Tips: Naturalization

As the requirements for permanent residency (PR) application have become stricter, we receive more inquires about naturalization than before. I would like to start a new series about naturalization. Today’s post is the first one.

Naturalization (帰化 kika): more common words for readers might be "getting passport", I guess.

Here are the very basic conditions you need to satisfy in order to apply for naturalization. 

very basic conditions

1. 5-years stay in Japan consecutively

Leaving Japan for vacation for a few months would be no problem, but not too often. Generally, working visa holders need to have at least 3-years working experience in Japan.


2. 20 years or older
Children under 20 could apply with parents.


3. Good behavior
No criminal records both in Japan and in your country. Small traffic rule violations could be ok with well explanation and apology, but not too often.


4. Financial capability (skill, career, or assets) for living independently as family
The total amount of family income is taken into consideration. Those under Seikatsu hogo have little chance.


5. Being able to give up your current nationality
Japan basically does not allow dual nationality. If your country does not allow you to renounce your nationality, special consideration might be given.
Please remember giving up your current nationality means you might need visa as a foreigner in order to stay in your home country.


6. Not having been involved in any activities to destroy the Constitution of Japan or the Japanese government
No chance for boryokudan or terrorists, for example.


7. Japanese language ability
You need to have basic conversation skill, and writing/reading ability of at least 2nd grader level including kanji. You will talk with the officer in Japanese and all the documents given to you are written in Japanese. 

general steps to follow for naturalization application

1. Make an appointment for consultation
Call Regional Legal Affairs Bureau (Homukyoku) in your area.
Naturalization is not handled by Immigration but by Houmukyoku.
It is kind of hard to make an appointment in Tokyo area because it is always crowded. And Homukyoku is open only during daytime on weekdays.


2. Get specific information about requirements at the consultation
Requirements differ depending on applicant's nationality and situations. And slightly different at each local bureau: for example, some require a Japanese test, others not.
After getting the list of requirements given at Homukyoku, visit our office. We will guide you in collecting your documents.


3. Collect documents from your country and in Japan
Documents from your country need to be with Japanese translation. You need to collect lots of documents such as parents' marriage certificate, siblings' birth certificates and more.

We will help you with collecting your documents and translating them into Japanese as necessary. Then, we will prepare quite a few papers based on the documents you have collected. We generally need about 2 to 3 months to finish documentation.


4. Make an appointment at Homukyoku
Visit Homukyoku again with your documents. You might be requested to prepare additional documents and to visit again. We do our best to have your documents received at your first try.


5. Wait for the result
After receiving your documents, Homukyoku will start their investigation. They usually visit your residence and workplace without notice. They might call you about your documents, of course, in Japanese.
Procedure generally takes more than 1 year. They might ask for additional documents along the way. You need to report Homukyoku when there any changes in your situations. For example, address changes, residence card renewal, workplace changes, leaving and returning to Japan, etc.
It might be hard to handle everything by yourself. We will help you until you get the result. 


7 very basic requirements are mentined above.

There are some exceptions regarding the requirements below:
◆ Residence: 5-years stay in Japan consecutively
◆ Age: 20 years or older
◆ Financial: Financial capability

Exceptions (1)
① If you are living in Japan and are one of the below, you don’t need to meet the requirement “Residence.”
② A child of an ex-Japanese (excluding an adopted child) who has been living in Japan for 3 years or longer consecutively.
③ A person who is born in Japan and who has been living in Japan for 3 years or longer consecutively.
④ A person whose parent (excluding an adoptive parent) was born in Japan.
⑤ A person who has been living in Japan for 10 years or longer.

Exceptions (2)
A spouse of a Japanese doesn’t have to meet requirements “Residence” or “Age;”
① if you have been living in Japan for 3 years or longer and if you are currently living in Japan, or
② if you have been married with a Japanese for 3 years or longer and if you have been living in Japan for a year or longer.

Exceptions (3)
If you are one of the blow, you don’t have to meet the requirements “Residence” or “Age” or “Financial.”
① A child of a Japanese (excluding an adopted child) who is currently living in Japan
② An adopted child of a Japanese who has been living in Japan for a year or longer and who was a minor at the time of adoption
③ A person who has lost his/her Japanese nationality and who is now living in Japan
④ A person without any nationality who was born in Japan and who has been living in Japan for 3 years or longer since birth.


Complicated, isn’t it? If you are not sure, please contact us.


The requirement for the length of living in Japan is shorter than permanent residency application. You need to submit documents regarding tax, health insurance and pension; but usually for the past 1 year instead of for 3 or 5 years as in PR application.

So, there might be some readers who think it is easier to get.

But actually, it is not. You need to submit a lot more documents than PR application. And the assessment / investigation is severer. And who knows when Homukyoku will start asking for tax documents for longer period?

Getting a new nationality other than your own is a big deal. Remember that Japan doesn’t allow dual nationality in principle. You need to give up your current nationality if you become a Japanese national by naturalization.
Don't do it without deep consideration.

However, after thinking well enough and you still want to try, please contact us. We are happy to help you.

Thank you for reading.