Query: Driver License schools now doing Immigration’s job too, checking NJ visas? (UPDATE: Also at Postal Savings)


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UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog. I got this email on October 5, 2009 from a reader who asks if Driver License schools are requiring three items of proof of valid visas from NJ before letting them take their driver’s ed classes?   I said this is the first I’ve heard.  Anyone else out there hearing that?  Anyone even heard of the document called a “Kisai Jikou Shoumeisho”.  Read on:  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

UPDATE:  Passport checks also happening at Postal Savings too.


XY writes:

Hi there Debito, I live in Aichi Prefecture and am married to a Japanese man. Recently we decided that I should get my Japanese drivers license as I have a 1 year old and live in an inaka, etc, etc. My [North American] license had expired some years ago so there was no switching (shoot). Rather than hyperventilating or having ill-timed road rage at the Police testing centre, we decided that I should go to driving school, even though they charge a small fortune (IMHO).

While I speak passable Japanese, the thought of sitting down in a typical classroom and being bewildered by kanji and terms that I know I’m not going to be familiar with really had me anxious so I was delighted when I heard about [a private driving school’s] new English program. Same as the Japanese program, except all lessons in English, books in English etc. Of course it was more expensive, but only about 2man more.

As I understand it, for a Japanese national, only a copy of your juminhyo is required to register for driving school. Under the new English program, NJ are required to submit THREE separate forms of identification. Your Alien registration card, your passport and a “Kisai Jikou Shoumeisho”. Now, I can understand one form of ID, with your address, etc on it, but three? The only thing I can figure is that they are triple checking that your visa is not expired, or that all three forms of ID have the same name and contact info. I dunno. As for the Kisai Jikou Shoumeisho, this is the first time I’ve even heard of this thing, same for my hubby, and in-laws. My father in law was so curious to see what it was that he drove me to City Hall himself so that he could look at it.

I guess my question for you is: Is this legal? Do I HAVE to submit this much ID? To register for a driving course? Are they somehow in co- hoots with the government to check for visa overstays? Have I been watching too many conspiracy movies? Sincerely, XY.


I replied:

On Tue, Oct 6, 2009 at 7:52 AM, Arudou Debito wrote:

Hi XY. Thanks for this. First I’ve heard of it too. Ask them why they’re asking for information only Immigration is entitled to, and where it says in writing (a GOJ directive?) that this is required. Get a copy of that if possible, and send it to me. I will anonymize and blog, to see if it’s helping elsewhere. Thanks! Debito


XY replied:

Hi there,  I’ll do my best. I don’t go back until next week and at least I’ll be going alone as whenever I ask questions like this with my husband around, he just wants me to, well for lack of a better term “shut up and give them the info, stop asking so many questions, this is Japan, it is different”. I’m seriously curious if this is some sort of trade off with the immigration office – let them run an English course, but triple check visa status of NJ. As we have a large population of NJ in Aichi due to the car manufacturing AND the fact that pretty much ALL of them have lost their jobs due to the economic downturn… just too many coincidences. Or maybe they’re just triple covering their behind. Either way, I`ll ask away next week. Thanks for the mail, XY


32 comments on “Query: Driver License schools now doing Immigration’s job too, checking NJ visas? (UPDATE: Also at Postal Savings)

  • The form is called 登録原票記載事項証明書 (tōroku genpyō kisai jikō shōmeisho). Your local city hall can issue it. It is essentially the foreigner equivalent of a jūminhyō. I’ve had several issued, for various reasons: applying for graduate school, moving to a new apartment, and changing jobs (although not asked for). Alien cards are fine for informal ID, but they can be forged or altered, so an official government document is more formal and authoritative when needed. In those cases that was the only ID that I supplied; I did not ever show my alien card. When you apply for one, you may have desired items listed or not listed as you require. As I recall, it costs 300 yen per document. For something as official as a drivers license I would not doubt that it would be requested. I think Japanese citizens need to submit a jūminhyō as well.

    — Thanks. IIRC the only “juuminhyou”-esque form I ever had to submit was my “gaikokujin tourokuzumi shoumeisho”. But it’s been a while.

