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I'm a dual citizen of countries A and B, living in Japan.

I entered Japan with a work visa on country A's passport, but that passport has expired.

Passport B is still valid.

Normally leaving Japan for the weekend with a valid passport and visa isn't an issue at all, but can I leave and come back in this situation? Can I even leave?

The government pages state that one must possess "a" valid passport.

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    That probably depends a lot on country B, and whether citizens of country B need a visa to enter Japan. Can't you renew your passport for country A? – jcaron Jul 11 at 15:29
  • @jcaron No, country B doesn't need a visa to enter – Mars Jul 11 at 15:34
  • And yes, I can renew passport A, but unfortunately not in time – Mars Jul 11 at 15:41
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    That's what emergency passports are for. Of course, they are typically only issued for, well, emergencies. If your case is not an emergency, take it as a lesson learned. – fkraiem Jul 12 at 18:13
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I didn't get an explanation, but according to the Osaka Immigration Bureau, I cannot leave and re-enter while passport A is expired.


My guess is that an expired passport disqualifies me from the special re-entry permit and since my visa is tied to my expired passport/country, I probably wouldn't be able to re-enter the long way with my visa either.


Update

Apparently Japan has become a little more lenient regarding dual citizenships (just not for their own citizens). I was able to register my second nationality at immigration and was told that I may now use either passport when leaving and entering the country. The dual citizenship has been marked on my residence card.

Note: I have not actually tried this yet, so there may still be bumps at the airport

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    Your "visa" is not "tied" to your passport. It is tied to your nationality (of country A), however. – fkraiem Jul 12 at 5:12
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    @fkraiem Visas are usually tied to passports, no? But they can usually be transferred/reissued to a new passport. – lambshaanxy Jul 12 at 6:19
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    @npst That part is left unanswered, isn't it. I suppose I could technically just enter the country again on passport B, due to the visa waiver program (maybe? at least it was suggested by @jcaron). But I'm not familiar with the technical details of the special re-entry permit. There could possibly have been a loophole where I leave and come back on my passportB and just stay here for the duration of my visa... – Mars Jul 12 at 10:56
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    @jpatokal This is why I put "visa" between quotes; in fact here we are not talking about OP's visa at all but about OP's residency information, as reflected for instance on his/her residence card. OP is registered in immigration's database as a national of country A, so it's not possible to use a passport of country B for any immigration-related procedure. However, if/when OP renews his/her country-A passport, there is no "transfer" procedure to do. – fkraiem Jul 12 at 13:40
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    That was presumably before you were registered as a resident? – fkraiem Jul 13 at 14:32
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Having two passports is like having two identities. So what goes on in passport A is of no concern to passport B.

I think that if you stay in Japan on visa on passport A then you must keep passport A active and valid no matter what.

An aside. I heard of a case that a Japanese citizen with a kid of dual nationality went out of Japan and on the way back in to Japan accidently presented the kid's foreign passport which was duly stamped with a 90 day tourist visa. When she later realized what she had done she had a lot of problems resolving it. The simplest way would have been to leave the country again with the kid and return on the Japanese passport before the tourist visa expired.

So trying to juggle visas on two passports falls into the category of "Don't do that."

  • I imagine the problems in your anecdote stem from the fact that Japan doesn't allow dual citizenship. As for not juggling visas, I can't back that statement. There are simply too many advantages to dual-wielding passports and "you might mess up" doesn't out-weigh that. "You might mess up" driving a car next time you get in, and those consequences are far worse, yet I'm guessing you will get in a car again at some point in time. – Mars Aug 16 at 4:29
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    Also worth noting that in the US-EU case, the US immigration page actually outlines the procedure of Leave US on US passport, Enter EU on EU passport, Leave EU on EU passport, Re-enter US on US passport. It's also illegal to enter the US as a US citizen on a separate passport. If Japan has similar laws regarding minors with dual citizenship, that would also likely have caused many headaches. – Mars Oct 1 at 4:52
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There’s a little bit to untangle here, which I feel might be best in a separate answer.

General points

When you enter Japan on a mid to long term visa (e.g. work visa or student visa), that visa is ticked off at your port of entry and you instead receive a resident card. Thereafter, the visa sticker is just a bit of colour in your passport; the residence card is what matters both to Japanese immigration control and to the airlines checking if they can let you board.

When you enter Japan as a citizen of a visa-free country, you get a landing sticker into your passport which effectively serves as an entry stamp. When you leave Japan, the immigration agent will search for that entry stamp and apply the corresponding exit stamp there.

When you leave Japan temporarily while your residence card is valid (i.e. the special re-entry permit system), you fill out a form on departure half of which is stapled to your passport and an exit stamp is placed next to it. When you return, the half that was stapled is removed and the (re)-entry stamp placed near the exit stamp.

(I haven’t yet tried what happens when one leaves Japan altogether at the end of one’s mid to long term visa period. I expect a reverse direction version of the first)

Thus, from the point of view of Japanese bureaucracy, these entries and exits always come in pairs but which pair you are eligible for depends on your status. You will want either an entry stamp as a short-stay visitor or a residence card and a re-entry permit on departure and you will want either a passport of a visa-free country or an existing re-entry permit and exit stamp on return.

Your residence card only states nationality A

Now as long as your residence card doesn’t denote your nationality B, you cannot exit under the re-entry permit system using passport B, as the citizen on your residence card has nationality A. Likewise, if you present passport B as if you were a short-term visa-free visitor, the immigration agent will notice that there is no corresponding entry stamp and that will lead to problems.

It doesn’t stop there. Assume you somehow got out using passport B; what happens when you go back? Every single time I checked in for my flights back to Japan as a mid to long term resident, I was asked for a confirmed onward trip or a residence card. (In fact, when checking in for the outbound leg, the airlines already wanted to see my residence card in addition to my passport.) It probably won’t create an issue at the border itself, as short-term visitors tend to get waved through pretty quickly (my European nationality may bias me here) but then you suddenly have an entry stamp without a corresponding exit stamp in passport B which will probably cause you issues after your residence if you visit again on passport B.

tl;dr: it may work, but it’s most certainly not worth trying and explaining all the shenanigans.

Your residence card states nationalities A and B

You describe this in your follow-up to your own answer and in the comments as a surprisingly easy process. Once the residence card states both nationalities, you can present any passport on exit and/or re-entry. I would strongly believe that the immigration officer on re-entry would like to see the same passport you exited with (see above, passport stamps and the stapled form) but it might even be possible to exit and reenter using the two different passports.

As I mention above, the visa sticker is pretty much irrelevant once you’re inside and it’s ticked off so passport B or a renewed passport A not having it don’t matter.

tl;dr: Go for this solution if the need arises.

  • A very solid answer, but from my updated answer: You register nationality B as a secondary and you can use either passport, according to immigration. – Mars Oct 1 at 0:22
  • @Mars Yes, I acknowledge that in passing by prefacing the paragraph with ‘as long as your residence card doesn’t denote your nationality B’. – Jan Oct 1 at 4:42
  • Registering took me less than an hour and so far there haven't been any shenanigans... I'm just wondering what makes it not worth it. It took me much longer and cost much more money to renew my country A passport when I could have traveled on passport B – Mars Oct 1 at 4:48
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    @Mars I hope my expansion to the answer and addition of headings will end any remaining confusion ^^ – Jan Oct 1 at 4:59

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