My Number Card in Japan Explained

In this article, we explain Japan’s My Number system, the benefits of applying for a My Number card, and how to apply for your My Number card.

  • What is My Number? Does everyone in Japan have a My Number?
  • What’s the difference between a 12-digit individual number and the My Number card?
  • How will I be notified of my individual number?
  • What is the Individual Number Notice?
  • How do I apply for a My Number card?
  • What is the “My Number Notification card”? Is this the same thing as a My Number card?

My Number — マイナンバー

Also called: Individual Number (個人番号kojin bangō)

A 12-digit ID number issued to all citizens and residents of Japan, including foreign residents of Japan.

If you have a Resident Card in Japan, you also have an individual number, but you are not automatically issued a My Number card.

Starting in January 2016, an Individual Number has been required for various procedures related to social security, tax, and natural disaster countermeasures. For these procedures, you have to provide your Individual Number, as well as proof of identity (such as driver’s license).

The My Number system was basically implemented as part of a larger effort to unify the social security, tax, and other administrative systems into one system, with a single identifying number for each resident.

My Number Card (マイナンバーカード or 個人番号カード)

Also called: Individual Number Card (kojin bango kado)

Sample of a My Number card. Image: Chiba City government

A My Number card is an IC-chip embedded plastic card that shows your name, address, date of birth, sex, your 12-digit My Number (individual number), along with your photo.

A My Number card can be used can be used to certify your Individual Number (kojin bango) and as an official ID card.

As mentioned above, a My Number card is not automatically issued to you. You have to apply for one, after you have been issued an Individual Number. Currently, it’s also not a requirement to have a My Number card.

As of the beginning of March 2021, only about 26% of people eligible to apply for a My Number card have been issued one, but the Japanese government wants everyone to do so, because eventually the My Number card system is supposed to streamline and simplify various administrative procedures; and to make distribution of social welfare benefits and tax collection more fair.

What are the benefits of having a My Number card?

In addition to serving as an accepted form of ID in Japan, the benefits, as explained by the government’s My Number official site is that it can also be used:

  1. As identification for online applications for various administrative procedures
  2. As a seal registration card, a library card, a health insurance card, and as a multi-purpose card for a wide range of public services. Depending on the municipality only some of these benefits may be available. The roll out of the health insurance card function has also been postponed, as of March 2021.
  3. For various private on-line transactions
  4. Obtaining various government documents at convenience stores, so that you don’t have to go to the city or ward office

Last year, when the government issued the one-time COVID-19 ¥100,000 special payment to all residents of Japan, people who had a My Number card could apply for the payment online, rather than by snail mail.

My Point system

Last year, the government also started trying to incentivize people to switch to using e-payments (rather than cash) and to get more people to get a My Number card by introducing the My Point system. This is an incentive scheme in which you can link an IC card, credit card, or QR code payment method to your My Number card and receive up to ¥5,000 points back. The deadline for applying for the My Point system has been extended to April 30, 2021. You can shop to earn points until September 30, 2021.

Please visit the official My Point website for more information (in Japanese)

Individual Number Notice (個人番号通知書)

 

Sample of an Individual Number Notice. Source: The Japan Agency for Local Authority Information Systems

An Individual Number Notice is a notice delivered to each resident to inform them of their Individual Number (My Number).

On the notice, the holder’s full name, date of birth, and Individual Number (My Number) are listed. An Individual Number Notice cannot be used as proof of your Individual Number or as identification.

It will be sent to your registered address by registered mail about two to three weeks after you register at your local city or ward for our Residence Card. For more on this, please see: Procedures for registering at your city or ward office

Along with an Individual Number Notice (which will be sent to each member of your household), you will also be mailed the following:

  1. My Number Card application form (one for each member of your household)
  2. Return envelope for each My Number Card application
  3. Instruction booklet for how to apply for a My Number Card

If you have your Individual Number Notice in hand, you can apply for a My Number card.

If you lose your Individual Number Notice, it cannot be reissued. In order to confirm your Individual Number (My Number), you will need to obtain an Individual Number Card, a copy of your certificate of residence with your Individual Number listed, or a Certificate of Items Stated in Resident Register.

For more information about the Individual Number Notice, please visit the official site (in English).

How to apply for a My Number card

  1. To apply for a My Number card you have to be a Japanese citizen or a long-term foreign resident (not a tourist).
  2. After you register your residence at your city or ward office, you will be sent an Individual Number Notice packet by registered mail. You will need this to apply for your My Number card.
  3. There are four ways to submit an application: PC, smartphone, snail mail, or at a town ID photo booth.
  4. It will take about one-month for your My Number card to be issued.
  5. For detailed info on the application procedure, please visit the official My Number site

My Number Notification Card – マイナンバー通知カード

Sample of a My Number Notification card. As of May 25, 2020 My Number Notification Cards were no longer issued, but if you already have one, you can still use it to apply for a My Number card. Source: Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications

Up until May 25, 2020, this was a notification card that was sent to each resident of Japan with a Resident Card, including foreign residents.

It informed people of their unique 12-digit Individual Number or My Number.

This notification was sent together with the My Number Card application and the application for the issuance of a digital My Number certificate.

Municipalities stopped issuing the My Number Notification Card as of May 25, 2020 and switched over to issuing the Individual Number Notice (discussed in the section above).

Can I still use my My Number Notification Card although they are no longer being issued?

Yes, you can. You can scan the QR code on your Notification Card to submit an application for a My Number card online. You can also use the tear-off portion of the Notification Card and to apply by snail mail. To apply, please visit the official site:

Individual Number Card official site

The main purpose of the notification card was basically to notify you of your individual number. However, it cannot be used as an identity verification document. If you ever have to present your individual number for an administrative procedure, for example, you also have to provide an ID card (like a driver’s license) at the same time.

You can continue to use your My Number Notification Card to verify your individual 12-digit number for administrative purposes as long as the name and address on the Notification Card matches the address in the Basic Resident Register (which should also match the name and address on your Residence Card).


Sources:

Ministry of International Affairs and Communications

Individual Number Card (official site)