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International Travel

English

Country Information

Japan

Country Information

Japan
Japan
Last Updated: January 11, 2017
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Embassy Messages

Tokyo

 

Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

Duration of intended period of stay

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

One page required for entry stamp

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

Not required for stays of less than 90 days

VACCINATIONS:

None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

Amounts equivalent to ¥1,000,000 or above subject to declaration

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

Amounts equivalent to ¥1,000,000 or above subject to declaration

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Tokyo 
1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku,
Tokyo 107-8420 Japan
Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Fax: 81-3-3224-5856
Tokyoacs@state.gov

U.S. Consulate General Osaka-Kobe
2-11-5, Nishitenma, Kita-ku,
Osaka 530-8543, Japan
Telephone: 81-6-6315-5900
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Fax: 81-6-6315-5914
AOK@state.gov

U.S. Consulate General Naha
2-1-1 Toyama, Urasoe City,
Okinawa, Japan
Telephone: 81-98-876-4211
Emergency Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Fax: 81-98-876-4243
NahaACS@state.gov

U.S. Consulate General Sapporo
Kita 1-jo Nishi 28-chome, Chuo-ku,
Sapporo 064-0821, Japan
Telephone: 81-11-641-1115
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Fax: 81-11-643-1283
SapporoACS@state.gov
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
Telephone: 81-92-751-9331
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Fax: 81-92-713-9222
FukuokaACS@state.gov
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
Telephone: 81-52-581-4501
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Fax: 81-52-581-3190
AOK@state.gov
Emergency services only. 

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Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Japan for information on U.S.-Japan relations. 

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Visit the Embassy of Japan website for the most current visa information.

Entry & Exit:

  • You must have a valid passport and an onward/return ticket for tourist/business "visa free" stays of up to 90 days. Your passports must be valid for the entire time you are staying in Japan.
  • You cannot work on a 90-day "visa free" entry.   
  • "Visa free" entry status may not be changed to another visa status without departing and then re-entering Japan with the appropriate visa, such as a spouse, work, or study visa.
  • Japanese immigration officers may deny you entry if you appear to have no visible means of support. 
  • All foreign nationals are required to provide fingerprint scans and to be photographed at the port of entry. Exceptions to this requirement include diplomatic and official visa holders, minors, and individuals covered under SOFA Article IX.2. For further information about landing procedures, please visit the Immigration Bureau of Japan’s website

Transiting Japan: 

  • Ensure that your passport and visa are valid and up to date before you leave the United States. Passport services are not available at the airport.
  • Airlines in Japan will deny you boarding for transit if you don’t have the required travel documents for an onward destination in Asia or if your passport is not valid for six months. For the entry requirements of the country you’re traveling to, visit the State Department's Country Specific Information website.

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. 

Find information on dual nationality, prevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

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Safety and Security

Crime:  Crimes against U.S. citizens in Japan is generally low and usually involves personal disputes, theft, or vandalism. In addition:

  • Robberies committed after a victim has been drugged from a spiked drink are increasing.
  • Sexual assaults are not often reported, but they do occur, and victims may be randomly targeted.  Victim's assistance resources or shelters are difficult for foreigners to access.  
  • Hate-related violent crimes rarely occur, although some U.S. citizens have reported being the target of discrimination because of their nationality or their race.
  • Pick pocketing can occur in crowded shopping areas, on trains, and at airports.
  • Police reports must be filed before leaving Japan, as Japanese police will not accept reports filed from overseas. 
  • In instances involving credit card theft or fraud, Japanese police often provide a report number rather than a police report. You can provide this report number to your credit card company in order to confirm the incident with the police.

Entertainment and Nightlife Districts in Tokyo: 

  • Use caution in all entertainment and nightlife districts throughout Japan, especially Roppongi, Kabuki-cho, Shibuya, and Ikebukuro. 
  • Incidents involving U.S. citizens in these areas include physical and sexual assaults, drug overdoses, theft of purses, wallets, cash and credit cards at bars or clubs, and drugs allegedly slipped into drinks. 
  • Drink spiking at bars and entertainment venues, especially in areas such as Roppongi and Kabuki-cho, near Shinjuku, has led to robbery, physical and sexual assaults, and credit card fraud.  Some victims regain consciousness in the bar or club; other victims may awaken on the street or other unfamiliar locations.
  • U.S. citizens have reported being threatened with gun or knife violence in such venues so that they will pay exorbitant bar tabs or withdraw money.  U.S. citizens  have also reported being beaten when they have refused to pay or hand over money.
  • There have been recent reports of U.S. citizens being forcibly taken to ATMs and robbed, or made to withdraw funds after being unable to pay exorbitant bar tabs.  
  • Please be aware that Roppongi, Kabuki-cho, and other entertainment and nightlife districts have also been the scenes of violence between criminal syndicates. 

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.    

VICTIMS OF CRIME:  

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 81-3-3224-5000.  Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.


We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical
  • support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

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 how to call for help. 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:

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Local Laws & Special Circumstances

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.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

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.

list of English-speaking lawyers located throughout Japan is available on our website.

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.

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

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.”

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

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.

Special Circumstances: 

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’re 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 and, possibly, tsunamis. See the U.S. Embassy’s American Citizen Services (ACS) website for disaster preparedness tips.

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 follow 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:

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Health

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. Extended psychiatric care for foreigners in Japan is very difficult to obtain.

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Travel and Transportation

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 generally not permitted.

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 "drunken, speeding, or blatantly careless driving resulting in injury" you are subject to up to 15 years in prison. 

All passengers are required to fasten their seat belts.

Please refer to 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's 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.

