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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
(1) General Concept
Q 1-0 Does the Social Security and Tax Number System apply to foreigners? And if it does, does it apply to all foreigners?
A 1-0 The Social Security and Tax Number System applies to foreigners who have legally resided in Japan for more than three months and have an address in Japan (i.e., if any one of the following classifications applies).
Q 1-1 What is the Individual Number (nicknamed "My Number")?
A 1-1 Under the Social Security and Tax Number System, mayors issue a single Individual Number to each and every person holding a resident record who resides in their municipalities. In principle, once an Individual Number has been issued, it does not change for the duration of the recipient's life.
Q 1-2 What can I do to check what my own Individual Number is?
A 1-2 Your municipality will send to you a "notification card" noting your Individual Number in or after October 2015. You may use this card to check your number. For more information, please see "Questions concerning Individual Numbers."
Q 1-3 What are the advantages of the Social Security and Tax Number System?
A 1-3 Among other advantages, it will improve public convenience by reducing the number of accompanying documents needed for administrative procedures related to social security and taxation, and by providing notification services via the Disclosure System of Personal Information Cooperation Record. It will also bring greater administrative efficiency, which will free up human and financial resources for redirection to public services, and allow the design of new and better-directed social security schemes through more precise ascertainment of residents' income.
Q 1-4 Who will use my Individual Number, and in what situations will they use it?
A 1-4 Individual Numbers will be used by central government organizations, local governments, and others in the areas of social security administration, taxation, and disaster response.
Q 1-5 If Individual Numbers will be used in various situations, does that mean I can give my number to anyone?
A 1-5 You must not provide your Individual Number to others irresponsibly. You should only provide it to administrative organs and others that handle procedures in the areas of social security administration, taxation, and disaster response.
Q 1-6 If use of Individual Numbers will eliminate the need for accompanying documents, does this mean that attaching copies of resident records and family registers will become unnecessary in all cases?
A 1-6 With the introduction of Individual Numbers, information-sharing will begin at the central government level from January 2017 and at the local government level from July 2017. Such sharing will make attaching copies of resident records and other such documents unnecessary for procedures related to social security administration, taxation, and disaster response.
Q 1-7 Why can't the resident record code be used as is?
A 1-7 The main reasons are that drastic operational reforms would be required because the "resident record code" was never envisioned to be used like the Individual Number, and that many participating in the public comment phase expressed the view that new numbers should be used.
(2) Questions concerning Individual Numbers
Q 2-1 When and how will I be notified of my Individual Number, and when can I start to use it?
A 2-1 According to the schedule, your municipality will notify you of your Individual Number by sending a "notification card" to the address on your resident record in or after October 2015. As for its use, the number will be required on documents that you submit to administrative organs in the areas of social security administration, taxation, and disaster response beginning in January 2016. Taking the filing of income tax returns as an example, you will need to provide your Individual Number beginning with your 2016 tax return, which you will file in February or March of 2017.
Q 2-2 Will Individual Numbers also be issued to people who do not have a resident record?
A 2-2 Because Individual Numbers will be prepared based on resident record codes, they cannot be issued to people who do not have resident records, such as people residing overseas. People who have a prepared resident record will be issued an Individual Number. Even foreigners will be issued an Individual Number if they have a resident record.
Q 2-3 How many digits will an Individual Number have? Will the number contain alphabetic letters?
A 2-3 Individual Numbers will have 12 digits and be comprised of numerals only.
Q 2-4 Will I be able to change my Individual Number if I so desire?
A 2-4 As a rule, the same Individual Number will continue to be used throughout the bearer's lifetime and cannot be freely changed. However, a number can be changed based on a request from the bearer or the mayor's authority, but only if the number was leaked and it is recognized that the number could be used improperly.
Q 2-5 If I leave Japan to reside overseas and then later return to Japan, will I be able to continue using the same Individual Number I used prior to my departure? Or will I be issued a new number?
A 2-5 You will use the same number you used prior to your departure.
Q 2-6 Will an Individual Number still be issued to me even if I am outside of Japan in October 2015 (the time that number notifications are issued) and do not have a resident record?
A 2-6 If you leave Japan prior to October 2015 and do not prepare a resident record in Japan even once in the subsequent time, you will not be issued an Individual Number. You will only be issued an Individual Number if you reenter Japan and prepare a resident record.
