Obtaining Vital Records

The Embassy in Tokyo keeps no files of the different documents we issue, such as a Consular Report of Birth, or documents dealing with the death of an American in Japan. These records are instead filed in Washington. We also do not keep any files of Japanese civil documents, such as records of marriages and divorces in Japan. These records are held by the Japanese government. Other records, such as birth certificates for people born in the U.S., are stored in the state of origin.

This page is designed to help you locate the vital record documents you need. The Embassy cannot obtain documents on your behalf, and cannot provide translations of documents issued in Japanese.

Consular Report of Birth Abroad
A document issued by an American embassy or consulate reflecting the facts of a birth abroad of a child acquiring U.S. citizenship at birth through one or both parents. This record, also known as an FS-240, along with the Certification of Birth, DS-1350, are acceptable as proof of birth and U.S. citizenship for all legal purposes. Requesting certified copies, visit the State Department website.

Report of the Death of an American Citizen
A document issued by an American embassy or consulate reflecting the facts of a death abroad of an American citizen. The document is based upon the local death certificate. Requesting certified copies, visit the State Department website.

Certificate of Witness to Marriage
A document issued by an American embassy or consulate reflecting the facts of a marriage abroad in which at least one party is an American citizen. A consular officer must have attended the ceremony. This accommodation was discontinued in 1985. Requesting certified copies, visit the State Department website.

Certificate of Loss of Nationality
A document issued by an American embassy or consulate reflecting the facts of a loss of nationality abroad.  Requesting certified copies, visit the State Department website.

NOTE: Requests must be notarized. This notarial can be done at no charge at the American Embassy or Consulates. Visit the notary information page for details on notarial services.

Vital Records are documents such as birth, death or marriage certificates. In the U.S., such records are usually held by state, county or city governments, depending on location. Here is some information to assist you in obtaining copies of such records.

Visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for an on-line source of more information about obtaining vital records in the U.S., such as birth certificates.

There are also on-line services that will help you obtain records for a fee.

One such service is VitalChek, which allows you to request birth, death, and marriage certifications online, by phone, or by fax.

Another service called US Birth Certificate can help you obtain or amend a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, in addition to obtaining a birth certificate. You must have a physical street address to use this service (no APO’s, FPO’s, or PO Boxes).

For most Japanese, a single document serves as a birth, marriage, divorce and death certificate, in addition to recording the names of one’s children. This document is the Family Register.

Non-Japanese people do not have “Family Registers.” Still, foreigners living in Japan are required to give notification about such matters as births and deaths in Japan in accordance with the Family Register Law. You may also give notification of marriages and divorces if these are conducted in Japan according to Japanese procedures. Contact the Family Register Section of the local ward or municipal office where you currently live.

For Tokyo, visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Government website for more information on Family Register matters. Visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Government website for the list of Tokyo’s ward and city offices.

Follow this link for more information on Obtaining Marriage Certificates from Japan.

Birth Records (shusshou todoke kisaijiko shomeisho)

According to the Tokyo Legal Affairs Bureau (part of the Tokyo City government), all birth records of non-Japanese citizens are maintained by the ward/city office where the reports were filed. There are 23 wards in Tokyo; major urban centers around Tokyo, such as Kawasaki and Yokohama, also have multiple wards/districts.

Birth records (shusshou todoke kisaijiko shomeisho) for foreigners are not maintained permanently. The period may differ from office to office and can be as short as ten years. In general, parents report the birth at a ward/city office where they reside or where the child was born.

Visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Government website for contact information for ward and city offices in Tokyo.

To request a shusshou todoke kisaijiko shomeisho, you will need the following items (with Japanese translations as needed):

  • The child’s full name
  • Current address
  • Date of birth
  • Date the birth was reported (if available)
  • Parents names and nationalities
  • Purpose of the request, i.e., how you plan to use the requested document
  • 350 yen per copy and postage
  • A self-addressed, stamped, return envelope.

The Embassy cannot obtain Japanese civil documents on behalf of private citizens, nor can we provide translation services. If you wish for assistance in the filing process, please refer to our lists of translators and local attorneys who can communicate in English.

If your child was born in a U.S. military hospital, they may have a record of his/her birth. Unfortunately, the Embassy does not have access to any of those records.

These checks cannot be obtained from the American Embassy in Japan or our consulates. Instead, please visit one of the websites listed below for more information.