Duration of intended period of stay
One page required for entry stamp
Not required for stays of less than 90 days
Amounts equivalent to ¥1,000,000 or above subject to declaration
Amounts equivalent to ¥1,000,000 or above subject to declaration
U.S. Consulate General Sapporo
Kita 1-jo Nishi 28-chome, Chuo-ku,
Sapporo 064-0821, Japan
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
All assistance at the Consulate General Sapporo is by appointment only.
U.S. Consulate Fukuoka
5-26 Ohori 2-chome, Chuo-ku,
Fukuoka 810-0052, Japan
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Routine services are provided by appointment only.
U.S. Consulate Nagoya
Nagoya International Center Bldg. 6th floor,
1-47-1 Nagono, Nakamura-ku,
Nagoya 450-0001, Japan
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Emergency services only.
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Japan for information on U.S.-Japan relations.
Visit the Embassy of Japan website for the most current visa information.
Entry & Exit:
Military/SOFA Travelers: While active-duty U.S. military personnel may enter Japan under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with proper Department of Defense (DOD) identification and travel orders, all SOFA family members, civilian employees, and contractors must have valid passports to enter Japan. Please consult the DOD Foreign Clearance Guide before leaving the United States.
See the Immigration Bureau of Japan’s website for various immigration procedures.
HIV/AIDS Restrictions: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Japan.
Crime: Crime against U.S. citizens in Japan is generally low and usually involves personal disputes, theft, or vandalism. In addition:
Entertainment and Nightlife Districts in Tokyo:
You must file a police report at the nearest police station before you leave Japan. The Japanese police cannot accept reports filed from overseas. Report crimes to the local police at 110 and contact the U.S. Embassy at 03-3224-5000 (011-81-3-3224-5000 from overseas). Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
Contacting Police, Fire and Ambulance Services: You can reach the police throughout Japan by dialing 110. Fire and ambulance services can be contacted by dialing 119. Note that English-speaking dispatchers may not be available. Please review advice on “Calling for Help” on our website. If you need assistance, you should be able to describe your address/location in Japanese or find someone who can do so, since few police officers speak English.
Domestic Violence: Victim's assistance resources or battered women's shelters exist in major urban areas, and they are generally unavailable in rural areas. Investigations of sexual assault crimes are often conducted without female police officers present, and police typically ask about the victim's sexual history and previous relationships.
For further information:
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be arrested, imprisoned, or deported. If you are arrested in Japan, even for a minor offense, you may be held in detention without bail for several months or more during the investigation and legal proceedings.
Japanese authorities aggressively pursue drug smugglers with sophisticated detection equipment, "sniffing" dogs, and other methods. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs, including marijuana and synthetic drugs, are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and fines.
You must carry your U.S. passport or Japanese Residence Card (Zairyu Kado) with you at all times. In Japan, you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport or Japanese residence card to show your identity and visa status.
It is illegal to work in Japan while in tourist or visa-waiver status. Overstaying your visa or working illegally may lead to fines of several thousands of dollars, and in some cases, re-entry bans can be as long as ten years, or indefinitely for drug offenders. For additional information please see Japan’s Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act and contact the Japanese Embassy or nearest Japanese consulate in the United States for more information.
Laws governing rape, sexual commerce, and other activity involving sexual relations do not apply to same-sex sexual activity. This definition leads to lower penalties for perpetrators of male rape and greater legal ambiguity surrounding same-sex prostitution.
Driving under the influence of alcohol could also land you immediately in jail. The blood-alcohol limit in Japan is approximately 0.03%, less than the amount of alcohol in a single glass of beer. Punishments can be up to 10,000 USD in fines and up to five years in prison.
Possession of a gun or ammunition is a crime in Japan. Possession of a knife with a locking blade, or a folding blade that is longer than 5.5 cm (a little more than two inches), is illegal in Japan. U.S. citizens and U.S. military personnel have been arrested and detained for more than 10 days for carrying pocket knives that are legal in the United States but illegal in Japan. The possession of lock-picking tools is illegal in Japan.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:
LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Japan. While in recent years, open members of Japan's LGBTI community have made social strides including winning elections to public office, LGBTI activists warn that Japan remains an unwelcome place for sexual minorities.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Although Japan’s accessibility laws mandate that new construction projects for public use include provisions for persons with disabilities, older buildings are not likely to have been retrofitted for accessibility. At major train stations, airports, and hotels, travelers with disabilities should encounter few accessibility problems. Note that many smaller stations are inaccessible to those who cannot climb stairs. Information on travel in Japan for travelers with disabilities is available at Tesco Premium Search Co., Ltd. website “ the Travel Guide for Wheelchair Users.”
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Conditions at Prisons and Detention Facilities: Japanese prisons and detention facilities maintain internal order through a regime of very strict discipline. U.S. citizen prisoners often complain of stark, austere living conditions and psychological isolation. Heating in winter can be inadequate in some facilities, and access to specialized medical care, particularly mental health care, at detention facilities and prisons is sometimes limited. Additional information on arrests in Japan is available on our embassy website.
Customs Regulations: Please contact the Japanese Embassy or nearest Japanese consulate in the United States, or visit the Japanese Customs website for specific information regarding import restrictions and customs requirements.
Japanese customs authorities encourage the use of an Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission (ATA) Carnet in order to temporarily import professional equipment, commercial samples and/or goods for exhibitions and trade fairs into Japan. For additional information, please call (212) 354-4480, or email the U.S. CIB for details.
