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Japan re-entry permits and embarkation / disembarkation cards

This page is about Japan re-entry permits and the embarkation / disembarkation cards that you have to fill in when you enter and leave the country. Both are closely linked together so I’ve put this information in one larger post, rather than two smaller ones.

Re-entry permits for Japan

If you have a visa (residence status) to be in Japan and wish to make a temporary trip out of Japan you will need to get a re-entry permit in order to re-enter the country without losing your residence status.

japan single reentry permit

If you leave Japan without a re-entry permit then your residence status/period of stay gets automatically cancelled so it is very important to make sure you remember to get your permit.

Note: Re-entry permits only apply if you have a visa for Japan. It does not apply if you are in the country on a visa waiver scheme and have a temporary visitor landing permit. If you have a temporary permit you can just leave the country and when you come back you will get a new temporary permit (as long as immigration let you in that is!).

How to get a re-entry permit for Japan

To get a re-entry permit requires a simple visit to your local immigration office. You can find the official application details and a copy of the application form on the immigration website.

I went to the Takamatsu immigration office where I first had to sign in at the door. Then I went to the 2nd floor to buy a revenue stamp. If you want a single re-entry permit it will cost you ¥3000, or if you want a multiple re-entry permit it will cost ¥6000. I bought a stamp for a single re-entry permit. In Japan they have this system of paying for revenue stamps in a different location to making the application so that no money changes hands when the application is made – this is to stop bribery attempts. The same revenue stamp system applies if you get a Japanese driving licence.

japan revenue stamp for single entry permit

I then went to the 8th floor where the immigration application office is. In there I collected the application form and started filling it in. A man who spoke very limited English gave me a bit of help. I then handed it in along with my alien registration card and passport.

The questions on this form are asked from the point of view of your stay in Japan, which may not be clear from the English translation.

  • ‘Period of Stay’, means how long your period of stay in Japan is (e.g. 1 year), not how long you are going to leave Japan for.
  • ‘Purpose of travel’ question is referring to the purpose of travelling out of Japan, not your purpose for being in Japan. You don’t have to worry about being exact on the expected date of departure and re-entry. They just want a rough idea, it won’t cause you problems with immigration if you change your mind later.
  • ‘Expected destinations’ is where you are planning on travelling outside of Japan.
  • Leave occupation blank if you have no job, and the name in chineese characters can also be left blank unless you have a Kanji version of your name.
  • If you are in the country on a working holiday visa the status of residence is ‘designated activities’.

I had to sign this application form, and also the form onto which the revenue stamp was stuck.

I then had a five minute wait while they processed the application, they then gave me my passport and foreigner card back. My passport now had a re-entry permit stuck in it. The expiration date of the re-entry permit is the expiry date of your current period of stay, or a maximum of three years from today (whichever is earliest).

They also gave me a new embarkation/disembarkation card to use for my trip out of Japan. You’ll need a new one of these cards for each trip out of Japan – you can pick them up at the airport at immigration if you lose yours, or need a new one.

If you change/extend your residence status then any re-entry permit that you already have will be invalidated. Therefore you will need a new one if you want to make a trip out of Japan.

Differences with Tokyo immigration office

Most of you probably won’t be going to the Takamatsu immigration office, more likely you’ll go to the Tokyo one. Here are a few differences.

At the Tokyo office (the one near Shinagawa on the port island) you don’t have to sign in. You buy the revenue stamps from the Family Mart on the 1st floor (or ground floor – if you aren’t used to the Japanese floor numbering system). The re-entry stamp counter is on the 2nd floor, and after handing in the application you’ll be given a numbered ticket so you know when to come up and collect your passport.

Japan embarkation / disembarkation cards

embarkation / disembarkation card for foreigners

When you first arrive in Japan you will have to fill in an embarkation / disembarkation card for foreigners. It looks like this and will probably be given to you on the plane.

japan embarkation disembarkation card for foreigner

If you don’t get given it on the plane you can pick it up before going through the immigration counter in Japan.

It is in two parts. The disembarkation part is on the right, and the embarkation part is on the left separated by some perforations. The disembarkation part refers to your arrival in Japan. The embarkation part is for when you leave Japan for the last time on your current visa or temporary permit.

If you are a tourist you will only ever deal with this type of embarkation / disembarkation card.