    Anyway, why the need to submit the Gaijin Card AND the passport? The GC is supposed to work in place of the passport when it’s not an issue of Immigration. Policing is not the job of this driver school, and if it’s happening here, I see it happening in a lot more situations — stretching the policing mandate beyond the police forces. What’s next, video stores?

  • I don’t know about driving schools, as I got my license via “gaimen kirikae” but I’ve heard of the “Kisai Jiko Shomeisho,” it was one of the documents needed for naturalization. As far as I can tell the information on it is similar to a juminhyo, although the layout isn’t exactly the same. I don’t remember if I was asked for a passport to get my driver’s licence but I definitely was NOT asked for the Kisai Jiko Shomeisho (for gaimen kirikae, five years ago), I had never heard of that until I get the information about naturalization.

    — It’s been about ten years since my naturalization, I don’t remember that doc. Hm, getting old. Thanks.

  • It sounds like XY’s ‘kisai jikou shoumeisho’ could be the 外国人登録原票記載事項証明書 (Gaikokujin touroku genpyou kisai jikou shoumeisho), which has all of the details of an NJ’s Alien Registration as entered by the people at city hall (or other local government office) onto the Alien Register. Japanese citizens go to the local government office and pick up a copy of their Juuminhyou, while NJs are supplied with this Gaikokujin touroku genpyou kisai jikou shoumeisho as the nearest equivalent.

    Perhaps the driving school asks for it as a way to verify the details on an NJ’s passport and Certificate of Alien Registration (the card)? Could it be that the body in charge of license testing requires these documents, so the driving school is just making sure that prospective students have all three together from the outset to avoid hassles later?

  • I went to driving school in Japan when I was still a foreigner and if I remember correctly, I did have to submit 外国人登録原票記載事項証明書 and all the Japanese students had to submit their 住民票, and everyone was required to submit one other form of ID like a passport or a health insurance card etc. Apparently it was a requirement from the government to confirm our identities and to make sure that the name and address to be printed on our licenses would be true and correct. Asking for THREE forms of identification like this sounds like visa policing to me.


    October 8, 2009
    Hi Debito, I wrote to you back in April 2008 about Mitsui Sumitomo suddenly requiring that NJ either have a work visa or have lived in Japan for at least 6 months before they would allow them to open a bank account. (http://www.debito.org/?p=1400) Our solution at that time was to switch to using postal savings accounts for our one-year NJ interns (they’re here on cultural studies visas, not work visas).

    Everything went smoothly until we took our most recent batch of interns in at the end of September. We were able to eventually open the accounts, but not before allowing the postal staff to make photo copies of their 外国人登録書 (which was expected) and passports (which is new). The clerk helping us was really thorough when making the copies, he not only copied the photo page but also the page where their current visa was stamped. We also had to fill out a form that stated each intern’s full legal name and their address back in their home country.

    When we asked why the procedure had changed, the postal staff mentioned that anti-money laundering regulation that Mitsui Sumitomo cited back in 2008. We (meaning myself and a Japanese coworker who was helping me fill out the paperwork) did not press too hard for more information at the time because we had already been at the counter for a full 2 hours and needed to get back to the office, but it would be interesting to find out more about what’s led to the recent upping of documentation for a simple savings account.

    Anyway, I thought you might be interested in this turn of events. Please feel free to contact me, or to blog this email (but please don’t make my email address public).


  • > Anyway, why the need to submit the Gaijin Card AND the passport?
    > Policing is not the job of this driver school, […]

    I agree that it is a little much. If it happened to me I would probably challenge it. Besides the airport and immigrations, a passport is the last thing that I will show, and I can not recall ever needing to do so. If that is their policy, then it is flawed: not all foreigners, such as refugees, have passports; it is not required to get a visa for Japan. If you are already submitting the tōroku genpyō kisai jikō shōmeisho then the alien card is redundant as they contain the same information. I would offer an insurance card as another form of ID.