Q 2-7 Who are the "Person in Charge of Affairs Using the Individual Number" and "Person in Charge of Affairs Related to the Individual Number" stipulated in the Number Use Act?
A 2-7 "Person in Charge of Affairs Using the Individual Number" refers to a central government organization, local government, independent administrative corporation, or other organization that uses Individual Numbers to handle the administrative duties that are established in Attached Table 1 of the Number Use Act and ordinances. "Person in Charge of Affairs Related to the Individual Number" refers to a person who submits a document containing an Individual Number to a Person in Charge of Affairs Using the Individual Number based on laws and ordinances. For example, in the case of tax-related duties, the commissioner of the National Tax Agency (tax offices), prefectural governors, and mayors (officers in charge of tax affairs) are Persons in Charge of Affairs Using the Individual Number, and private businesses and others who submit certificates of income and withholding tax and payment records that contain Individual Numbers to these persons (organizations) are Persons in Charge of Affairs Related to the Individual Number.
(3) Questions concerning Cards
Q 3-1 When will I receive my Individual Number Card?
A 3-1 You may receive your Individual Number Card from January 2016 after sending in the application form that you will receive together with the notification card. You must return the notification card to your municipality when receiving your Individual Number Card.
Q 3-2 What can I use my Individual Number Card for? And how does it differ from the notification card?
A 3-2 Like Basic Resident Registration Cards, Individual Number Cards will contain an IC chip. They will have the bearer's name, address, date of birth, and sex (known as the "four basic information items") as well as an ID photograph on the front, and the Individual Number on the back. You may use your card as a form of personal ID to confirm your identity. You may also use it to receive services established in the ordinances of local governments, such as receipt of a library card or seal registration certificate. Your card will also contain an electronic certificate that can be used for electronic filing for the online national tax return filing and tax payment system (e-Tax). For more information on the electronic certificate, please see Q 3-4.
Q 3-3 Will I be able to use my Individual Number Card as personal identification for purposes other than administrative procedures, such as when I join a video rental shop or gym?
A 3-3 Because your Individual Number Card will contain your name, address, date of birth, and sex (four basic information items) plus an ID photograph, you may use it as personal identification for a wide range of purposes, including joining a video rental shop. However, you may not give the Individual Number printed on the back of the card to the rental shop or other such establishment. Furthermore, the rental shop, etc., is prohibited from writing down or copying your number.
Q 3-4 What is the electronic certificate of the Public Certification Service for Individuals that is contained in an Individual Number Card?
A 3-4 The electronic certificate issued by the Public Certification Service for Individuals is a means of personal identification that is used to prevent identity theft and data falsification when submitting online applications or notifications via the Internet. The electronic certificate contained in an Individual Number Card can be used to attach an electronic signature to information on applications, etc., thus proving that the information was actually sent by the card's bearer.
Q 3-5 Will it be possible for information to be leaked from the Individual Number Card's IC chip?
A 3-5 The IC chip in the card will not contain any highly private information on taxes or pensions, for example. Therefore, no such information can be obtained from the card. (Information in the card will be limited to the information that is printed on its surface as well as the electronic certificate of the Public Certification Service for Individuals.)
Q 3-6 Am I required to obtain an Individual Number Card?
A 3-6 Individual Number Cards will be issued by the mayor of your municipality in response to received applications, and therefore you will not be forced to obtain a card. However, the card will help improve convenience in daily life, as it will serve to confirm the bearer's Individual Number in various procedures and as a means of personal identification. For this reason, the national government hopes to see as many residents as possible obtain cards.
Q 3-7 When the Number System comes into effect, what will happen to the Basic Resident Registration Card?
A 3-7 No new Basic Resident Registration Cards will be issued after the issuance of Individual Number Cards begins (scheduled for January of 2016). However, Basic Resident Registration Cards that were issued prior to December 2015 will be useable for the remainder of their period of validity.
Q 3-8 Will Individual Number Cards have a period of validity?
A 3-8 We are studying a plan that would make the cards valid for 10 years for people aged 20 years or older and 5 years for people aged less than 20 years (this shorter period is based on consideration of the fact that younger people's physical appearance will change considerably as they grow).