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Tokyo 
1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku,
Tokyo 107-8420 Japan
Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Fax: 81-3-3224-5856
Tokyoacs@state.gov

U.S. Consulate General Osaka-Kobe
2-11-5, Nishitenma, Kita-ku,
Osaka 530-8543, Japan
Telephone: 81-6-6315-5900
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Fax: 81-6-6315-5914
AOK@state.gov

U.S. Consulate General Naha
2-1-1 Toyama, Urasoe City,
Okinawa, Japan
Telephone: 81-98-876-4211
Emergency Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Fax: 81-98-876-4243
NahaACS@state.gov

U.S. Consulate General Sapporo
Kita 1-jo Nishi 28-chome, Chuo-ku,
Sapporo 064-0821, Japan
Telephone: 81-11-641-1115
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Fax: 81-11-643-1283
SapporoACS@state.gov
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
Telephone: 81-92-751-9331
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Fax: 81-92-713-9222
FukuokaACS@state.gov
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
Telephone: 81-52-581-4501
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Fax: 81-52-581-3190
AOK@state.gov
Emergency services only. 

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General Information

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.

 

 

 

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Hague Abduction Convention

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.

Contact information:

United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone:  1-888-407-4747
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
Website 

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:

Hague Convention Division
Consular Affairs Bureau
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Kasumigaseki 2-2-1
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 100-8919
Japan
Tel:  +81-3-5501-8466  
Fax:  +81-3-5501-8527
Email
Website

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.

 

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Return

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.

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Visitation/Access

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.

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Retaining an Attorney

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.

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Mediation

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.

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.  For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
No
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Both adoptions to the United States from Japan and from the United States to Japan are possible.
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
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Hague Convention Information

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. 

Japan has two distinct procedures for intercountry adoption:

  1. 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.
  2. (2) American citizens may obtain legal custody of the child in Japan for the purposes of the child's emigration and a full and final adoption in the United States. 

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.

U.S. Immigration Requirements For Intercountry Adoptions

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.

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Who Can Adopt

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:

  • RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: There are no laws concerning the visa status of prospective adoptive parents. However, parents almost always must reside in Japan during the entire court process, which takes a minimum of six months and possibly as long as 18 months. When the adoption is finalized at least one parent must be present at court. Proxy adoptions are not permitted. 
  • AGE REQUIREMENTS: In special adoptions, prospective adoptive parents must be over 25 years of age. However, if one parent is over 25, the other parent can be younger than 25 so long as he or she is at least 20 years old. In regular adoptions, prospective adoptive parents must be at least 20 years of age. 
  • MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: In special adoptions, prospective adoptive parents must be a married couple. In regular adoptions, there may be circumstances in which single people can adopt.
  • INCOME REQUIREMENTS: While there are no specific income requirements required by Japanese law, the prospective adoptive parents likely will have to provide documentation on their income and finances.
  • OTHER REQUIREMENTS: There are no laws regulating or addressing same-sex couples adopting in Japan, but there have been no known cases of this happening. However, it may be permitted if the prospective adoptive parents' state recognizes the marriage as legal.
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Who Can Be Adopted

In addition to qualifying as an orphan under U.S. immigration law, the child must meet the following requirements of Japan: 

  • Relinquishment: Japanese law does not specify that the child must be an "orphan" (i.e., as defined in U.S. immigration law) in order for the adoption to proceed. According to Article 817-7, a special adoption can be granted when:
  1. It is extremely difficult for the biological parents to take care of the child;
  2. It is considered inappropriate for the biological parents to raise the child; and/or
  3. It is in the interests of the child. 
  • Age of Adoptive Child: For a child to be adopted under the special adoption law, the child must be under the age of 6 at the time the petition to adopt is filed. However, the adoption can still proceed if the child is under the age of 8 and the prospective adoptive parents have had custody of the child and continually cared for the child since before the child was 6 years of age. Please note that for a child to meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law, a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, must be filed on the child’s behalf while the child is under the age of 16 (or under the age of 18 if the child is the birth sibling of another adopted child who has immigrated or will immigrate based on adoption by the same adoptive parent(s)).
  • Sibling Adoptions: None specified. 
  • Special Needs or Medical Conditions:  None specified.
  • Waiting Period or Foster Care: None specified. 
  • Please note: The family court uses these guidelines to determine whether or not to grant the adoption, taking the specific circumstances of each case into account. Please note that it is possible for the Japanese court to issue a final adoption order, but for the child to still be ineligible for an IR-3 immigrant visa because he or she does not meet the U.S. definition of "orphan" in the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA 101(b)(1)(F)). For more information on the child's eligibility for a U.S. immigrant visa please see the Immigrant Visa Process page on our website.

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).

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How to Adopt

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

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, or Obtain Legal Custody of the Child for Purposes of Emigration and Adoption
  5. Apply for Your Child to be Found Eligible to Immigrate to the United States as an Orphan (Form I-600)
  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:

  • Ensuring that all six adoption services defined at 22 CFR 96.2 are provided;
  • Supervising and being responsible for supervised providers where used (see 22 CFR 96.14); and
  • Developing and implementing a service plan in accordance with 22 CFR 96.44

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. or Obtain Legal Custody of the Child for Purposes of Emigration and Adoption

The process for finalizing the adoption or obtaining legal custody for purposes of emigration and adoption in Japan generally includes the following:

  • Role of the Court:  Final Adoption (Special Adoption):
    For those who are finalizing the adoption in Japan, the Family Court reviews the adoption application. Please note that you may never actually appear in court in front of a judge; the paperwork may be done at the clerk's office. In reviewing the application, the Court examines the law governing intercountry adoptions in the prospective adoptive parents' U.S. state of legal domicile. The Court informs the prospective adoptive parents of their court hearing date. This first hearing date generally occurs at the end of the trial six-month period, during which time a court representative conducts an interview with the prospective adoptive parents and conducts at least one home visit. Approximately two to three weeks after the final hearing, the judge will decide whether or not to approve the adoption. If the judge approves the petition, the Court issues a certificate allowing "Permission to adopt" (yoshi no kyoka). If the biological parents or any interested parties do not object within two weeks of the parents' registering the adoption at the ward office or two weeks after the date provided on the final decree, it is considered final.

