Updated April 26, 2024

How To Get Your "My Number" Card In Japan: A Foreigner’s Guide


Japan Dev Team

Japan Dev contributor

If you’re living in Japan as a foreigner or planning to move here soon, you’ll eventually come across the term "My Number Card." 

This card, featuring your unique 12-digit My Number, will come in handy in many situations during your time in Japan. Therefore, you should know how to get it issued and understand how the system works sooner rather than later, and that’s exactly what I’ll cover in this post.

I’ll explain the My Number Card system and what it means for foreigners living here. I’ll also explain how to get My Number Card in Japan, covering all the methods so you can choose the most convenient one for you. 

The “My Number” System, Explained 

While it’s a big part of life today in Japan, the My Number (マイナンバ, Mai Namba) system was introduced only in the last decade. More specifically, the system first came into effect in 2015, and was aimed at making official government businesses easier for both residents of Japan as well as government agencies and bodies.

In fact, the system is so new that as of 2024, only 79% of Japan’s residents have applied for and received the ID card issued as part of the system My Number Card. The rate was much lower a few years prior and only increased due to additional incentives and points programs initiated by the government. 

Essentially, My Number is a string of 12 digits unique to its holder. This allows individuals to identify themselves and verify personal information during official procedures. In daily life, you’ll also hear it referred to as your Individual Number (個人番号, kojin bango)

My Number is issued to all residents of Japan, so anyone who stays in Japan longer than 3 months gets assigned one. Those who are on a tourist visa or on a diplomatic mission are not considered “residents” and are not issued a My Number.

How Does “My Number” Get Issued?

Other common terms related to the My Number system are Individual Number Notices and My Number Notification Card, which you may have already heard of. These two documents essentially refer to the same thing, and they’re the documents you get your My Number in. Let me explain.

Your My Number is issued to you once you register at your local city office the first time you become a resident of Japan. After registration, you’ll receive it in a letter sent by post, which usually takes 3 to 4 weeks on average.

Even if your residency in Japan ends and you leave, you’ll be issued the same My Number if you decide to move back to Japan, so it’s a permanent number.

You’ll receive the number in the mail, but keep in mind that it’s registered mail, so you’ll need to be present at your address to receive it personally. And if you miss it, a note will be left on your door that you can use to have it redelivered.

The letter in which you receive your My Number is called an Individual Number Notice, which used to be called a My Number Notification Card

Although you will already have received your My Number at this point, you have the option to apply for the plastic My Number card. Having the My Number card makes living in Japan more convenient in various situations. 

What Is The My Number Card In Japan?

My Number Card is a plastic card that contains your 12-digit My Number. It’ll be useful in various situations where you need to present your ID or have official government business done, so it’s better to get it as soon as you arrive in Japan.

Other than your My Number, here are the other personal information found on a My Number Card:

  • Your full name

  • Your registered address

  • Your date of birth

  • Your gender

Since your My Number Card contains basic information that can identify you, you can also present it as a valid form of ID in Japan. However, its usefulness extends beyond that, so let’s have a look.


What Are The Use Cases of the My Number Card?

As I mentioned, you’ll need to use your My Number Card in a variety of situations. To be more specific, here are all of the use cases of My Number Card in Japan.

  • Verifying your 12-digit “My Number”

  • Getting a copy of your residence certificate or seal (inkan) registration certificate using the kiosks at convenience stores (see my post on Juminhyo)

  • Filing your taxes online (as I mentioned in my Year End Tax Adjustment post)

  • Accessing the online social security portals and managing your accounts

  • Confirming social security and tax-related information

  • Confirming your COVID-19 vaccination status through the dedicated app

In addition to these, you can also use your My Number Card in most situations where you’re requested to present either your ID card or your health insurance card.

My Number Card Application: The Four Methods, Step-By-Step

Now that you have a good idea of what your My Number and My Number Card are for, let’s cover how you can apply to get yours. 

Luckily, you can pick one of the following four methods that suits you best:

  • By postal mail

  • On your smartphone

  • On your computer

  • At a registered ID photo booth

No matter what method you use, you will receive your My Number Card the same way. There are detailed explanations for each method on the official government website, but if you’re looking for the simplest approach that doesn't involve Japanese at all, applying by mail is your best bet.

I’ll explain all four methods below and provide clear instructions for each, so let’s start with the application process by mail.

Method #1: Applying For My Number Card By Mail

As a foreigner, the best method to get a My Number Card issued is by applying via mail. You can download the English version of the application form and follow the English directions online, but I have all the steps laid out right here for your convenience as well.

Step 1: Download and Fill Out The Application Form

First, you need to download the application form to receive your My Number Card, which you can get from the official government website.

Alternatively, you can also use the application form that comes attached to the Individual Number Notice, the letter containing your 12-digit My Number, which also includes the envelope for sending the application. Don’t worry if you lost it, as the online version is identical, and the envelope can be downloaded through this link

Luckily, the website also provides detailed information on how to exactly fill out the form, which is available in English. So, filling out the form should be fairly easy.

Step 2: Pick and Upload a Photo

Your My Number Card is essentially an ID, so you’ll have to provide a photo of yourself to apply. 

The photo has to be 4.5 cm in length and 3.5 cm in width, and you need to write your name and date of birth on the backside of the photo before putting it in the envelope with your application.

