I am sure that all you foreigners have been waiting with bated breath for the day when you can finally get your very own Basic Resident Registry Card (jumin kihon daicho kaado 住民基本台帳カード). Because if there is one thing you need in your wallet, it is one extra card. Luckily, come July 9th, foreigners will finally be able to get their very own card.

What is a Basic Resident Register Card?
The card is basically an electronic copy of your Basic Resident Register in card form. In addition to being a government issued ID, it acts as a key to the Resident Registry data stored on Juki-NET, the national resident data exchange run by the Japan Prefecture Association. It is the closest thing Japan has to a non-driver's license universal ID, although it is not compulsary for citizens to carry it or even have it made. This card is not intended to be a replacement for the new Resident Card (zairyu kaado 在留カード), which all foreign residents must carry on their person at all times.

Unlike, the Family Registry, the Resident Register has recently been made avaliable to foriegners living in Japan. Therefore, foriegners are now entitled to (some of) the same privilages as their local counterparts.

Old (above) and new (below) card designs

The card itself is issued by your local city office based on their current resident records. There are two types of cards, one with a photo and one without. The former is valid for transactions requiring IDs while the former can only be used as an access card.

The card lists your current address, but it can be changed after moving to a new locality provided you submit a Notification of Moving Out (tenshutsu todoke 転出届け) to your new muncipality.

Why Get a Basic Resident Register Card?
The new foreigner-only Resident Card, despite having a similar sounding English name, is not the same thing Basic Resident Register Card. The Resident Card is compulsory for all foreigners residing in Japan for non-tourism purposes and, although it is a government ID, it cannot be used for certain services as it does not contain an IC chip. 

So why should you line up to get a Basic Resident Register Card on top of your Resident Card?
  • E-tax-- If you own your own business or need to file a lot extra income, the National Tax Agency allows for e-filing and provides a tax break for filing on line. This, of course, requires a Basic Resident Register Card along with a compatible card reader .
  • E-government services-- The national government has been trying to modernize its services by promoting "e-government " initiatives wherein you can apply for various permits and services on-line. This, of course, requires an ID which is where the Basic Resident Register Card comes in. Like e-tax, this requires a compatible card reader.
  • Certificate printing-- Some prefectures and towns have begun partnering with convenience store operators in order to provide access to vital certifications like copies of your Basic Resident Registry, tax payment forms, Family Register copies, inkan seal registration copies and so on. If you have a Basic Resident Register Card, you can use the convenience store to print out copies of these vital certificates even when the city office is closed. 7-11 keeps a list of participating municipalities here.  
  • Simplified moving out procedures-- One of the biggest highlights of the Basic Resident Register Card is that it simplifies the moving out procedures one must follow when changing municipalities. If you have a card, you can do most of the moving procedures online or remotely (provided your municipality supports it) and you don't have to bother getting a Notification of Moving Out in person before changing addresses. 
While it is a pain in the butt having to get a new and separate card, a Basic Resident Register Card might end up being useful to the average foreigner, especially if they use a lot of govrenment services or want to file taxes on-line.

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