We are relocating to Japan with our dog. Will we still have lots of options for housing?

If you are relocating to Japan with a pet, there will be some limitations regarding which properties you can rent. Pet-friendly properties do exist, but many owners choose not to allow tenants to have pets, and even when they allow pets there are some restrictions including the size of the pet, cat or dog (in many cases it is easier to find a property allowing a dog rather than a cat) and the breed.

Even if the owner allows pets, pet owners need to fulfill additional requirements such as paying a larger deposit, and a fee for cleaning and disinfection upon vacating the property.

In addition, in the case of walking a dog, you must always keep them on a leash and clean up after them. And in the case of having a cat, it is often required that the cat is kept indoors.

If you are considering relocating to Japan with your pet, please be sure to inform your relocation specialist at the earliest opportunity.

What do I need to know before bringing my pet to Japan.

There are several steps that need to be taken from a few months before your planned arrival in Japan.

Step 1. Please have your pet fitted with a microchip for identification.

Step 2. If your pet is more than 90 days old, please have it vaccinated against rabies with an inactivated vaccine, then given a booster shot more than 30, but less than 365 days later.

Step 3. Your pet will have to take a blood test at a lab that has been approved by the Japanese authorities.  The test must show a serum antibody level of at least 0.5 IU/ml, and the sample must be taken between 180 days and 2 years before your planned arrival date in Japan.

Step 4. You must notify the Japanese Animal Quarantine Service of your planned arrival date at least 40 days prior to your arrival in Japan.

More detailed information about bringing pets to Japan is provided by the Japanese Quarantine Office here:  https://www.maff.go.jp/aqs/english/

Will my electric appliances work in Japan?

Japan runs on 100V and if you’re from the United States or Canada most electric appliances should work. If your hair dryer or other device runs at over 1500 watts, then you might trip the circuit breaker in your Japanese residence, so for such items we recommending purchasing after you arrive in Japan.

Another potential problem is the plug. While generally the same as those used in North America, Japanese outlets do not allow you to put in 3 prong plugs. Therefore, it is advised to use adapters. Plugging things into Japanese outlets (with the use of an adapter?) should be no problem, but Japanese extension cords and plug sockets cannot take 3 prong plugs.

Is it possible to my spouse to work in Japan?

If your spouse is on a dependent visa, it is possible to apply for “Permission to engage in an activity other than those permitted under the status of residence”, allowing them to work part time for up to 28 hours per week. 

You can find out more information here:


What are the restrictions regarding what I can take through customs?

You can see a list of the customs allowances here: https://www.customs.go.jp/zeikan/pamphlet/guide_e/index.htm

Do I have to pay if I go to the doctor in Japan?

Medical expenses can be very costly. If you live in Japan, you can choose to enroll in Japan’s National Health Insurance. Under this plan you pay a monthly premium, and 30% of your medical/dental bills when treated, and the government pays the other 70%.

You can sign up for it at your local city hall or ward office. The city hall or ward office determines a monthly premium to pay based on your previous year’s income. If you’re new to the plan the amount can be quite low. However, every April at the next premium adjustment you may find the amount increasing based on your income.

If you are working in Japan, your place of work will most likely have its own insurance policies.  Please check with your HR for further information.

Is a foreign driver’s license valid in Japan?

No, no foreign drivers’ licenses are not valid in Japan. If you’re going to drive in Japan, you’ll need to get an international driver’s permit (IDP), or a Japanese license when you’re in Japan. The IDP will only be valid from one year from the issue date, or one year from entering Japan, whichever is shortest, and Japan only accepts IDPs issued under the 1949 Geneva Convention (and not those issued under the 1969 Vienna Convention). Please be sure to check the validity of your IDP before driving in Japan. Also, be sure to carry your home country driver’s license and passport with you when driving on an IDP. After a year in Japan, you are required to get a Japanese license. For more details on obtaining the Japanese license please contact our CBRJ relocation team.

I am thinking of shipping some of my furniture to Japan, but heard that Japanese properties are quite small. Is this true?

There is no problem in bringing your own furniture to Japan, however, we would definitely recommend considering the size and the number of items you bring. Space is quite limited in Japan, and properties tend to be smaller than those in many other countries.

Once you have selected your new home, we strongly recommend you check with the property agent about the size of each room, to make sure your furniture will fit.

Also, please do not forget to check:

- the width and height of the main entrance door.

- the width, height and length of the stairways going to the second floor (in the case of 2 floors) and the width of each doorway into the rooms.

- In the case of an apartment, please also check the elevator sizes (width, height and length) too

Once you have all necessary measurements, you can make an informed choice about what kind of furnishings would be appropriate to bring.

I am hoping to find a property with two bathrooms so that my guests can have their own bathroom. It that going to be difficult in Japan?

Properties that are suitable for families, such as houses, usually only have one full bathroom, and often on the first floor. However, in family houses there will sometimes be a second WC. If you really would like to have a house with 2 full bathrooms, then it will very much limit your options. There are some Western-style rental houses with two bathrooms, but only in certain areas.

Is it possible to lease a piano along with our leased furniture for the duration of our stay?

Yes, it is possible to lease a piano in Japan, however, many property owners do not allow tenants to have pianos in their lease properties. If you would like to have a piano at home, an electric piano with headphones could be an option. There are also practice rooms in major cities, where you can rent a piano room to practice. If you are planning on playing the piano or another musical instrument in your new home in Japan, we recommend consulting with your relocation specialist at the earliest opportunity to ensure you choose a home that is suitable.

Are there any rules about what medications I can bring with me to Japan?

Every country, including Japan, has specific rules on what medications can be brought from oversees. If you are planning to bring your own medication, then please be sure to check that the medication is permitted in Japan and confirm the amount you are able to bring with you. If the medication you use is permitted in Japan, you are usually able to bring or send up to one month’s supply.

You can find out more here:



If you need more than a month’s supply of medicine then you will need a document called “Yakkan shoumei”.

For more details, please see here: