If you have lived in Japan for at least 5 years, you can naturalize and become a Japanese citizen. The procedure itself is free, but it is important to note that there are a large number of documents to submit and it takes more than a year to receive the results from the date of application.
Basic knowledge of naturalization in Japan
To become a naturalized citizen of Japan, you must meet the requirements set forth in the Nationality Law and have your previous residency status verified by the Legal Affairs Bureau. The basics of the naturalization procedure (application for permission to naturalize) are as follows.
Meet the legal requirements
The legal requirements for applying for a naturalization permit are divided into six major requirements. At the time of application, you must submit documentation from Japan and abroad to prove your residency status, which is the criterion for approval or rejection.
▼Address Requirements (5.1.1 of the Nationality Act)
Have a status of residence and have lived legally in the country for more than 5 years.
▼Ability requirements (5.1.2 of the Nationality Act)
Be at least 18 years of age (* for applications submitted on or after April 1, 2022), be considered an adult under Japanese law, and be capable of making informed decisions and acting independently.
▼Requirement of good conduct (5.1.3 of the Nationality Act)
Have no criminal record, pay taxes and social security contributions in full, and otherwise behave well in accordance with social customs.
▼Living conditions (5.1.4 of the Nationality Act)
Have assets and skills that allow you to earn your own living as a household (if married, with your spouse) without receiving welfare.
▼Conditions for avoiding dual citizenship (5.1.5 of the Nationality Act)
When you acquire Japanese citizenship through naturalization, you lose your previous citizenship
▼Condition of Compliance with the Constitution (5.1.6 of the Nationality Act)
No evidence was found of actions such as involvement with anti-social forces or an attempt to violently overthrow the Japanese government.
Approval/denial depends on review of documents submitted
Whether or not the legal requirements are met is at the discretion of the Legal Affairs Bureau staff. It is a system that grants approval if it is determined on a case-by-case basis that the naturalization applicant’s situation can be fully assessed and that they can continue to live stably in Japan.
[Example 1] Regarding spouse address requirements
The law requires that you have lived in Japan for at least 5 years, but your spouse can receive permission even if they have only lived in Japan for about 3 years.
[Example 2] Payment Status of Taxes and Social Security Contributions
In principle, late payments are not disregarded, but if payment is completed by the time you apply for naturalization, other factors may determine that the naturalization application can be approved.
There is no charge for applying for a naturalization permit, but there is a certain fee for collecting the documents to be submitted. The total cost is several thousand yen if you apply for up to two people at the same time.
By comparison, if you apply for a permanent residence permit without changing your citizenship, the application fee alone is 8,000 yen.
Documents required for naturalization application
The documents required for the naturalization application range from your current residence card to documents issued in your home country that prove your family relations. Beyond that, there is no single list of documents that is the same for every applicant.
List of documents is determined individually in the preliminary consultation
Since the approval of naturalization is a comprehensive assessment of each person’s circumstances, it is necessary to submit documentation for all circumstances and factors that should be considered in each case. Therefore, the applicant is strongly advised to contact the Legal Affairs Bureau in advance, where they can explain their situation and receive information about the required documents.
Also, if you contact an administrative scrivener or other private organization to assist you with the naturalization process, they can tell you to some extent exactly what you need.
Basic submission documents
The following is just an example of documentation that must be submitted with a naturalization application.
- A set of application documents (determined by the Office of Legal Affairs Bureau)
- Residence card and passport
- A copy of the family register (certificate of all affairs)
- Certification of information recorded on foreign resident registration file
- Birth Certificate
▼Documents ordered from home country
- Citizenship certificate
- Family relations certificate (various certificates in China, admission-related certificates in South Korea, etc.)
- Consular certificate of revocation of citizenship
▼Documents that can be issued in Japan*
- Certificate of asset status (certificate of deposit, etc.)
- Certificate of employment
- Final tax return, Certificate of income and withholding tax
- Tax payment certificate for the previous year
* If you are a company owner or sole proprietor, you will need more documents to prove your business and business license.
The procedure for applying for naturalization is generally as follows. It often takes more than a year in total. It can take much longer if you do not make sure that the documents are well prepared and there are no incomplete/missing documents before you submit the application.
- Consultation before the actual application (2 to 3 times in total)
- Submission of the application documents
- Interview (2 to 3 months after 2.; the duration of the interview is about 1 hour)
- Examination (8 to 10 months after 3.)
- Notification of the results of the application
Conclusion │ The steps to apply for naturalization approval vary depending on the individual
When applying for naturalization in Japan, all the applicant’s circumstances, such as family structure and residence status, are examined. The most important requirement is that you have been a resident of Japan for at least 5 years, that you meet the requirements for good behavior, and that you can continue to work stably and earn an income.
In addition to the Ministry of Justice, you can also contact an administrative scrivener and other private assistance organizations to help you achieve naturalization in a shorter time.