Before going through immigration on arrival in Japan you must fully fill in the right side of the card. You can also fill in most of the details on the left side (but leave the flight number blank until you know for sure which flight you are leaving Japan on).

The immigration inspector will detach the right side of the card (the disembarkation part) and will staple the left side into your passport – probably on the same page as your landing permit that states how long you may remain in Japan.

Then when you come to leave Japan the immigration inspector will remove the embarkation part of the card from your passport – which must at that point be fully filled in with your departure flight number.

embarkation / disembarkation card for reentrant

If you leave Japan with a re-entry permit then you will also be filling in this card.

japan embarkation disembarkation card for reentrant

You may note that the embarkation and disembarkation parts are the opposite way round. When leaving Japan with a re-entry permit the immigration inspector takes the right side of this card (the embarkation bit) and staples the disembarkation part into your passport. When you re-enter Japan he takes the left side (the disembarkation part).

When you leave and re-enter Japan on a re-entry permit the embarkation part of your original embarkation / disembarkation card for foreigners is not touched. It remains stapled into your passport.

Examples

Tourist (no visa)

–> Enter Japan – disembarkation card for foreigners taken. Embarkation card for foreigners stapled in passport.
<-- Leave Japan – embarkation card for foreigners taken.

Entering Japan with a visa and leaving once

–> Enter Japan – disembarkation card for foreigners taken. Embarkation card for foreigners stapled in passport.
<- Leave Japan temporarily – embarkation card for re-entrant taken. Disembarkation card for re-entrant stapled in passport. -> Return to Japan – disembarkation card for re-entrant taken.
<-- Leave Japan (cancelling visa/residence) – embarkation card for foreigners taken.

Entering Japan with a visa and leave multiple times

–> Enter Japan – disembarkation card for foreigners taken. Embarkation card for foreigners stapled in passport.
<- Leave Japan temporarily – embarkation card for re-entrant taken. Disembarkation card for re-entrant stapled in passport. -> Return to Japan – disembarkation card for re-entrant taken.
<- Leave Japan temporarily – embarkation card for re-entrant taken. Disembarkation card for re-entrant stapled in passport. -> Return to Japan – disembarkation card for re-entrant taken.
<-- Leave Japan (cancelling visa/residence) – embarkation card for foreigners taken. If you haven’t picked up the pattern, the disembarkation part of the card is always taken by immigration when you arrive in Japan, and the embarkation part is always taken when you leave Japan.


Reader Feedback

35 Responses to “Japan re-entry permits and embarkation / disembarkation cards”

  1. Marijus says:

    Hello,thanks for answer earlier it relieved a lot.
    However,i still have some more questions
    If i write hostel address,do they ask only address or reservation as well?And what should i fill in number field,if i already know hostels name,do i need to write their phone number or my friends?Yes phone number field confuses most,also how much cash you carry in possession?Should i write in yen or my local currency

    Thats why i thought its better to fill friends address.About occupation can i write i am student,for example hotel worker program student or accountant student in Lithuania.Or its best to leave blank if i dont have any job or should i write i am student in another country?

    Best regards for answer

  2. reviewmylife says:

    Hi Marijus – you would normally write the address and phone number of the first place you will be staying at.

    If you already know which hotel/hostel you will stay at you could write that address. If you don’t know it or haven’t reserved it yet you could write your friend’s address. As I believe you haven’t reserved the hotel/hostel yet it might be better to use your friend’s address/number as they might (although fairly unlikely I think) ask for proof of your reservation. Why don’t you just book your first night’s stay before setting off? That would make it easier.

    Unless you come across as very ‘suspicious’ at the airport they aren’t going to be calling up any of these numbers. They’ll just glance at the cards for a few seconds to make sure everything is filled in, maybe ask you a few question to see if your answers match up with what is on the card, and then wave you on. You said you are from a visa-waiver country so they should just let you in without trouble.

    If I remember correctly the immigration card allows you to specify an amount of money in a currency of your choosing. Presumably you would be arriving with more Yen than your local currency – in which case it is probably better to write the amount of Yen you have. If you bring in more than 1 million Yen it needs to be declared. But that is a lot of Yen so I’m sure you won’t have anything near that amount!

    Just have enough for your holiday, or enough so you can get by until you can get to a cash machine.