    Legal Custody for purpose of adoption in the United States:

    For those who are obtaining legal custody of a child to complete the adoption in their U.S. state of residence, the Japanese court is not involved and the Japanese adoption agency is responsible for transferring custody. In such circumstances, the biological parent signs a form in English and her native language stating that she is the sole remaining parent of the child, that she is incapable of providing care for the child, and that she consents irrevocably to the adoption of the child by the prospective adoptive parents as well as the emigration of the child to the United States. 
  • Role of Adoption Agencies:  When finalizing the adoption in Japan, the adoption agency can match the prospective adoptive parents with a child, provide all of the necessary forms and instructions on how to complete the adoption process in Japan, and help collect the documents necessary for the U.S. immigrant visa, including the birth certificate and adoption decree.

    When obtaining legal custody of a child for a full and final adoption in the U.S., the adoption agency can match the prospective adoptive parents with a child and assist with the forms and documents necessary to secure a U.S. immigrant visa. 

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: 

  1. Identifying a child for adoption and arranging an adoption;
  2. Securing the necessary consent to termination of parental rights and to adoption;
  3. Performing a background study on a child or a home study on a prospective adoptive parent(s), and reporting on such a study;
  4. Making non-judicial determinations of the best interests of a child and the appropriateness of an adoptive placement for the child;
  5. Monitoring a case after a child has been placed with prospective adoptive parent(s) until final adoption; or
  6. When necessary because of a disruption before final adoption, assuming custody and providing (including facilitating the provision of) child care or any other social service pending an alternative placement. 22 CFR 96.2 Definitions.
  • Adoption Application:  When finalizing an adoption in Japan, the prospective adoptive parents submit their adoption application to the Family Court with jurisdiction over the child's residence.

    When obtaining custody of a child for a full and final adoption in the United States, the application to adopt is submitted to the proper authorities in the U.S. state of residence after the child enters the United States on an immigrant visa. Please note that in this case, the adopted child will acquire U.S. citizenship only after a full and final adoption in the United States. 
  • Time Frame:  Intercountry adoptions through the Family Court require at least six months and sometimes longer, possibly up to 18 months. The Japanese court system will take into account the laws of your state of residence and will try to comply with those laws. In practice, this may mean that finalization of the adoption takes several months longer than it otherwise would. The Family Court does not mandate a time limit on when an adoption must be completed.

    Prospective adoptive parents who are gaining custody to complete a full and final adoption in the United States report that the process takes between nine and eighteen months to take custody of the child, plus additional time in the United States to finalize the adoption in their state of residence. 
  • Adoption Fees:  For those who are resident in Japan and adopting a child through the Japanese court system, the costs vary widely; however, the average total cost is approximately US$20,000. This includes fees for the Family Court, adoption agency, immigration processing, and document translations and authentications.

    It should be noted that Japanese adoption service provider fees can range from US$5,000 to US$50,000 or higher, so the overall cost of adoption depends on the agency the prospective adoptive parents select. Japanese law prohibits adoption service providers operating in Japan from profiting from adoptions, and the provider is required to give you an itemized invoice. That list may include fees to cover the birth of the child, as such costs are not covered by Japanese health insurance. Prospective adoptive parents may incur additional fees when adopting a child with medical conditions.

    Adoption service providers in Japan are prohibited from receiving donations before the completion of the adoption process, and a donation may not be a condition for providing services. Providers that violate these regulations should be reported to the prefectural government and may be suspended or closed by that government.
  • Prospective adoptive parents are advised to obtain detailed receipts for all fees and donations paid, either by themselves directly or through their U.S. adoption service provider, and to raise any concerns regarding any payment that you believe may be contrary to U.S. law, or the law of Japan, with your adoption service provider.  Please also refer to information concerning the Hague Complaint Registry.  Improper payments may have the appearance of buying achild, violate applicable law, and could put all future adoptions in Japan at risk.  The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for instance, makes it unlawful to bribe foreign government officials to obtain or retain business.  Further, the UAA and IAA make it unlawful to improperly influence relinquishment of parental rights, parental consent relating to adoption of a child, or a decision by an entity performing Central Authority functions. 
  • Documents Required:  When completing a full and final adoption under Japanese law, the Japanese adoption agency should provide you with a complete list of required documents. These may include:
    • Birth certificate and/or family register of all parties
    • Passport, Japanese visas and Alien Registration cards for all parties
    • Copy of U.S. military ID (where applicable)
    • Marriage, divorce, and death certificates (where applicable)
    • Copy of any property ownership deeds and/or bank statements
    • Certificate of foster parent registration (where applicable)
    • Certificate of good conduct/no criminal record for each adoptive parent (issued by their home city or state police department)
    • Certificate of legal address, employment, and income
    • Biographic history of all parties
    • Statement of consent to adopt by the child's biological parent(s) or guardian
    • Statement of prospective parent(s)' intent to adopt the identified child
    • Home Study (approved by an authorized and licensed adoption agency)
    • Two character references

When taking custody of a child for a full and final adoption in the United States, again the adoption service provider will assist you with documentation. For example, you will need a family registry (koseki) for the child, a passport for the child, signed release statements from the biological mother, and descriptions of the situation of the biological mother. 

