Apartment moving in Japan
Apartments available in Japan are usually not furnished. There are furnished apartments in urban areas, but still not many. In most cases of apartment moving, all your belongings such as a bed or a refrigerator must be transported, and people usually ask a professional moving company for help. You can carry out without hiring a moving company, or by asking your friends for help, etc., but, consider time and money for having to do extra works such as providing protection sheets used in the curing of floors.
Hikkoshi is not easy...
Hikkoshi moving involves not only transferring your belongings but also various procedures that include sign-ups for utilities, Internet ISP as well as registration changes at a municipal office. If you move to a place in the same town where you are currently live in, things to do would be somewhat simpler, but there are still many things to do, after all.
In most cases, rental agreements for apartments in Japan require renewal every 2 years and the renewal fee costs a lot. You may feel like moving to another apartment rather than having to pay such money, but remember Hikkoshi also costs a lot and involves much trouble you have to go through.
Also, if you are a student or a worker who is planning to live in Japan temporarily, renting a room in a shared house will be much convenient.
How long will it take for Hikkoshi preparation?
For Hikkoshi preparation you will need at least one month. You should do things alongside, one after the other, so that you can finish by the moving date (Hikkoshibi 引越し日) in accordance with the lease contract expiration.
Things to do for Hikkoshi moving
In general, what you have to do for Hikkoshi moving are like the following.
1. Ask a moving company for a quote
Contact a moving company and ask someone to come for estimating the moving fee. The quote is free of charge and this is a secure way to get an exact cost quoted. If you want to ask a moving company only for transferring large items, for example, a refrigerator and a bed, requesting a quote online will be much easier. However, you should keep in mind that it may cost additional fees if you make input errors when sending a request form. (FYI, Moving companies have a legal obligation to submit quotes (Mitsumorisho) to customers)
- Moving fees are high on weekends, national holidays and busy seasons.
- Packing by yourself can be cost-saving
- If you want to ask a moving company only for transferring large or heavy items, choose those items before you contact a moving company.
- Some moving companies offer a service called Tsumikiri 積み切り which is to transport items only as many as they can load in a truck. This service is cheaper than regular moving services, but it is risky as they may leave large items that you cannot carry by yourself.
- Check if there are items to dispose of, and exclude them from the items to be quoted.
- You are not allowed to leave any unwanted items in the room when moving out. Keep that mind when requesting a quote.
- In the case of a furnished apartment, exclude the equipped items from the items to be quoted.
- If you want someone at the moving company to remove your air conditioner, the service fee should also be included in the quote.
*You can ask another specialist to remove it, but consider that it costs and consumes much time for arrangement after all.
- Moving companies have a legal obligation to submit their policy information 引越運送約款 to customers. You should carefully check both the quote and the policy before signing up.
2. Set the moving date and get started
Once you set up the moving date, you can take necessary actions; canceling (Kaiyaku 解約) / signing up (Shinki Keiyaku 新規契約) for utilities, telephone, Internet ISP, school change, etc., as well as registration changes at the municipal office. Don’t forget to notify the landlord or the realtor of the moving date and arrange the move-out inspection (Tachiai 立ち合い).
- Make a to-do list so you can avoid mixing up things to do for moving out and moving in.
- Be sure and don’t forget to cancel the utilities which bills are automatically withdrawn from your bank account. (Jido Shiharai 自動支払い)
- Move-out inspection or Tachiai is done together with the landlord or the realtor and check how much repair is required, such as for fixing scratches on the floor, etc. (Tatami mats are usually replaced every time the resident moves out.) Tachiai is usually done on a moving day after taking out all items from the room. If Tachiai cannot be done on the same day as you are too busy, you can set up the Tachiai on a day later.
- If you have a child/ children having to transfer school, visit the school office and ask for school change which is called Tenkou Tetsuzuki 転校手続き.
3. Dispose of unwanted belongings
Though small unwanted items can be collected as garbage, you should not discard a large volume of garbage at a garbage collection point all at once. To dispose of garbage, sort them by recyclables, combustibles, non-combustibles following the regulation in your town and discard little by little in several times.
For large garbage, such as furniture, bicycles, you are to discard them like one of these ways below;
(FYI. There is a regulation that moving companies are not allowed to discard such items for their customers. )
Bring and sell them to a recycle shop (リサイクルショップ)
Sell or give away on online classifieds
・ Contact a waste collection office in your town to ask for a pick up (Paid)
(In the case of Tokyo）
Contact the Large Sized Waste Reception Center (粗大ごみ受付センター http://sodai.tokyokankyo.or.jp/) and make a reservation online or by telephone.
