by Ewa Nowogorski
In the USA, foreigners, tourists, and temporary residents can walk around in public without worrying about carrying their identification everywhere, but this is not the case in Japan. The police here have a right to stop foreigners at any time and ask them to show their residence card or passport without a reason. If you are caught without your ID, you can get into a bit of trouble. You might be taken to a police station, fined, and or jailed even. Sometimes, the police officer who stops you will escort you all the way to your house if you forgot it there, and wait in your genkan until you can show the residence card and prove that you are staying in the country legally. If you cannot provide your residence card or passport, then you will undoubtedly be deported from the country, and you could be banned from re-entry for many years depending on the circumstances behind the lack of legal documents.
This may come as obvious, but you should also not carry another person’s documents on you. If you are found to be carrying another foreigner’s residence card, you may be assumed to have stolen it from them or using their identity falsely. This is usually treated more seriously, so be careful not to do it, even if you are honestly carrying something for family or a friend.
After renewing your residence card, your immigration office will return your old one when giving you your new one, but the old card will have a hole punched through it, and it will therefore be obvious that the card is no longer valid.