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Moving to Japan

A Comprehensive Guide on Relocating to Japan

Thinking of moving to Japan? Use this guide as an overview for all the requirements you need to relocate to the Land of the Rising Sun. We cover all of the need-to-know topics such as how to apply for your residence card upon your arrival at the airport and why you need a Certificate of Eligibility for your visa. The steps to move to Japan are not difficult, but in order to have an easy relocation, it helps to be prepared.

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Wondering how to move to Japan? Unlike some Asian countries, relocating to Japan is not difficult as long as you are prepared. This means having all of the right documents together before you even board your flight to the island nation.

What do you need for a Japanese relocation? One of the easiest ways to relocate to the Land of the Rising Sun is by securing a job before arriving. If you visit Japan and secure a job while on a tourist visa, you will still need to leave the country so that your Japanese employer can start the visa process.

Many expats are attracted to Japan because of the high salaries and high quality of life. However, with this high quality also comes steep costs. Japan is one of the most expensive countries for expats, although most agree that the price is worth it. Likewise, other benefits of moving to Japan include superb healthcare, high performing schools, and, last but not least, delicious ramen on nearly every corner.



Whether you are moving abroad for the first time or relocated multiple times before, the process raises many questions. Our complete guide to relocation will ease your doubts along the way, from the initial preparations to how to negotiate a relocation package, we help you GO! prepared with the key answers.

The process of moving to Japan is easy as long as you are prepared. In general, expats can move most household goods into the country without a problem. It is a good idea to have an itemized list in both English and Japanese. Items can be brought into the country duty free as long as you can prove ownership for at least six months prior to your relocation.

Moving to Japan with pets is likewise easy, although pet owners may be disappointed to learn that the country mandates a quarantine. For dogs and cats, the quarantine is only for seven days. However, the quarantine is subject to last longer if the owners cannot provide all the necessary documentation such as a titer test results or microchip number.

Vaccinations required for Japan are standard except for one. Foreigners moving to Japan are advised to be vaccinated for Japanese encephalitis, which is spread through mosquito bites. Although the disease is largely found in rural areas, expats planning on traveling throughout Japan and other Asian countries would be wise to get vaccinated.

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Visas & Work Permits

Want to know how to get a visa or work permit in Japan? One of the easiest ways is by being offered a job before your arrival in the country. Your company in Japan will then start the visa application process for you. They will do this by issuing a Certificate of Eligibility, which is a requirement for all Japanese visas.

The type of job you have will dictate the type of Japanese visa you will apply for. Japan has nearly 30 different visa types, including ones specifically for entertainers, teachers, engineers, etc. Each visa costs the same, but the documents required to apply will vary. For example, those applying for a research visa will need to submit documents defending their research and make a case for why they need to be in Japan.

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The thought of accommodation in Japan calls to mind two things: expensive and space. “Expensive” because Japan as a whole is an expensive country, with Tokyo being one of the most expensive cities in the world. The national average rent is 50 to 70,000 JPY (470–650 USD) per month. Be aware that utilities are typically not included. “Space” because Japan is a narrow island nation with a population of nearly 130 million. That is a lot of people in a tiny area.

Housing in Japan includes many different types of houses. Home choices range from high-rise, modern apartment buildings to detached, Japanese-style houses that are equipped with traditional woven tatami mat flooring. It is also possible to find larger, Western-style housing, although these will mostly be out in the countryside rather than in any of the larger Japanese cities.

Want to know how to buy a house in Japan as a foreigner? In general, there are no legal restrictions to expats owning a home in Japan. Like rentals, buying a home is expensive too and average house prices in the country are around 35,760,000 JPY (337,000 USD).

You do not need to have citizenship in order to buy a house. Buying a home also does not guarantee expats a path to permanent residency in Japan either. However, expats without citizenship or permanent residency visa in Japan, nor married to a Japanese citizen, should note that the process to buy a home will be difficult.

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The healthcare system and health insurance in Japan is one of the best in the world. This is probably why the country as a whole has one of the highest life expectancy rates, which is thanks in large part to the strong emphasis on preventative care.

Expats are able to easily take part in Japan’s healthcare system. Once you have your residency card, there are two main health insurance schemes in Japan that you can sign up for: Japanese National Health Insurance, which is available to unemployed people, part-time workers, and students; and the standard Japanese Health Insurance, which is available to full-time employees.

Use this guide as a tool for all you need to know about healthcare in Japan. Whether you need to know how to find a doctor or are looking to give birth in Japan, we have all the information you need to stay happy and healthy.