Keep in mind that the image you pick needs to be taken in the last six months, and your face must be clearly shown from a frontal view. To be certain, you can check the official photo guidelines and see some examples.


Step 3: Prepare Your Envelope and Send It

Now, you’re ready to place everything in the envelope and send it. Before you do, though, you need to fill in your name in the box where it says 氏名 and your return address in the 住所 box on the envelope. 

Then, make sure to put a checkmark on the three boxes on the provided envelope, which confirm that:

  1. You attached a correctly formatted photo of yourself

  2. You filled out the application completely

  3. You did not include anything other than the application documents in the envelope

Once your envelope is ready, you can send it by post to this address. Don’t forget to attach a stamp to the envelope, which you can obtain from a convenience store near you.

And that’s it! After submitting your application, you’ll receive an issuance notification in the mail, meaning your card has been issued. Scroll down to learn the next steps you need to take to receive your card.

Method #2: Applying For My Number Card On Your Smartphone (Or Computer)

Alternatively, you can also apply for the My Number Card online using your smartphone. For this, you’ll need the application form that was sent to you by mail when you first received your 12-digit My Number.

Whether you apply through your smartphone or your personal computer, the steps are pretty much the same. The only difference is that you can take a photo directly on your smartphone to use as your ID photo, but you can use a preexisting appropriate photo either way.

Step 1: Register Your E-Mail Address

To start, either scan the QR code on the application form using your smartphone’s camera or go to the official application website on your browser and enter the 23-digit application form ID that’s also located on the form.

While the website is in Japanese and may look confusing, you just need to confirm the terms and conditions on the first page and then fill out the following information on the next page (you can also use a translator extension for this):

  • Application form ID (if you scan the QR code, this will be filled out automatically)

  • Your name 

  • Your e-mail address

After completing the captcha below the form and clicking the confirm button, your e-mail address will be registered.

Step 2: Upload A Photo and Fill Out Your Information

Upon registering your e-mail address, you’ll receive a notification in your inbox with a link to upload an ID photo you can take using your smartphone. Uploading a preexisting image from your phone’s storage is also an option.

Simply follow the guidelines provided in this link and upload your photo to the system. 

After the photo is uploaded, you’ll also need to provide the following information:

  • Your date of birth

  • Whether you need an electronic certificate issued

  • Whether you need your name in Braille on your ID

Once you complete the form and send it, you will receive an e-mail in the inbox of your registered e-mail address. This is simply a confirmation that your application has been sent, and you can scroll down to find out how to track it.

Method #3: Applying For My Number Card At A Registered ID Photo Booth

Finally, another method of applying for a My Number Card is by simply locating a registered photo booth near you. There are multiple providers, and you can check the website of each one using the links below to find a convenient location:

Make sure to have the application form that’s sent to you alongside your 12-digit My Number with you. Once you arrive at the booth, scan the QR code found on the application form using the machine at the booth and simply follow the guide on the screen.

The machine may or may not have an English language option, but the process is fairly simple, and it roughly goes like this on every machine:

  • Select the “My Number” option on the screen

  • Hold the QR code on your application form over the barcode reader

  • Go through the steps to take your ID photo

  • Check and approve the information on the screen

  • Receive a printout confirmation of your application

Now that your application has been sent follow the steps below to check its status and find out how you can receive your My Number Card.

After My Number Card Application: Receiving Your My Number Card

Whether you apply by mail, through your smartphone/computer, or at a photo booth, it will take around a month for your My Number Card to be issued. 

You’re not left completely in the dark in the meantime: you can track its status online two to three days after you submit your application. 

Tracking Your Application


To track the status of your application, simply go to the Application Status Inquiry Service website and use your 23-digit application ID number and birth date to inquire. This application ID number should be the number included in your initial My Number notification in the mail

If you don’t have this ID number, please note that putting in the application number you received in your application confirmation notice instead does not work here. 

So, if this is the case, you’ll have to contact your local city office to confirm the status of your application.

Similarly, if a month passes after your initial application date, and the status of your application has not changed from “card issuance in process,” it’s recommended to contact your local city office to ask for the status.

Receiving The Issue Notice

It usually takes about a month to get a notification by mail stating that your card has been issued. This is an issue notice in the form of a postcard, and it includes the date and place you can pick up your My Number Card. 

When going in to receive your card, make sure to have the following with you:

  • The issuance notice you’ve received in the mail

  • Proof of ID (driver’s license, passport, resident card, etc.)

  • Basic Resident Registration Card (if you have one)

Once you present your documents and verify your ID at the counter, you’ll set your personal identification number and pin code, and your card will be handed to you.

While I tried to present all of the information as clearly as possible, you may still have some questions.

Especially as a foreigner living in Japan, it can be tough to handle official stuff like this, but you’re not without support. Not only do you have articles such as this at your disposal, but you also have the Individual Number Card website that offers full English support and a detailed FAQ section.

What’s more, if your questions are still left unanswered, you can also call a hotline that has English support. 

You can reach the Individual Number Card Call Center at 0570-064-738 or 050-3818-1250 and it’s available 24 hours.

Lastly, if you prefer visual content instead, you can watch this YouTube video to get the latest news and updates about the changes in Japan’s permanent residency laws and My Number Card.

While this is all we have on my number card applications, if you have more questions about how things work in Japan, my posts on accounting in Japan and how to get permanent residence in Japan might pique your interest.


Japan Dev Team

This post was written by our Japan Dev editorial team.