While I was pregnant, I wish someone had handed me a checklist of admin that would need to be taken care of by the time my baby was 3 months old.
Who knew parenthood would come with so many unexpected demands – and cute distractions – that ‘popping down to the photocopier’ could take an entire day!?
If you plan on having a baby in Japan, here’s a simple list of 7 to-do’s / non-negotiable tasks for those first few, sleep-deprived months:
1. Birth registration
– Within 14 days of your baby’s birth at your local ward office.
– Your husband can go if you’re not up to it. (I wasn’t.)
2. Residence Card
– Within 30 days of your baby’s birth, at the Immigration Bureau.
– Try not to miss the deadline. (We did.)
3. My Number, and Japanese Health Insurance
– Before you head off on maternity leave, ask nicely if your employer / whoever takes care of your payroll can send all relevant documents to your home address. This will save you some trips back and forth to the office when the baby comes. Having them include stamped, addressed envelopes for returning completed docs will save you some time and brain-space, too.
– Save yourself the trouble of going to a photo booth by using Passpic. You can upload your baby’s photo online and then receive headshots in the post that meet official requirements.
– You’ll need to send certified translations of all Japanese documents, such as your baby’s birth certificate, so use a trusted translation company such as Honyaku Plus to take care of this crucial part of the process.
5. Vaccinations, and health checks
– You’re entitled to baby health checks at 1 and 3 months old.
– The vaccination schedule starts when your baby is 2 months old; you’ll receive vouchers in the post from your city office for free vaccines.
– Unless you’re REALLY in love with the hospital you gave birth at (I’m not), you can choose to receive vaccinations and health checks at around 40 different hospitals in Tokyo.
– I can recommend Sanno Hospital, since all background information and the vaccination schedule is provided in English. And Japanese Health Insurance is accepted.
6. Maternity benefits
– After about 2 months, having submitted lots of other paperwork related to your baby’s exact place of birth, you’ll have to re-visit the hospital where you gave birth, and have them hanko (officially stamp) a document for submission to the relevant government agency.
– You may need to wait a few months before receiving any benefits. (I’m currently awaiting an update on the situation.)
7. Nursery school application
– Your (and your partner’s) employer will be asked to fill in a 1-page form to confirm that you are in fact planning to return to work.
– The nursery year starts in April, and securing a place in Minato-ku is a competitive sport. More on this later.
It’s been quite challenging to keep on top of all the piecemeal paperwork that’s reached us (in Japanese) over the past 3 months. I hope the above can help you or someone you know be better prepared than I was!
PS – Relax
If there was a No.8 on this list, it would be “Relax”. I was lucky enough to receive some gift certificates as pregnancy presents, and can thoroughly recommend the following places to help you relax as a pregnant woman and / or new mum:
- Essence-K (Azabu Juban, Tokyo)
- Maverick Acupuncture (Rokubancho / Yotsuya, Tokyo)
- Tsukioka Acupuncture (Aoyama Itchome, Tokyo)