Aka-chan admin II: making your baby ‘legal’ in Japan

When a baby (aka-chan) is born in Japan, he or she automatically assumes the nationality of his or her parents. If one of the parents is Japanese, the baby becomes Japanese.

Since I’m British (Scottish!) and my husband is American, and we’d stay in Japan for more than 60 days after our daughter was born, we had to make a pilgrimage for a “baby visa” (Residence Card) to Shinagawa Immigration Bureau – the building that time forgot. This should have been done within 30 days of her birth (oops – I’d misunderstood the instructions at the ward office, and now faced ‘a penalty’).

What was needed

We needed the following documents:

  • Parents
    – Passports and Residence Cards
    – Contracts or employment certificates
    – Tax statements
    – Residence record (listing the baby as my dependent)
    – Certificate of acceptance of birth registration
  • Application forms (given at the Bureau)
    – ‘Permission to acquire status of residence’
    – ‘Personal details form’
    – ‘Letter of guarantee’
  • Mother and Child Handbook (Boshi-techo)
  • Baby’s passport (if you already had one; we didn’t).

To save precious brain cells in the first few weeks as new parents, I wish I’d known that most of the above could’ve been prepared before the baby came.

What wasn’t needed

Some interesting findings:

  • A photo is not required for a baby’s Residence Card;
  • You do not have to take the baby in person to the Immigration Bureau;
  • There is no fee for making your baby a legal alien in Japan.

The outcome

Unbelievably, while I braced myself for the worst, the process at the Bureau took only an hour and 10 minutes!! (Compare this to the 5 hours and 10 mins it took to renew my drivers license when I was 9 months pregnant in October, and you’ll forgive the multiple exclamation marks.)

I believe this was for three main reasons:

  • I’m a Permanent Resident of Japan;
  • My husband’s fluent Japanese bamboozled the clerk;
  • We showed up at 9am to beat the crowds, which are heaving by 9.30am.2017-01-05-11-41-26

After about an hour, we were called to the collection window and given our daughter’s Residence Card. I’m pleased to say that she now has permission to stay in Japan as a legal alien for the next 3 years!

Because I’m a Permanent Resident, had we applied within 30 days of her birth, she would’ve automatically been granted PR status, too. I’ll consider how to tackle this ‘penalty’ another time.

Next step: securing UK and US passports for our little munchkin . . .

This baby admin feels like a full-time job!