Foreigners living in Japan or Japanese citizens living in overseas require notarized / authenticated / attested (hereafter collectively called as authorized) documents on many occasions like issuing power of attorney, applying for marriage / permanent residency / naturalization etc. Sometimes you require documents notarized in your motherland for some processing in Japan or documents notarized in Japan for some processing in your motherland or somewhere else.
Difference between notarization, authentication and attestation
There is a subtle difference in these 3 modes of authorization. Let us first try to understand each one of these.
Notarization, is the process of providing an official proof that the document is authentic and can be trusted. It is a process that includes vetting the document, certifying it, and keeping a record of the notarial act. The main purpose of notarization is to detect and reduce fraud, and the process can only be carried out by a Notary Public.
Authentication means to attest or certify that a document is legal, genuine, and validly issued to the bearer by the claimed authority responsible for issuing the said document. In other words, if you have a document like the official birth certificate issued by the National Commission, authenticating such a document means getting it endorsed by the appropriate authorities whose attestation or certification of such a document effectively confers legitimacy on its use in abroad. Authentication can be usually done by Gazetted officers in government offices, elected politicians etc.
Attestation or witnessing is a formal declaration by a witness that an act (example signing) was performed in his or her presence or that he has confirmed the original of a photocopied document. Generally, attestation can be performed by any third-party witness or person who has attained adulthood as per the law of the land.
Understanding the exact requirement about the document
To begin with, whenever anybody is asking you for authorized documents, go to the bottom of the topic to understand the exact need of the document and then try to respond to it. Just do not accept or follow things blindly.
Please clarify with your counterparty/ies like banks, property agents, government offices etc., if they require document/s to be authorized by a government office, or by a notary or by oneself. Many a times, self-attested documents are sufficient. For creating a power of attorney (POA) for purchase of property, operating bank accounts etc., confirm with the counterparty if they have a draft of the power of attorney. Usually, such counterparties offer a standard draft of the document.
Sometimes, you will also need to arrange for translation of the authorized / notarized / attested document. In most of the cases you can translate the document by yourself and self-attest it. Otherwise, you can request an individual or corporate translator. Even your friend can translate and attest with his / her name, address, email and credentials.
Notarization of documents in overseas
When living in Japan, you might require notarized documents from your home country for processes like application of permanent residency / naturalization, registration of marriage, application to educational institute, application of driving license and so on.
In the past, embassies used to directly authorize the documents in Japan. However, owing to reasons, now you must first get the document authorized from the office of overseas / foreign / external affairs ministry (name varies from country to country) in your motherland, get that document to Japan and then get it authorized at the embassy in Japan. In order to remove the need for this double certification, an international certification called as ‘Apostille’ was setup which is comparable to the notarization. Please see the details below.
Authentication of documents in Japan
Very seldomly will you require to notarize documents in Japan for usage in overseas. Usually, you will need authentication or attestation. Authentication of documents in Japan can be done through Notary Public offices, some of which also offer apostille services. Such offices are approved by the Home Affairs Bureau (Houmukyoku). A list of such offices can be searched from below links.
Click here for Japan
A map will be displayed. Click on the your prefecture to see the list.
Click here for Tokyo
Click here for Osaka
Click here for Kanagawa
Click here for Chiba
Such authentication can be replaced by Apostille. Please see the details below.
In some cases, you will need the documents issued in Japan to be authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign affairs (MOFA) of Japan. In such cases, please see the details at the following page for Consular Services of MOFA. Click here
In case of documents like Power of Attorney for operating bank account or executing property deals or managing property etc., you can create the document, take it to your embassy, sign it before the concerned officer and get it attested. You may require to take 1/2 witnesses with you. Please take an appointment from the embassy and confirm if they need the witnesses to come with you.
In order to authorize your ID proofs, tax papers etc., many a times, self-translation and self-attestation is enough. Please confirm the same with the counterparty in the overseas.
Apostille specifies the modalities through which a document issued in one of the contracting states can be certified for legal purposes in all the other contracting state, under the Hague international convention. Apostille is an international certification comparable to a notarization in domestic law, and normally supplements a local notarization of the document. If the convention applies between two countries, such an apostille is sufficient to certify a document's validity, and removes the need for double-certification, by the originating country and then by the receiving country. Please check if your country is a part of the Hague convention.
Click here for Apostille in Japan: Click here for Apostille in India:
Documentation for marrying in Japan
When foreigners want to marry in Japan, it could be a case of a foreigner marrying to his own national, or a foreigner marrying to a Japanese national or a foreigner marrying to a foreigner from a different nation. The documentation needs could be slightly different in each case.
First you need to get a proof of being single (including divorced or widowed) from your motherland, probably from the city office or marriage bureau in the city of your residence in your homeland. If they do not issue such certificate, an affidavit created by your parents attested by the Notary public of the district concerned can work. In case of Indians, the affidavit shall be made on a stamp paper of INR 50/100. Authorize the same at the home department of the concerned state (usually there in the Mantralaya / Secretariats) and then get the same to Japan.
Now the Indian government also offers online authorization services through the following regional authentication centers (RACs).
Click here for link to online authorization services
Here in Japan, get the document authorized at your embassy/consulate in Japan. The document can now be submitted to the marriage bureau / city office in Japan. You may need a translation of the document in Japanese language which can be self-attested. The city office / marriage bureau will register your marriage.
Now you can solemnize your marriage at your embassy/consulate. In some countries, the embassy/consulate may require you to publicize notices in the local and your home country newspapers. In such case the embassy will offer you the text that has to be published.Charges for authorization services
- Apostille: Approximately USD 100 (JPY 10,000) per document.
- Notarization: Charges of stamp paper (revenue stamp) as required plus the charges of the notary.
- Attestation at the embassy: Differs from embassy to embassy. Indian Embassy in Tokyo charges JPY 3,200 (as of July 2021).
- Gazetted officers, elected assemblymen can do it even for free.