Confiscation of Prescription Drugs and Other Medication: It is important to note that some medications that are routinely prescribed in the U.S., including Adderall, are strictly prohibited in Japan. The Japanese government decides which medications may be imported legally into Japan. The Embassy and consulates of Japan in the United States have limited information available and do not have a comprehensive list of specific medications or ingredients. Please see more information on importing medicines into Japan.
Pets: The Japanese Animal Quarantine Service (AQS) sets procedures for importing pets. At a minimum, the process will take seven to eight months, though the process can take up to a year before a pet may enter Japan. Advance planning is critical. You can find more information about importing a pet into Japan or information about exporting a pet from Japan on our embassy website.
Employment Issues: U.S. citizens should not come to Japan to work without having the proper employment visa arranged ahead of time. Teaching English, even privately, and serving as hosts/hostesses are both considered "work" in Japan and are illegal without the proper visa.
Some U.S.-based employment agencies and Japanese employers do not fully or correctly represent the true nature of employment terms and conditions. A minimum requirement for effectively seeking the protection of Japanese labor law is a written and signed work contract. If there is no signed contract, Japanese authorities are not able to act on behalf of foreign workers. If you are coming to Japan to work, carefully review your contract and the history and reputation of your Japanese employer before traveling to Japan. Complaints against U.S.-based employment agencies or recruiters may be directed to the Better Business Bureau or the Office of the Attorney General in that particular state.
Disaster Preparedness: Japan is prone to earthquakes, typhoons, and, possibly, tsunamis. See the U.S. Embassy’s American Citizen Services (ACS) website for recommendations and steps you can take to prepare for an emergency.
Radiation: Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant: The Government of Japan continues to closely monitor the conditions at and around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. You should observe all travel restrictions put into place by the Government of Japan for areas surrounding the plant. U.S. citizens considering travel to affected areas in Fukushima Prefecture should review current guidance on expected levels of radiation and recommendations for reducing exposure to radiation in these areas.
Additional information about radiation and its effects on human health may be found at the following websites:
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of Japan’s Ministry of Health website to ensure the medication is legal in Japan. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription. U.S. prescriptions are not honored in Japan, so if you need ongoing prescription medicine, you should arrive with a sufficient supply for your stay in Japan or enough until you are able to see a local care provider.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Japan has a national health insurance system which is available only to those foreigners with long-term visas for Japan. National health insurance does not pay for medical evacuation. Medical caregivers in Japan require payment in full at the time of treatment or concrete proof of ability to pay before they will treat a foreigner who is not a member of the national health insurance plan.
U.S.-style and standard psychological and psychiatric care can be difficult to locate in major urban centers in Japan and generally is not available outside of Japan's major cities. U.S.-style and standard psychological and psychiatric care can be difficult to locate in major urban centers in Japan and generally is not available outside of major cities. Extended psychiatric care can be very difficult to obtain.
Road Conditions and Safety: Driving in Japan is complicated and expensive. Traffic moves on the left side of the road. Those who cannot read the language will have trouble understanding road signs. Highway tolls can be very high. City traffic is often very congested. A 20-mile trip in the Tokyo area may take two hours. There is virtually no legal roadside or curbside parking; however, traffic is commonly blocked or partially blocked by those illegally parked curbside. In mountainous areas, roads are often closed during the winter, and cars should be equipped with tire chains. Roads in Japan are much narrower than those in the United States.
Traffic Laws: Japanese law provides that all drivers in Japan are held liable in the event of an accident, and assesses fault in an accident on all parties. Japanese compulsory insurance (JCI) is mandatory for all automobile owners and drivers in Japan. Most short-term visitors choose not to drive in Japan. Turning on red lights is not permitted in Japan, and all passengers are required to fasten their seat belts.
Japan has a national zero percent blood-alcohol-level standard for driving, and drivers stopped for driving under the influence of intoxicants will have their licenses confiscated. If you’re found guilty of driving under the influence, speeding, or blatantly careless driving resulting in injury, you are subject to up to 15 years in prison.
See our Road Safety page for more information. The National Police Agency (NPA) oversees the administration and enforcement of traffic laws in Japan. You can find further information in English on the NPA English website. Information about roadside assistance, rules of the road, and obtaining a Japanese driver's license is available in English from the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) web site. See the Japan National Tourism Organization’s website for car rental and driving in Japan.
Emergency Assistance: For roadside assistance, please contact the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) at 03-5730-0111 in Tokyo, 072-645-0111 in Osaka, 011-857-8139 in Sapporo, 092-841-5000 in Fukuoka, or 098-877-9163 in Okinawa.
International Driving Permits (IDPs): An international driving permit (IDP) issued in the United States by the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA) is required of short-term visitors who drive in Japan. You must obtain an IDP issued in your country of residence prior to arriving in Japan. The U.S. Embassy or its consulates do not issue IDPs. IDPs issued via the Internet and/or by other organizations are not valid in Japan.
Residents in Japan who use an international driver’s license may be fined or arrested. In practice, the term “resident” involves more than simply visa status or length of stay in Japan and is determined by the police. In short, an international license is not a substitute for a valid Japanese license. See our website for more information on driving in Japan.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Japan’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Japan’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA's safety assessment page.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Japan should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) broadcast warnings website portal select “broadcast warnings.”
