What You Should Know when Changing Address in Japan
I was not aware that changing residential address here in Japan on your own involves multitude of appointments, documents and cash! When I was new at my work place, there was a point that I requested to transfer an apartment after merely 2 months of staying in the house that we first got. I began to be impatient as the weeks passed by and nothing was happening, I felt my request was being overlooked. So I consistently reminded the person-in-charge about my appeal, that maybe made them displeased on me.
Way back in the Philippines, with my family (until I was in high school) and by myself (when I started university until I started to work) have been to different residences countless times. So I am used to the process of packing-moving-unpacking or say it =nomad. I was used to the usual course; finding an apartment or house, inquire, then if vacant pay the dues and move. That’s it. So I thought, it is the same in Japan and all over the world.
What made me not aware of the meticulous process of moving here in Japan, is because as a JPEPA candidate the employer prepares everything (apartment and basic appliances). So after studying at the training center, a jpepa employee just transfers to the prepared apartment and start to work/study. There are some documents needed but a jpepa candidate is commonly assisted all the way. I simply signed the prepared documents (will you even bother to read a contract written in Japanese, as you just started learning their abc’s). So the same happened when my request to transfer to another apartment took place, I just signed another contract that was brought to me. They even helped me carry and transfer my things, so transferring never caused me a single penny aside from the basic stuff that I needed to purchase. So I thought that was it.
Not when I finally needed to move on my own with my husband. I was stunned how things were done, so here it is:
• Talk to your boss about your plans
• Start looking for a new place, do this as early as 2～３ months before the scheduled move. Unlike in the Philippines it is common that you need to look on your own by visiting the target area you want to live and look for a vacant place. Here in Japan, it is very systematic. Rental spaces are advertised online by certain real estate companies, or visit any fudousan (不動産）to inquire. They will present available options depending on your budget and your specifications (near the market/school/station, city center, specific area, number of rooms, type of building, etc.,).
• The allotted time will allow you to properly find a good place, request for leave / off on your job. Most of the time rental spaces need a week or so for them to do some repairs and clean the place. In Japan it is hard to find a good place around February～April because as they said this is a peak months of moving.
• Once you have chosen a place, the salesman will accompany you for a house visit. So you can assess whether you will like the place or not.
• Visit the city office[ Shiyakusho (市役所）] or town office [ Yakuba (役場）] and request for a moving out permit or Tenshutsu Todoke (転出届）. (Bring also some of your valid I.D and inkan)
• Once you have already transferred, you need to submit the moving out permit to the city office of your new residence. If you transferred in a residence under the same city office, you still need to visit the city office to update the address written on your residence card （在留カード）. Do this as soon as possible and do not delay it to more than 14 days
• In the city office, ask assistance for change of address on your nenkin (pension) and kenkohouken (health insurance).
• Visit any Japan post office near your place, apply for change of address. This is necessary, so that all the mails that are still addressed to your previous address will no longer be delivered to that old address, instead it will be mailed to your current address. Bring valid I.D or your updated residence card.
• If you have access online and can manipulate Japanese website, then change the registered address on your mobile phone company, credit card and bank record. If not, then visit the shops or banks you are connected with.
• During the signing of contract of new apartment, you will not eventually meet the owner but only the salesmen. Unlike in the Philippines most of the time the requirement is few months of deposit. Here in Japan aside from the deposit, there will be huge amount of advance payments (cleaning fee, insurance fee for fire and other disaster, sometimes even tatami floor replacement when you leave). And when you happen to transfer to a house with more than one bedroom, other rooms will no longer have a heater/air-conditioner and light so you need to purchase and ask for the installation service.
• During the transfer of things, if you cannot do it alone and some huge things are needed to be moved (Japan is very strict about huge things loaded in vehicles that are not used for loading big things, this is covered under Japan’s driving law. You cannot just put and tie your bed on top of your car and transfer it). The easiest way is to contact a company that provides moving assisstance (引っ越しサービス） though it is quite expensive, the service is good.
• Trivia: as part of Japanese culture when you move to a new place: if you have neighbors, a proper manner would be informing them about your presence (あいさつ”aisatsu”). Introduce yourself and bring at least a small token (餞別”senbetsu”) that you can give. That doesn’t mean to all your adjacent neighbors but as much as possible the one on the left, right side of your house or sometimes above and below. haha!
(for ideas about items you can give to your new neighbors, try to visit gift shops or department store. Inquire about presents to give during moving and they will have different ideas and will also pack it according to your budget. A sample would be a as simple as a piece of hand towel or hand soap put it in a good paper bag or wrap it properly)