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Banks & Taxes

Opening a bank account in Japan is easy, but you need to be in the country to do it. For most banks, you can simply walk in without needing an appointment first. If you do not yet have a confident grasp of Japanese, that is okay. Most major banks should have a translator available.

As one of the strongest economies around the globe, some of the world’s best banks are in Japan. If you are not planning on living in Japan for long, you may be able to find a Japanese branch of your current bank.

Because there are no restrictions for foreigners opening bank accounts in Japan, there is no such thing as a non-resident bank account. Instead, expats will be able to open a standard account just like a Japanese national. Also like a Japanese national, expats will be required to fill out application forms in Japanese.

If you are wondering what the tax system is like in Japan, it is fairly standard to what is found in other leading world economies. How much is the tax in Japan? For expats, that depends on the amount that you made the previous year in Japan. If you have just moved to Japan, you will not be expected to pay income or residential tax until you have lived in the country for one full year. On the whole, taxes in Japan are levied in three categories: income, property, and consumption. These are paid at the national, prefectural, and municipal levels.

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Expats moving to Japan with children will have a lot of options to choose from between public, private, and international schools in the country. The education system throughout the country is very high, and there is a strong emphasis on creating “whole people” rather than students who simply spit out facts.

Foreigners are able to participate in the public school system in Japan. Just like Japanese nationals, expats will not have to pay in order to attend a public primary or secondary school. The only costs will be for school uniforms and other required materials, which should run only about 4,000 JPY (40 USD) per year.

Expats looking for the best schools in the country will find them in public, private, and international schools. Because standards are so high, the educational quality between all three types of schools are fairly high. However, one of the biggest differences will be cost. Expats intent on sending their kids to a private or international school can expect to pay upwards of 2,000,000 JPY (18,000 USD) or more.

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Want to know how to get a job in Japan? As a country with a strong economy, finding work in Japan is not difficult. However, just applying for a vacant position does not guarantee you the job, and as Japan is a popular relocation destination among expats, you will need to make yourself standout as an applicant. One way expats can make themselves standout is by demonstrating some knowledge of the Japanese language. Although not a requirement for every job, Japan is a country that is famous for its lack of English language use. Therefore, an applicant who is willing to learn and use Japanese will impress employers.

Signing up for social security in Japan is not difficult. When you apply for your residence card, you will automatically be registered with the Japanese social security. You may receive your 12-digit number on the same day that you apply for it, but it will be a few weeks before you get your official card in the mail.

Expats interested in self-employment in Japan may face some difficulties. As a cultural norm, Japanese people tend to be loyal to one workplace their entire lives. They view their colleagues as extended family members. Because of this, people who do not work in a traditional work environment are viewed skeptically. Although self-employment is gaining traction in Japan, self-employed people may have to work harder to prove themselves.

Keep in mind that while working in Japan provides many benefits such as a high average salary (nearly 4 million JPY (37,800 USD) per year) and a business culture that promotes communal effort, Japan is also a very work-centric nation. Expats looking to have a laidback lifestyle may want to look elsewhere in Asia.

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Want to know what it is like to live in Japan? This section of our guide covers everything you need to know to make this high-tech, modern Asian nation your new home. Whether you need to know about the cultural taboos or what national holidays to expect, we provide the information to help you feel at home in no time.

One way to feel at home is by knowing how to drive in Japan. Did you know that it is uncommon to hear honking in this country, and doing so is seen as aggressive? Roads in Japan are well maintained and drivers are generally courteous. Seeing the country from the comfort of your own car is easy, and we explain what you need to do to obtain a Japanese driver’s license.

If you are not keen on driving, there is no problem. Public transportation around Japan is highly efficient. Trains are so punctual that when they are late, it often makes national news. It is possible to find every mode of transport throughout the country such as trains, buses, ferries, and domestic flights. There are four major airports servicing the country, making it easy to fly in and out as often as needed.

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Updated on: October 14, 2021

Join Our Exciting Events in Japan

Once we've helped you move to Japan, we can make you feel at home by introducing you to other expats who have already settled and are part of our Japan Community. Attend our monthly events and activities in Japan and get to know like-minded expats in real life.

InterNations Nagoya April Event @ The Hub Meieki

Start date Apr 25, 2021, 5:00 PM

Attendees 22

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InterNations Osaka Online May (Rainy Season) Event

Start date May 28, 2021, 7:00 PM

Attendees 41

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InterNations Kobe July Event ? Alchemy Bar

Start date Jul 16, 2021, 7:00 PM

Attendees 14

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Men's Only Circle - Grow Your Inner Strength

Start date Oct 16, 2021, 8:00 AM

Attendees 14

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