Washington, DC (202) 238-6700 (202) 328-2187
Anchorage, AK (907) 562-8424 (907) 562-8434
Atlanta, GA (404) 240-4300 (404) 240-4311
Boston, MA (617) 973-9774 (617) 542-1329
Chicago, IL (312) 280-0400 (312) 280-9568
Denver, CO (303) 534-1151 (303) 534-3393
Detroit, MI (313) 567-0120 (313) 567-0274
Hagatna, GU (671) 646-1290 (671) 649-2620
Honolulu, HI (808) 543-3111 (808) 543-3170
Houston, TX (713) 652-2977 (713) 651-7822
Los Angeles, CA (213) 617-6700 (213) 617-6727
Miami, FL (305) 530-9090 (305) 530-0950
Nashville, TN (615) 340-4300 (615) 340-4311
New York, NY (212) 371-8222 (212) 319-6357
Portland, OR (503) 221-1811 (503) 224-8936
Saipan, CNMI (670) 323-7201 (670) 323-8764
San Francisco, CA (415) 780-6000 (415) 767-4200
Seattle, WA (206) 682-9107 (206) 624-9097
List of Attorneys - U.S. Embassy Tokyo
Japan is a party to the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extra Judicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Matters. Complete information on the operation of the Convention, including an interactive online request form are available on the Hague Conference website. Requests should be completed in duplicate and submitted with two sets of the documents to be served, and translations, directly to Japan’s Central Authority for the Hague Service Convention. The person in the United States executing the request form should be either an attorney or clerk of court. The applicant should include the titles attorney at law or clerk of court on the identity and address of applicant and signature/stamp fields. Attorneys should cite Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or comparable state statute permitting attorneys to execute service requests. While Japan has not declared made a formal declaration under the Convention that it objects to the sending of judicial documents by postal channels directly to addressees in Japan, the representative of Japan made clear at the Special Commission of April 1989 on the practical operation of the Hague Service and Evidence Conventions made clear the absence of a formal objection does not imply that the sending of judicial documents by postal channels to addressees in Japan is always considered valid service in Japan. In fact, sending documents by such a method would not be deemed valid service in Japan in circumstances where the rights of the addressee were not respected. For additional information see the Hague Conference Service Convention web page and the Hague Conference Practical Handbook on the Operation of the Hague Service Convention. See also Japan’s response to the 2008 Hague Conference questionnaire on the practical operation of the Service Convention.
Service on a member of the U.S. Military in Japan: It is possible to effect service on members of the U.S. Armed Forces in Japan through the Japanese central authority. Service by mail may also be used if state law permits (APO and FPO are U.S. mail). Also, contact the Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Office at the Pentagon for the particular branch of the service.
Service on a Foreign State: See also our Service Under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) feature and FSIA Checklist for questions about service on a foreign state, agency or instrumentality.
Service of Documents from Japan in the United States: See information about service in the United States on the U.S. Central Authority for the Service Convention page of the Hague Conference on Private International Law Service Convention site.
Prosecution Requests: U.S. federal or state prosecutors should also contact the Office of International Affairs, Criminal Division, Department of Justice for guidance.
Defense Requests in Criminal Matters: Criminal defendants or their defense counsel seeking judicial assistance in obtaining evidence or in effecting service of documents abroad in connection with criminal matters may do so via the letters rogatory process.
Japan is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil and Commercial Matters. Requests to obtain evidence in Japan in civil and commercial matters are governed by the U.S. – Japan bilateral Consular Convention of 1963, customary international law and the practice of nations, applicable U.S. and local Japanese law and regulations, and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (regarding transmittal of letters rogatory). See also Japan’s response to the 2008 Hague Conference questionnaire on the practical operation of the Hague Evidence Convention.
Requests from Japan to Obtain Evidence in the United States: The U.S. Central Authority for the Hague Evidence Convention is the Office of International Judicial Assistance, Civil Division, Department of Justice, 1100 L St., N.W., Room 11006, Washington, D.C. 20530.
Article 17(1) (e) of the U.S. - Japan Consular Convention provides that consular officers may …
"(ii) take depositions, on behalf of the courts or other judicial tribunals or authorities of the sending state, voluntarily given.
(iii) administer oaths to any person in the receiving state in accordance with the laws of the sending state and in a manner not inconsistent with the laws of the receiving state."
This general reference to the authority of consular officers to take depositions has been interpreted by the Government of Japan very strictly. Japanese law and practice, and the mutually agreed upon interpretation of the U.S. - Japan bilateral Consular Convention concerning obtaining evidence in Japan permits the taking of a deposition of a willing witness for use in a court in the United States only
The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Justice have advised the United States that these requirements apply in civil, criminal and administrative cases. The Japanese requirement for a court order and special deposition visas would apply in all cases.
U.S. Court Order for the Taking of the Depositions: A certified copy of the court order must be provided to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo before application is made for the special deposition visa so that the U.S. Embassy is in a position to respond to the inquiry made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the U.S. Embassy before the Ministry authorizes the Japanese Embassy or consulate in the United States to issue the special deposition visa. Japan will not accept orders issued by administrative law judges. Court orders may be obtained from U.S. courts under the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. 1651, by various administrative agencies for the taking of depositions in Japan. It is advisable that court orders include the language "on or about" concerning dates so as to afford maximum flexibility in scheduling.