Note:  Additional documents may be requested. 

  • Authentication of Documents:  You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic.  The U.S Department of State’s Authentications Office has information on the subject. 

5.  Apply for Your Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States as an Orphan

After you finalize the adoption or gain legal custody for purposes of emigration and 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 or you have obtained legal custody of the child for the purposes of emigration and adoption of the child in the United States, 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:

Birth Certificate

If 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.

If you have been granted legal custody for the purposes of emigration and adoption of the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain will, in most cases, not yet include your name.

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. If you have obtained legal custody of the child for adoption in the U.S., the family registry will list the birth parent's name. An adoption service provider should be able to assist you with this process. 

Japan Passport

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. 

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.

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Traveling Abroad

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).

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After Adoption

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. 

Post-Adoption Resources

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.

COMPLAINTS

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

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Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in Japan
Box 114
1-10-5 Akasaka Minato-ku
Tokyo 107-8420, Japan
Tel: (81)(3) 3224-5000
Fax: (81)(3) 3224-5929
Internet: jp.usembassy.gov/

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. Department of State
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20522-1709
Email: Adoption@state.gov
Internet: adoption.state.gov

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)
Internet: uscis.gov

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)
Email: NBC.Adoptions@uscis.dhs.gov

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 60 Months
A-2 None Multiple 60 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 None Multiple 120 Months
B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
C-1 None Multiple 120 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 120 Months
C-2 None Multiple 12 Months
C-3 None Multiple 60 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 120 Months
E-1 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 None Multiple 60 Months
F-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-1 None Multiple 60 Months
G-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-3 None Multiple 60 Months
G-4 None Multiple 60 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
I None Multiple 60 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 60 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 60 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 None Multiple 60 Months
L-2 None Multiple 60 Months
M-1 None Multiple 60 Months
M-2 None Multiple 60 Months
N-8 None Multiple 60 Months
N-9 None Multiple 60 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
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
R-1 None Multiple 60 Months
R-2 None Multiple 60 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 120 Months
V-2 None Multiple 120 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 120 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes

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.

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Visa Category Footnotes
  1. 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:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. 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.  

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

    Canadian Nationals

    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

    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.

  6. 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.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. 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.

  9. 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:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

 

 

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General Documents

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.

Municipal Office

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.

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth Certificates

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.

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

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.

Adoption Certificates

Please check back for update.

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Identity Card

Please check back for update.

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police Records         

Available:  Yes.
Fees:
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
Exceptions:  N/A
Comments:

Japanese police certificates will not contain information about criminal convictions when:

  • The period of probation is completed;
  • Ten years have passed after the period of imprisonment is completed or waived, provided the individual has no further punishments or fines;
  • Five years have passed after paying a fine or after an imposed fine was waived without any further punishments or fines;
  • The conviction was vacated or the offender was subject to a pardon or amnesty;
  • The conviction is for minor traffic violations;
  • The offender is considered a minor under Juvenile Law article 60; or
  • The sentenced punishment was abolished after sentencing.

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.

Court Records

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.

Prison Records

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.

Military Records

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.

Passports & Other Travel Documents

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).

Other Records

Not applicable.

Visa Issuing Posts

Tokyo, Japan (Embassy) -- Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visas

Box 205
APO AP 96337-5004

Naha, Japan (Consulate General) -- Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visas

FPO AP 96372-0840

Osaka-Kobe, Japan (Consulate General) -- Nonimmigrant Visas only

Box 239
APO AP 96337-5004

Sapporo, Japan (Consulate General) -- Nonimmigrant Visas only

Mailing Address:

Unit 9800, Box 373
DPO AP 96303-0373

Street address:

Kita 1-jo Nishi 28-Chome
Consulate General of the U.S.A.
Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido
064-0821 Japan

Phone: +81-11-641-1115

Fax: +81-11-643-1283

Visa Services

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:

Area Post
Aichi Osaka-Kobe
Akita Tokyo
Aomori Tokyo
Chiba Tokyo
Ehime Osaka-Kobe
Fukuoka Osaka-Kobe
Fukui Osaka-Kobe
Fukkushima Tokyo
Gifu Osaka-Kobe
Gumma Tokyo
Hiroshima Osaka-Kobe
Hokkaido Tokyo
Hyogo Osaka-Kobe
Ibaraki Tokyo
Ishikawa Osaka-Kobe
Iwate Tokyo
Kagawa Osaka-Kobe
Kagoshima Portion north of 29th parallel Osaka-Kobe
Kagoshima Portion south of 29th parallel Naha
Kanagawa Tokyo
Kochi Osaka-Kobe
Kumamoto Osaka-Kobe
Kyoto Osaka-Kobe
Mie Osaka-Kobe
Miyagi Tokyo
Nagano Tokyo
Nagasaki Osaka-Kobe
Nara Osaka-Kobe
Niigata Tokyo
Oita Osaka-Kobe
Okayama Osaka-Kobe
Okinawa Naha
Osaka Osaka-Kobe
Saga Osaka-Kobe
Saitama Tokyo
Shiga Osaka-Kobe
Shimane Osaka-Kobe
Shizuoka Tokyo
Tochigi Tokyo
Tokushima Osaka-Kobe
Tokyo Tokyo
Tottori Osaka-Kobe
Toyama Osaka-Kobe
Wakayama Osaka-Kobe
Yamagata Tokyo
Yamaguchi Osaka-Kobe
U.S. Forces Tokyo

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

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

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Tokyo
1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku,
Tokyo 107-8420 Japan
Telephone
81-3-3224-5000
Emergency
81-3-3224-5000
Fax
81-3-324-5856
Japan Country Map

Learn about your destination
Additional Information for Reciprocity

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.