    I doubt that the driving school is doing any real verification outside of quickly looking it over and keeping it on record. I would assume that they are collecting the documents to get out of responsibility in the case that there is a future problem. “We got their official information and it was all in order. See? Not our problem.”

  • Why the upping of the documentation that is required….

    That is quite simple – they are cooperating with the IRS on their search for “non reporters” of off-shore accounts having more than $10k.

    — Need source on that.

    And if so, do they think all NJ applicants will automatically have accounts of more than $10k?

  • I was at GEO a video store in Wakayama. A couple of years back I was denied a membership renewal because my Gaijin Card listed my visa expiry date as 2 weeks after. I explained that I was in the process of renewing my visa and it would take a week or so. They told me that I would have to wait untill my visa expiry date was not within 3 months . When I got my new visa I switched to Tsutaya, (Im sure they have the same rule though)
    I had the same thing happen when I tried to make a new Keitai contract. They required a 6 month limit. I explained that I get a visa renewed every year and was willing to show the last 4 years worth of Visas. But “Rule is Rule”

    Many companies see themselves as minions of the Immigration Department.

    Fox News Presenter Bill O Reilly would love this one . “NO VIDEO RENTALS FOR ILLEGALS”

  • No source – sorry, just my conjecture. But any bank that deals with the US – which means all banks worldwide, since they are all interconnected to the financial transaction systems – must report the account name, number, and balance of any American that passes the $10k mark.

    So to ensure that that can report, they take the same documentation evidence from all – just in case the account balance ever does exceed the $10k.

    — Including non-Americans? Seems like an unlikely reason, sorry. Thanks for conjecturing, anyway.

  • The have the same basic requirement – know your customer – so yes, they take the same documentation regardless of nationality, even though they do not need to report non-Americans to the US.

    Think about it – would you develop different procedures for each nationality? And – how would you confirm that you took the right documents for the right nationality if you did not take them for all? Operational efficiency, and auditability – says take for all.

    — But it’s not taking the same documentation for all. We have two tiers of rigmarole, one for J, and one for NJ, no?

    Anyway, we’re now going beyond your original argument that Japan is doing it because their hand is being forced by the American IRS.

  • I’m not sure who the author of this page is and how official the information may be, but here: http://www004.upp.so-net.ne.jp/hitosen/gaitou2.html is confirmation of what I assumed as soon as I saw your response to #1…. the document existed previously, but when you naturalized, and when I got my driver’s license, the name was “gaikokujin touroku sumi shoumeisho.” I do remember getting a copy of THAT at a city office that I haven’t used in years… I don’t remember why but for the driver’s license makes sense.

    As for the bank issue, I have never had a bank ask to see my passport or for an overseas address…. I’m not even actually sure what my “overseas address” is anymore, as the last house I lived in no longer belongs to my family… and the last time I reneweed my visa they let me write N/A there, so the bank definitely doesn’t have anything in that box either. But my bank account is 9 years old and post office about 7… policies have definitely changed.

  • “So to ensure that that can report, they take the same documentation evidence from all – just in case the account balance ever does exceed the $10k.”

    But why would they start doing this within the last six months? I think it must be a really recent policy because it was pretty obvious that we were the first NJ they had dealt with since it had been implemented (hence the two hours at the counter in order to open four bank accounts).

    Plus there is no pertinent information on the passport that is not on the GC.

    My own opinion is that someone decided “we should do all we can to be sure they are legit” without taking into account the privacy issues and just plain hassel it causes NJ. This kind of policy seems endemic in Japanese companies and GOJ, which is why doing anything here becomes a pain in the ass.

  • Most of these “rules” really seem to be made up on the spot (or, if they are rules, are almost never enforced). I’ve seen it happen numerous times where the “rules” being enforced differ from the actual rules on the application form or website.

    When I opened an account with Shinsei bank, they rejected my ID as it didn’t have my post code on it (I went to another branch and didn’t have a problem). With Mizuho, the staff tried the 6 month rule on me but I had been living in Japan for more than 6 months. They actually took the mostly completed application from me and made me fill it out again in English and romaji.