Q 3-9 How will my identity be confirmed when I receive my Individual Number Card?
A 3-9 As a rule, when you receive your Individual Number Card, you will be required to personally visit the appropriate service counter at your municipal office to have your identity confirmed. However, if you have difficulty traveling to the municipal office due to disease, disability, or other valid reason, you may have a person whom you have personally designated receive your card for you.
Q 3-10 What should I do if there is a change in the information on my notification card or Individual Number Card?
A 3-10 When you move to a new municipality and submit a Move in Notification to the municipal office, you must also present your notification card or Individual Number Card to have the details on it changed. For other cases as well, if any change is made to the information printed on your notification card or Individual Number Card, you must submit a notification to your municipality within 14 days and have that change reflected on your card.
(4) Questions concerning Handling by Private Businesses
Q 4-1 Will private business also handle my Individual Number?
A 4-1 Private businesses must also receive the Individual Numbers of their employees and their dependents, print them on certificates of income and withholding tax for employment income as well as notices of acquisition of insurance qualification for social insurance that they issue for the employees, and then submit those documents to the relevant administrative organs. Similarly, Individual Numbers must be printed on payment records prepared by insurance companies, records of payment of manuscript fees, etc.
Q 4-2 When will a decision be made on which forms (records and notices) will require Individual Numbers?
A 4-2 Details will be established in ordinances to be issued by the relevant ministries having jurisdiction over affairs pertaining to social security, national tax, local tax, and disaster response. A Ministry of Finance ordinance concerning national tax was issued in July 2014. It is expected that ordinances from other concerned ministries will be officially announced by around the fall of 2014.
Q 4-3 Can private businesses use Individual Numbers to manage information on their employees and customers?
A 4-3 Individual Numbers may not be used for any purpose that is outside the scope of procedures for social security administration, taxation, and disaster response that is established in laws and ordinances. Except when required for such procedures, private businesses may not ask employers and customers to provide their Individual Numbers, nor may they collect and/or store personal information that includes Individual Numbers. Private businesses are permitted to use Individual Number Cards as ID to confirm the identity of customers for tasks that are outside the scope of procedures established by laws and ordinances. However, in such cases, they may not write down or copy the Individual Number appearing on the back of the Individual Number Card.
Q 4-4 Is there a deadline by which private businesses must obtain their employees' Individual Numbers?
A 4-4 Businesses are free to obtain Individual Numbers at anytime up until the time they submit legally required records that note those numbers. Thus, they are not necessarily required to obtain them at the time the Individual Number System starts in January 2016. For example, in the case of certificates of income and withholding tax for employment income, the system applies to employee income paid from January 2016, and thus businesses must begin providing Individual Numbers on their certificates with those they submit by the end of January 2017 (with the exception of certificates for employees who left employment during the course of the year).
Q 4-5 Must private businesses also confirm the identity of retired pension recipients?
A 4-5 Even if a person is a retired pension recipient, the business must confirm his or her identity if it has received an Individual Number from that person or his/her proxy.
Q 4-6 Are there any points private businesses must bear in mind when handling Individual Numbers?
A4-6 As a rule, they cannot use Individual Numbers outside the scope of usage that is stipulated by law, and they cannot irresponsibly provide Specific Personal Information (personal information that includes an Individual Number) to others. Moreover, they must take necessary measures to ensure the appropriate management of Individual Numbers when handling those numbers. This includes prevention of leaks, loss, and damage. A set of guidelines covering specific measures is scheduled to be released by the Specific Personal Information Protection Commission around the fall of 2016. It should be noted that a business that handles Specific Personal Information in an inappropriate manner may receive guidance or advice or even an admonishment or directive from the Specific Personal Information Protection Commission. Additionally, a business that provides a Specific Personal Information File (a personal information file that includes an Individual Number) containing confidential personal information to another party without a valid reason will be subject to punishment.
Q 4-7 Can private businesses outsource or subcontract work involving the handling of Individual Numbers?
A 4-7 Private businesses are permitted to outsource some or the entirety of work involving the handling of Individual Numbers. They may also subcontract some or the entirety of such work provided the business accepting the subcontract is their licensed subcontractor.
Q 4-8 Must private businesses conduct Specific Personal Information Protection Assessments?
