If you are applying to a company after having lived in Japan for a while, chances are, you will never be asked to present a police clearance, also known as a “Certificate of No Criminal Record,” as this is normally carried out internally by companies conducting a complete background check before offering you a job offer.

There aren’t many instances where you may ever need to step into a police station to obtain one for yourself, but if you are planning to move or immigrate to other countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the US, or other EU nations, one of the major requirements for the initial application is submitting a police clearance that states your criminal record status during your stay in Japan.

Keep in mind that in Japan, this is called a “Certificate of No Criminal Record.”

Depending on the police station, ward, and prefecture that you are living in, you may need to present more documents or go through additional or fewer procedures than discussed in this article. This is mostly based on the process of obtaining a police record in Chiba Prefecture. If you are from Tokyo or another prefecture and want more information, then check this link for more details.

Where To Get the “Certificate of No Record”

Police clearances can be requested in Japanese or English, but you can only obtain one at designated police stations in each prefecture, which are mostly the Prefectural Police Headquarters. You cannot simply walk into a Koban or Police Box or a station near your area; chances are they will not be able to provide you with the document, so make sure to check which station to go to. Additionally, it is important to make a reservation by phone or email.

Who and What are the Requirements to Obtain a “Certificate of No Record”

Anybody who has lived in Japan for a minimum of 6 months is eligible to apply for a police clearance. In Chiba, it was free of charge and did not have a fee for requesting a copy of your Certificate of No Criminal Record. The requirements are pretty much standard ones that you may need in Japan for other purposes such as opening bank accounts or applying for jobs. Basic documents to bring to the Headquarters and present them to the officers in charge are:

  • Passport
  • Residence card/Driver’s license
  • A form to fill out that includes personal information (this will be given to you in the office)
  • Juuminhyo or Residence Certificate
  • Supporting documents to show why you need the Certificate of No Criminal Record (This can be anything from visa applications, a printout email from the Requester or Consulate of Immigration, and so on)
  • There may be more you need to provide depending on your reasons of getting this certificate

What Happens at the Police Headquarters

Before entering the vicinity, you will have to ask for a visitor’s ID and write down your details at the reception where a staff member will help direct you to which floor you need to go to apply for your document.

Upon arriving, there will typically be a sign at one of their offices with the Certificate of No Criminal Record in English, Japanese, and in some cases, even other languages like Chinese and Korean. One of the Police Officers will ask for copies of your personal items like passport, supporting documents, and residence card to be photocopied while filling out the personal information form.

If you are submitting this certificate to a specific country such as the UK Immigration, the staff will inquire about this information since they have specific codes and forms for each country. It is a pretty straightforward procedure with them conducting a comprehensive series of cross-checking, such as getting your fingerprints scanned and recorded, identifying any facial marks, and asking basic questions.

For fingerprinting, the officer conducting the test gets all of your fingerprints, including those from your thumb, index, and little finger, to be used for detailed cross-checking. After finishing the tests, you are given a piece of paper that you will be showing once your certificate is ready for pick-up.

Receiving the Certificate of No Record/Police Clearance

The Officer in charge of obtaining your fingerprints will tell you the date your police clearance will be available, so make sure to come during that period that they have provided you with, and don’t forget to bring the slip. Be mindful of the dates and times given in case you have a reservation as this could potentially delay the process of releasing your certificate.

Once you return during the specified period, you will be handed your result in a small envelope containing your name. The Certificate is available typically from 1-3 weeks after applying at the Prefectural Police Headquarters.

In some cases, the staff will not allow you to open the envelope as this should be sent directly to the office that you are applying from. However, if you need to fax it or scan and upload it on the company’s website, be sure to let them know that you need to open it and scan it yourself as soon as they hand you your Certificate.

So that is it! It may be scary and even daunting to think of providing all your private information and having forensic tests done on you, but not to worry! If you have done nothing that could potentially cause you to be a suspect of any crime or wrongdoing, then there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. Hope this was helpful in your goal of getting a police clearance in Japan!