    I opened a post office account earlier this year. All I showed was my insurance card and all I filled out was the regular application. Last year I got an iPhone (there was something with Softbank and minimum visa requirements, IIRC) and I didn’t have any problems.

  • As far as I am aware they won’t issue you a driver’s license without confirming a valid status of residence, hence the passport requirement. When I applied for my license I was waiting on my visa renewal, and they would not grant me the license until the visa came through. The kisai jiko shomeisho is mainly an official confirmation of registered address equivalent to the juminhyo for Japanese.

    This kind of makes sense – Japanese driver’s licenses are for residents of Japan. If you don’t have a status of residence, then you are usually only a short term visitor, who can use an international license anyway.

    — Gaijin Cards are also only for people who have a Status of Residence. Again, the passport is unnecessary. Only Immigration can demand it. Not even the cops can if you have your CG.

  • The IRS is cracking down – with recent success on Swiss secret numbered accounts, and with an amnesty to report overseas accounts for US Citizens that expires 15 October. Again, this is my conjecture as to why this is happening now.

    — Links please!!

  • When I got my license 16 years ago, I had a US license converted –

    I had to show my gaijin card (for ID), passport (to prove I was in Japan for more than 6 months and list your honseki, mine said 英国, but they no longer print that for privacy reasons), translation of US license and submit a copy of my giajin card certificate with my application.

    I think the above documents are in order, as the driving school will issue a certificate once you pass and you take to the license centre. They are really picky about the name.

    A few years ago I lost my wallet and had to re-issue my license, I had to bring my passport, gaijin card and submit a copy of my giajin card certificate.

    However, when I went to Koyama Driving School to get my motorbike license last year, I only needed my gaijin card and current Japanese license. They only took a copy of my drivers license and looked at my gaijin card for valid visa. At the license centre, only needed my license and graduate certificate to upgrade my license.

  • Welcome to Japan. Your mileage will vary.

    13-14 years ago when I first opened an account at a Japanese bank that
    has since been merged into something else, I was fresh off the plane and
    had no residence as I was still apartment hunting. No address meant no
    gaijin card. No gaijin card, no bank account.

    I explained this to them and they said due to money laundering rules, even
    with a passport and a letter from my employer (large foreign sec. firm)
    I would not be able to open an account without some form of Japanese based
    ID. I did happen to have an old Japanese university student ID that
    had long since expired (and wasn’t supposed to have kept) and showed
    that. Bank account was granted, just in time for my first paycheque.

    Re: $10K limit. US nationals are required to report ON THEIR OWN any
    foreign held bank accounts to the US Dept of Treasury using form TD F 90-22.1
    that have a balance above $10K. Even if Japanese banks were to report
    them to the US, how are they supposed match up account names with US
    tax payers? Japanese banks don’t ask for foreign tax identification numbers.

    Last anecdote:

    I recent switched to an iPhone as well. During the purchase, I showed
    NO form of ID whatsoever. Don’t think it was due paying via credit card.

  • Yes but it is possible to have a valid status of residence that is not indicated on your gaijin card – i.e. you have not yet gotten around to updating the card. I was granted my license based on the renewed visa in my passport before updating my gaijin card. My passport was also used for them to calculate (using entry / departure stamps) that I had held my foreign license for the requisite period of time outside Japan (although I’m not sure if this is relevant if you are getting a Japanese license from scratch, rather than obtaining one based on your foreign license).

  • > Gaijin Cards are also only for people who have a Status of Residence.

    Perhaps nitpicking, but that is not technically true. City hall may issue cards stating that there is no status of residence (Japanese: 在留資格なし). I have had the pleasure of seeing such a card once.

    Nevertheless, your point is valid. Once the status is updated, a note would be made on the back of the card. Checking a passport would not give you any more pertinent information.

    Just tell them that you have already “passed” the “port” and to mind their own business. If they have a problem with that then they can contact immigrations.

