Leaving Japan: Your Moving-Out Checklist
Time to say good-bye. Want to accomplish your move without losing your cool or forgetting an essential step?
Aside from packing up personal belongings, there are regulations and procedures to take care of when leaving Japan.
Here’s a checklist to help you navigate this stressful period with a little more ease and grace.
1. Cancel your lease.
Call your real estate agent and inform them of your upcoming departure as soon as possible. Some agencies require up to 2 months’ advance notice. Avoid paying additional rental fees by getting this chore done and over with first.
2. Cancel your phone contract & Internet.
Most phone and Internet contracts require a 1-month notice. If you want to avoid paying for an extra month of service that you won’t be around to use, make sure to notify the phone and Internet companies that you are signed up with.
3. Notify the utility companies.
For some housing units, utilities are bundled within the lease. In which case, letting your real estate agent know of your upcoming departure will be the same as canceling your utilities. However, if you signed separate contracts for any of your utilities, you will need to let them know your move-out date.
4. Pack and ship stuff home.
Japan Post Office’s international parcel post service allows you to send up to 30 kg per box with a 10 percent discount for 10 to 49 parcels. Other options include Yamato Transport’s International Moving Service. Read more about the best ways of shipping items home in this TokyoMate article.
5. Get rid of the rest.
Whatever you don’t intend to bring home with you will need to be recycled or disposed of. For well-cared-for items, consider Craigslist, Book-Off, Hard-Off, or other second-hand stores. For large appliances and furniture that you were unable to sell, use this website for city recycling instructions.
6. Appoint a tax representative.
The yearly resident tax bill (juminzei) is typically sent out in June or July. If you leave before paying this bill, you will need to appoint a tax representative to settle this bill for you. Your tax representative can be a non-Japanese friend or colleague, but it’s best if they read and write Japanese at a business level.
7. Setup international mail forwarding.
The Japan Postal Service does not provide international mail forwarding. Instead, private companies offer this service. We recommend TokyoMate Mail, which digitizes each piece of mail you receive, allowing you to open and process your Japanese mail from anywhere in the world.
8. Cancel your bank account.
For most bank accounts, you will need to close the account in-person at the bank counter. Check each bank’s official guidance on the topic. To process the bank-closing paperwork, you will need to bring your passbook, your bank card, hanko, and ID.
9. Notify city office of your move.
Up to two weeks before your departure date, notify your city office of your upcoming move (tenshutsu todoke). Bring along proof of departure when filing this notice (e.g., your travel itinerary/plane ticket) and an ID (e.g., passport, residence card, My Number card).
10. Cancel health insurance.
After filing your move-out notice (tenshutsu todoke) at city office, head to the National Health Insurance window and turn in your health insurance card and settle your health insurance bills.
11. Withdraw from the pension program.
If you have been enrolled in Japan’s pension program for over 6 months, you can file paperwork (“Application for the Lump-sum Withdrawal Payments”) to request a refund. The National Pension Office window is often located within your city office building, so you can take care of this step at the same time as the steps listed above. The maximum amount that can be withdrawn is up to 36 months. Learn more about lump-sum withdrawals in this article (English).
12. Cancel your My Number card at City Office.
You will need to cancel your My Number card before leaving Japan. This procedure is handled at the city office and can also be done on the day you file your move-out notice. Interesting fact: If you return to Japan, the same number will be issued to you again.
13. Lastly, turn in your residence card at the airport.
At the airport, submit your residence card to the immigration officer at passport control.
All done, and safe travels! Following this step-by-step guide will help you complete all your to-dos and make sure nothing is forgotten as you close this chapter of your life.
Before you go, a case study!
This might resonate with you: Kate is leaving Japan, but the Japan Postal Service does not provide international mail forwarding.
She knows there will be physical correspondence she will still receive after she is gone.
So, wouldn’t it be fantastic if there was a service that could scan her Japanese physical mail, upload it to the cloud, so she could take care of her Japanese mail from anywhere?
A bonus would be if they could translate, summarize, and help her deal with correspondence on an as-needed basis.
Guess what? TokyoMate Mail is a first-of-its-kind tech solution that does all this and more.
Tailored plans available to fit your needs. Simple, pay-as-you-go pricing.