My Number Card for Foreigners in Japan: A Quick Start Guide

My Number Card for Foreigners in Japan: A Quick Start Guide

Is there a My Number Card for foreigners in Japan? What are MyNa Points (shopping points)? How do I apply for a plastic My Number Card in English? And many more of your frequently asked questions. 

If you've newly arrived in Japan or plan to move to Japan soon, or if you've been putting off making your My Number Card, this quick start guide on Japan's My Number System is for you. 

What is My Number and the My Number System? 

Launched in 2015, the My Number System (マイナンバー制度 = mai namba seido) aims to streamline and digitize administrative procedures for residents by reducing paperwork and linking information among agencies. 

Also referred to as kojin bango = 個人番号  (Individual Number), the My Number System assigns a unique 12 digits to all residents in Japan who have a resident record (住民票 = jyuminhyo)

Residents and local and central governments use the 12-digit number and accompanying plastic ID card (with IC chip) for various social security and tax procedures.

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What's the difference between My Number, My Number Card, My Number notification card, and Individual Number Notice? 

My Number refers to the unique 12-digits assigned to each resident of Japan. My Number Card refers to the plastic ID card that contains the individual's photo, name, address, birth date, and place of residence. My Number notification card is the format in which residents (before May 25, 2020) received notice of their assigned individual number (replaced by the Individual Number Notice post-May 25, 2020). 

My number card sample

Image. My Number Card sample, front and back, from Kobe City official website.

Theoretically, all residents have been issued a My Number notification card (マイナンバー通知カード = mai namba tsuuchi caado) or an Individual Number Notice informing them of their assigned 12-digit My Number. However, less than half of Japan's residents have applied for the plastic My Number Card

My Number Card Penetration

Image. Nationwide, the adoption rate of plastic My Number Cards reached 44%, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. Report published May 1, 2022. 

Is there a My Number Card for foreigners in Japan? 

All foreigners in Japan who plan to stay longer than 3 months can obtain a My Number Card. (Note: Temporary visitors, diplomats, and officials are not assigned a 12-digit number during their stay.) 

When foreigners register for the first time at their local ward office, they are issued an individual 12-digit sequence (My Number) that will remain the same their entire life. 

This 12-digit number (Individual Number Notice) will be sent via registered mail to their domicile a few weeks after applying for a residence certificate. 

If the individual is not at home when the registered mail arrives, there will be a notice in the mailbox regarding the undelivered mail. Follow the instructions on the notice and have the mail redelivered. Or pick up the mail at the post office. 

Having a 12-digit number assigned to you does not yet mean you are a My Number Card holder. You must apply for the plastic My Number Card using the digits assigned to you through your Individual Number Notice.  

How do I benefit from a plastic My Number Card? 

The plastic My Number Card streamlines various paperwork processes for residents of Japan. My Number Card holders can use the card to perform the following activities: 

  1. Apply online to various official procedures through the MyNa Portal and MyNa app. 

  2. Access personal social security accounts (e.g., Japan Pension Service) through MyNa Portal.

  3. Obtain a copy of their resident certificate or a seal registration certificate at convenience stores.

  4. File their taxes online. 

  5. Use as official ID in cases where personal identification is required.

  6. Use to verify one's 12-digit My Number.

  7. Use to confirm tax and social security information. 

  8. Use the card in place of their health insurance certificate (in municipalities and locales that have adopted such use).

  9. Use in conjunction with the government's COVID-19 vaccination app to show vaccination status.

  10. Get MyNa (short for "My Number") points when fulfilling campaign conditions.

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What are MyNa points (My Number points)? How do I get them? 

MyNa points (My Number points) refer to the government's incentive campaign in 2020 to speed up the adoption and penetration rate of plastic My Number Cards. 

The first campaign awarded 5,000 points (¥5,000 equivalent) for completing the following steps: 

  1. Applying and receiving a plastic My Number Card.

  2. Connecting the My Number Card to a cashless payment system.

  3. Spending ¥20,000 using the cashless payment system. 

Individuals who completed these actions received 5,000 points to the cashless payment system connected to their My Number Card. 