Country Information

Japan
Japan
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Embassy Messages

Tokyo

 

Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

Duration of intended period of stay

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

One page required for entry stamp

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

Not required for stays of less than 90 days

VACCINATIONS:

None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

Amounts equivalent to ¥1,000,000 or above subject to declaration

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

Amounts equivalent to ¥1,000,000 or above subject to declaration

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Tokyo 
1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku,
Tokyo 107-8420 Japan
Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Fax: 81-3-3224-5856
Tokyoacs@state.gov

U.S. Consulate General Osaka-Kobe
2-11-5, Nishitenma, Kita-ku,
Osaka 530-8543, Japan
Telephone: 81-6-6315-5900
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Fax: 81-6-6315-5914
AOK@state.gov

U.S. Consulate General Naha
2-1-1 Toyama, Urasoe City,
Okinawa, Japan
Telephone: 81-98-876-4211
Emergency Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Fax: 81-98-876-4243
NahaACS@state.gov

U.S. Consulate General Sapporo
Kita 1-jo Nishi 28-chome, Chuo-ku,
Sapporo 064-0821, Japan
Telephone: 81-11-641-1115
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Fax: 81-11-643-1283
SapporoACS@state.gov
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
Telephone: 81-92-751-9331
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Fax: 81-92-713-9222
FukuokaACS@state.gov
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
Telephone: 81-52-581-4501
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Fax: 81-52-581-3190
AOK@state.gov
Emergency services only. 

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Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Japan for information on U.S.-Japan relations. 

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Visit the Embassy of Japan website for the most current visa information.

Entry & Exit:

  • You must have a valid passport and an onward/return ticket for tourist/business "visa free" stays of up to 90 days. Your passports must be valid for the entire time you are staying in Japan.
  • You cannot work on a 90-day "visa free" entry.   
  • "Visa free" entry status may not be changed to another visa status without departing and then re-entering Japan with the appropriate visa, such as a spouse, work, or study visa.
  • Japanese immigration officers may deny you entry if you appear to have no visible means of support. 
  • All foreign nationals are required to provide fingerprint scans and to be photographed at the port of entry. Exceptions to this requirement include diplomatic and official visa holders, minors, and individuals covered under SOFA Article IX.2. For further information about landing procedures, please visit the Immigration Bureau of Japan’s website

Transiting Japan: 

  • Ensure that your passport and visa are valid and up to date before you leave the United States. Passport services are not available at the airport.
  • Airlines in Japan will deny you boarding for transit if you don’t have the required travel documents for an onward destination in Asia or if your passport is not valid for six months. For the entry requirements of the country you’re traveling to, visit the State Department's Country Specific Information website.

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. 

Find information on dual nationality, prevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

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Safety and Security

Crime:  Crimes against U.S. citizens in Japan is generally low and usually involves personal disputes, theft, or vandalism. In addition:

  • Robberies committed after a victim has been drugged from a spiked drink are increasing.
  • Sexual assaults are not often reported, but they do occur, and victims may be randomly targeted.  Victim's assistance resources or shelters are difficult for foreigners to access.  
  • Hate-related violent crimes rarely occur, although some U.S. citizens have reported being the target of discrimination because of their nationality or their race.
  • Pick pocketing can occur in crowded shopping areas, on trains, and at airports.
  • Police reports must be filed before leaving Japan, as Japanese police will not accept reports filed from overseas. 
  • In instances involving credit card theft or fraud, Japanese police often provide a report number rather than a police report. You can provide this report number to your credit card company in order to confirm the incident with the police.

Entertainment and Nightlife Districts in Tokyo: 

  • Use caution in all entertainment and nightlife districts throughout Japan, especially Roppongi, Kabuki-cho, Shibuya, and Ikebukuro. 
  • Incidents involving U.S. citizens in these areas include physical and sexual assaults, drug overdoses, theft of purses, wallets, cash and credit cards at bars or clubs, and drugs allegedly slipped into drinks. 
  • Drink spiking at bars and entertainment venues, especially in areas such as Roppongi and Kabuki-cho, near Shinjuku, has led to robbery, physical and sexual assaults, and credit card fraud.  Some victims regain consciousness in the bar or club; other victims may awaken on the street or other unfamiliar locations.
  • U.S. citizens have reported being threatened with gun or knife violence in such venues so that they will pay exorbitant bar tabs or withdraw money.  U.S. citizens  have also reported being beaten when they have refused to pay or hand over money.
  • There have been recent reports of U.S. citizens being forcibly taken to ATMs and robbed, or made to withdraw funds after being unable to pay exorbitant bar tabs.  
  • Please be aware that Roppongi, Kabuki-cho, and other entertainment and nightlife districts have also been the scenes of violence between criminal syndicates. 

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.    

VICTIMS OF CRIME:  

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 81-3-3224-5000.  Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.


We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical
  • support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

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 how to call for help. 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:

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Local Laws & Special Circumstances

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.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

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.

list of English-speaking lawyers located throughout Japan is available on our website.

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.

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

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.”

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

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.

Special Circumstances: 

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’re 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 and, possibly, tsunamis. See the U.S. Embassy’s American Citizen Services (ACS) website for disaster preparedness tips.

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 follow 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:

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Health

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. Extended psychiatric care for foreigners in Japan is very difficult to obtain.

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Travel and Transportation

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 generally not permitted.

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 "drunken, speeding, or blatantly careless driving resulting in injury" you are subject to up to 15 years in prison. 

All passengers are required to fasten their seat belts.

Please refer to 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's 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.

