Making Jitsuin Hanko for foreigners (non-Japanese)

moving to Japan Hanko registration

Planning to move to Japan?
Consider these important factors when designing your personal seal

If you need to affix your personal seal to important documents, such as purchasing real estate, taking out a loan, or purchasing insurance, the seal must be a registered seal. A registered seal is a seal that is registered with the municipality in which you live.

signing in Japan

Qualifications for seal registration

First of all, the qualifications for foreigners who can register a seal impression. A seal registration allows you to obtain a seal registration certificate. Foreigners who are eligible for seal registration are as follows.

  • Have a residence card or special permanent resident certificate
  • Have a certificate of residence registered in the municipality where the seal is to be registered
  • Be 15 years of age or older

Foreigners who intend to establish a company to obtain a business management visa but are overseas, foreigners residing in Japan on a temporary visitor visa (tourist visa, visitor to relatives visa, or temporary business visa), or foreigners who are in Japan illegally are not allowed to register their personal seal.

The person who will be the promoter or director of the company must affix his/her personal seal to the articles of incorporation and documents for registration. Once you have decided to incorporate your company, you should first register your personal seal to obtain a personal seal registration certificate.

Size of the seal that can be registered as a personal seal

The size of the seal (impression) to be used to certify a seal impression is determined, so the following are the sizes of seals that can be registered.

  • Larger than a square with a side length of 8mm
  • Fits into a square with a side length of 25mm

Most people have round seals, but there are no restrictions on shape, so there is no problem with square or oval seals. However, oval seals are not considered very auspicious.

Seals that can be registered by foreigners

Only one seal can be registered for each person. Here are the seal notations that can be made.

  • Name as it appears on the resident registration card
  • Common name in Japan
  • Full name without abbreviation
  • Family name only
  • First name only

Foreigners with English-speaking names can register their seals in katakana by registering the katakana reading of their alphabetical name in the remarks column of their resident registration card (住民票 Jūminhyō).

If you wish to register your seal with your common name in Japan or name in katakana, you must register the name on your resident registration card in advance at the municipal office of your city or ward.

What is a common name [通称 tsūshō]?

A foreign national with a certificate of residence can register only one common name other than his/her native name on the resident registration card, which is necessary for social life in Japan. This nickname may be used if it is deemed necessary to include it in the resident registration card to notarize the relationship of residence.

The characters that can be used as a common name are those that Japanese nationals are allowed to use in their family register. Simplified Chinese characters, traditional Chinese characters, foreign characters such as the alphabet, misspellings, slang characters, or symbols may not be used as common names.

Notation of seals that CANNOT be registered

  • Assumed name other than the name listed in the Basic Resident Registry (住民基本台帳 Jūmin kihon daichō)
  • Abbreviations
  • Middle names only
  • Initials only

Regarding Middle Name Notation

Since a Hanko usually has one or two lines of notation, it is almost impossible to make a seal with your full name including your middle name.

Usually, most people make seals with only first names, last names, or first and last names.

Seals that cannot be registered

The seal to be registered should be hard and solid, and can be made of wood, titanium, or ivory, etc. Please note that the following materials and shapes cannot be used for seal registration.

  • Self-inking stamps, rubber stamps, etc.
  • Engraving in which the text is left blank
  • Stamps with illustrations or photographs
  • Stamps with unclear images
  • Those without a frame
  • Those with a missing frame (more than 1/3 of the frame is missing)
  • Those with a pattern on the outer frame

How do I register my personal seal?

To register your personal seal, please bring the following items to the window of the city, ward, town or village where your certificate of residence is registered.

  • Seal to be registered
  • Passport
  • Documents required for identification such as driver’s license, resident card, etc.

Documents required for identity verification vary by city, ward, town or village. You may want to check beforehand by phone or on the website. The registration fee is around 100 yen to 400 yen.

Issuance of certificate of seal impression

A seal registration certificate can be issued on the same day that you register your seal. The time required for issuance depends on how crowded the municipal office is, but it usually takes about 15 to 30 minutes after applying for seal registration.

Once you have registered your personal seal, the municipality will issue a personal seal registration certificate. This is a public certification that the registered seal really belongs to you.

seal registration card

When you register your seal, a “seal registration card” will be issued at the same time. If you need a seal registration certificate in the future, you can present this seal registration card and have it issued at the counter of your municipal office, or you can obtain one from an automatic delivery machine at the administrative service of your municipal or city office (available at train stations, etc.).

In addition, some convenience stores with compatible equipment can also obtain a seal registration card for foreign residents who have MY NUMBER CARD (マイナンバーカード). Please check with your nearest convenience store.

Ready to register your seal?

In conclusion, designing a personal seal for foreigners moving to Japan requires careful consideration of various factors, including residency status, age, and size and material restrictions. This article has provided valuable information on the necessary requirements for seal registration, as well as the steps and documents needed to complete the process. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, foreigners can ensure that their personal seal is registered properly, allowing them to conduct various transactions in Japan with ease. Remember, obtaining a personal seal registration certificate and card is an important step towards integrating into Japanese society and culture.


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