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Re-entry Permits

Japan With Kids - Forums: Immigration/visas/re-entry permits/naturalization: Re-entry Permits
By Cornelia on Friday, August 15, 2003 - 10:14 am:

I had an experience with my re-entry permit that I thought might be worth mentioning. I had completely forgotten that my 3-year multiple re-entry permit finished in the middle of July instead of at the same time as my current visa, when I left for the airport at the end of June this year.

The problem was first noticed by the travel insurance desk (not Tokyo Marine but one of the other companies, I can go find the name later). They needed the re-entry permit number in order to sell me travel insurance. Their computer program could not process the application without this number. They noticed that my re-entry permit was not going to be valid for the full period of my travel period and thus they could not sell me the travel insurance.

So we went through security and to immigration to the special window that does airline crew and so on. The man there was very nice and without preamble gave me a form to fill out for a single re-entry permit. I had to go get the revenue stamp at the post office though, which required my going back out through security and then coming back in again (fortunately the airport post office was open!) The immigration man was incredibly nice because after putting the re-entry permit into my passport he processed me as having left, when in fact I needed to go back out through security again to purchase my travel insurance. He gave me a special pass to re-enter (leaving my passport hostage with him) for a brief period.

(The maximum period you can get travel insurance from the automated machines after passing through immigration is 4 weeks, and my travel period was in fact a bit longer than that).

Finally, the only negative comment made was that this service was only granted one time to a traveller, in other words next time be sure to have your documents in order.

All in all, it was not as big a disaster as I had anticipated. However, I don't know what would have happened if the post office had not been open. Maybe there is a vending machine for the revenue stamps at the air port post office that I did not see.

This experience points out a couple of things. Private companies are using the re-entry permit as a necessary document to sell a product. (Again I would have thought the visa type should be good enough to prove residence in Japan). Secondly, it always takes time, in this case about an hour, which though certainly shorter than making the trip to the new immigration office in Tokyo which is now out in container city south of Shinagawa, did cause a crunch in making the plane. I and my 6 year old daughter were ultimately escorted the whole way by an airline staff person for the last 25 minutes of the ordeal, also a very sweet and kind person.

By Scott Hancock on Friday, August 15, 2003 - 11:11 am:

That's an interesting story, Cornelia. To me, the main point is that Immigration is totally unpredictable and capable of being inconsistent.

Last summer, when our family left together(4 of us) it was discovered that my re-entry had expired (but not the visa).

The offical launched into a tirade, with raised voice chastising me for letting it happen. He did the usual repeated looking at my vile documents in scorn and derision, huffing and hissing.

Naturally, I just assumed the position and did my best to keep apologizing. (Probably he was trying to get me to react like the other gaijin there with a problem and start pitching my own fit.)

Eventually, he couldn't get any traction on my well-performed apologies, so he gave me a single re-entry and sent us on our way with a last lecture.

Point of my story to the audience here is that you must NOT plan on meeting Cornelia's official. Keep your paperwork straight and if it does go awry, getting puffy does not help.


By Tara on Saturday, August 16, 2003 - 10:30 pm:

Ooh, scary story!!

But you know, you can buy those "inshi" stamps at ANY old convenience store, or at those little old-fashioned tobacconists that are in the older parts of town, and so on. Hmm, any convenience stores in Narita airport? Hmm, maybe not... the only one I can think of is down where you get off the train, and I wonder if that place is too small to sell them -- it's not really a convenience store but more like a hole in the wall, eh?

If you pay for something more than Y30,000 at a store (such as buying a fridge, or JR "IO" train cards/train passes, or even pay for an expensive NTT bill or whatever, and you ask for an official receipt) they are *required by law* to put a Y200 "inshi" on the receipt. So a store always has to have a stack of them handy just for their own business -- not like the stores are going to sell those to you in a pinch; rather, the point here is just that any/every small business operating in Narita airport has to have them on hand, and where do THEY buy them? Yeah, could be the post office, but more likely, at a local convenience store.

BTW, Individuals (as opposed to businesses) need them for any sort of payment for government documents (like, proof of ownership of one's house has to be paid for in "inshi", not cash).

Sorry if that is all stuff you already knew --

By Scott Hancock on Saturday, August 16, 2003 - 10:44 pm:

Just a detail, but does any convenience store really have them in the 3,000/6,000 yen denominations required for Immigration issues?

All rather too charming for what's already drudgery.


By Paula on Sunday, August 17, 2003 - 1:49 am:

Inshi stamps can be purchseed at your local Post Office, just specify how much.
We just did the Visa thing last week at the Chiba office (very quick & convenient), if you get in at the 9am opening you can usually be in and out in about and hour.
No sweat, just make sure you have everything and remember that you will have to go back in again about a week later

By Cornelia on Saturday, August 23, 2003 - 10:02 pm:

Scott, I agree 100% that immigration staff can be unpredictable. I had fully expected to miss my flight completely, and was really surprised that my lapse was handled with calm.

