My Number

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“My Number”: What you need to know

As of January 1st 2016, the Japanese Government introduced a system called “Individual Number” (kojin bangou/個人番号), commonly known as “My Number” (マイナンバー), which was rolled out nationwide across all local governments and associated organizations. This system has been implemented so that the government can quickly and easily collect an individual’s social security and tax information.

So what exactly is this “My Number” system?

My Number” (マイ・ナンバ) is the Japanese “Social Security and Tax Number System” (Shakai Hosho Zei Bango Seido/社会保障・税番号制度).  This is effectively the Japanese version of a “Social Security Number,” “National Insurance Number,” etc.

After filing your registration as a resident, a “Notification Card” (tsuuchi kaado/通知カード), a paper card on which your unique 12-digit number is printed, will be mailed to your home.
The Notification Card looks like this:

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Once you have received the Notification Card, you have the option of applying to get a My Number Card. In that case, you are required to turn the Notification Card in to your local government office. For example, if you live in Saga City, return your card to Saga City Hall. If you do not apply for the My Number Card, be sure to hold on to your Notification Card.

The My Number Card is a plastic card with your photograph, some information, and an IC chip. It looks like this:

My Number Card

What is it used for?

Official statement:

““My Number” is used to efficiently manage information by tying them to personal information they have on individuals in the areas of social security, administration, taxation, and disaster response”.

 As stated in the first paragraph, “My Number” is a more convenient way for the government to collect information on individuals without having to use multiple sources.

Who does the “My Number” system apply to?

The “My Number” system applies to Native Japanese citizens and foreign residents who live in Japan for more than three months at a registered address. Please note that this does NOT apply to any foreigners on a short-term visa.

A foreign resident must fit one of the following in order to apply for a “My Number”:

  1. Has been issued a residence card
  2. Has been granted Special Permanent Residency
  3. Allowed into Japan seeking temporary refuge
  4. Has permission for provisional stay
  5. Overstayed due to childbirth
  6. Overstayed due to loss of Japanese nationality

Is the “My Number” card required by law?

You are not required by law to get a My Number Card. They are not issued by the national government, but by local branches. The card can be used as a form of personal identification and also used for a number of procedures. This card is valid for approximately 10 years (your 10th birthday after receiving the card), or when status of residence is changed or updated. (So, when you renew your visa!)

Who makes use of the “My Number” system?

The following institutions (at time of writing) are the main users of this system:

  • Local governments
  • Tax offices
  • Pension office
  • Disaster response offices
  • Central government organizations
  • Post office

Besides various government offices, you may be required to provide your 12-digit number to the following organizations:

  • Your employer
  • Insurance companies
  • Financial institutions
  • Any kind of employment organization
  • Business owners
  • Hello Work (the national government’s unemployment agency)

These organizations will ask the government for your “My Number” in order to process things like your pension, taxes, welfare benefits, childcare allowances, and other documents. Again please note, this is done on your behalf: you will most likely not need to do this yourself. Please see the statement below from the Cabinet Office:
“Private businesses must also receive the Individual Numbers of their employees and their dependants, print them on certificates of income and withholding tax for employment income as well as notices of acquisition of insurance qualification for social insurance that they issue for the employees, and then submit those documents to the relevant administrative organs. Similarly, Individual Numbers must be printed on payment records prepared by insurance companies, records of payment of manuscript fees, etc.”

If all these organizations have access to my personal information, is my information safe?

The Cabinet Office says that there are “strict identification mechanisms” in place to prevent identity theft.

Another statement from the Cabinet Office writes that “My Number”: “may not be used for any purpose that is outside the scope of procedures for social security administration, taxation, and disaster response that is established in laws and ordinances.”

If you would like to know more about “My Number,” please check out the following information provided by the Japanese Government Cabinet Office:
Social Security and Tax Number System
My Number Basic Outline and Future Plans