Sample Suggested Text for Court Order or Commission:
Japanese authorities have requested that the court order or commission contain the following information:
NAME OF COURT
TO ANY CONSUL OR VICE CONSUL OF THE UNITED STATES
UNITED STATES (EMBASSY/CONSULATE) (NAME OF CITY)
Upon the application of (plaintiff, defendants), and pursuant to Article 17 of the United States - Japan consular convention,
You have been duly appointed and you are hereby authorized to take oral depositions at the United States (embassy/consulate) in (name of city), Japan, of the following witnesses who will appear voluntarily:
It is ordered that the depositions on notice of the following witnesses be taken at the United States (embassy/consulate) in (name of city), Japan
(names, addresses, and employer of witnesses) commencing on or about (date), (time) and terminating on or about (date), (time), and to mark any documentary exhibits in connection therewith.
Counsel for defendants who will participate in said depositions are (names); and counsel for plaintiffs who will participate in said depositions are (names). The proceedings will be reported by (name of court reporter, if one is travelling to Japan). Please cause the testimony of said witnesses to be reduced to writing and the depositions signed by said witnesses and annex said deposition testimony to your commission and close the same under your seal and make return thereof to this court with all convenient speed.
Date signature of judge
Name of judge
Participation of Judges From the United States: Japan has advised the United States that it will not permit the participation of foreign judges in the deposition of a witness located in Japan.
Telephone or Video Testimony: Japanese authorities have informed the United States that Japan does not permit the taking of telephone or video testimony.
Special Note Regarding American Attorneys Residing in Japan and Voluntary Depositions: Japanese authorities have informed the United States that Articles 3 and 72 of the Japanese Lawyer Law may prohibit the taking of depositions in Japan outside the procedures established for taking consular depositions under Article 17 of the U.S. Japan bilateral Consular Convention by private attorneys not admitted to practice law in Japan. The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs advised that private American attorneys residing in Japan who wish to participate in depositions at the U.S. Embassy or consulate in Japan under the status of "legal/accounting services" (as "gaikokuhu jimubengoshi"), permanent residents, or their spouses may participate in depositions under their current visa status, that is, without the special deposition visa under certain circumstances. They must notify the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo of their proposed participation. The Embassy will need to provide the names of such lawyers, their company affiliation in Japan, their address, telephone number, and the type and validity of their visa, in addition to a copy of the requisite commission or court order issued by the court in the United States for the taking of the deposition before the U.S. consular officer on U.S. consular premises. In order to facilitate the notification procedures, the Embassy has prepared a worksheet which each lawyer resident in Japan will need to fill out in order for the Embassy to submit the requisite note verbale.
Voluntary Depositions on Written Questions: Voluntary depositions on written questions may be taken in Japan. Requesting counsel should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to arrange a mutually convenient day or days when the deposition may be conducted. The requirements for an American court order, consular fees and scheduling the Embassy special deposition room based on space availability still apply. Counsel must make all the arrangements for the witness to appear and for stenographic or video services and translators if necessary. The U.S. consular officer will administer the oath to the witness, and if necessary to the stenographer, video tape operator or interpreter/translator, and withdraw, subject to recall. If the witness does not speak or read English adequately, a Japanese translation of the English text should be provided. The questions should be sent directly to the U.S. consular officer at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If preferred, the witness may write down the answers to the questions, rather than dictate the answers to the stenographer or video tape operator. The U.S. consular officer will affix a closing certificate after the deposition is completed.
Conducting Informal Interviews: While the taking of depositions, under the conditions explained above, is a right secured under the U.S.-Japan Consular Convention, 15 U.S.T. 768, conducting interviews and other informal evidence gathering or investigation techniques are entirely subject to the discretion of the Japanese government. The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has advised the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo that it considers the conducting of information interviews by in Japan to constitute formal evidence gathering and therefore to be subject to the Japanese law on international investigative assistance. Private litigants may need to obtain a special visa for travel to Japan to conduct informal interviews, inspections or other investigations. Contact the Japanese Embassy or consulate in the U.S. for information. Japanese authorities may require that the request to conduct such interviews be made in the form of letters rogatory, or in criminal cases, on behalf of the U.S. Government, a formal letter of request. Local, state and federal prosecutors/attorneys seeking to conduct such interviews/inspections should contact the Office of American Citizens Services for additional information.
Depositions on U.S. Military Bases: Japan has further advised that depositions may not take place on U.S. military bases in Japan as that is not sanctioned in the U.S. - Japan Status of Forces Agreement.
Japan is a party to the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalization of Foreign Public Documents. Japan’s competent authority for the Hague Apostille Conventionwill authenticate Japanese public documents with Apostilles. For information about authenticating U.S. public documents for use in Japan, see the list of U.S. Competent Authorities. To obtain an Apostille for a U.S. Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America, contact the U.S. Department of State, Passport Services, Vital Records Office.
Japan and the United States have been treaty partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention) since April 1, 2014.
For information concerning travel to Japan, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for Japan.
The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA). The report is located here.
The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention. In this capacity, the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children's Issues facilitates the submission of applications under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of, or access to, children located in countries that are U.S. treaty partners, including Japan. Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.
