Japan Immigration Bureau Warns of Counterfeit Residence Cards

The Immigration Bureau of Japan is warning companies to be vigilant about checking employees’ residence cards.

While the number of skilled professionals from overseas continues to increase, the Immigration Bureau of Japan has put out this notice:

Beware of forged residence cards

The “zairyuu card (在留カード),” or residence card, is a smart card issued by the Minister of Justice to allow non-Japanese to legally remain in Japan for long periods of time. Recently, forged residence cards have become a serious problem. As a way to prevent this, the card has a watermark, as seen in the illustration below [not pictured]. When checking a residence card’s validity, be sure to double check for this. In addition, residence cards feature a high security IC chip that comes with a picture of the front of the residence card. There is a resource on the Immigration Bureau’s home page that allows you to read the data stored in these chips. With this resource public, products and pieces of software, etc, able to scan residence cards have been developed and made commercially available. Using one of those, you can tell whether cards are counterfeit or not by comparing the picture shown from the scan to the residence card.

In another method to try and prevent people from working and living in Japan illegally, the guide “How to Read Residence Cards and Permanent Residence Certificates” [only available in Japanese] is on the Immigration Bureau’s home page. It details various methods to determine whether or not such IDs are genuine by appearance. With a residence card number and expiry date, you can use the website Residence Card Number Expiration Information Reference to check their validity. Please make liberal use of any or all of these available references.

It seems as the number of foreigners working in Japan, the number of illegal residence cards is also increasing. Companies that employ foreigners with counterfeit residence cards are not safe from penalties. Take note of this information for any future interactions you have with potential hires from overseas.