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Tokyo 
1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku,
Tokyo 107-8420 Japan
Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Fax: 81-3-3224-5856
Tokyoacs@state.gov

U.S. Consulate General Osaka-Kobe
2-11-5, Nishitenma, Kita-ku,
Osaka 530-8543, Japan
Telephone: 81-6-6315-5900
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Fax: 81-6-6315-5914
AOK@state.gov

U.S. Consulate General Naha
2-1-1 Toyama, Urasoe City,
Okinawa, Japan
Telephone: 81-98-876-4211
Emergency Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Fax: 81-98-876-4243
NahaACS@state.gov

U.S. Consulate General Sapporo
Kita 1-jo Nishi 28-chome, Chuo-ku,
Sapporo 064-0821, Japan
Telephone: 81-11-641-1115
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Fax: 81-11-643-1283
SapporoACS@state.gov
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
Telephone: 81-92-751-9331
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Fax: 81-92-713-9222
FukuokaACS@state.gov
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
Telephone: 81-52-581-4501
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Fax: 81-52-581-3190
AOK@state.gov
Emergency services only. 

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General Information

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.

 

 

 

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Hague Abduction Convention

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.

Contact information:

United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone:  1-888-407-4747
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
Website 

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:

Hague Convention Division
Consular Affairs Bureau
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Kasumigaseki 2-2-1
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 100-8919
Japan
Tel:  +81-3-5501-8466  
Fax:  +81-3-5501-8527
Email
Website

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.

 

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Return

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.

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Visitation/Access

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.

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Retaining an Attorney

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.

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Mediation

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.

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.  For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
No
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Both adoptions to the United States from Japan and from the United States to Japan are possible.
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
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Hague Convention Information

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. 

Japan has two distinct procedures for intercountry adoption:

  1. 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.
  2. (2) American citizens may obtain legal custody of the child in Japan for the purposes of the child's emigration and a full and final adoption in the United States. 

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.

U.S. Immigration Requirements For Intercountry Adoptions

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.

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Who Can Adopt

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:

  • RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: There are no laws concerning the visa status of prospective adoptive parents. However, parents almost always must reside in Japan during the entire court process, which takes a minimum of six months and possibly as long as 18 months. When the adoption is finalized at least one parent must be present at court. Proxy adoptions are not permitted. 
  • AGE REQUIREMENTS: In special adoptions, prospective adoptive parents must be over 25 years of age. However, if one parent is over 25, the other parent can be younger than 25 so long as he or she is at least 20 years old. In regular adoptions, prospective adoptive parents must be at least 20 years of age. 
  • MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: In special adoptions, prospective adoptive parents must be a married couple. In regular adoptions, there may be circumstances in which single people can adopt.
  • INCOME REQUIREMENTS: While there are no specific income requirements required by Japanese law, the prospective adoptive parents likely will have to provide documentation on their income and finances.
  • OTHER REQUIREMENTS: There are no laws regulating or addressing same-sex couples adopting in Japan, but there have been no known cases of this happening. However, it may be permitted if the prospective adoptive parents' state recognizes the marriage as legal.
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Who Can Be Adopted

In addition to qualifying as an orphan under U.S. immigration law, the child must meet the following requirements of Japan: 

  • Relinquishment: Japanese law does not specify that the child must be an "orphan" (i.e., as defined in U.S. immigration law) in order for the adoption to proceed. According to Article 817-7, a special adoption can be granted when:
  1. It is extremely difficult for the biological parents to take care of the child;
  2. It is considered inappropriate for the biological parents to raise the child; and/or
  3. It is in the interests of the child. 
  • Age of Adoptive Child: For a child to be adopted under the special adoption law, the child must be under the age of 6 at the time the petition to adopt is filed. However, the adoption can still proceed if the child is under the age of 8 and the prospective adoptive parents have had custody of the child and continually cared for the child since before the child was 6 years of age. Please note that for a child to meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law, a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, must be filed on the child’s behalf while the child is under the age of 16 (or under the age of 18 if the child is the birth sibling of another adopted child who has immigrated or will immigrate based on adoption by the same adoptive parent(s)).
  • Sibling Adoptions: None specified. 
  • Special Needs or Medical Conditions:  None specified.
  • Waiting Period or Foster Care: None specified. 
  • Please note: The family court uses these guidelines to determine whether or not to grant the adoption, taking the specific circumstances of each case into account. Please note that it is possible for the Japanese court to issue a final adoption order, but for the child to still be ineligible for an IR-3 immigrant visa because he or she does not meet the U.S. definition of "orphan" in the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA 101(b)(1)(F)). For more information on the child's eligibility for a U.S. immigrant visa please see the Immigrant Visa Process page on our website.

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).

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How to Adopt

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

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, or Obtain Legal Custody of the Child for Purposes of Emigration and Adoption
  5. Apply for Your Child to be Found Eligible to Immigrate to the United States as an Orphan (Form I-600)
  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:

  • Ensuring that all six adoption services defined at 22 CFR 96.2 are provided;
  • Supervising and being responsible for supervised providers where used (see 22 CFR 96.14); and
  • Developing and implementing a service plan in accordance with 22 CFR 96.44

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. or Obtain Legal Custody of the Child for Purposes of Emigration and Adoption

The process for finalizing the adoption or obtaining legal custody for purposes of emigration and adoption in Japan generally includes the following:

  • Role of the Court:  Final Adoption (Special Adoption):
    For those who are finalizing the adoption in Japan, the Family Court reviews the adoption application. Please note that you may never actually appear in court in front of a judge; the paperwork may be done at the clerk's office. In reviewing the application, the Court examines the law governing intercountry adoptions in the prospective adoptive parents' U.S. state of legal domicile. The Court informs the prospective adoptive parents of their court hearing date. This first hearing date generally occurs at the end of the trial six-month period, during which time a court representative conducts an interview with the prospective adoptive parents and conducts at least one home visit. Approximately two to three weeks after the final hearing, the judge will decide whether or not to approve the adoption. If the judge approves the petition, the Court issues a certificate allowing "Permission to adopt" (yoshi no kyoka). If the biological parents or any interested parties do not object within two weeks of the parents' registering the adoption at the ward office or two weeks after the date provided on the final decree, it is considered final.

