Visas + Immigration

Getting a Japanese passport

Have you been living in Japan and would like to take advantage of a Japanese passport? Discover the application process, costs, and how to renew one.


By Ed Gould

Updated 8-4-2024

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), a Japan Passport (日本国旅券, Nihon-koku Ryoken) is one of the most sought-after in the world; currently first on their list (as of 2023). No wonder many expats living permanently in Japan (日本, Nihon/Nippon) want to obtain one.

If you want to apply for a Japanese passport, read on to find out whether you are eligible (e.g., citizenship status) and how to proceed by exploring the following topics:

Passports in Japan

Japanese passports (パスポート, pasupoto) are red booklets with gold lettering on the front cover, plus the Imperial Emblem of Japan (菊花紋章, kikuka monsho), also known as the Chrysanthemum Seal (菊紋, kikumon). Like in most countries, the first page contains personal information (in English and Japanese – 日本語, Nihon go), including:

  • Full name (姓名, sei mei)
  • Date of Birth (生年月日, sei nen gappi)
  • Gender (性別, seibetsu)
  • Unique passport number (旅券番号, ryoken bango)
  • Photo
  • Issuing authority and place
  • Issue and expiry date
A woman sits in her bed with a  suitcase in front of her. She hold her passport open while checking something on her smart phone.
Photo: recep-bg/Getty Images

Furthermore, these biometric identification documents are difficult to counterfeit as they also contain microchips with the following details:

  • Facial features of the holder
  • Fingerprints (指紋, shimon)
  • Iris data (虹彩, kosai)

They are issued by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA – 外務省, Gaimu Sho), the government (政府, seifu) department responsible for consulate affairs. Only Japanese citizens can apply for passports and the validity depends on your age:

  • Valid five years (children up to 16)
  • Valid ten years (adults 17 and up)

In addition to standard passports, Japan issues special ones for elected officials and public servants.

Other than diplomatic passports, there are also emergency passports. These tend to be authorized to Japanese citizens who are overseas when their biometric data has been corrupted, or their passports have been damaged or stolen, and they need to return home.

Benefits of getting a Japanese passport

When you become a Japanese passport holder, you will enjoy the following benefits:

  • The 2023 Henley Passport Index rank it as the most powerful in the world, based on the afforded freedom of movement
  • Visa-free access to 193 countries and territories
  • Securing the right to live and work in Japan indefinitely
  • No obligation to present your passport to the police as is required of foreign nationals living in the country
  • It is easier for family members of a Japanese national to gain citizenship and get their own passport

Who can get a passport in Japan?

Any permanent international resident can apply for a passport in Japan, once they have become naturalized (帰化, kika). In other words, the country does not have a banned nationality list.

Two mums (a couple) standing in a kitchen preparing a bottle, one hold their baby, both looking and laughing at their baby
Photo: Tayutau/Gettty Images

However, to be eligible overseas nationals must:

  • Have been permanent residents (永住者, eiju sha) in Japan for five years, continuously
  • Agree to become Japanese citizens (日本国民, Nihon Kokumin) (you would need to have some level of Japanese language proficiency)
  • Commit to respecting the Japanese constitution (日本国憲法, Nihon-koku Kempo)
  • Be of good moral character
  • Be financially stable
  • Be at least 20 years of age

You can learn more about the process by visiting the Immigration Services Agency of Japan (出入国在留管理庁, Shutsu-nyukoku Zairyu Kanri-Cho) online.

Being financially stable in Japan usually refers to being employed or owning a business. However, if your spouse (配偶者, haigu sha) earns enough or has a private income covering your cost of living, it may satisfy the Japanese authorities.

Furthermore, there is no set definition of what constitutes a reasonable salary or wage to be financially stable; it is judged on a case-to-case basis. For instance, you would need a higher income to live in an expensive city like Tokyo (東京) than in the rest of the country. It will also depend on whether you have dependents (扶養家族, fuyo kazoku) and, if so, how many you need to support.

How do you apply for a Japanese passport?

