What’s My Number Card in Japan? What’s it for and how do I get one?

My Number Card (マイナンバーカード) is a form of ID in Japan. In this article, we explain the benefits you can enjoy with a My Number Card, how to apply for one, and answer some frequently asked questions about them including whether it expires - it does! 

Table of Contents

  1. What’s a My Number Card?
    1. What’s My Number?
  2. My Number Card Benefits and Usages
  3. My Number Card Application and Process Flow
    1. First Step: Register Residence and Receive My Number
    2. Second Step: My Number Card Application
    3. Standard of Photographs
  4. Q&A About My Number Card
    1. Must I apply for a My Number Card?
    2. What do I do if I lose my My Number Card? Is there a penalty?
    3. Does My Number Card expire?
  5. Takeaway

What’s a My Number Card? 

My Number Card (マイナンバーカード) is a form of ID in Japan. The plastic card contains the individual’s photograph, an IC chip, and the cardholder’s personal information - name, current address, date of birth, gender. Most importantly, it contains the person’s My Number.

What’s My Number? 

My Number (マイナンバー) is a 12-digit individual identification number given to those who have a Juminhyo (住民票 Residence Certificate) in Japan. Each person's number is unique and is used to easily identify the person across different networks like taxation and social security (insurance / pension). 

My Number Card Benefits and Usages

  1. Identity Verification - when asked to show 身分証明書 (ID)

  2. Proof/Certify My Number

  3. Online Administrative Procedures - Tax Return (確定申告), etc. 

  4. Online Private Transactions - Online Banking, etc. 

  5. Print Official Documents at Konbinis - Residence Certificate (住民票), etc. 

  6. Depending on the municipality, it can be used for different services - library card, etc. 

  7. Collect My Number Points to spend 

My Number Card Application and Process Flow

First Step: Register Residence and Receive My Number

First things first, if you are entering Japan to become a long-term resident, you will receive your Residence Card (在留カード) at the airport immigration counter. Once you have decided on your place of residence, bring your residence card to the relevant ward office within 14 days to register your residence via notification of moving-in (転入届). 

By doing so, your registration as a resident will be completed and you will be assigned a My Number. You will receive a Resident Certificate on the same day but the My Number Notification Card (マイナンバーの通知カード) will only arrive 2~3 weeks later. 

Second Step: My Number Card Application

Getting a My Number Card is entirely voluntary but you won’t be able to enjoy the benefits that require a physical card, which is most of them. 

Your My Number Notification Card will be attached to an Application Form for My Number Card. There are 3 ways to proceed from here:

① By Mail 

Separate the Notification Card from the paper form following the lines. Fill up your details on the paper form. Don’t forget to attach your photograph (up to set standard). Send out the application form using the provided return envelope. 

If you’ve lost the paper form or return envelope, you can re-download them on this page.

②By Smartphone or PC

Scan the QR code on the bottom left of the paper form, or go to the dedicated website (Japanese only). If you are able to navigate in Japanese, the process is quite straightforward. Fill out your details and upload your photograph (can be taken with a smartphone camera). After sending the application, you will receive an email notifying your application is completed at your registered email address.

③By Town ID Photo Booth

Photo Credit: ©富士フイルム株式会社

Certain ID photo booths in your neighborhood can be used to submit applications for My Number Card. Usable photo booths for My Number Card applications include FujiFilm’s ID Photo Box (photo above), DNP’s Ki-Re-i, Nippon Auto-Photo’s Photo-Me, and Miyoshi’s Digital. 

These machines are quite easy to use. First, select 「マイナンバー」option and follow the on-screen instructions. Bring the Application Form to scan the QR code, take your photo, check whether your details are correct, then submit the application. Don’t forget to take the application confirmation slip. 

It will take 3~4 weeks from application for you to receive a notice to collect your card. 

Standard of Photographs

The main reason for rejected applications is the failure of photographs to conform to standards. Please check what the standards are here

Q&A About My Number Card

Must I apply for a My Number Card?

No, it is entirely up to you but you will be able to enjoy some benefits that require a physical card. 

Note that each time you change address, you will need to visit the ward office within 14 days of moving-in your new place to update your address. Your new address will be recorded on the back of your My Number Notification Card. If you change addresses frequently, you will eventually run out of place. Previously, the Notification Card can be reissued to keep updating your address but this is no longer possible. Once you run out of space, you’ll need to apply for a My Number Card.

What do I do if I lose my My Number Card? Is there a penalty? 

First, contact the My Number Call Center to make a report - your card will be suspended. Thereafter, make an official police report - you will need the report number. Visit your ward office and apply for a My Number Card to be reissued.

There is no penalty but a processing fee of 1000 yen may be incurred.  

Does My Number Card expire? 

Yes actually. The card is valid for 10 years only or half that for those below 20, and the electronic certificate in the card is valid for 5 years only. When the time comes to renew your card, you will receive a notice, so just follow the instructions. Renewal is free of charge.


We hope this article helps you understand the process of getting a My Number Card that many find troublesome. It is a bit of a hassle but the convenience of being able to do your taxes online and printing official documents at the konbini (instead of queuing up at the ward office) makes it well worth it. 

Not to mention, it is also possible to renew your visa and other residence related procedures online now! The catch is you’ll need a My Number Card. That’s pretty good incentive to get it done, don't you think? 


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