Aug 23, 2011

Gaijin Card!

Yes, i have finally acquired my... Gaijin Card! *fanfare*  Formally known as the Gaikokujin Touroku-shoumeisho (Certificate of Alien Registration), but that's quite a mouthfull, so it's usually just called the Gaijin Card.  By non-Japanese at least.  Took me a while to get down the Japanese name for it, and the first time someone asked me if i had it, i had to give them a blank stare because i had no idea wtf had just come out of their mouth.  
But!  Now that i have it i can do all sorts of neat things, like get a cell phone!  It's frustrating having to pay an arm and a leg to rent a cell phone to use here, because you can't even get a cheap-y prepaid phone here without the Card, whereas in the US anyone could just waltz into a Walgreens and get one.  Can also open up a bank account, rent an apartment (so long as the landlord has no qualms with foreigners... i've heard stories), buy a car, rent movies from Tsutaya... the possibilities are endless!

Look at that mugshot!
One of my housemates has just started the whole visa application process.. he went by the immigration office today so we were just discussing all the discrepancies between what the officials say and what actually happens.  For example, housemate was told that:
*You can't apply for the Certificate of Eligibility (needed in order to get a working visa) from within the country
*Application for the CofE takes about 3 months to process
*Your tourist visa can't be changed to a working visa within the country

That's pretty much the exact opposite of what i went through.  Company sent in the paperwork for my CofE while i was in the country.  Processed in about 3 weeks and i got my Certificate.  Took it to the immigration office, they sent me to the post office to buy some 4000yen official stamp to put on some document.  I signed it, and they cancelled my tourist visa and gave me my working visa stamp in my passport, easy-peasy.  Then i was told i had to register at the Kuyakusho (Ward Office) within the next two weeks for my Gaijin Card, which i promptly did.  So everything is all done and good to go.  First order of business tomorrow is to go by Softbank before work and get me set up with a phone!

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