Naturalization is the process of gaining Japanese citizenship, and is a process embarked upon by many people due to the benefits of becoming a Japanese citizen.
Naturalization should not be confused with Permanent Residency, in which a non-Japanese person retains their original nationality or nationalities while gaining some special rights as a foreign resident in Japan.
Taking Japanese citizenship comes with many advantages, including the following:
- Voting rights
- No risk of repatriation
- No more need for special procedures required of foreign citizens
- No-visa entrance to over 150 countries
The Application Process
The application process for Naturalization is a notoriously laborious one.
Your application documents will eventually form a stack at least as high as that pictured here.
Should you choose to entrust your Naturalization application to us, the entire process should look something like this:
- Initial consultation
- Gathering documents and preparing application forms etc
- Document inspection at the Legal Affairs Bureau
- Inspection period (generally 8 months to 1 year)
- Application result
As long as your application is successful, we will then need to carry out the procedures in Japan and abroad to complete your Naturalization. This procedure varies from country to country, so please check with us if you are unsure of what it involves.
Below are details of the main requirements for Naturalization.
N.B. These are general requirements and do not necessarily reflect the reality of what may be needed for your specific application.
① Length of Stay in Japan
You must have been resident in Japan for at least 5 consecutive years.
If you have had a gap in your time resident here (e.g. leaving the country after a visa expiring and only coming back after gaining a new visa), this count of 5 years will start again from zero. Please also be aware that only time spent legally resident on a visa in Japan will be counted.
② Age Requirement
In general, Naturalization applicants must be at least 20 years old with the legal capacity to represent themselves.
In the case of family applications, minors can apply with their parents.
③ Japanese Language Ability
In general, applicants must be able to read and write roughly as well as a Japanese 3rd year elementary student (approx. 9yrs old).
As part of the application, you will be asked to submit a handwritten statement of why you want to gain Japanese citizenship. You may later be asked to read this aloud as part of an interview with the Legal Affairs Bureau.
④ Personal Conduct
As part of the inspection process examines your impact on Japanese society, you must be able to demonstrate that you have good personal conduct.
A criminal record (including even minor traffic offences) can have a major effect on your application, as can any issues with tax payments which you may not even realize are a problem.
If you are concerned about this or any other requirements affecting your application, please do not hesitate to contact us for a personal consultation.
⑤ Household Stability
You must be able to show that you can live a stable life in Japan. This may be through your own income or assets, or of that belonging to your spouse or family in Japan.
⑥ No Other Nationalities
Japan does not in general allow for possession of more than one nationality for Japanese citizens. Undergoing Naturalization will therefore mean renouncing any other nationalities you currently hold.
Can I still apply even though I'm often out of the country?
If you are away from Japan continuously for more than 3 months at any time, the count for the 5 year residency requirement will return to zero.
The same will happen if you are out of the country for a total of more than 150 days a year even if this is spread out over a long period.
I've been in Japan as a student for over 5 years. Can I apply?
Unfortunately not. If you are in this situation, you will need to change to a working visa or other visa following graduation and wait for another 3 years to apply.
※N.B. If you have been studying in Japan for 10 years or more, you may be able to apply.
Can I apply even if I am unemployed?
If you can demonstrate that you have sufficient income from your spouse, family or other sources, you may be able to apply.
Can I choose my name after Naturalization?
You can choose your name as long as it is either in hiragana, katakana or kanji officially designated for use in names (kanji on the 人名漢字表). However, if you are married, you will need to make sure that you and your spouse have the same surname.
For any queries about any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact us!
*Please be aware that the contents of this site are naturally subject to change, meaning that we cannot guarantee their accuracy at the point of access.*
*For up-to-date information, please contact us directly.*