JP’s residential records (Juminhyo) system

Residential Registration

Residential Registration (Juminhyo 住民票)

A jūminhyō (住民票) is a registry of current residential addresses maintained by local governments in Japan. Japanese law requires each citizen to report his or her current address to the local authorities who compile the information for tax, national health insurance and census purposes.

The jūminhyō is different from a koseki, which is the formal record of a family’s history.
When proof of residence is required, such as for opening a bank account or registering children at a local school district, one needs to obtain a copy of this record from the local government office.

Once a jūminhyō has been registered with the local government, one can register for various social services including the national health insurance plan. Jūminhyō registration is also required in order to officially register a name seal (inkan), which functions as one’s official signature.

Only Japanese citizens are listed on a jūminhyō; Japanese residents from other countries are recorded in a separate alien registration system. This two-tier resident registration system is a source of controversy within the foreign community in Japan, particularly from international families where non-Japanese family members are not listed alongside Japanese family members as being part of the same household.

It is possible, however, to add a footnote in the “bikōran” (remarks) section to a Japanese spouse’s jūminhyō indicating that their non-Japanese spouse is the de facto head of household (事実上の世帯主, jijitsu-jo no setainushi). This however is left to local governments to decide whether to grant this request and this system itself is hardly known to the public.

In order to obtain Koseki (Family Registration), following two items are required:

  • “Koseki” (domicile)
  • head of family’s official Japanese name in Japanese writing

To obtain above items, you are required to obtain Residential Registration (Juminhyo) first to which your Honseki (domicile) and head of family name in Japanese writing are recorded.

When you move from one place to another, old record is maintained just for five years. After five years, old residential record is deleted and there is no way to trace new address or Honseki any more as far as family registration system is concerned.

Who can obtain a copy of residential registration?

Except from the person himself/herself and their household members, Several authorized occupations are permitted to obtain a copy of residential registration.

  • Government officials
  • Lawyer (弁護士)
  • Administrative scriveners (行政書士)
  • Notaries (司法書士)
  • Accountants(税理士)
  • Certified Social Insurance and Labor Consultant (社会保険労務士)
  • Land-and-house-investigator (土地家屋調査士)
  • Patent attorney (弁理士)
  • Marine Procedure Commission Agent (海事代理士)