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Getting Settled

Settling into life in Japan can be a lot of work (and paperwork!). It may feel like a lot, but please be assured your local YWAM community will assist you in each step to make sure you are settling well (and legally) into life in Japan.

In order for you to feel more prepared, here are some of the things you will need to do after you arrive.

  • Register as a local resident
  • Register for the national health insurance
  • Register for the national pension system (and apply to be exempt as you will likely be considered low-income)
  • Apply for a My Number card
  • Make a seal
  • Open a bank account
  • Set up a phone plan
  • Find housing
  • Set up your home
  • Figure out the waste system
  • Prepare for natural disasters

Register as a Local Resident

One of the first things you will do when you arrive is to make a visit to the regional office. There, you will be filling in forms to register as an official resident.

Note: If you will be finding your own place to live, it may be worth registering with the address of where you will be staying initially first (it may take some time before you find a place to rent). You can then change this later.

After all the paperwork is processed, they will give you your residency card with your address printed on the back. You must carry this card at all times.

Register for the National Health Insurance

At the same office, you will also register to be a part of the national health insurance. This will require a small payment each month and covers 70% of your medical costs. Once registered, you will be given a health insurance card which you must show at the reception of any medical facility you wish to be seen at. Please carry this with you at all times.

Register for the National Pension System

At the same office, you will also register to be part of the national pension system. This is required by law. (If you are not part of a pension scheme elsewhere, pray about paying into the Japanese system.) As you will likely be classified as low-income in Japan, you are able to apply to be exempt from payments at the same time you register.

Apply for a My Number Card

Japan has a new ID system in place that connects all of the various registration systems (residence, health insurance, and pension). This is called the Individual Number Card, or MyNumber card. We recommend applying for this card, though this is currently voluntary. Once you have applied, you will be notified when you can pick it up at the city office at a later date. You can apply for this online.

Note that this card is set to expire when your visa expires. You must renew it after your visa has been renewed.

Make a Seal

Known as a “hanko” or “inkan” in Japan, a seal is a stamp of your surname pressed using red ink. It acts as your signature on official documents, and is often a requirement when it comes to renting a place and opening bank accounts. Making a seal is easy and not too expensive, therefore we recommend you to have one. Ask a staff at your location for help with this. (The cost can vary depending on the design, but you can make a basic one for around ¥1000.)

Open a Bank Account

It would be useful for you to have a bank account in Japan. This is necessary to send money to others within Japan, as well as to pay some bills.

You can find more information on the money page

Set up a Phone

Please see this page for more info: Phones


Some YWAM locations will have staff housing provided. Other locations will require you to find your own place to live. If this is the case, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Find Housing

When you arrive, the first step is to book a reservation with a real estate agency (a staff at your location will likely help you with this). Based on your budget for rent and other preferences (size, location etc), they will present available options to you and take you around to look at it in person. (Please note that most places in Japan do NOT come with any furniture or appliances!) Once you feel peace about a place, you will sign a contract to rent the place (usually for 2 years). Upon signing a contract, there will be an “initial fee” including insurance, administration fee, security deposit etc. You will be given the keys to your apartment once you have been able to make this payment.

Here is an English guide that may give you more details on what it is like to search for a place to live in Japan:

(As a side note, if you registered at the city office with a different address: once you have moved into your own place, you must return again to the city office in order to change your address and phone number. You will also have to notify your address change to your bank and phone company.)

Set Up Your Home

Once you have your key, you will then need to set up your home!

Ask other YWAMers at your location to point you in the direction of places were you can get items you need, both new and second hand. You will also likely need to get Internet set up in your home, as this will likely need to be done after you have moved in.

Waste System

The waste system in Japan tends to be confusing to foreigners, and each town, city, or prefecture has their own rules. Please be sure to find out the local waste disposal rules. Ask a local YWAMer for help if needed.

Disaster Preparation

Japan is a nation that is prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, typhoons, landslides, and tsunamis. Please see this page for more information on how to be prepared.