What to expect upon arrival in Tokyo as a foreign worker


So you have your valid passport, working visa, COE (certificate of eligibility), flight tickets and ready to come to Japan but you’re still anxious on what to expect upon arriving since you won’t be coming as a tourist anymore. Let me share my experience.

If you’ve been to Japan before then you’re probably familiar with their culture, policies and procedures already but if you’re visiting for the first time I can give you some tips and advice on how to get around in Tokyo so do follow our blog.

Just like in any other country, you will have to go through immigration once you arrived at the airport. Simply present your passport and arrival forms to the immigration officer. Since you will be working in Japan, your COE will be attached to your passport together with the working visa. Once they see this, the officer will issue you a zairyu card or residence card. Zairyu card is issued for people who will stay in Japan for an extended period of time. It will contain information such as your name, birth date, gender, nationality/region, status of residence, address, period of stay, and if you can work or not. It is advisable to enter Japan through Narita, Haneda or Kansai airport because these airports can issue zairyu card on the spot and no need to wait or to send an application. My zairyu card took only 10 mins to finish and I was really surprised at how quick it was. In the Philippines applying for important documents such as ID’s will take few days or even weeks before you can receive it. It was really a big wow moment right away for me and you can see how efficient the Japanese system really are.

A sample of Zairyu Card (Residence Card)
photo taken from Imigration Bureau of Japan website

After receiving the zairyu card, the immigration officer will inform you to register your address if you already have to the local ward office and it should be done within 14 days. You should also take note that you cannot register any temporary accommodation such as hotels, AirBnB or hostels. In my case, I had to stay at a friend’s place for a few days and once I moved and settled in to my house, I registered my address to the local ward office the following day.

Now that you have your zairyu card and visa stamp inside your passport, you can now enter Japan. If you still don’t have any Yen (local currency), you can find some currency exchange shops inside the airport. 

Once you have the money, you should buy an IC card which is very important in my opinion. IC cards are rechargeable cards that can be used to pay for transportations like bus and trains by just tapping your card to the sensors. It can also be used in some vendo machines, restaurants, and convenience stores. However, you should take note that if you’re going to use the Skyliner from Narita to downtown Tokyo then you need to also buy the Skyliner ticket.

Also, another thing to take note that taking a taxi in Japan is very expensive so it would be best to arrive in Japan at least early in the day. Train stations close around midnight and opens around 5 AM.

Pasmo IC Card

Next thing that I recommend to buy at the airport is a data SIM card especially if you’re traveling alone. Google maps will be your best friend when traveling in Japan so mobile data is highly recommended. Data sim cards have several options of bandwidth size and duration but take note that these are just SIM cards with data and it has no local number so you won’t be able to do outgoing or incoming calls.

That’s it! It should cover much the basics of what to expect upon arrival to Tokyo.

Night life at Shinjuku
Night life at Shinjuku

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