The Residence Card (在留カード), formerly known as the Alien Registration Card or Certificate of Alien Registration (外国人登録証明書), also sometimes commonly called the “gaijin card (外人カード)”, is issued by the Ministry of Justice to every foreign national who has obtained a permit of residence in Japan. This means that the Residence Card is only for mid- to long-term foreign residents.
Tourists, or foreigners with a short-term visa (for 90 days or less) will not receive this card and must therefor instead have a valid passport on them at all time. Mid- to long-term residents do not have to carry their passport on them, but are required by law to carry their Residence Card at all times.
What is the penalty if I don’t carry my Residence Card?
If you don’t carry a valid residence card you can get a fine of up to 200,000 yen. If you refuse to present your card to a police officer, immigration officer, or any other person of authority, you can get also get a fine of up to 200,000 yen, or even get prison time of up to one year. This does not mean, however, that you will get fined if you forgot to take your card with you. But it is best to always have it on you to avoid trouble in the first place.
As a mid- to long-term resident, can I carry my passport instead of my Residence Card?
No. You can carry both if you want, but your passport does not replace your Residence Card.
Does MyNumber replaces the Residence Card?
No. MyNumber is also a sort of identification card (ID), but you are not required by law to carry it at all times unlike the Residence Card. However, this card is also important and you should carry it with you anyway. There is no card that can replace the Residence Card for mid- to long-term residents.