    I don’t think the occupation box is particularly important. But I wouldn’t put unemployed – that isn’t an occupation. If you were working what would your job be? You could write that as your occupation. If you are a student you could put that in.

    If you are going to look for a job in Japan don’t whatever you do mention that to immigration! That will get you sent straight back home!

    You said in your email you have an onward ticket so have a print out of that with you. They do sometimes ask to see your onward or return plane ticket – e-ticket print outs are fine. That is the main thing they ask for, if they ask anything.

    If you are a genuine tourist you should have no problems. They may ask some questions but if you are a tourist you won’t have any problem answering them. The main thing that immigration care about is that you have your onward ticket which proves that you intend to leave the country.

    Have fun in Japan!

  3. reviewmylife says:

    Hi Marijus – One correction – the question about how much money you have in your possession is on the back of the disembarkation card, not the customs card. You only need to put the amount of money on the customs declaration card if you have over 1 million yen.

  4. reviewmylife says:

    There are answers to follow up questions that Marijus sent to me by email – the answers might be useful for others so I’ll post them here:

    1. I was never given a form for medicine. You can take in most medicines to Japan in small quantities for personal use. There are however restrictions so if you have specific medicines you should do some research. This page has some good info – http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-medimport.html

    2. The customs form was handed out on the plane. But don’t worry if you don’t get it, you can pick it up at the airport in Japan before immigration.

    3. I don’t think you need to put ordinary items on the customs form that are over the 10,000 Yen value limit (e.g. laptops, iPods, digital cameras, etc). Theses are normal items that people carry and I don’t think customs care about them. I think you only need to put down things that are non-standard. Most people can probably leave that list blank.

    4. If you want a job in Japan you will almost certainly need a bachelors degree from a university, and as part of the change of status application immigration will need to see an original bachelors degree certificate. If you don’t have your certificate then you would need to get an official copy from your university. If you highest level of completed education is high school then you are very unlikely to get a job in Japan – unless you are able to come over on a working holiday visa (but only a small number of countries participate in the working holiday visa scheme). Also to get a job in Japan you will probably either need fluent Japanese, or native level English.

    5. You shouldn’t need a letter from a friend confirming that you are staying with them. But it wouldn’t do any harm to have such a thing on you just in case they were suspicious of you (but I don’t see why they would be). Immigration are usually more concerned with seeing proof of you having a plane ticket to leave the country, than having proof of where you are staying.

  5. Mari says:

    I take some free courses in my own country in September or fall.So maybe i should write in occupation field in advance as student in school of tourism or just student?.I mean can i write in advance or should i write my current occupation.Lab technician yeah i havent done for 2,5 years.This question wores me out and yet i understand i dont need prescription to aspirin in plane right?

    Thanks for all your answers,really greatful appreciated and helped a lot to my preparation.

    Mari

  6. reviewmylife says:

    Hi Mari, You could probably write ‘student’, and if you are asked you can say that you are starting those courses in September.

    Aspirin should be fine to take as long as it is for personal use.

    Good luck!

  7. Mari says:

    Actually other thing i discovered,what if you write for example 21 days on disembarkation card and you stay in Japan for month or for example 80 days.I know till 90 days i dont need visa.So what do you need to do in such case when depart from Narita?

    I mean you never know how circumstances can go,maybe something happens in those days which i dont know if it makes you suspicious or so on.

    Cheers,

    Mari

  8. reviewmylife says:

    Hi Mari, don’t worry if your plans change after you get in the country. They aren’t going to send someone after you if you haven’t left by the date you said.

    The only thing immigration care about is that you don’t stay beyond the date on the landing permission sticker that they put in passport.

    Don’t attempt to overstay your landing permission expiry by even a day – that will get you into big trouble!

    Hope this helps.

  9. Donna says:

    I’m hoping on a WHV they are not going to be too bothered about a return flight? My flight is only one way as I don’t yet know where I’ll be at the end of my WH and so haven’t booked a flight? But now I’m concerned?!

  10. reviewmylife says:

    Hi Donna, I think you should be fine – I’ve heard of other people (on GaijinPot) who have got in on a one way ticket.

    I came in on a return ticket so I can’t talk from experience here.

    If they ask at the airport you can tell them you haven’t decided exactly what date to leave and point out you have a valid visa that allows you to work.

    I think it should be reasonable to enter on a one way ticket due to the length of time you will be in the country.

