arrive by post. This should be stuck into the first page of the Mother and Child Handbook.

Since I was feeling less than perfect (read: pretty awful!) after giving birth to our daughter, my husband made the initial visit to the ward office, to take care of the above.

What I wish I’d known

As well as the birth registration task, some other things started to happen in tandem:

  • My employer asked me to submit a certificate of residence (jyuminhyou, 住民票), so that my daughter could be added to my national health insurance coverage. In order to obtain from the ward office an updated certificate of residence listing me as my child’s mother, I had to show my residence card, the birth certificate, and my health insurance card. (As usual, when applying for official documents, I asked for two copies of the CoR – each costing JPY300 – as I know the additional copy would prove handy at some point sooner or later. And it did!)
  • I was also asked by my employer to submit a copy of the birth certificate, so the baby could be registered in Japan’s My Number system.
  • The ward required details of my bank account, for paying child-care subsidies. This could have been done at the same time as registering my baby’s birth, but my husband didn’t have this information on-hand during the initial visit.
  • We would each need a record of taxes paid to our local ward (jyuminzei ni kakaru nouzei shoumeisho, 住民税に係る納税証明書), in order to proceed with registering our non-Japanese baby at the Immigration bureau.

These things required me to make two more trips to the ward office, which could have been avoided if I’d been more organised. (Being organised feels like something I once was, a long, long time ago . . . )mum-and-hope

As we begin our sixth week as parents, we now have:

  • Baby’s birth certificate;
  • Baby’s health insurance card (arrived by post, from employer);
  • Baby’s My Number (arrived by post, from ward office).

Next up . . . registering our bundle of joy at the Immigration Bureau. (Just as I finished writing this post, I received a letter to say this should have been done within a month of my daughter’s birth. Oops . . . )

Wish us luck!