United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
The Japanese Central Authority (JCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Hague Convention Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Upon receipt of a new Hague application, the JCA will review the application and supporting documents and determine whether to accept the application. In cases where the applicant is not aware of the child’s location in Japan, the JCA attempts to find the child with the assistance of other Japanese authorities. Once the child has been located, the JCA will reach out to the taking parent, if appropriate, to encourage a voluntary resolution. The JCA coordinates mediation services for parents and legal guardians. The JCA coordinates referrals for attorneys in Japan and applications for legal aid. The JCA can be reached at:
To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in Japan, the left-behind parent must submit a Hague application to the Japanese Central Authority. The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the JCA, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes.
There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the United States or Japanese central authorities. Attorney fees are the responsibility of the applicant parent. Parents may apply for a loan from the Japanese government to cover attorney fees and court costs. Additional costs may include airplane tickets for court appearances and for the return of the child, if so ordered.
A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for return to the United States of a child under 16 years of age who is removed to, or retained in, Japan in which the removal or retention occurred on or after April 1, 2014. The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand whether the Convention is an available civil remedy and can provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.
A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in Japan. The criteria for acceptance of a Hague access application vary from country to country. The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand Japan-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.
In the event that the case is not resolved through a voluntary agreement between the parties or through mediation, the case proceeds to court. Parents or legal guardians are required to retain the services of an attorney in Japan. Attorney fees are the responsibility of the applicant parent. Parents may apply for a loan from the Japanese government to cover attorney fees and court costs. The Japanese Central Authority coordinates referrals for attorneys in Japan, and applications for legal aid.
The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Japan posts a list of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law.
This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the persons or firms included in this list. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.
The Japanese Central Authority encourages mediation for all Hague Abduction Convention applications, and both parties are given the opportunity to come to a mutual agreement before the application goes to court. A portion of Mediation fees is provided by the Japanese Central Authority.
Japan is not a party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention or Convention). Under the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act (UAA), which became effective on July 14, 2014, the accreditation requirement and standards, which previously only applied in Convention cases, now also apply in non-Convention or “orphan” cases. The UAA requires that an accredited or approved adoption service provider acts as a primary provider in every case, and that adoption service providers providing adoption services on behalf of prospective adoptive parents be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider. Adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents should review the State Department’s Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 webpage for further information. Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Convention countries continue to be processed under the Orphan Process with the filing of the Forms I-600A and I-600. However, adoption service providers should be aware of the information on the USCIS website on the impact on Form I-600A and Form I-600 adjudications under the UAA, including the requirement that all home studies, including home study updates and amendments, comply with the Convention home study requirements, which differ from the orphan home study requirements that were in effect before July 14, 2014.
Please note: Japan does not have a comprehensive national law on intercountry adoption.
American citizens can complete a full and final adoption in Japan under Japanese law. However, since Japanese law requires the adopting parents and the child to spend at least six months together before the adoption can be finalized, this option is generally only feasible for American citizens who are already resident in Japan.
Both alternatives require that the child meet the definition of "orphan" in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) Section 101(b)(1)(F) in order to qualify for issuance of an immediate immigrant visa to enter the United States in either category IR-3 (option 1) or IR-4 (option 2).
"SPECIAL" AND "REGULAR" ADOPTIONS
For adoptions that are finalized in Japan, there are two types of adoptions under Japanese law - regular and special.
"Regular" adoptions are not considered an option for American citizens wishing to adopt in Japan as they are based on Japanese cultural and family traditions and do not legally sever the ties between the child and his or her birth family. To date there have been no known cases of Americans applying for immigrant visas for children adopted under the Japanese "regular" adoption process. To be a valid adoption for U.S. immigration purposes there must be an irrevocable termination of the biological parent(s) - child relationship.
"Special" adoptions in the Japanese context are an option for Americans who are resident in Japan. The law on special adoptions went into effect on January 1, 1988, having been created to protect children. Special adoptions more closely resemble Western-style adoptions. As in U.S. adoptions, a special adoption legally severs the child's ties, rights and privileges with regard to the birth parent(s) and any prior adoptive parents.
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Japan, you must meet certain suitability and eligibility requirements. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can adopt a child from another country and bring that child to live in the United States under U.S. immigration law.
Additionally, a child must meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law in order to be eligible to immigrate to the United States with an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa.
In addition to being found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS, prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt from Japan must meet the following requirements:
In addition to qualifying as an orphan under U.S. immigration law, the child must meet the following requirements of Japan:
Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are eligible for adoption. In many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children’s home due to financial or other hardship, intending that the child return home when this becomes possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to the adoption of their child(ren).
Japan’s Adoption Authority
Japan's principal adoption authorities are the Family Courts and the Child Guidance Centers (CGC), both of which are administered at the prefectural level.
The process for adopting a child from Japan generally includes the following steps:
1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt (Form I-600A)
3. Apply to Japan’s Authorities to Adopt and be Matched with a Child
4. Adopt the Child in Japan
5. Apply for Your Child to be Found Eligible to Immigrate to the United States as an Orphan
6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home
1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider
Before taking steps to adopt a child from Japan, you should select a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider to be the primary provider in your case. As of July 14, 2014, a primary provider is required in every intercountry adoption case under the UAA, unless an exception applies. The primary provider is responsible for:
For more information on primary providers and the UAA, please see Universal Accreditation Act of 2012.
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt
In order to adopt a child from Japan, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Japan and U.S. immigration law.
