This post is intended to outline what an American parent will need to do in Japan to get their newborn baby legal here. It’s for future reference for myself (I’m rather doubtful of the need at this moment) and for anyone other applicable person who stumbles across this page. (As a disclaimer, though Tokyo is listed in the title, we lived in Saitama)
A couple of days after the delivery of your baby, the staff of the hospital or clinic will give you a Birth Report (Shussei Todoke/Shussei Shoumeisho), which will have two sides. One side is filled out by the hospital and the other side is for you to fill out. This will begin the grand process of legalizing your baby… and for us, it created a giant pool of confusion!
(Random note: there is a postcard that goes along with your coupon book for the appointments; fill that out and send it in. I’m not sure why [yet], but you’re supposed to do it.)
Within 14 days of the birth of your child, either (or both) you or your spouse will need to make a trip to City Hall to register the baby’s birth and receive the birth certificate. The baby does not need to be present.
- -The completed Shussei Todoke/Shussei Shoumeisho
- -The Mother/Child Health Handbook (Boshi Techou)
- -Your National Health Insurance Card
- -Both parents’ Passports and Residence Cards
- -Your Hanko (personal name stamp)– though this is needed less and less these days for foreigners
First Stop: Birth Register Desk
Present these documents at the desk and eventually, they will give you them back, with a paper attached to the Shussei Shoumeisho showing you have registered the birth.
Now here came the kicker for us: the guy at the desk insisted that our daughter’s name should not be written the way that we wrote it– he insisted the Japanese way to do it was the reverse the order of the middle and first name. (Japanese don’t have middle names, thus the fuss)
Too bad I’m not Japanese. I’m really glad I wasn’t there for this discussion.
It’s not a big deal, though a pain in the tuckus in the long run. What complicated our situation a bit more was that he added the middle name to the last name box, so in effect, it appears that our daughter has two last names. I don’t know what the deal is because no one else I know has had a problem like this.
Believe me, I asked around. I think it was just a power kick, or that he ran into some troublesome foreigners earlier in the day. I don’t know.
But as the guy at the US embassy told me (though we had some dramatic pauses while they examined our daughter’s two last names…)– you can name your kid whatever you want in America.
The NHI counter for health insurance, the child health program (to get the free doctor visits postcard) and the Jidouteatte counter. *Note that you will be issued a temporary health insurance card until the baby’s visa is established.
Documents to Collect While at City Hall:
-A copy of your Residence Record (Juminhyou) with your new child’s information on it. Note: Make sure that you get everything listed on the Juminhyou– you will need your residence card number, type and expiration dates printed on there as well. Don’t ask how we know.
-The most recent tax payment certificate (Nouzei Shoumeisho/Kazei Shoumeisho). If one parent is a dependent, you will need that record that they were listed as a the taxpaying parent’s dependent.
Note that your deadline to complete this is 30 days. One parent (or a guarantor) can do this, and the baby does not need to be present.
- -Application form for Permission to Acquire Status of Residence- no need for a photo of the baby. Also, the working parent is to be listed as the guarantor/legal representative on the form.
- -Both parents’ passports and residence cards (and a copy of each)
- -Baby’s Passport (but if you don’t have it, that’s ok)
- -A Certificate of Employment (with employer’s hanko on it) (each working parent will need this) This needs to be issued within the last 3 months
- -The above mentioned Tax Certificates (Note that if you moved to a new city within the last tax-paying year, you will need to visit the prior city hall for this document)
- -Above mentioned Juminhyou
- -The registered Shussei todoke shoumeisho (birth certificate)
- -Boshi Techo
- -Shitsumonsho (Parent’s info form which can be got and filled out at the IO)
- Your Hanko
Submit all these documents and viola! You will be issued a residence card for your little one.
Once this process is complete, your city hall will then mail you a health insurance card for your baby with a longer expiration date and a “my-number card” application, which you will need to fill out (can be done online too) and send in.
Note that if you do not complete the above two processes within the allotted time, they very well may try to deport your baby. It happened to a friend of a friend, so if need be, collect all the applications and documents (beside the Juminhyou- you have to wait for that) ahead of time.
This one’s a doozy guys! Thankfully, there’s no real deadline for this part (unless you plan to travel soon). We went when the baby was two weeks old because of all the unknowns with the middle name and how that would affect her at immigration (resolution below).
Also, both parents will need to be there (or a notarized document stating why it’s not possible) and the baby needs to be present as well.
Every document you possess.
Just kidding, but here we go:
- Completed Application for Consular Report of Birth Abroad- Note about the times of physical presence in the US: though the form says you have to be very specific about dates, the rep I talked to and every other person who’s gone through the process says that only major chunks of time outside the US need to be accounted for. Don’t stress over a week here or there for vacations.
- Completed Passport Application
- Completed Social Security Number Application
- The Shussei Todoke Shoumeisho (if both parents are American) and a copy
- An English translation of the above document- you can get a template on the embassy’s website; it does not have to be done professionally. Note: The issue date is the date that the document is registered; the title is the title of the document and the name is the name of the person who registered the document (on the attached paper of the Shussei Todoke Shoumeisho).
- The Affidavit of Child’s Name (which we used to fix our daughter’s name)
- Parent’s Marriage Certificate and a copy (if divorced or widowed or unmarried at the time of the birth, refer to the embassy’s page)
- Parent’s Passports plus a copy (we were asked for two, but the website requests one) -In our case, one parent is a naturalized US Citizen. You are supposed to bring the original certificate plus a copy, but we were told we didn’t need it. Go prepared though!)
- Evidence of Physical Presence- though we were not asked for it. Consider using transcripts, job evaluation records, tax records, medical receipts or prior passports, etc. Note that only one parent needs to present this info.
- Both Parents IDs (plus a copy)- your drivers license or Japanese Residence card will work. This is also something we weren’t asked for.
- Application Fees in yen or USD or credit card
- A Passport Photo for your Child
- A self-addressed Letter Pack Envelope (you can purchase at a the Post Office or the Family Mart nearest the Tokyo Embassy.
You will need to schedule an appointment at the embassy (arrive early to go through security– note that if there’s a line, you can skip ahead if you have a baby!… and you better, because baby has to be there). Print out the appointment sheet when you schedule online and take it with you.
Submit all these documents at the counter, sign when prompted, pay and swear the oath that you’re telling the truth and then wait at home for your documents to arrive!
Resolution about the Name Mishap
So, it’s a bit confusing, but all our Japanese documents list our daughters name as Last Middle (,) First. We ran to the Embassy to hopefully get her passport issued before needing to go to Immigration but it didn’t arrive. So we crossed our fingers and headed to the IO.
The Immigration representative told us that because there’s no essential name difference (just a difference in the order of the name), that they would issue it as is- according to the City Hall paperwork- and when it comes time to renew her residence card, it will be changed to read like the passport (like everyone else in our family).
So, no problem, but essentially we’re delaying dealing with the difference until later.
At this point, I don’t care! The fact that after a c-section we accomplished all the above- two of the offices being an hour away- within 30 days means that I get a golden star. Or at least a participation ribbon showing that I am now the mother of a bonafide citizen of the US and resident of Japan.
But realistically, it just means I have a lot more paperwork to file away.