Moving out of Japan: Things You Need to do Before Leaving

Preparing to leave Japan can be an overwhelming and hectic experience and while in the midst of your moving, you might forget to do an important thing or two. You’ll need to deal with a number of formalities before leaving Japan like getting rid of your stuff, closing your bank account, paying your bills and taking care of public procedures like health insurance, pension, and resident tax, and letting officials know about your departure. It’ll take a few months to get everything organized so the sooner you start, the better.

That’s why we have put together this guide about things to do when moving out of Japan, so you can have the most stress-free experience possible.

1. Inform your Landlord

First of all, contact your landlord or the real estate agent to break the news of you leaving at least one month in advance. They’ll arrange an inspection and charge cleaning fees – typically ¥1,000-1,250 per square meter for standard wear and tea. There may be some extra  charge if there is any damage.

2. Recycle Your Stuff

Sort your things by deciding what you want to take with you and dispose of the unwanted items by selling them online or at sayonara sales, where second-hand items are high in demand. You can also use a home-delivery recycling service that collects second-hand items free of charge. Don’t leave your garbage to the last-minute and call the city’s garbage service for a pickup. For the larger items like furniture, seek out the stores that offer pick-up services.

3. Ship Your Belongings

Once you’re done with packing, look for reliable international movers in Japan to ship your stuff home safely. Whether you need to ship a couple of boxes or your entire household, they’ll make the international move so much better. Your goods should arrive in one to three months depending upon where you’re going. There are many international moving companies in Japan to assist you in transporting your personal goods overseas at relatively reasonable rates. Try and get competitive quotes from several moving companies and see how much your move would cost.

4. Cancel Utility Bills

Make sure to cancel all the utility bills the day you moved out of your house. Settle the final bills at least 1-2 weeks ahead before leaving. Internet contract needs to be canceled 2-4 weeks in adavnce and you’ll need to return the modem or other rented equipment. Other services you’ve had contracts for such as TV license or cell phone contract must be canceled as well. Terminating your cell phone contract early comes with a cancellation fee of ¥10,000 and you’ll need to visit the shop to terminate the contract.

5. Pay your Taxes

You must pay your residence tax before leaving Japan, as it’s not deducted from your salary. The tax equals 6% of your annual income, based on the previous year. The bill will be sent to you from the local city tax office and can be easily paid at a local convenience store or a post office.

6. Check your Visa

Before leaving Japan make sure that you have a valid visa, otherwise, you’ll need to apply for “Temporary Status of Residence” at the immigration office. If you show up at the airport with an expired visa even a few days, you’ll be permanently banned from re-entering Japan.

7. Change your Legal Status

In Japan, when you moved in or out of the city you have to notify the city hall/ward office. Bring your official seal and residence card with you and ask for a moving out form called “tenshutsu todoke” which will be required also for pension refund, tax, and future visa purposes. You can fill the form on your departure date as it only takes a few minutes.

8. Return your Health Insurance Card

Leave it as late as possible, because in Japan without your health insurance card you are unable to access affordable medical facilities. Handover your card either to your employer or city hall and switch to travel insurance if you need to travel domestically before leaving Japan.

9. Close your Bank Account

Close your bank account the day before you fly out to make sure you can receive your final salary, the last batch of debit orders, and pay a few last bills. Bank accounts must be closed at the counter so bring your card, passbook, and official documents with you. If you have a credit card, the bank will discard it and give your account balance in cash.

10. Pension and Tax Refund

If you’ve been paying into Japan pension system for at least six months or more, you can claim back Lump-Sum Pension payments. Bring your pension book, and document with a pension number to apply for a pension refund. The pension payment is subject to 20% tax which can be refunded as well. Hire a tax representative and submit the form to your city tax office. After receiving the pension payment, forward the “Notice of the Lump-Sum Withdrawal Payment to your agent, they’ll file for a tax refund which will be transferred to your bank account.

11. Redirecting Your Mail

If you’re expecting a mail after your departure, you can get it redirected to your trustworthy friend in Japan who can personally forward it to your address outside Japan, however, the address must be in Japan. Go to the post office, ask for “tenkyo todoke” form, fill in a change of address notification and your mail will be forwarded for free up to 12 months.

12. Hand over your Residence Card

The last important thing left to do is returning your residence card at the airport. Hand it over to the immigration official so they can punch a hole in it since it’ll be needed to get a pension refund. If you have a valid visa for more than six months, you must give your consent to cancel it at immigration.