    This page – http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/w_holiday/programme.html – says that you must have “a return ticket or sufficient funds to purchase a return ticket”. So make sure you have enough funds to get your ticket back home.

    Have fun in Japan!

  11. Mari says:

    I have a question do i need customs form to fill when departuring from Narita airport?Also i saw i have to pay 500 yen when departing from Narita,is it also same for arriving?

  12. reviewmylife says:

    Hi Mari,

    1. No customs form is needed when leaving Japan – only when entering.
    2. You don’t have to pay anywhing when arriving or departing.

  13. Mari says:

    Hello there.I have a question can i enter Japan as temporary visitor,after my landing permit expires.For example i left Japan after 14 days,maybe i travel next year.Does it means i need to fill same disembarkation card as in first time or i need re-entry permit while entering.Thanks again for your advices before this trip.Trip to Japan was fine,i hope you spend great vacation too

  14. reviewmylife says:

    Hi Mari, yes you can re-enter Japan for another holiday any time :) As you have now left Japan your landing permit is invalidated so its expiry date is meaningless. You will get a new landing permit on your next visit.

    You don’t need to worry about re-entry permits – they are only for people who have non-temporary residence statuses (i.e. not applicable for tourists).

    Next time you visit you will have to fill in the same disembarkation / embarkation card as last time.

  15. george tomaszek says:

    hi: have a sheet of 20 yen shunyu inshi revenue stamps. been trying to get some information on it without any luck. would appreciate it if you could help me in this matter as to date and value, or any information you might have.
    thank you

  16. reviewmylife says:

    Hi George, you can use revenue stamps to pay for immigration services – e.g. getting a re-entry permit / extending your residency / changing your residency status.

    Usually people would buy much larger denominations that 20 Yen though. e.g. for a single re-entry permit costing 3000 Yen you can buy a single 3000 Yen revenue stamp. If you are paying with 20 Yen stamps you’ll need 150 of them which I think might get you some funny looks from the counter staff :)

    The 20 Yen stamps are worth 20 Yen and as far as I’m aware there is no expiry date.

  17. Fortunately this re-entry permit has been scrapped [rml: see my comment below for correction], we will save the stamp money and the annoying trip to the immigration office. I got a brochure explaining all this last time I renewed my gaijin card. There will also be some advantages for long term residents, explained here:

    http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/newimmiact_1/en/point_3-4.html

  18. reviewmylife says:

    Re-entry permits are still needed today (3rd Jan 2012) – but the system will change from 9th July 2012; re-entry permits will then not be needed if you re-enter within a year.

    Re-entry permits *will* still be needed if you want to re-enter after a year (but this will only apply to a very small number of people as most will re-enter after a short holiday/trip abroad).

    Full details are in the PDF linked from the page in your link.

  19. Mari says:

    Hi i have a question is it possible to bring massage oils to Japan,i mean in checked-on baggage,not in airplane.I made massage oil by myself,but you know its small bottle,so i just want to have it.
    Yeah again i need to fill those cards,but thanks to you last time,you really saved my time.I am masseur-master at moment,just might be visiting Japan,really depends not of me,but other people who might sponsor my trip.

  20. reviewmylife says:

    Hi Mari, yes you can bring massage oils or other liquids (shampoo, creams, etc) in your baggage that you check into the hold with no problems. The airline restrictions on liquids only apply to what you bring into the air plane cabin. Have a fun trip.

  21. Mari says:

    Hi,actually i have question.Does Japanese hotels accept Visa Electron for prepayment and for payment as well.I always find VISA,Euro/Mastercard,American Express.So maybe VISA includes Visa electron.It works for ATM,but does it work for booking online and paying in hotel?I know mastercard works,what about VISA electron.
    Hotelopia.com does accept,but what about other sites.
    Thanks again
    Mari

  22. reviewmylife says:

    Hi Mari, I really don’t know about where you can use Visa Electron. I think you’ll just have to manually check each site that you want to use it on.

  23. Jo says:

    Hi, hoping you can help. I’m travelling to Japan at the end of the year with a group of students (for holiday). We will be arriving at Narita on one-way fare and travelling through Japan before leaving by Ferry to Korea. How will this work with the embarkation/ disembarkation cards? Do I need to organise anything differently if we’re not leaving by plane but going through immigration at port. Thanks

  24. reviewmylife says:

    Hi Jo, the procedure is identical to arriving/leaving by plane. When you arrive by plane the disembarkation part of your card will be collected by immigration. When you leave by ferry the embarkation part of the card will be collected by immigration. Have a nice holiday!

