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Getting Settled

Settling into life in Japan will also mean a lot of work (and *paper*work!). It may feel like a lot, but please be assured we will assist you in each step to make sure you are settling well (and legally) into life in Japan.

In order for you to feel more prepared, here are some of the things you will need to do after you arrive.

  • Register as a local resident

  • Register for the national health insurance

  • Register for the national pension system (and apply to be exempt as you will be considered low-income)

  • Apply for a My Number card

  • Make a seal

  • Open a bank account

  • Set up a phone plan

  • Find housing

  • Set up your home

  • Prepare for natural disasters

Register as a Local Resident

One of the first things you will do when you arrive is to make a visit to the regional office. There, you will be filling in forms to register as official residents. Since it may take some time before you find a place to rent, you will be registering with the address of where you will be staying initially (most likely one of our staff’s own housing). After all the paperwork is processed, they will give you your residency card with your address printed on the back. You must carry this card at all times.

Register for the National Health Insurance

At the same office, you will also register to be a part of the national health insurance. This will require a small payment each month and covers 70% of your medical costs. Once registered, you will be given a health insurance card which you must show at the reception of any medical facility you wish to be seen at. Please carry this with you at all times.

Register for the National Pension System

At the same office, you will also register to be part of the national pension system. This is required by law. If you are not part of a pension scheme elsewhere, pray about paying into the Japanese system. As you will likely be classed as low-income in Japan, you are able to apply to be exempt from payments at the same time you register.

Apply for a My Number Card

Japan has a new ID system in place that connects all of the various registration systems (residence, health insurance, and pension). This is called the Individual Number Card, or MyNumber card. We recommend applying for this card, though this is voluntary. Once you have applied, you will be notified when you can pick it up at the city office at a later date. Note that this card is set to expire when your visa expires. You must renew it after your visa has been renewed.

Make a Seal

Known as a “hanko” or “inkan” in Japan, a seal is a stamp of your surname pressed using red ink. It acts as your signature on official documents, and is often a requirement when it comes to renting a place and opening bank accounts. Making a seal is easy and not too expensive, therefore we recommend you to have one. If you are willing, we will help you order one at a seal shop in central Sendai. (The cost can vary depending on the design, but you can make a basic one for around ¥1000.)

Open a Bank Account

In Japan, the Japan Post (JP) Bank is convenient to use whenever it comes to sending money. JP Bank is also known for having no ATM charges! Therefore, we encourage and assist all of our staff to open a JP Bank account upon arrival (this does not cost any money). This will require a trip to a local JP Bank with your passport, residency card and seal. After setting up an account, you can also choose to apply for an online account at home (which we also recommend you do!)

We also recommend you apply for a visa debit card with this account which will make it easier to make payments for things without using cash. You can find out more here: Mijica.

There are also other local banks, such as 77 Bank (which is one of the major banks in Sendai) that may be convenient in the long run for you to use. This could be another lengthy process, but if the need arises, we will also assist you to open an account with them too!

Set up a Phone

Please see this page for more info: Phones

Find Housing

At YWAM Sendai, we would like all of us to live in close proximity so that it’s as easy as possible to stay together as a community! Since we are in the stage of pioneering, at this stage we do not have “staff housing” and therefore require everyone to find their own place to live. Having said that, there may options of sharing an apartment with our other staff- availability will depend on the timing and size of our community at the time of your arrival.

When you arrive, the first step is to book a reservation with a real estate agency (which you may have already done so with help from our staff before your arrival). Based on your budget for rent and other preferences (size, location etc), they will present available options to you and take you around to look at it in person. (Please note that most places in Japan do NOT come with any furniture or appliances!) Once you feel peace about a place, you will sign a contract to rent the place (usually for 2 years). Upon signing a contract, there will be an “initial fee” including insurance, administration fee, security deposit etc. You will be given the keys to your apartment once you have been able to make this payment.

Here is an English guide that may give you more details on what it is like to search for a place to live in Japan:

As a side note, once you have moved into your own place, you must return again to the city office in order to change your address and phone number. You will also have to notify your address change to your bank and phone company.

Set Up Your Home

Once you have your key, you will then need to set up your home!

We will point you in the direction of places were you can get items you need, both new and second hand. We will also help you get Internet set up in your home, as this will likely need to be done after you have moved in.

Disaster Preparation

Japan is a nation that is prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, typhoons, landslides, and tsunamis. Please see this page for more information on how to be prepared.