    Legal Custody for purpose of adoption in the United States:

    For those who are obtaining legal custody of a child to complete the adoption in their U.S. state of residence, the Japanese court is not involved and the Japanese adoption agency is responsible for transferring custody. In such circumstances, the biological parent signs a form in English and her native language stating that she is the sole remaining parent of the child, that she is incapable of providing care for the child, and that she consents irrevocably to the adoption of the child by the prospective adoptive parents as well as the emigration of the child to the United States. 
  • Role of Adoption Agencies:  When finalizing the adoption in Japan, the adoption agency can match the prospective adoptive parents with a child, provide all of the necessary forms and instructions on how to complete the adoption process in Japan, and help collect the documents necessary for the U.S. immigrant visa, including the birth certificate and adoption decree.

    When obtaining legal custody of a child for a full and final adoption in the U.S., the adoption agency can match the prospective adoptive parents with a child and assist with the forms and documents necessary to secure a U.S. immigrant visa. 

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: 

  1. Identifying a child for adoption and arranging an adoption;
  2. Securing the necessary consent to termination of parental rights and to adoption;
  3. Performing a background study on a child or a home study on a prospective adoptive parent(s), and reporting on such a study;
  4. Making non-judicial determinations of the best interests of a child and the appropriateness of an adoptive placement for the child;
  5. Monitoring a case after a child has been placed with prospective adoptive parent(s) until final adoption; or
  6. When necessary because of a disruption before final adoption, assuming custody and providing (including facilitating the provision of) child care or any other social service pending an alternative placement. 22 CFR 96.2 Definitions.
  • Adoption Application:  When finalizing an adoption in Japan, the prospective adoptive parents submit their adoption application to the Family Court with jurisdiction over the child's residence.

    When obtaining custody of a child for a full and final adoption in the United States, the application to adopt is submitted to the proper authorities in the U.S. state of residence after the child enters the United States on an immigrant visa. Please note that in this case, the adopted child will acquire U.S. citizenship only after a full and final adoption in the United States. 
  • Time Frame:  Intercountry adoptions through the Family Court require at least six months and sometimes longer, possibly up to 18 months. The Japanese court system will take into account the laws of your state of residence and will try to comply with those laws. In practice, this may mean that finalization of the adoption takes several months longer than it otherwise would. The Family Court does not mandate a time limit on when an adoption must be completed.

    Prospective adoptive parents who are gaining custody to complete a full and final adoption in the United States report that the process takes between nine and eighteen months to take custody of the child, plus additional time in the United States to finalize the adoption in their state of residence. 
  • Adoption Fees:  For those who are resident in Japan and adopting a child through the Japanese court system, the costs vary widely; however, the average total cost is approximately US$20,000. This includes fees for the Family Court, adoption agency, immigration processing, and document translations and authentications.

    It should be noted that Japanese adoption service provider fees can range from US$5,000 to US$50,000 or higher, so the overall cost of adoption depends on the agency the prospective adoptive parents select. Japanese law prohibits adoption service providers operating in Japan from profiting from adoptions, and the provider is required to give you an itemized invoice. That list may include fees to cover the birth of the child, as such costs are not covered by Japanese health insurance. Prospective adoptive parents may incur additional fees when adopting a child with medical conditions.

    Adoption service providers in Japan are prohibited from receiving donations before the completion of the adoption process, and a donation may not be a condition for providing services. Providers that violate these regulations should be reported to the prefectural government and may be suspended or closed by that government.
  • Prospective adoptive parents are advised to obtain detailed receipts for all fees and donations paid, either by themselves directly or through their U.S. adoption service provider, and to raise any concerns regarding any payment that you believe may be contrary to U.S. law, or the law of Japan, with your adoption service provider.  Please also refer to information concerning the Hague Complaint Registry.  Improper payments may have the appearance of buying achild, violate applicable law, and could put all future adoptions in Japan at risk.  The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for instance, makes it unlawful to bribe foreign government officials to obtain or retain business.  Further, the UAA and IAA make it unlawful to improperly influence relinquishment of parental rights, parental consent relating to adoption of a child, or a decision by an entity performing Central Authority functions. 
  • Documents Required:  When completing a full and final adoption under Japanese law, the Japanese adoption agency should provide you with a complete list of required documents. These may include:
    • Birth certificate and/or family register of all parties
    • Passport, Japanese visas and Alien Registration cards for all parties
    • Copy of U.S. military ID (where applicable)
    • Marriage, divorce, and death certificates (where applicable)
    • Copy of any property ownership deeds and/or bank statements
    • Certificate of foster parent registration (where applicable)
    • Certificate of good conduct/no criminal record for each adoptive parent (issued by their home city or state police department)
    • Certificate of legal address, employment, and income
    • Biographic history of all parties
    • Statement of consent to adopt by the child's biological parent(s) or guardian
    • Statement of prospective parent(s)' intent to adopt the identified child
    • Home Study (approved by an authorized and licensed adoption agency)
    • Two character references

When taking custody of a child for a full and final adoption in the United States, again the adoption service provider will assist you with documentation. For example, you will need a family registry (koseki) for the child, a passport for the child, signed release statements from the biological mother, and descriptions of the situation of the biological mother. 