To meet U.S. immigration requirements, you may also choose to file a Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, with USCIS to be found suitable and eligible to adopt before you identify a child to adopt. You may also choose to file the Form I-600 petition along with all the required Form I-600A application supporting documentation, including an approved home study, once you have been matched with a child and have obtained all the necessary documentation. Please see the USCIS website for more information about filing options. Regardless of which approach you take, the home study must meet the same requirements. As of July 14, 2014, unless an exception applies, the home study must comply with the requirements in 8 CFR 204.311 and 22 CFR Part 96.47.
3. Apply to Japan’s Authorities to Adopt and be Matched with a Child
If you are found suitable and eligible to adopt under U.S. law, you must also submit an adoption application to the adoption authority of Japan to be found eligible to adopt by Japan.
If you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the Japanese adoption service provider or the Child Guidance Center that has custody of the child arranges for child/prospective adoptive parent matches. In some cases the biological parent is asked to provide input concerning who will adopt the child. We encourage families to consult with a medical professional and their adoption service provider to understand the needs of the specific child but each family must decide for itself whether it will be able to meet the needs of, and provide a permanent home for, a specific child, and must conform to the recommendations in the home study for the number of children and capacity to deal with any special needs of an adoptive child. Learn more about Health Considerations.
The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Japan’s requirements, as described in the Who Can Be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law.
4. Adopt the Child in Japan.
The process for finalizing the adoptionin Japan generally includes the following:
Starting July 14, 2014, unless an exception applies, there must be a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider acting as the primary provider in every case. Also, any agency or person providing an adoption service on behalf of prospective adoptive parents in any Convention or non-Convention case must be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider. Adoption service means any one of the following six services:
Note: Additional documents may be requested.
5. Apply for Your Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States as an Orphan
After you finalize the adoption in Japan, USCIS must determine whether the child meets the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law in order for the child to immigrate to the United States. You will need to file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative. At the time you file your Form I-600 petition, the adjudicating officer will determine whether the UAA applies or if your case is UAA grandfathered. For more information on UAA grandfathering and transition cases, please see Universal Accreditation Act of 2012. Unless an exception applies, you must identify a primary provider in your case and the adjudicating officer may ask for the name and contact information of the primary provider if not provided in your Form I-600 petition. This information is required and, without it, your Form I-600 petition cannot be approved.
If you have an approved, valid Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, you may file your Form I-600 petition either in the United States with USCIS or in person at the U.S.Embassy in Tokyo.
When a Form I-600 petition is adjudicated by USCIS in the United States, the consular section in Tokyo must complete a Form I-604, Determination on Child for Adoption (sometimes informally referred to as an orphan determination), to verify the child’s orphan status. When a Form I-600 petition is adjudicated by an international USCIS office, USCIS generally completes the Form I-604 determination.
For Form I-600 petitions filed with the Embassy’s consular section, the consular officer must complete the Form I-604 determination after you file your Form I-600 petition. Conducting the Form I-604 determination is a critical part of the orphan adoption process. It can take months to complete, depending upon the circumstances of your case. Consular officers appreciate that families are eager to bring their child home as quickly as possible. Some of the factors that may contribute to the length of the process include prevailing fraud patterns in the country of origin, civil unrest or security concerns that restrict travel to certain areas of the country, and the number of determinations performed by available staff. Consular officers make every effort to conduct them as quickly and thoroughly as possible. You are advised to keep your travel plans flexible while awaiting the results.
6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home
Now that your adoption is complete, and the Form I-604 determination has been completed finding that your child meets the legal definition of an orphan for immigration purposes, there are a few more steps to take before you and your child can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:
Once you have finalized the adoption in Japan, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
You will first need to apply for a family registry (the Japanese version of a birth certificate) for the child, so that you can later apply for a passport An adoption service provider should be able to assist you with this process.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Japan.
Only the child's biological or adoptive parent or legal guardian may apply for a passport on behalf of the minor child, but an adoption service provider should be able to help get the document.
Please note: according to the Japanese nationality law, a child is not considered to have gained citizenship of a second country (the United States in this case) by his or her own will, so the child does not automatically lose Japanese citizenship when naturalized as a U.S. citizen. For more information, click here.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child and you have filed Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, you then need to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you and be admitted to the United States as your child. As part of this process, you must provide the consular officer the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child.
Before coming for your child’s immigrant visa interview, please complete an Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) online at the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC). If you filed a Form I-600 petition in the United States, you should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the petition and assignment of a case number and an invoice ID number. You will need this information to log into CEAC to file the DS-260 for your child. An adoptive parent should fill out these forms in your child's name. Answer every item on the form. If information is not applicable, please write “N/A” in the block. Print and bring the DS-260 form confirmation page to the visa interview. Please review the DS-260 FAQs, our Online Immigrant Visa Forms page, or contact the NVC at NVCAdoptions@state.gov or +1-603-334-0700 if you have questions about completing the online DS-260 form.
It is not usually possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the same day as the immigrant visa interview. Adoptive parents should verify current processing times with the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo before making final travel arrangements.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: An adopted child residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence generally will acquire U.S. citizenship automatically upon entry into the United States if the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, including the child is under the age of eighteen.
For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: You will need to complete an adoption following your child’s entry into the United States and before the child turns eighteen for the child (if he or she otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000) to automatically acquire U.S. citizenship.
Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Once your child has acquired U.S. citizenship, s/he will need a U.S. passport for any international travel. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.
Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Department of State’s Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.