    — Quite true. Correction taken. What I should have said is that GCs are for people have or HAVE HAD a SOR (i.e. tourists cannot get them; by definition they are not residents.) Starting afresh off the boat and going to the local ward office as a tourist with only a return plane ticket and a passport should not avail one of a GC. Having an expired resident-class SOR, however, might. Thanks for the correction.

  • http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/07/20/business/econwatch/entry5174302.shtml

    Debito, the poster in #15 is right. And there are a number of other internet articles about the American IRS crackdown on offshore accounts.

    Normally, an American is required to report accounts which, in sum, total $10,000 at any time during the previous year, by June 15 of the following year. Because of the crackdown, there has been an extension. I think October 15 is the date the form must be in Detroit.

    This mostly affects wealthy tax dodgers, but the law has been there for some time and is written to cover anybody who has $10,000 overseas. A multi-millionaire businessman shot himself in the head last month and the speculation is that it’s because he was involved with the UBS scandal and offshoring.


    I want to blog this one when I get a chance. Criminal syndicates are a dangerous business, bascially.

    My own feeling is it’s that the Japanese are just being nosy about who is depositing money in their banks. It is indeed “KYC”–know your customer.

    I don’t know why the driving school is doing KYC.

    — I never doubted the #15 poster was right. I just wanted substantiation (thanks to him and you for providing it). It’s just good internet business. The unsubstantiated claims flying around the Savoie Case this time have really pooped me.

  • Four and a half years ago I got a driver’s license through gaimen kirikae (外免切替). I had to show my gaijin card, foreign driver’s license, and passport. The passport was to demonstrate that I had lived in that country for at least 6 months after getting my license.

    About six months after that I got a 125cc scooter license through the police testing center (only 5 attempts! boy, do I have stories about that…).

    A month after that, I joined a Driving School (to upgrade to 普通二輪 motorcycle license) that didn’t officially have an English language program, but one of the instructors used to teach at a driving school in Singapore, so he pretty much walked me through everything. Now, I’m a bit fuzzy on the details, but I’m sure that at no time was I asked for a 外国人登録原票記載事項証明書 (Gaikokujin touroku genpyou kisai jikou shoumeisho). I did have to present my gaijin card and current driver’s license, but I do not recall having to provide my passport.

    After I first came to Japan it seemed like world+dog wanted my gaijin card for ID everything from Geo video, to vodafone, to….. Erll, now I know better. But I also don’t have that problem anymore as a driver’s license is seemingly accepted without question.


    In a related issue, I got an iphone in December last year. I had to show my driver’s license and that was it. A co-worker of mine, on the other hand, has been struggling to get one because a gaijin card isn’t enough for softbank. They wanted two additional forms of id if you were using a gaijin card — even health insurance card + gaijin card wasn’t enough. As another poster said, though, ‘Most of these “rules” really seem to be made up on the spot’. Maybe he’d have better luck trying another branch…

  • yes debito, its already happening at videos stores in osaka. they asked to copy my alien registration card and i refused so they finally just wrote down my info off my card.

  • again the double standards concerning id card checks. why do NJ get the third degree, but japanese dont. when my wife lived in america the only form of id that she was ever required to show anytime was her state drivers license. japan really feels like its becoming a big police state with all the checks and copying of private information.

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    Debito, here’s one more link about the IRS and their filing requirements, straight from the horse’s mouth:


    As other posters have said, they’re out to catch the big-fish money launderers and not Joe Expat — it’s not even really aimed at people who reside outside the US, who would have non-US bank accounts as a matter of course, but rather at US individuals or companies who are hiding investments and their returns. I imagine that catching a few really big tax cheats is worth the hassle of collecting and filing away the thousands of needless forms from regular folks who happen to have more than $10k in a foreign account and, like all the people who file Form 1040/2555 and exclude all of their sub-$80k foreign income, owe no US tax.

  • Debito,

    Non-Japanese without a valid status of residence are immediately deportable.

    A tourist has a status of residence ‘Temporary Visitor’ (短期滞在), and can obtain an alien registration card without problems. Tourists from several countries are permitted a stay of six months in Japan without leaving. The first landing permission is for 90 days, which must be extended at an immigration office. The extension will only be granted if the tourist has completed alien registration, since the Alien Registration Law requires registration when the period of stay will exceed 90 days.