Note:  Additional documents may be requested. 

  • Authentication of Documents:  You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic.  The U.S Department of State’s Authentications Office has information on the subject. 

5.  Apply for Your Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States as an Orphan

After you finalize the adoption or gain legal custody for purposes of emigration and 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 or you have obtained legal custody of the child for the purposes of emigration and adoption of the child in the United States, 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:

Birth Certificate

If 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.

If you have been granted legal custody for the purposes of emigration and adoption of the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain will, in most cases, not yet include your name.

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. If you have obtained legal custody of the child for adoption in the U.S., the family registry will list the birth parent's name. An adoption service provider should be able to assist you with this process. 

Japan Passport

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. 

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.

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Traveling Abroad

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).

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After Adoption

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. 

Post-Adoption Resources

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.

COMPLAINTS

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

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Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in Japan
Box 114
1-10-5 Akasaka Minato-ku
Tokyo 107-8420, Japan
Tel: (81)(3) 3224-5000
Fax: (81)(3) 3224-5929
Internet: jp.usembassy.gov/

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. Department of State
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20522-1709
Email: Adoption@state.gov
Internet: adoption.state.gov

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)
Internet: uscis.gov

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)
Email: NBC.Adoptions@uscis.dhs.gov

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 60 Months
A-2 None Multiple 60 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 None Multiple 120 Months
B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
C-1 None Multiple 120 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 120 Months
C-2 None Multiple 12 Months
C-3 None Multiple 60 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 120 Months
E-1 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 None Multiple 60 Months
F-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-1 None Multiple 60 Months
G-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-3 None Multiple 60 Months
G-4 None Multiple 60 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
I None Multiple 60 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 60 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 60 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 None Multiple 60 Months
L-2 None Multiple 60 Months
M-1 None Multiple 60 Months
M-2 None Multiple 60 Months
N-8 None Multiple 60 Months
N-9 None Multiple 60 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
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
R-1 None Multiple 60 Months
R-2 None Multiple 60 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 120 Months
V-2 None Multiple 120 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 120 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes

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.

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Visa Category Footnotes
  1. 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:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. 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.  

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

    Canadian Nationals

    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

    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.

  6. 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.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. 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.

  9. 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:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

 

 

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General Documents

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.

Municipal Office

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.

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth Certificates

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.

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

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.

Adoption Certificates

Please check back for update.

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Identity Card

Please check back for update.

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police Records         

Available:  Yes.
Fees:
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
Exceptions:  N/A
Comments:

Japanese police certificates will not contain information about criminal convictions when:

  • The period of probation is completed;
  • Ten years have passed after the period of imprisonment is completed or waived, provided the individual has no further punishments or fines;
  • Five years have passed after paying a fine or after an imposed fine was waived without any further punishments or fines;
  • The conviction was vacated or the offender was subject to a pardon or amnesty;
  • The conviction is for minor traffic violations;
  • The offender is considered a minor under Juvenile Law article 60; or
  • The sentenced punishment was abolished after sentencing.

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.

Court Records

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.

Prison Records

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.

Military Records

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.

Passports & Other Travel Documents

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).

Other Records

Not applicable.

Visa Issuing Posts

Tokyo, Japan (Embassy) -- Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visas

Box 205
APO AP 96337-5004

Naha, Japan (Consulate General) -- Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visas

FPO AP 96372-0840

Osaka-Kobe, Japan (Consulate General) -- Nonimmigrant Visas only

Box 239
APO AP 96337-5004

Sapporo, Japan (Consulate General) -- Nonimmigrant Visas only

Mailing Address:

Unit 9800, Box 373
DPO AP 96303-0373

Street address:

Kita 1-jo Nishi 28-Chome
Consulate General of the U.S.A.
Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido
064-0821 Japan

Phone: +81-11-641-1115

Fax: +81-11-643-1283

Visa Services

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:

Area Post
Aichi Osaka-Kobe
Akita Tokyo
Aomori Tokyo
Chiba Tokyo
Ehime Osaka-Kobe
Fukuoka Osaka-Kobe
Fukui Osaka-Kobe
Fukkushima Tokyo
Gifu Osaka-Kobe
Gumma Tokyo
Hiroshima Osaka-Kobe
Hokkaido Tokyo
Hyogo Osaka-Kobe
Ibaraki Tokyo
Ishikawa Osaka-Kobe
Iwate Tokyo
Kagawa Osaka-Kobe
Kagoshima Portion north of 29th parallel Osaka-Kobe
Kagoshima Portion south of 29th parallel Naha
Kanagawa Tokyo
Kochi Osaka-Kobe
Kumamoto Osaka-Kobe
Kyoto Osaka-Kobe
Mie Osaka-Kobe
Miyagi Tokyo
Nagano Tokyo
Nagasaki Osaka-Kobe
Nara Osaka-Kobe
Niigata Tokyo
Oita Osaka-Kobe
Okayama Osaka-Kobe
Okinawa Naha
Osaka Osaka-Kobe
Saga Osaka-Kobe
Saitama Tokyo
Shiga Osaka-Kobe
Shimane Osaka-Kobe
Shizuoka Tokyo
Tochigi Tokyo
Tokushima Osaka-Kobe
Tokyo Tokyo
Tottori Osaka-Kobe
Toyama Osaka-Kobe
Wakayama Osaka-Kobe
Yamagata Tokyo
Yamaguchi Osaka-Kobe
U.S. Forces Tokyo

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

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

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Tokyo
1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku,
Tokyo 107-8420 Japan
Telephone
81-3-3224-5000
Emergency
81-3-3224-5000
Fax
81-3-324-5856
Japan Country Map

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Additional Information for Reciprocity

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.