Life In Japan: Renewing Your Passport

So you’ve been living in Japan for a while, enjoying all the sights and flavors of your new life.  You’ve been enjoying it so much that you’ve forgotten about the status of your passport. Oh no, it’s expired!

Don’t worry, the secret police coming to arrest you, so long as your visa is still valid. If your passport has expired (or is going to be expiring soon) then you’ll need to get it renewed. The process is a little complicated, like any kind of bureaucratic work, but it can be done without setting foot inside the US embassy. For those living in 田舎 (Inaka, the country side), this is a relief.

What you’ll need

  • Valid or expired passport (undamaged and issued within the past 15 years)
  • Form DS-82
  • A Passport photo (5cm x 5cm)
  • Kokusai Yubin Kawase
  • 2 Letter Pack Envelopes

What you’ll do

U.S. Passport Renewal Form DS-82
Passport Renewal Form DS-82

First, fill out the DS-82 form, and attach your photo to the front, stapling it on the guides provided.

Next, you will need to pay for the whole process, $110 in total, so you will need to prepare what is called a 国際郵便為替 (Kokusai Yubin Kawase) addressed to:

“U.S. Embassy Tokyo”
Unit 9800, Box 114 APO AP 96303-0114, USA

You can get this payment made at any large Japanese post office. The paperwork takes time, but hopefully you’ll have some friendly post office staff to help out. It took me about 45 minutes to complete the payment, but I made a mistake on one of the forms and had to rewrite it.

Finally, before mailing everything off, you’ll want to make a photocopy of your current passport, just in case. This will come in handy if you need to show proof of your citizenship or visa status (even though in most cases your resident card will be a better choice).

Put everything into one of your LetterPack 500 envelopes and address it to your local embassy office, then address the other to yourself. Fold the self-addressed envelope and place it inside the envelope address to the embassy. The embassy will use this to send your new passport to you.

LetterPack 500 Envelope
LetterPack 500 Envelope

In a few weeks your new passport should arrive. It took 4 weeks for me, but I’ve heard stories of it taking longer for some people.

2 thoughts on “Life In Japan: Renewing Your Passport”

  1. Very good info and seems right up-to-date (on 25 June 2013.) I read on another site that you shouldn’t staple your photo to the application paper, despite being told to do so in the directions on the official websites.
    I also read on a blog that Japan Post will not be happy for you to use LP500 for mailing a passport, but the people who have done so said that they had zero problems. There is a little removable seal on the LP500 that some folks recommend removing from BOTH envelopes before posting. Pointing this place out on the graphic would help folks who can’t read Japanese very well.
    Really helpful and much appreciated!

    1. Thanks for the info Adam!
      I too was worried about the staples, but the photo will cropped later. A standard passport sized photo has a few extra millimeters of buffer space.

      The LP500 is what the US Embassy recommends, probably because it is the most secure, is prepaid and comes with tracking. You are right, those labels should be removed.

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