    It is possible for a tourist to possess both 外国人登録証明書 and 登録原票記載事項証明書 but many banks refuse new accounts to anyone with Temporary Visitor status.

    — I know all this (see our HANDBOOK). But we’re talking about Gaijin Cards and how you procure those. And for those, you need a valid SOR at the beginning presented to a local ward office. After that SOR expires, yes, you are immediately deportable (if caught by the police), but you can still go and get a new GC at the ward office with your SOR listed as “nonexistent”. The ward office are not the police, and they will not deport you. It’s a loophole the GOJ is trying to close.

  • Sorry if, maybe, this has already been discussed on past threads
    but it is something that happened to me lately and I thought it was
    related to this thread.

    I just changed my phone carrier from Docomo to Softbank.

    They took “scanned” copies of:
    1) my passport main page
    2) my visa (on my passport)
    3) my gaikokujin card

    I argued for quite a while but in the end I gave them those documents…
    They also showed me the written “rules” of Softbank (it’s nowhere
    written that they may scan those data though) where it clearly states:
    passport and gaikokujin card are needed.

    I also asked how they keep those data and for how long.
    They are directly sent to Softbank headquarters and, even if you are
    not living in Japan anymore, they are kept for 10 years !
    It seems that you may not ask them to delete them at a point of time…

    Of course I pointed out several times that the gaikokujin card has all
    the informations required and there is no need for the passport, the visa
    data are also on the card. Their answer is that they need also the passport
    for a double check.

    I also had to pay my I-phone (around 70,000 yen) cash because my visa will expire
    before 15 months from now (even if I have the stamp that I’m waiting for
    the permanent visa and even if I’m here since 1996…).

    The shop staff pointed out, after my protests, that unfortunately for the
    blame of a few now the rules have been made more strict.

    I often feel like I am tourist here…

  • What strikes me as just bizarre is that for a country that prides itself, well at least to the outside world, that it is crime free and a safe society etc, why oh why is one treated as guilty until innocence is proven?
    By this i mean Japanese and NJs? Having to constantly go to my local council to get “official” stamps for my documentation to “prove” it is legitimate and me. My wife has to produce endless ‘forms’ herself when we apply for cards or similar.

    Hanko’s, GCs, stamp of “proof” on official paper from the council (can’t remember their names as each one is different) and so on.

    Bottom line is, no one is trusted. The GoJ trusts no one. On top of that it helps to maintain the social control and corruption of these ‘people’ that provide the aforementioned. If there was no need for such, then where would these poeple be employed (and open to “persuasion”), and how else is the GoJ able to subjugate its own citizens?

    My parents grew up in a very strict communist country, they had more “freedoms” than this, with respect to proof and documentation. And that is where no proof/ID meant instant incarceration too!

  • I don’t recall if the JP Bank took copies of my passport when I opened my Postal Saving account in 2013 (Yokohama). They may or may have not. What I know is that you cannot transfer money in and out of the account for an entire year (this even includes COD by Japan Post!). I guess that’s part of the anti-money laundering thing. I opened an account with Shinsei Bank (after Rakuten refused to open an online account for me since, at the time, I had only stayed in Japan for a little over a month and they required a 6-month stay as a minimum).

    I needed to open the JP Bank account since it was needed for my scholarship and for paying the rent, in any case. Getting the approval for automatically deducting the rent took almost two months. I guess I was lucky, though. According to a recent announcement in my dorm, new occupants have to wait for 6 months to start the process (meaning they have to transfer the money manually each month)!

  • Marco

    I’ve not come across that one. I transferred money almost immediately into my new JP account from my account in the UK, once opened. Only limit was the amount. If I transferred more than 1 million Yen i think it is (I could be wrong on this value, it may be 10mYen), then it goes via the Japan treasurer for approval, for said money laundering. It takes between 4-5days to be processed.

  • John K

    I have been told it’s only recent (within the last 2 years or so). Otherwise, it might only be applied to students?


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