The second MyNa campaign includes further incentives for using My Number Card as one's health insurance card (7500 points) and connecting a bank account to one's My Number Card (7500 points). Details are available in English here.  

Video. “Maina point 20,000 yen in Japan (2022) Latest information in English” by How to Live in Japan.

What methods are available for applying for a plastic My Number Card? 

You can apply for a plastic My Number Card using any of the following 4 methods: 

  1. Smartphone

  2. Personal computer

  3. Postal mail

  4. Designated photo booth

I don't read Japanese. How do I apply for a plastic My Number Card in English?

If you can't read Japanese, the easiest method is by postal mail because the application form is provided in English. Furthermore, the government's Individual Number Card site (My Number Card site) provides detailed steps in English on how to apply for a plastic Number Card using the postal method. 

See the next section for how to apply for a My Number Card in English via postal mail. 

How do I apply for My Number Card by postal mail?

If you can't read Japanese, the easiest method for applying for a plastic My Number Card for foreigners is by postal mail. Here's a step-by-step breakdown so you can apply for your plastic My Number Card even if you don't read Japanese. 

Step 1. Download and print the required documents. 

You will want to download the Individual Number issuance application form (English PDF) and the template provided for sending in the form (Japanese PDF).

Step 2. Fill out the application in English. 

Go here for an explanation of the fields. 

Step 3. Attach an ID photo to the application. 

Check that your photo meets spec

Step 4. Assemble the envelope. 

On the outside of the envelope, there is a list of checkboxes. Add a checkmark to each of the checkboxes to confirm (a) that you have added an accurate photo within the envelope, (b) that you have filled in all required information, (c) that you have not included anything else within the envelope. Write your return address in the 住所 field and your full name in the 氏名 field on the envelope.

Step 5. Mail your application. 

You will not need to affix a stamp. 

What happens after applying for My Number Card? How do I get it?

One month after sending in your application form, you will receive a notice from your local ward office informing you that your plastic My Number Card is ready. 

You must pick up the card by the deadline listed on the notice. 

To pick up your card, bring the following items: 

  • The notice informing you that the plastic My Number Card was ready.

  • One of the following to use as ID: Basic Resident Registration Card (must have a photo), a driver's license, a certificate of driving history (issued on or after April 1, 2012), a passport, a physical disability certificate, a mental disability certificate, a rehabilitation certificate, a resident card, a special permanent resident certificate, a landing permit for temporary refuge, or a permit for provisional stay).

After verifying your ID at the counter, you must assign a pin code and a password that will be connected to your My Number Card. 

English language resources for My Number Card for foreign residents in Japan

  • Individual Number Card (English/Japanese). Gov site which provides information related to applying for My Number Card. The site is also available in Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and Portuguese.

  • MyNa Portal (English/Japanese). Gov site where you can use your My Number Card to access various government services. 

  • Frequently Asked Questions about My Number Card (English).

  • English language hotline: 0120-0178-27 or 0570-064-738 (call charges apply).

Frequently asked questions

What is a My Number Card?

A My Number Card is a plastic card with an IC chip that contains a unique 12-digit number assigned to each resident of Japan. The card displays your name, address, date of birth, sex, and your 12-digit My Number.

Who can apply for a My Number Card?

Both Japanese citizens and foreigners who have a resident record in Japan can apply for a My Number Card. The card is free of charge to issue for the first time.

How can foreigners obtain a My Number Card in Japan?

Foreigners can obtain a My Number Card by applying for it after they have completed their resident registration in Japan. The "Notice of My Number" will be sent by mail to foreigners after completing the registration.

What is the purpose of the My Number Card?

The My Number Card is helpful for a convenient life in Japan. It is used for various administrative procedures and is becoming increasingly important for daily life in Japan.

Is it necessary to get a My Number Card?

While it's not mandatory to have a My Number Card, the Japanese government encourages residents to get one. The card is becoming increasingly integrated into various systems and services in Japan, making life more convenient for those who have it.

In closing

Despite the clear advantages, less than half of Japan's residents have applied for the plastic My Number Card. This suggests a need for greater awareness and understanding of the system, particularly among foreigners who may face language barriers.

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