Collecting fees are paid by purchasing tickets(labels) called Sodai-gomi Shori-ken粗大ごみ処理券, required for each waste. Buy the ticket(s) at a nearby convenience store and put it (them) on the garbage one by one.
Sodai-gomi Shori-ken 粗大ごみ処理券 Tickets are issued by each municipal district. Be sure and buy the ticket available to use in your town. eg. The ticket for district X can be used only within the district X.
On the designated day, leave the waste at the designated site (usually in front of your apartment).
Large-sized electric appliances including TV, refrigerators, washing machines and air conditioners, are for recycling and cannot be collected by municipals according to the Home Appliance Recycling Law.
Contact the retail outlet you originally purchased the product from, and ask for disposal. Or, contact the Home Electric Appliance Reception Center (家電リサイクル受付センター https://www.tokyokankyo.jp/activity/data/kaden/) online or by telephone.
- Making a list of discarded items will help you to remember what items were disposed of. You may mix up missing items and discarded items while you are busy with preparations for moving out.
- It is better to take photos of items that you reluctantly have to discard. Taking photos can also substitute for a list of discarded items.
- Although Japan has two different electrical frequencies in east and west, most of the electric appliances sold in Japan can be used throughout Japan. If you feel you have to discard your electric appliances when moving out west to east, vice versa, check the specification printed on them. The electric appliances with 50/60Hz printed on the label can be used at any regions of Japan. The appliances having the label with only 50Hz, they can be only used within the limited area in the east.
4. Start Packing
If you do packing by yourself, without using a packing service from a professional, you should not leave it till the last minute of the day you move out. Packing may be much time consuming than you expect. Besides, it must be done very carefully in order to avoid damage.
・Moving companies provide cardboard boxes ダンボール for you. (Ask them if the fee is included or excluded.)
・On each box write what is inside and where to place so you can tell the content. e..g: Dishes, Kitchen
・Start with packing items which you don’t use much in daily life.
・Fragile items should be wrapped up with cushioning materials (Kansho-zai 緩衝材)
・Do not put too many items in a box as the bottom may come out.
・Curtains or Futons should not be used to wrap glass items as you may lose both the items by breakage.
5. Plan the layout of your new apartment and prepare things you need right after you move in.
Heavy or large items, such as a refrigerator, a washing machine, should be set up at the same time when they are carried into the room.
- New signing up for water and electric utility services are necessary at this stage so that you can use them right after you move in.
- Remember you will need air conditioners right after moving in and need to ask a professional to install them.
(For this reason, it may be better to rent an apartment equipped with air conditioning.)
6. Submit a moving-out notification to municipal office
In the case of moving to a place in the same municipal district, you are to submit a Moving notification ( Tenkyo-todoke 転居届) to the municipal office. In the case of relocating to another municipal district, a Moving-out notification (Tenshutsu-todoke 転出届) is submitted. Both Moving/Moving-out notification can be submitted from two weeks before the moving day.
If you move to a different district and submit the moving-out notification, a certificate of moving out (Tenshutsu Shoumeisho 転出証明書) will be issued for you. This certificate is required when submitting a Moving-in notification (Tennyu-todoke 転入届) to municipal office in the district you newly move in.
To submit a moving notification at the municipal office, you will need to bring certification cards (your health insurance card, long-term care insurance card, Individual Number Card, Passport, residence card, etc,). You may also need to bring your Inkan stamp. Required items differ depending on the district or the number of household members.
- Even If you move out of Japan, you are also required to submit a move-out notification. In this case, a move-out certificate is not issued as you don’t need it afterwards.
- In the case of relocation to another municipal district, those who are enrolled in National Health Insurance (NHI: Kokumin Kenko Hoken 国民健康保険), need to go through the disqualification procedure. If you are a member of NHI, it is better to complete the process at the same time as you submit a moving-out notification at the municipal office.
- You may be allowed to send the notification by mail. Check the website of municipal governments to find it.
7. Let your next-door neighbors know that you are moving out
On a moving day, you may trouble neighbors with noise while carrying out furniture etc. Telling your neighbors about the moving in advance will help to avoid problems. If you have children, it is also better to give them enough time to say goodbye to their neighboring friends. It is always sad having to say sudden goodbye.
8. Get your fridge empty. Enjoy the last supper
It will be trouble if you leave food in your refrigerator when moving out. Get the refrigerator empty and clean off the frost and water on the inside, then turn it off at least by the evening on the day before moving.
9. Moving Day: Moving out your items from the apartment
Movers from the moving company will arrive on time as scheduled, in the Japanese way. The preparation including packing must have been done by the time.