Obtaining a Visa to Travel to Japan
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Japan, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country in the world about various issues, including health conditions, crime, currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State through our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country. Enrollment makes it possible for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Japan, to contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
The adoptive parents need to work with the Japanese adoption service provider to have the child's name removed from the birth mother's family registry (koseki). This is important to the birth mother because she may have chosen intercountry adoption so that the child's name would be removed from her family registry.
Japanese children who are adopted by foreign parents and acquire a second nationality retain Japanese citizenship because they are not viewed as having acquired a second nationality by their own choice. According to Japanese law they should select their citizenship before reaching the age of 22. For more information, click here.
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services. Your primary provider can provide or point you to post- placement/post-adoption services to help your adopted child and your family transition smoothly and deal effectively with the many adjustments required in an intercountry adoption.
Here are some places to start your support group search:
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of contents.
If you have concerns about your adoption process, we ask that you share this information with the Embassy in Tokyo, particularly if it involves possible fraud or misconduct specific to your child’s case. The Department of State takes all allegations of fraud or misconduct seriously. Our Adoption Comment Page provides several points of contact for adoptive families to comment on their adoption service provider, their experience applying for their child’s visa, or about the Form I-600 petition process.
The Hague Complaint Registry is an internet based registry for filing complaints about U.S. accredited or approved adoption service providers. If you think your provider's conduct may have been out of substantial compliance with accreditation standards, first submit your complaint in writing directly to your provider. If the complaint is not resolved through the provider's complaint process, you may file the complaint through the Hague Complaint Registry.
U.S. Embassy in Japan
1-10-5 Akasaka Minato-ku
Tokyo 107-8420, Japan
Tel: (81)(3) 3224-5000
Fax: (81)(3) 3224-5929
Japan’s Adoption Authority
The Family Court and the Child Guidance Center (CGC) are administered at the local prefectural level and are often located in the City or Ward Office.
Embassy of Japan
2520 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20008-2869
Tel: (202) 939-6700
Japan also has consulates in: Anchorage, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Honolulu, Houston, Miami, Kansas City (MO), Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Portland (OR), Saipan (Mariana Islands), San Francisco, Seattle, and Tamuning (Guam).
Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
For questions about filing a Form I-600A application or I-600 petition:
USCIS National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
|A-3 1||None||Multiple||24 Months|
|CW-1 11||None||Multiple||12 Months|
|CW-2 11||None||Multiple||12 Months|
|E-1 2||None||Multiple||60 Months|
|E-2 2||None||Multiple||60 Months|
|E-2C 12||None||Multiple||24 Months|
|G-5 1||None||Multiple||24 Months|
|H-1B||None||Multiple||60 Months 3|
|H-1C||None||Multiple||60 Months 3|
|H-2A||None||Multiple||60 Months 3|
|H-2B||None||Multiple||60 Months 3|
|H-2R||None||Multiple||60 Months 3|
|H-3||None||Multiple||60 Months 3|
|H-4||None||Multiple||60 Months 3|
|J-1 4||None||Multiple||60 Months|
|J-2 4||None||Multiple||60 Months|
|O-1||None||Multiple||60 Months 3|
|O-2||None||Multiple||60 Months 3|
|O-3||None||Multiple||60 Months 3|
|P-1||None||Multiple||60 Months 3|
|P-2||None||Multiple||60 Months 3|
|P-3||None||Multiple||60 Months 3|
|P-4||None||Multiple||60 Months 3|
|Q-1 6||None||Multiple||15 Months 3|
|S-5 7||None||One||1 Month|
|S-6 7||None||One||1 Month|
|S-7 7||None||One||1 Month|
|V-2||None||Multiple||120 Months 8|
|V-3||None||Multiple||120 Months 8|
Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.
The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:
An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.
Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.
The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.
Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.
Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.
There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.
Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.
In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).
However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.
Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.
Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.
Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.
Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.
Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.
No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.
V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.
Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:
The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.
The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.
The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.
Civil documents and records in Japan are reliable. All civil records for Okinawa prefecture were destroyed during World War II, except those records maintained on the islands of Miyako and Yaeyama. The destroyed records were recreated, based on the testimony of the persons involved.
Civil actions in Japan become legally effective only when notification is accepted by the Municipal Office where the action was performed. For example, a court record of adoption is not legally final and a church wedding has no legal standing prior to proper registration at a Municipal Office.
Note: All civilian documents for the Prefecture of Okinawa were destroyed prior to the invasion of Okinawa on April 1, 1945, except those retained on the islands of Miyako and Yaeyama.
Available. The birth record of a Japanese national is contained in the Japanese family register (koseki shohon), showing date/place of birth and parents' names is issued by the Municipal Office of the applicant's legal domicile (honseki-chi).
A non-Japanese citizen born in Japan who is stateless (and therefore has no consular report of birth) may present a certificate of acceptance of notification of birth (shussei todoke juri shomeisho) from the Municipal Office where the applicant was born. This record is maintained for ten years.
Available. The Japanese extract of the family register (koseki shohon), available from the Municipal Office, generally contains all current information that would be found in separate birth, adoption, marriage, divorce, or death records. Therefore a married person's koseki shohon serves as evidence of both birth and present marriage.
The koseki shohon usually omits outdated records such as annulled adoptions, a former marriage, divorce or the death of a former spouse. Further, in the case of a person who was removed from one koseki and placed into another by adoption or marriage, the current koseki sometimes does not indicate the person's place of birth. If the omitted portion is required, an extract from the canceled koseki (joseki shohon) must be obtained from the Municipal Office holding the applicant's previous family register.
