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Sayonara, Japan- Steps to Take Before You Leave
When it’s time for you to leave the country, there are many things you will need to do in preparation. You will find that you have more things you would like to take with you than you did when you first arrived. It is also important to cut all the required ties to the country. Otherwise, you may find yourself barred from reentry for failing to declare something. If you plan on coming back to the country, make sure you’ve taken care of everything before leaving!
Relocating your Things
Your first concern is with shipping the stuff you want to keep to your new home, while getting rid of the rest. For the former, the Japan International Parcel Post can help you. They will only ship “general goods”, but luckily this is broad enough that you are not likely to have issues. Exceptions include items of a hazardous nature. Some examples include explosives, weapons, and radioactive material. Weapons also qualify, but don’t worry about leaving your replica samurai sword in Japan. For these, pack them in your checked baggage and make sure you declare it. Also, make sure you have the certificate issued to you by the seller.
For larger items, consider alternative shipping services. They are able to ship larger containers than the JPP, depending on your country of origin.
Rule of thumb is if you can buy it in Japan as a foreigner, then you can ship it out. The issue lies in whether you can ship it into your country of destination. Sometimes your own country might have restrictions on imports that you never considered. If you had never had a reason to research these restrictions before, it is better to check beforehand. So make sure you know what items are illegal to ship before assuming.
How to Get Rid of Excess
In Japan, you can’t dump cumbersome belongings on the side of the curb for trash trucks to pick up. Leaving large items on the side of the road can get you a fine at best. You must pay for special pick-up of these items to get rid of them. Or, you can try to sell them off in an attempt to make money rather than spend it on disposal. If you live in a rent-house or an apartment, you can check with your landlord/lady. See if they are willing to keep your furnishings, they may accept the offer.
Check online for “Japan-Bound” groups, and others who may soon have use for the items you no longer need. If you can find a newcomer who plans on a long stay, they may be willing to relieve you of some of your gear in bulk.
To get household items out of the way, consider donating them to volunteer organizations. The next tenant or a neighbor may be an option as well. You may not need your washing detergent, but others will always need such things and will be grateful. If you plan on leaving them in the complex, clear it with the property owner first. They may not appreciate being blindsided by excess clutter that is suddenly their responsibility, even if you meant well by leaving it.
It is important to make sure that you handle all your contracts, leases, and residency/visa information before you leave.
- Inform your property manager of your intent to leave a month in advance and make sure you cancel your lease.
- Cancel any automatic payments for services you will no longer be using, including utility bills.
- Close any bank accounts and return your health insurance card.
- Make sure you have or will be receiving all the information you need to pay taxes in Japan.
- Redirect all mail (especially your final bills) so they can find you.
- Inform immigration and the visa office of your intent to leave the country. Check with your embassy if you have questions on the details of this process.
- Make sure your visa is still valid the day of your departure. If it will not be, apply for a temporary visa at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
- Note: This is very important. If you are even a day over your visa’s term, you risk being permanently barred from re-entry to the country.
- When you leave be sure to take your いんかん (inkan) [official seal] and 在留かード (zairyū kādo) [residence card] by where you obtained it and fill out the 転出届 (tenshutsu todoke) [moving–out form].
Find more information on registration and visa here.
- If you are receiving a pension, be sure they punch a hole in your residence card when you return it at the airport. You will need your punched card and your blue pension book. You will also need to claim it within two years of leaving Japan.
Hopefully you will get to say お元気で (o-genki de) to your friends in Japan instead of さようなら (sayonara). Whatever your future plans, these are the steps for you to take that leave you in good standing with the country.
If you have missed a parcel in Japan and want to know how to redeliver it, check out our guide.