In addition to other items in our growing visa guide, you will probably sometimes find yourself in need of a re-entry permit. This is required if you want to leave the country for a holiday, etc. and then return. Why you need one with a valid visa is anyone's guess, but if you don't bother getting one, your hard-won working or student visa will be voided when you return.
- Take your passport and gaijin card to your prefectural office (most likely the capital of your prefecture, and/or in Tokyo). Get there early. Although the wait is nothing like for the visa (it's a different desk), it feels great to get it done quickly and sucks to have to wait until after lunch.
- Like with so many things, you have to exchange the cash payment for stamps before sticking it to the forms. there will be a little window, machine or a cafe in the office building where you can do this.
- Fill out the form. Here is an electronic version you can print (A4 only) and take with you. Hand it in with your passport, gaijin card and stamps. (NB may need to take a ticket and wait for your number to be called. For the re-entry permit, press the 再入国許可 (sainyuukoku kyoka), "Re-entry Permit" button).
- Wait. Usually takes 15-minutes to an hour.
They may then give you an disembarkation/arrival card for when you leave and return to the country. It's just a simple two-part form for the airport staff. If they don't give you one, you'll get one at the airport.
- Go home/on holiday!
Both types will last for the same duration as your visa (never longer) from the time when you apply. In other words, if you get a 3-year visa and re-entry permit in July but your old visa runs out in August, whilst the visa will be valid for three years from August, the permit will be valid for three years from July (starts immediately).