Records of civil actions pertaining to non-Japanese citizens, such as marriage, adoption, divorce or death are available from the Municipal Office where the action was registered, in the same manner as the birth record of a non-Japanese citizen. Marriage and adoption records are maintained for 50 years. Divorce and death records are kept for 10 years.
Please check back for update.
Please check back for update.
Document Name: The Certificate of Criminal Record.
Issuing Authority: The headquarters' records section of the Metropolitan or Prefectural police issues certificates which include a nationwide criminal records check.
Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Japanese Police Certificates are issued in a sealed envelope. If the seal is broken, the certificate is considered invalid. Visa applicants should not open a sealed envelope containing a Police Certificate. The applicant must bring the original Police Certificate in a sealed envelope to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate at the time of his/her interview. Applicants do not need to mail their Police Certificate to the National Visa Center.
Issuing Authority Personnel Title: N/A
Registration Criteria: N/A
Procedure for Obtaining:
Applicants Physically Present in Japan: Foreign nationals holding legal resident status and Japanese citizens must apply in person at the Metropolitan or Prefectural police headquarters having jurisdiction over their present place of residence in Japan. Processing time: approximately 3 weeks.
Applicants Outside of Japan: Former legal residents, former illegal aliens, and Japanese citizens, should apply at the nearest Japanese Consulate. Processing time: Two to three months.
Applicants Physically Present in Japan as Illegal Aliens: Officially, the Japanese police will not process requests for police good conduct certificates from illegal aliens while they are physically present in Japan. In some cases, however, the police will issue the appropriate police certificate, provided that the illegal alien submits to deportation proceedings and agrees to leave Japan by a date specified by Japanese Immigration.
Police certificate from U.S. military base: Criminal records from the Japanese police authority and from U.S. military bases are not cross-indexed. Therefore, a crime that occurred in one jurisdiction may not be reported to the police of the other jurisdiction. U.S. military applicants (civilian employees, military personnel, and family members) who are physically present in Japan under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) must show the results of a local military base police records check as well as a Japanese police certificate. Processing time: Approximately two weeks.
Local military base police records checks are unavailable to applicants outside of Japan. However, Defense Department law enforcement agencies may be able to determine if an applicant who formerly resided in Japan under the SOFA engaged in criminal activity.
Certified Copies Available: N/A
Alternate Documents: N/A
Japanese police certificates will not contain information about criminal convictions when:
The headquarters' records section of the Metropolitan or Prefectural Police issues certificates which include a nationwide criminal records check. It is unclear how long it takes for criminal information to be submitted into the national database.
NOTE: A limited validity Japanese passport may be indicative of a criminal history in Japan, although a police certificate may not show a criminal background.
Available. Records of court judgment are maintained at the relevant office of the District Public Prosecutor's office (chiho kensatucho kirokuka). A certified copy of judgment (hanketsu tohon) may be issued both to Japanese and non-Japanese upon application, but personal appearance is required. The applicant must state his/her name in Chinese characters if the applicant is Japanese, Chinese or Korean, their date of birth, permanent legal domicile and the purpose for which the court judgment is required. An applicant residing abroad can be issued a court record only through the attorney who represented the applicant at the time of his or her trial or the applicant's relative in Japan who has a power of attorney to apply for such a certificate.
Complete prison records are unavailable. A prison can issue a certificate showing the dates of incarceration upon request either in person or by letter. A request by mail must include a postage-paid, self-addressed envelope.
Available. Records for Imperial Japanese military service, up to and including World War II, can be obtained by written request in Japanese to either the Prefectural Government's Welfare Section or the Ministry of Welfare: Koseisho, Shakai-Engo-Kyoku, 1-1-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-45, Japan; telephone: 03-3503-1711, extension 3420 (Army); extension 3477 (Navy).
A letter characterizing the nature of service in the post-1945 Japanese Self-Defense Forces is available upon request by the applicant to his or her former unit commander.
Ordinary passports for multiple journeys are valid for five years from the date of issue and may be renewed abroad at a Japanese diplomatic or consular office. Official or diplomatic passports are issued for either single or multiple journeys and remain valid for five years or until the bearer returns to Japan. Legal resident nationals of countries with which Japan has no relations may seek to travel on re-entry permits. All such travel documents satisfy INA 212(a)(7)(B).
Tokyo, Japan (Embassy) -- Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visas
APO AP 96337-5004
Naha, Japan (Consulate General) -- Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visas
FPO AP 96372-0840
Osaka-Kobe, Japan (Consulate General) -- Nonimmigrant Visas only
APO AP 96337-5004
Sapporo, Japan (Consulate General) -- Nonimmigrant Visas only
Unit 9800, Box 373
DPO AP 96303-0373
Kita 1-jo Nishi 28-Chome
Consulate General of the U.S.A.
Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido
Immigrant Visas: Tokoyo serves all prefectures of the four main islands of Japan (Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu) and the Northern Mariana Islands. Naha serves Okinawa and the Amami Islands of Kagoshima ken.
Nonimmigrant Visas: Areas are served according to the table below:
|Kagoshima Portion north of 29th parallel||Osaka-Kobe|
|Kagoshima Portion south of 29th parallel||Naha|