- Make sure there is no item left in the room before the truck leaves, together with the mover.
- Clean up the rooms after moving out all items. The landlord will charge you if you leave messy, dirty floors.
- The chances are that you will not be able to wait for the truck to arrive at the new apartment if you live along and have to do things for both moving out and in all by yourself. In this case, consider leaving for the new apartment before the moving-out is completed, or else, let the truck wait for you to arrive at the new apartment with extra charge, or else, ask the moving company for the delivery on the next day at the higher rate.
Move-out inspection 立ち合い
After your items were all moved out, a move-out inspection is conducted together with the landlord or the realtor to find how much restoration (Genjo Kaifukuhi 現状回復費) is required. Though the deposit called (Shikikin 敷金) is supposed to be refund, clearing and repair fees are often deducted from the deposit in accordance with the inspection result. In the case that you are busy on the move-out day, you may make the appointment on the following day or later.
10. Moving Day: Moving your items into the new apartment
Stand by at the new apartment and wait for the truck to arrive. After the truck arrives, tell the movers where to put the items as you planned, then unpack boxes by yourself.
- Make sure there are no items left on the truck before the truck leaves, together with the mover.
- Check the room condition before setting up your items. Having photos of the rooms will be a help when you move out in the future and ask for a refund of the Shikikin (deposit).
- Do not turn on the refrigerator right after setting it up. Leave it off about one hour to be stable.
- Think about what to have for supper on the move-in day. Remember the fridge is empty and you would be too tired to go shopping for food on that day.
- Don’t forget to have toilet paper. You will 100% need it sooner or later!
- Visit next-door neighbors and say hello to make a friendly relationship.
e.g. Watakushi, Smith to moushi-masu. Otonarini Hikkoshite Kimashika. Douzo Yoroshiku Onegai Itashimasu.
(My name is Smith. I moved in next door. Nice to meet you.)
11. Complete required procedures
Though required procedures may vary depending on living situations, the following is generally included.
What required to do after moving in, mostly involves notification and registration procedures at the municipal office. Making a to-do list will be a help for preparation in order to avoid having to go to municipal office several times for each procedure.
- Submit Move-in Notification to municipal office
The move-in notification (Tennyu Todoke 転入届) is essential and must be submitted to a municipal office within 14 days after moving in. To complete the submission process bring the certificate of moving out (転出証明書) which was issued when you submitted the move-out notification at your previous district. You will also need to bring certification cards (your health insurance card, long-term care insurance card Individual Number Card, Passport, residence card, etc,). You may also need your Inkan. *Required items differ depending on the district or the number of household members.
- Insurance Change Application or Re-enrollment
If you are a member of National Health Insurance (NHI), you need to notify the address change or re-enroll at the municipal office. NHI system is operated by each municipal government.
In the case of relocation within the same district, you are to report the change of your enrolment address.
In the case of relocation to another municipal district, you need to go through a disqualification procedure (国民健康保険の「資格喪失手続き」) at the district you previously lived, then re-enroll (Kanyu Tetsuzuki 加入手続き) at the district you moved in.
If you are enrolled in a health insurance of your place of employment (Shakai Hoken 社会保険), you are not required to have this procedure. Instead, notify the address change to the person in charge of at your company who will take care of it.
- Notify Japanese National Pension of the address change (If you are enrolled)
If you are enrolled in National Pension (Kokumin Nenkin 国民年金), you need to report the address change. Bring your pension book (年金手帳) and submit a notification to municipal office.
- Notify your company of the address change (If you are a company employee)
If you are a company employee, you need to report the address change to your company since which district you live involves where to pay residents' tax. For a document to prove your address change, you will need a copy of the certificate of residence (Jyumin-hyou 住民票).
- If you are a company employee, you are enrolled in an employees’ pension plan (Kousei Nenkin 厚生年金). Submit an address change form (被保険者住所変更届) to your company.
- Report a change in the place of residence to your embassy
They need to know your present address to contact you in case of emergency
- School enrollment
Contact the School Affair Section at the municipal office and ask the necessary procedures to apply.
- Report a change of mailing address at a nearby post office
They will forward mail from your previous address to your new address for one year with free of charge.
- Change your address on your bank accounts
- Address changes for the driver license, Mother and Child Health Handbook (Boshi-techo 母子手帳) etc.
Be sure and have them changed in order to keep receiving necessary information
- Address change of vehicle registration (If you possess)
It concerns where to pay motor vehicle tax.
- Check the garbage collection point and the collecting days which vary depending on where you live.
Last updated: March 1 2017
This article is also available in Japanese