I've added a sentence to the Narita page pointing out that travel insurance from Japanese sources may only be available to people who have visas that are not simply short-term (90 day) or transit visas. The insurance company I am using this trip is AIU Insurance Company.

By Bethan Hutton on Thursday, August 28, 2003 - 11:18 pm:

I had a similar experience to Cornelia - tried to leave the country with a five-month-old baby and the guy on the immigration desk spotted that we had forgotten to get a reentry permit for her. But in our case, there was no messing around with having to buy inshi etc - we just went to the window, did the usual apology, got the form, paid the money, and got the stamp straight away. Maybe it depends on who's on duty that day. Of course you only get a single re-entry permit, so if you want a multiple you still have to go to the immigration office when you get back. The real question is why foreigners with long-term visas (a year or over - really anyone with a gaijin card) needs a reentry permit at all, except to keep a few more bureaucrats in jobs?

By Cornelia on Saturday, December 6, 2003 - 9:46 am:

Amen Bethan, the issue of "re-entry permits" being like a second visa and a duplication of paperwork apparently continued simply for revenue generation has been covered and continues to pop up in discussion at UMJ (United for a Multicultural Japan -- see the links page) as well as the community e-list.

In the meantime, there is one really huge advantage to having that re-entry permit. You can use the Japanese nationals line at immigration when you come back to Japan from your winter vacation. That line is always shorter and always moves faster!

By the way, have I told you all how I managed to leave the gaijin cards for my daughter and myself back in Virginia at the end of last summer? In spite of my encroaching senility, I am still the custodial parent ! Seriously, I had by some fluke copied the gaijin card numbers down on the disembarkation cards in our passports when leaving, so even though I did not have the cards themselves I did have the numbers. And once again I broke out into alternating cold/hot sweats for nothing. We were allowed back into Japan without a fuss.

By Cathy Edwards on Saturday, December 6, 2003 - 10:17 am:

As someone who has, more than once, left the Gaijin cards at home when travelling I have now pencilled the numbers into the back of each family members passport.
Never a problem now!

By Amy Uehara on Saturday, December 6, 2003 - 10:31 am:

Ah, yes, the thrill of the re-entry permit-holder in the shorter line at Immigration.
Never, not once, have I stood in that line where some "good citizen" did not tap (and I mean tap) me on the shoulder (from behind) to inform me that I was "supposed to be over there."
I explain that I am "allowed" to be in this line and thank them for their good citizenship and desire to protect their nation from floods of housewife mommies.
It just happened to a middle-aged friend of mine the other day.
Alas, we can be out of the country for 3 years instead of one and I am glad I have that "permanent" visa. Just the other day, my daughter and I were shooed out of Shinjuku Gyoen by a concientious guard as I tried to wake my daughter from a deep slumber. "Hurry up!" "What should I do, hit her!?" But, other than that, life is fine. I no longer have to write a letter as to why I want to remain in Japan. Once, I wrote, "I'm married." and they said, "That's too short." I replied that is the only reason (at that time.) So I added, "And I'm going to die here." That was in my perky first decade here... ah, memories...
p.s. I still have not fixed the spam thing, Cornelia.

By Kim Ellison on Thursday, February 3, 2005 - 10:42 am:

Does anyone know if we are
still able to get the reentry visa
from Hakozaki...or do I have to
make the trek to Shinagawa?

By Scott Hancock on Thursday, February 3, 2005 - 1:35 pm:

No. Hakozaki closed a few years ago.

Shinagawa is the mothership for Tokyo.

By Thanprabha on Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - 11:31 am:

i am an INDIAN. Finished my course from Japan last August 2007 and went back to INDIA. Presently i am in USA, holding J1 student visa. And i have a valid Japan Visa till July 2009. And also i got stamped Japan re-entry permit on my passport. Now i want to come to Japan for a week.

My doubt is holding USA J1 student visa, can i come to Japan for a week and go back to USA. Is there any procedure to fulfill??? before my travel to Japan from USA. Please help me.


By Admin on Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - 8:59 pm:

Dear Thanprabha,
This is a question for the American side, not the Japanese side. I suspect that a student is allowed to take a vacation and re-enter the USA. However, given the post 9/11 climate, I would call the Homeland Security office and make double sure. Also, they probably have information on the web also, if you do a search for J1 student visa. Since sponsorship for a "J" visa appears to be through the Department of State, you might be able to take a short cut and just call a US Embassy abroad using Skype or something.

"Participants in the "J" program must present a Form DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status prepared by a designated sponsoring organization. (Forms DS-2019 are issued by the Department of State, and not by USCIS. Please see the Cultural Exchange website of the Department of State for more information.)"

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