A 4-8 A Specific Personal Information Protection Assessment is an assessment of risks and effects to be generated by leaks of Specific Personal Information (personal information that includes an Individual Number) that is conducted by a body that intends to possess a Specific Personal Information File (a personal information file that includes an Individual Number)
Q 4-9 Can a private business apply Specific Personal Information (personal information that includes an Individual Number) that it obtained for a particular Affair Related to the Individual Number to a separate Affair Related to the Individual Number? (For example, can a business use an employee's Individual Number that it obtained for tax withholding in social insurance procedures?)
A 4-9 Under the Number Use Act, Individual Numbers may be used to the extent required for an Affair Related to the Individual Number. Accordingly, a business is permitted to use Individual Numbers it obtains for tax withholding only to the extent required to execute tasks related to tax withholding. However, when obtaining Individual Numbers from employees, businesses will be permitted to obtain and use the numbers after comprehensively specifying to employees the tasks for which Individual Numbers will be used and the purposes of such use (e.g., for tax withholding, health insurance procedures, etc.).
Q 4-10 Rather than managing the Individual Numbers of employees and their dependents on a task-specific basis (e.g., for taxation, social security, etc.), will private businesses be permitted to build a system for managing and collecting Individual Numbers and then execute tasks by linking this system with its existing systems?
A 4-10 As was explained in Q 4-9, businesses must specify the purposes for which Individual Numbers will be used when obtaining them from employees. They must control linkage with existing systems and take other measures to prevent use that goes beyond the specified scope of use.
Q 4-11 When a business assigns or transfers an employee to a subsidiary, etc., will providing Specific Personal Information (personal information that includes an Individual Number) for that employee to his or her new place of assignment/transfer present a problem?
A 4-11 Providing Specific Personal Information to businesses receiving assigned/transferred employees and obtaining Specific Personal Information from businesses sending assigned/transferred employees are violations of Articles 19 and 20 of the Number Use Act. Thus, the business that receives the employee must obtain the information directly from that employee. However, if a sending business is entrusted with handling a portion of Affairs Related to the Individual Number based on an outsourcing contract or agency agreement with the receiving business, the sending business receives a number notification from the employee, and the sending business confirms the employee's identity, the sending business is permitted to provide Specific Personal Information to the receiving business after the receiving business reconfirms the employee's identity.
(5) Questions concerning the Protection of Personal Information
Q 5-1 Can information on medical care (case history, medication, etc.) be leaked through the system?
A 5-1 At the present time, case history and other medical care information are not part of the Number System. This is a topic to be studied in the future.
Q 5-2 I have heard that "personal information will be consolidated." Is this true?
A 5-2 A "dispersed management" system will be used to manage information. Here, each body will continue to manage the personal information it possesses it has traditionally done and share necessary information only when it is required. Because no common database based on Individual Numbers will be built within a specific body, there is no danger that massive leaks of personal information from such a database will occur.
Q 5-3 Won't cases of identity theft become common?
A 5-3 It is believed that incidents of identity theft in other countries were partly the result of identification made with numbers only and a lack of use restrictions on numbers. In the case of Japan's Number System, strict identification obligations are in place and measures will be implemented to ensure that use is limited to that permitted by law.
(6) Questions concerning the Disclosure System of Personal Information Cooperation Record
Q 6-1 What is the Disclosure System of Personal Information Cooperation Record?
A 6-1 This system will be set up to allow you to check when and where administrative organs shared information that is attached with your Individual Number via your computer or other device. It will also allow you to check information concerning you that administrative organs possess as well as receive important notices to you from those organizations. For example, plans call for the system to permit you to obtain the amounts you pay in social insurance premiums and information useful when preparing your tax returns.
Q 6-2 When will the Disclosure System of Personal Information Cooperation Record become available?
A 6-2 It is scheduled to be available from January 2017.
Q 6-3 How will the elderly, the disabled, and people without PCs be able to access the Disclosure System of Personal Information Cooperation Record?
A 6-3 We intend to consider ease of use for the elderly and disabled people when designing the system's screens.
(7) Future Schedule
Q 7-1 There is talk of private-sector use. How will that develop?