  25. anne says:

    hi..can u please help me with my problem?i was deported from japan last year 2008..and they say i cannot enter japan again within 5 years..so now s my fourth year of being banned in japan..
    so my problem is my japanese bf and i ae planning to get married and he wants us to live our life together there in japan..do u think it would not be easy for me to apply a marriage visa?

  26. reviewmylife says:

    Hi Anne, I certainly don’t think you will get a visa until your ban is over. If you are thinking about applying before the ban you should get advice from immigration and an immigration lawyer.

    In terms of applying after the ban I don’t know whether previous bans will affect future visa applications. Again this is something to discuss with immigration. It might be a good idea to get your boyfriend to phone them up and explain the situation. Good luck!

  27. Gian Paolo says:

    Hello,
    I wanna know how to procede when I leave and re-enter in Japan.

    I have a working visa till 2015.
    I can leave Japan for 2 weeks every 3 months.

    My question is:
    What do I have to do when I go to japanese airport for leaving Japan?
    Moreover, what do I have to do when I come back in Japan after 2 weeks?

    many thanks in advance
    Gian Paolo

  28. reviewmylife says:

    Hi Gian, as you will regularly be leaving and re-entering the country you should buy a multiple re-entry permit from your local immigration office before you next leave.

    They will probably give you your first ’embarkation / disembarkation card for reentrant’ which you use for your first trip out/back. For each subsequent trip you can pick up this card at the immigration area before you leave Japan.

  29. Gian Paolo says:

    Thanks for your reply, but let me explain:
    I left Japan at the end of March, when I went to Narita, at the immigration gate, they gave me ‘embarkation/disembarkation card for reentrant’ blank, without saying nothing and they didn’t stamp my passport…(they just let me pass)
    When I came back to Japan after 13 days… I had many problems because they didn’t want to let me enter because my passport wasn’t stamped and I had both sides of the card.

    So, which is the correct procedure?

    many thanks…

  30. reviewmylife says:

    Hi Gian, So you already have a multiple re-entry permit then?

    Here is the procedure for leaving Japan assuming you already have a valid re-entry permit.

    1. Pick up the ‘embarkation/disembarkation card for reentrant’ at immigration.
    2. Fill in the right hand side of the card.
    3. Hand the card to immigration with your passport.
    4. They will detach the right hand side and staple the left hand side into your passport.

    On re-entering Japan:

    1. Fill in the left hand side of the card which is in your passport (don’t remove it) before you reach immigration.
    2. Give the passport to immigration.
    3. They will detach the left hand side of the card and you should be back in Japan with no hassle!

    Hope that clears it up.

  31. Gian Paolo says:

    I got it now…

    Really really thanks…

  32. ROSE says:

    Hello, I travel to Japan next week and I have doubts. You must be vaccinated against yellow fever or other type of vaccine? immigration and how it works? run the risk of not being accepted in the country, with round-trip ticket, a friend’s house to host me and declaration of employment in Brazil, as well as international credit card? thank you.

  33. reviewmylife says:

    Hi Rose, the rules that apply on entry vary depending on which country you are from. You need to check the Japan Embassy site of your country for the correct advice.

    From your IP address I’m guessing you are from Brazil. In which case you might need a visa to enter the country.

    The embassy website is the next site you should visit. Good luck!

  34. ROSE says:

    Hello, I’m from Brazil and I already have a visa for entry. I travel next Friday and I’m afraid of not being accepted in Japan, even if I stay in the house of Brazilian friends who live and work in Mishima eight years ago. I have a plane ticket back in the hands and also credit card and statement of the company where I work, stating that I must return to work at the end of August.
    You think I can be prevented from entering the country for some reason? And, it is necessary vaccine or travel insurance mandatory? Thank you.

  35. reviewmylife says:

    Hi Rose, if you already have a visa then you shouldn’t be so worried. A visa means that immigration have already checked you out and are intending to let you into the country. Of course a visa is no guarantee that you will be allowed entry – the final decision is up to the immigration official at the airport, but it is a good sign!
    You’ll have to ask your questions about the vaccines and travel insurance to the Japan embassy. Good luck!

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