It's not easy for foreigners to find a Japanese birth certificate (shuseisho meisho or shusshou todoke kisaijiko shomeisho). There is no central registry, so the city in which a baby was born keeps the birth certificate on file. Municipal employees aren't likely to speak English, which poses an additional challenge for most Americans trying to get one. Still, whether by person or through the mail, you should be able to receive a Japanese birth certificate by following the written request process.
Hire a translator. If you don't speak Japanese, you'll need a translator to help you talk to city officials. This person doesn't have to be a licensed translator – he or she can also be a friend or relative who speaks Japanese.
Write a request for the birth certificate. The request should have the child's full name, current address, date of birth, date the birth was reported (if you know it, usually a few days after the birth), parents' names and nationalities and the reason for your request. This request needs to be in Japanese, so have your translator write out the translation. Even foreign names should be written in the Japanese katakana.
Visit the city hall in the city where the child was born. If you are still living in Japan, you simply need to stop by the local city hall and present your request. You may want to have your translator accompany you to avoid any communication problems. You will have to pay 350 yen to receive the birth certificate.
Send a request to the city hall. If you currently live outside of Japan, you can send your request by mail. Be sure to include an international money order for 350 yen and a self-addressed, stamped envelop. Remember that your return postage must be Japanese postage and enough to cover international mail. You may want to simply include extra money in the money order and explain that it is for postage.
Follow up if you don't receive the birth certificate. If you don't receive a response to your request within six weeks, call to follow up. If you don't speak Japanese, have your translator make the call.
If your child was adopted, the adoption agency may be able to help you retrieve a copy of the birth certificate.
- Maggie McCormick