We recommend that you prepare what you can before moving to Japan. This is because foreign language services are limited in Japan and it is very likely that you will be lost.
In this article, we are listing what you can do before your move, although these are not required.
1. Buy an Inkan (Seal)
An inkan or hanko (both terms are used interchangeably in Japan) is an engraved stamp or seal that can be used by an individual or an individual representing a company in signing documents.
Seals are used for signing contracts, opening bank accounts, receiving packages, etc.
In Japan, there are seal shops in every town so you can purchase one after you arrive in Japan. However, there are very few stores that offer foreign language services. Therefore, if you can buy one in your own country, it is better to buy one in advance.
There are shops that sell seals online and ship overseas. You may consider ordering and purchasing your seal online. For details, please visit the shop websites.
Points to be aware of when purchasing a seal
Be careful that Shachihata (rubber stamp type seals with built-in ink) are not acceptable for banking transactions and lease contracts.
For those who plan to conduct important business transactions in Japan
- It is possible to create various types of seals in English, Kanji, Hiragana, and Katakana. Generally, it does not matter which types of characters you use.
- If you plan to make important transactions such as legal procedures in your social life in Japan, you will need to register your seal at the municipal office. The registered seal is called “Jitsuin” (registered seal). A registered seal is required in the following cases:
- When you engage in high-end transactions such as land, house, car, etc.
- When you borrow money, such as a mortgage loan
- When you establish a company or become an officer of a company
- Please note that some government offices do not allow registration of seals imprinted in English or other foreign languages. You should check with the municipal office where you plan to live to confirm if there are specific requirements.
2. Create an account for Visit Japan Web
Once you know your travel details, you should create an account on “Visit Japan Web,” the website provided by the Japanese government.
Visit Japan Web is a web service that allows visitors from overseas (including Japanese who are returning from overseas) to complete immigration procedures such as “quarantine,” “immigration inspection,” and “customs declaration” at the time of entry.
Using this service facilitates immigration procedures, so we recommend that you register when you know your travel details.
3. Download useful smartphone apps for living in Japan
Download useful apps for living in Japan in advance.
Apps are usually large and consume much data when downloading, so you would want to avoid using your Japanese SIM card for that.
Once you leave an airport, you should expect to be surrounded by Japanese language. Therefore, translation/dictionary apps will be especially essential.
Please take a look at the following list of useful apps for living in Japan.
4. Buy things that are only available in your home country!
It may be a good idea to buy things that are only available in your home country before you leave for Japan. However, there are certain restrictions on what you can bring into Japan. Please confirm what you can bring and prepare appropriately.
The following are examples of what you may consider:
- Food and seasonings
- Cosmetics and beauty products
- Clothes and shoes that fit your size
- Home appliances
- PCs in Japan have a different keyboard layout.
- It is highly likely that you will need a conversion plug or transformer due to the different shapes of electrical outlets and voltages. Please be careful.
Some items are prohibited from being taken out of your home country or brought into Japan. Some items require formalities at customs. Examples include plants, animals, processed goods, fruits, vegetables, medicines, cosmetics, and hazardous goods.
Please be careful as you could be arrested for bringing illegal items into Japan. Violators would be fined or imprisoned.
Be sure to check what you can take out of your home country and bring into Japan.
The following are examples of what you cannot bring into Japan. There may be others, so if you are not sure, please check and resolve in advance.
Be prepared to start your life in Japan!
Prior setup and research are important for moving to Japan.
If you take care of the things listed in this article, you can start your life in Japan stress-free. We hope your move to Japan is well prepared and you have a wonderful time moving to Japan!
The information contained in this article is based on the information available as of March 31, 2023.