Japanese visa renewal, part 1: tax forms (kazeishoumeisho and nozeishoumeisho)
A few weeks ago, I put in my 'application for extension of period of stay' to renew my visa. It all went well, and now I can remain in Japan that bit longer. Yay!
For my type of work visa, I needed to submit 2 tax forms with the application. The kazeishoumeisho (課税証明書) and the nozeishoumeisho (納税証明書).
These prove you've been paying (the right amount of) tax. For the most recently available year of data, that is. If your application's early in the year (before April), last year's info won't be available yet and you'll need the forms from the year before last. Seeing as my trip to immigration was in February 2018, my info came from 2016's records - more on that below.
The info out there on how to get hold of these forms is... lacking. Some sites/pages mention that you need them, but don't give any details on where to apply or how much they cost.
Step 1? - go to the kuyakusho (ward office)
Both forms can be requested at your local ward office (区役所), at 300 yen per copy of each document. That's the price in Osaka, but I think it's a universal cost throughout Japan.
It has to be done at the ward office for the area you live in. I'll let you in on a not-so-secret: I HATE going there, for any reason.
The idea of trekking over there to awkwardly communicate tax words I don't know - funnily enough, it's not that appealing. If there was any other option out there, I wanted to try that first.
Step 2 - go to the convenience store
Did you know you can print your tax forms from the multicopier at a conbini? It costs 200 yen per print - less than at the ward office. Take your My Number card, switch the machine language to English if needed, follow the certificate printing instructions, and voila.
I was sold on this method. But I'm not explaining the whole step-by-step process in this post, and here's why.
On my first try, the copier system was down for maintenance over the weekend. Okay, no big deal.
Tried again on a weekday morning, and the machine wouldn't play ball. I assumed I had to use a conbini in the same area I lived in. So I went home, and gave this a 3rd go at a convenience store near my apartment. And a 4th, 5th, and 6th go. With an error message every time.
I was staring down at my My Number card in frustration, wondering why the heck it wouldn't work... and then it hit me. The expiry date.
Y'see, your My Number is valid for as long as you're in Japan. But the card's ability to access electronic documents has to be renewed along with your visa. Mine expired back with my first Working Holiday Visa. I didn't know, and I didn't update it when I got my work visa.
There wasn't enough time to get the digital certificate validity renewed in between. So, that plan was officially shot to hell.
Step 3 - apply for the tax forms by post
Trawling the web for other ideas led me to some downloadable postal forms.
These have to go to a 'tax certificate sending office'. Not the ward office, or the tax office. Osaka's tax certificate issuing centre is in Umeda, nowhere near my local ward office. I figured it was worth a try.
They ask for: application forms for the data you need, postal orders as payment, and a stamped self-addressed return envelope. The forms are only in Japanese, so I had fun (not) trying to write legible kanji in tiny blank spaces.
Off I trotted to the post office, and off it all went.
The following day, I got a call from the tax office. They told me:
I'd asked for the wrong year of data - 2017's info wasn't available yet
I'd also used some outdated versions of the postal forms, because they didn't update their website
They didn't, in fact, have any of the 2016 data I should've asked for anyway
I needed to fill in another form and post that to them, at my own expense
Oh, and they wouldn't be able to send my stamped, addressed envelope back either... because I hadn't written my middle name on it.
I got as far as printing and filling out the missing form. It never got posted, though.
Final step - go to the damn kuyakusho
People started to notice I was getting frustrated with the system. To be fair, I was openly crying at my desk. Someone finally said 'just go to the bloody ward office, it's open late tonight'.
That's what I did. Wiped the snot from my face, and shuffled there in shame.
Going through 2 failed approaches made it weirdly easier. I had to fill in those application forms again - but this time they helped me ask for the right things. I needed the extra form, so they could pull my data - it was right there in my bag.
The process still took 45 minutes, and I paid full price for each copy. Even so, I got my damn tax forms. And I'll know better for next time.
As an addendum: once I had the tax forms in hand, I called the tax office back up to cancel my postal application. The nice man on the other end was lovely about it. He told me they'd gladly send my envelope back, no problem at all. I moved from the UK to Japan, but I still couldn't escape Sod's Law.