The Zairyu Card Gamble – Do I get the Geb. ?

September last year I read an article on the Japan Times website titled “Mind the ‘geb’: Little word is a big problem for Japan’s German residents”. I was until then totally unaware of the strange implications that a change in the japanese immigration law had brought onto german passport holders. In short, the new law requires that the full name, as shown in the passport, is used. Unfortunately there is a fundamental flaw in the german passport design. If you are married the “name” field shows your name as:

Current Family name Given Name Geb. old Family Name

The little word geb. is an abbreviation for “geborene” the german equivalent to “born as” or “maiden name”. For Japanese authorities this is not distinguishable, so they insist that Geb. and your old family name are part of your full name. This has cause quite some trouble because of the difference in name on your (for example) german credit card and the Zairyu card you want to use as identification.

There is a facebook group (german) that has come together and a petition to change the current status. As it turned out the EU agrees that the “Geb.” is not sufficient and has to change, though those changes will not only take time, but in all probability will not extend over a change in the name field description (to indicate that the maiden name is included).

When we applied for my Visa here in Japan I was therefore emotionally prepared to get a “new name” and deal with the problems at hand.

Yesterday we went to the immigrations office in Yonohonmachi to change the certificate of eligibility, that I received at the end of last week, into my residence card. As always the place was packed with people and we spent about 4 hours there, mainly waiting, till I finally held my residence card in hands. I was so distracted by the photo, which I had to take earlier because I forgot the two sets I already had at home, that I didn’t even look until my husband pointed it out.

I’ve gotten away with it and don’t have the Geb. in my name (^_^) It may not sound like a big deal, but for someone who constantly worries about everything and everyone it is always good when my worries don’t get confirmed. Maybe I’ll someday learn to only worry when actually something happened 😉

One thought on “The Zairyu Card Gamble – Do I get the Geb. ?

  1. What a strange thing. Didnt realize that in the German passport but then again I have never even looked at one (got only my Finnish passports and a Personalausweis from Germany, didnt bother to spend more money on a second passport…). But then again Germany has many weird things going on such as the language proficiency requirement when applying for a visa


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