Little known differences between Certificate of Eligibility and Residence Card


Foreigners need various documents to reside in Japan, including a certificate of eligibility and a residence card.

Both documents contain the word “Residence" in their names, so it is not uncommon for people not to understand the difference between the two documents.

This article explains the differences between the Certificate of Eligibility and the Resident Card.

What is a Certificate of Eligibility?

A Certificate of Eligibility is a document for foreigners entering Japan with a residence status other than “temporary visitor”.

Based on the foreigner’s application, the Ministry of Justice verifies the appropriateness of the landing conditions with the residence status and, as a result of the verification, proves that the applicant meets the requirements.

To further break down the function of the eligibility certificate, it is a document that proves that the foreigner is likely to obtain a residence status such as work or study after entering Japan.

A certificate of eligibility is issued, for example, issued when a company hires a foreign national living abroad as an employee in Japan or when a Japanese citizen invites their spouse who lives abroad.

What is a residence card?

A residence card is a certificate issued to foreign nationals residing in Japan for a medium to long term.

Possession of a residence card proves that the foreign national is properly residing in Japan.

A residence card contains personal information such as the name, date of birth, gender, nationality, and place of residence of the foreign national holding the card. If you are over 16 years old, a photo of your face is also included.

It also lists the residence status, length of stay, work permit, etc., so that the foreign national’s residence information can be verified.

If the information on the residence card changes, the holder must inform the authorities of the change.

In addition, foreigners who have a residence card must always carry it with them.

Difference between a certificate of eligibility and a residence card

The difference between a Certificate of Eligibility and a Residence Card is whether it is a document required upon entry into Japan or after entry into Japan.

A Certificate of Eligibility is a document that certifies that you meet the requirements for entry into Japan.

A residence card is a document that proves the residence status of a foreigner in Japan. Thus, it is a necessary document to be able to stay in Japan after entering the country.

Generally, you do not need a certificate of eligibility after entering Japan. However, you must always carry your residence card with you when you are in Japan.