A 7-1 Private-sector use is something that will be studied around three years after the Number Use Act comes into effect. Circumstances surrounding the law's execution will be considered at that time. If, as a result, it is determined that there is a need for private-sector use, necessary measures will be implemented alongside efforts to gain the public's understanding for such need.
Q 7-2 Do you expect the system's development to go well?
A 7-2 We believe we are building the system in an appropriate manner by working in close coordination with concerned organizations and giving due consideration to the clarification of requirements definitions in procurement specifications, proper evaluation of businesses' technical capabilities, and use of outside experts. We are taking these steps under the guidance of the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary for Information Technology Policy (Government Chief Information Officer).
Q 7-3 I heard a "My Number call center" will be set up. When will it begin operation?
A 7-3 We are making preparations toward establishing a call center to handle inquiries about the My Number system from the public and private businesses in October of 2014. (According to our schedule, the call center will begin taking inquiries in Japanese and English from October 2014 and in Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and Portuguese from April 2015.) The telephone number and other information will be made available separately once the details are set.
Q 7-4 I understand there is a plan to prepare posters for the Number System in fiscal 2014. Can individuals who desire them have the completed posters sent to them?
A 7-4 There is a plan to distribute posters to local governments, tax offices, pension offices, Hello Work offices, and other public bodies around the fall of 2014. However, there are no plans to distribute printed posters to individuals who want them.
Q 7-5 Is it permitted to use the Number System's logo in business PR?
A 7-5 Persons in Charge of Affairs Using the Individual Number (specifically, central government organizations, local governments, independent administrative corporations, etc.) can use the logo to publicize the Number System without having to take any special procedures. Private businesses that are other than Persons in Charge of Affairs Using the Individual Number but wish to help publicize the system may also use the logo provided they receive approval from the Cabinet Office using the prescribed procedure.
Q 7-6 Where can I get literature, materials, and up-to-date information on the Number System?
A 7-6 All types of literature, materials, and up-to-date information are made available to the public through the Number System's website.
(8) Questions concerning the Corporate Number
Q 8-1 How many digits will a Corporate Number have?
A 8-1 Corporate Numbers will be 13-digit numbers comprised of numerals only. If a corporation registered its establishment based on the Companies Act or other laws or ordinances (hereafter, "establishment-registered corporation"), its number will be its Company, etc., Number (12 digits) that was issued based on the Commercial Registration Act plus a one-digit examination numeral added to the front.
Q 8-2 Is the scope of use for the Corporate Number the same as that for the Individual Number?
A 8-2 Unlike the Individual Number, there is no restriction on the scope of use for the Corporate Number in itself. Therefore, it can be used freely by anyone.
Q 8-3 What organizations will be issued a Corporate Number?
A 8-3 Corporate Numbers will be issued to 1) central government organizations, 2) local governments, 3) establishment-registered corporations, and 4) corporations other than 1 to 3) and associations without juridical personality that are required to submit notifications stipulated in national tax laws, such as the "report on commencement of salary payments for withholding tax purposes" that is stipulated in Article 230 of the Income Tax Act.
Q 8-4 When and how will corporations be notified of their Corporate Number?
A 8-4 Under the current plan, the commissioner of the National Tax Agency will notify corporations of their Corporate Number with a separate document (not with the kind of notification card that will be used for the Individual Number) in or after October 2015.
Q 8-5 Where will the Corporate Number notification be sent?
A 8-5 In the case of establishment-registered corporations, the notification will be sent to the registered address. For corporations and other bodies that are other than establishment-registered corporations but which submit notifications stipulated in national tax laws, the notification will be sent to the address noted on those notifications. Accordingly, if a corporation has had a change in address from the one it registered or provided to the tax office, the notification will go to its previous address if it does not complete updating procedures.
Q 8-6 How will Corporate Numbers be announced to the public? And what kind of information will be announced?
A 8-6 We plan to announce Corporate Numbers via the Internet.
Q 8-7 Will the three basic information items be announced for all bodies that are issued a Corporate Number?
A 8-7 Of those bodies that are issued a Corporate Number, in the case of associations without juridical personality, the commissioner of the National Tax Agency must obtain the consent of a representative or manager of that body before announcing information. Accordingly, the three basic information items will not be announced for associations without juridical personality that do not provide this consent.