You can apply for a passport through the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. To do so, head to your nearest municipal office (役所, yakusho) (in Japanese), where you can obtain the application form (PDF) in person. You will need the following documentation:

  • Proof of your ID (身分証明書, mibun shomei sho) (e.g., original passport, driving license – 運転免許証, unten menkyo sho)
  • Your family register (戸籍, koseki), a system where each household of Japanese citizens registers marriages (婚姻, kon-in), divorces (離婚, rikon), births (出生, shussho), and deaths (死亡, shibo)
  • Evidence of your continued residency in Japan (e.g., residence card – 在留カード, zairyu kado – PDF)
  • A standard passport photo

Most municipal offices that handle passports will have self-service photo machines.

Osaka City Hall
Osaka City Hall (大阪市役所, Osaka Shi-yakusho) (Photo: bee32/Getty Images)

Japan is strict when it comes to legal matters. Therefore, if you have a criminal record (犯罪歴, hanzai reki) (including a spent conviction) or another stain on your ‘good moral character,’ your application might be rejected. You may want to consult a legal expert if you are in this situation.

Once you have submitted your application, you will receive a notification of the processing times. Generally, you should receive your passport within five working days, but at most two weeks. However, it may take a few months to receive your first passport when you apply for Japanese citizenship (日本国籍, Nihon kokuseki) with the Legal Affairs Bureau (法務局, Homu Kyoku) too.

Application process abroad

You can apply via the nearest Japanese Embassy (日本大使館, Nihon Taishi-kan) if you live temporarily outside of Japan. Of course, you also need to supply the following information:

  • Proof of ID (e.g., original passport)
  • Your current immigration status (e.g., visa or residency card)
  • A color passport photo of your head and shoulders measuring 35mm by 45mm

There are no fast-track options and you must collect your passport in person within six months of being issued.

Dual nationality and second passports in Japan

To apply for a Japanese passport, you must be a citizen according to the Nationality Law (国籍法, kokuseki ho) of Japan. Getting a second passport may not be possible as dual nationality is a complex and contentious issue.

You can obtain dual nationality (多重国籍, taju kokuseki – PDF) in the following circumstances:

  • By birth, if one of your parents has a foreign nationality
  • Through adoption (養子縁組, yoshi engumi), if one or both your parents are citizens of another country (e.g., Italy)
  • By acknowledgment (認知, ninchi) of paternity, if the parent is a foreign citizen (e.g., Canada)
  • If you are born abroad (e.g., United States), and a child of Japanese nationals
  • Through naturalization, if your country of origin does not require you to give up your citizenship
Crowds at Shinjuku crossing in Tokyo
Shinjuku (新宿) crossing in Tokyo (Photo: DuKai photographer/Getty Images)

However, a dual citizenship status is not indefinite. You have to choose between your nationalities:

  • Before your twenty-second birthday
  • Within two years of your twenty-second birthday, if you acquired dual citizenship on or after this age

If you do not make this choice officially, the government can revoke your Japanese citizenship automatically. Similarly, a Japanese national has to renounce their citizenship, when they become a citizen of another country.

Renewing or replacing a Japanese passport

The passport renewal process – and costs – are the same as when applying for a brand new one, except that you can use your current Japanese passport as a form of identification.

Note that your renewed passports will have a different passport number and an updated photo (which you submitted with your application). Of course, naturalized nationals do not have to reapply for their citizenship.

Lost or stolen passports in Japan

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan urges people to report a lost or stolen passport immediately to the police (警察, keisatsu). If it was issued overseas, you should also contact the relevant Japanese Embassy or Consulate (総領事館, So Ryoji-kan) General to inform them of the loss.

If required, they will issue a temporary visa that is valid until you receive your new passport.

How much do Japanese passports cost?

According to the MOFA website, the latest fees (in Japanese) are:

  • 10-year passports (adult, 17+): ¥16,000
  • 5-year passports (12–16): ¥11,000
  • 5-year children’s passports (under 12): ¥6,000

It costs the same to renew these passports.

Woman with Japanese passport in hand at airport, flight status electronic boards in background
Photo: linegold/Getty Images

In Japan, you can settle all consular fees online, including those for passport applications. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also has a handy video guide for people who want to pay by credit card.

Useful resources

Many of the online resources relating to passports are in Japanese. Consequently, the following links are for English-language sites only.

  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA – 外務省, Gaimu Sho) – the official website for all consular services
  • The Ministry of Justice (MOJ – 法務省, Homu Sho) – the government department to turn to for matters relating to Japanese citizenship
  • MOFA – list of Japanese embassies and consulates worldwide, with more detailed information in languages other than Japanese