Embassy seal
U.S. Dept. of State
flag graphic
 
Welcome to the April 2009 newsletter!

Here are the topics for this month

Services

Upcoming Holidays and ACS Office Closures

There are no holiday closures in the month of April.

April 23: The American Citizen Services section of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo will be closed to the public on Thursday, April 23, except for emergencies. Please note that this closure applies only to Tokyo ACS and does not apply to the Visa section in Tokyo or any of the U.S. Consulates in Japan. American citizens who require emergency assistance from the U.S. Embassy Tokyo ACS section on April 23, 2009 should contact the Embassy switchboard at (03) 3224-5000 / DSN 224-5000.

May 4-6: The U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulates in Japan will be closed for Golden Week holidays on May 4 through May 6, 2009.

A full list of all of our holiday closings is available online here.

Please remember that the days just before and just after a holiday are often extremely busy and you can expect significantly longer waiting times. If you visit us outside of these times, you should have a shorter wait.

American citizens who require emergency assistance during holidays should contact the office serving their part of Japan, a list of which is available online here.

If you plan to visit U.S. Embassy Tokyo, please note that we have two lines to enter the building; a (usually) longer line for visa applicants and a much shorter line for customers coming for American Citizen Services. Check the signs by the Embassy entrance, which will direct you to the appropriate line. We use a computerized customer ticketing system; upon entering the Consular section, you can select the type of service you require (e.g. Passport, Notary, etc.) and wait in the ACS Waiting Room for your number to be called.

We accept cash (U.S. Dollars or Japanese Yen only). We cannot accept checks at any of our offices in Japan. We accept credit cards (billed in U.S. Dollars) at the Embassy in Tokyo and at our Consulates in Fukuoka, Naha, Osaka, and Sapporo, where you may pay using your VISA, MasterCard, Discover, Diners Club or American Express card. Please also be prepared to pay with cash if the credit card verification system is temporarily unavailable.

To view the business hours for the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and all of the U.S. Consulates in Japan, please check here.


Travel during Golden Week

If you plan to travel outside Japan for Golden Week (April 29 - May 6), please make sure you apply for your passport early. We recommend you check the entry/exit and visa requirements for all countries prior to booking your trip. Many countries in the Asian region, including China and most Southeast Asian nations, require that a traveler’s passport have at least six (6) months validity beyond the dates of the planned trip. Airlines usually will not allow travelers to board if this requirement is not met, and immigration officers will deny entry to travelers at the port of entry in these countries if a traveler arrives without the required six months validity.

You can find this information under Country Specific Information on the State Department's website online here.

We also encourage all travelers to register trips online, as described below.

U.S. State Department Online Travel Registration

The U.S. State Department launched a secure online travel registration website which will allow you, as an American citizen, to record foreign trip and residence information that the U.S. Department of State can use to communicate with you and assist you in case of an emergency. U.S. citizens around the world who travel or reside abroad can register at http://travelregistration.state.gov.

We invite you to register yourself and your family and get acquainted with travel registration. If you are already registered with the Embassy or one of our Consulates in Japan, please re-register on line to update your records. Millions of Americans live/travel abroad every year and encounter no major difficulties. However, U.S. embassies and consulates assist nearly 200,000 Americans each year who are victims of crime, accident, or illness, or whose family and friends need to contact them in an emergency. When an emergency happens, or if natural disaster, terrorism, or civil unrest strikes during your foreign travel, the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate can be your source of assistance and information. By registering your trip, you help the embassy or consulate locate you when you might need their help the most. Registration is voluntary and costs nothing, but it should be a big part of your travel planning.

Travel registration is a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country, and is easily accomplished online here. If you encounter any difficulties or have any questions about our travel registration website, please send an e-mail to CAIbrs@state.gov

Register your Groups and Organizations in Japan

The Embassy encourages all schools, business groups, churches, private companies, and other organizations with a nucleus of American citizens to make sure that the Embassy has a point of contact for your group. Here is what you can do to ensure that your group is kept fully informed by the Embassy:

Security Situation

Security reminder: While there is no specific threat information aimed at Americans at this time, it is prudent for you and your family to review your personal security profile and to be aware of your surroundings at all times.

On March 17, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo issued a Warden Message - Roppongi Security Notice. Please view the full text online here.

On Feb. 2, 2009, the U.S. Department of State issued an updated Worldwide Caution Public Announcement. It supersedes the Worldwide Caution dated July 16, 2008. Please view the full text online here.

Since our previous ACS Newsletter, the U.S. Department of State has issued Travel Warnings for the following countries:

Algeria3/4/2009
Madagascar3/9/2009
Pakistan2/25/2009
Saudi Arabia3/4/2009
Sudan3/9/2009

Travel Warnings are issued to describe long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable. A Travel Warning is also issued when the U.S. Government's ability to assist American citizens is constrained due to the closure of an embassy or consulate or because of a drawdown of its staff.

The U.S. Department of State also has issued the following new Travel Alerts:

Bangladesh3/2/2009
Comoros3/16/2009

Travel Alerts are issued to disseminate information about short-term conditions, generally within a particular country or region, that pose imminent risks to the security of U.S. citizens. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, coups, anniversaries of terrorist events, election-related demonstrations or violence, and high-profile events such as international conferences or regional sports events are examples of conditions that might generate a Travel Alert. This and other information regarding travel abroad is available at http://travel.state.gov.

The most up-to-date information regarding permitted and prohibited items on flights can be viewed online here.

For additional information, please visit "Americans Traveling Abroad" on the U.S. Department of State website. Students traveling abroad may wish to visit the State Department site designed for them: http://studentsabroad .state.gov/. To obtain up-to-date information on security conditions, please call 1-888-407-4747 (toll free in the United States), or +1-202-501-4444 if you are outside the United States.


A new IRS web-site for Americans Overseas

The IRS has a brand spanking new website, chock full of goodies for overseas American taxpayers. Please view the information online here.

U.S. Tax Information Resources

Income tax season is upon us. Although you may not presently be earning any income in the U.S., U.S. law requires American citizens to file a tax return annually. The filing of a tax return does not automatically mean that you must pay taxes; however, it does notify the IRS whether you do or do not owe taxes in the U.S. for that tax year.

We recommend that you obtain your tax forms online here.

Please note that the IRS no longer compiles the "1040 Overseas Filers Package," so there will be no packages available at the U.S. Embassy for the 2008 tax year. All forms from the package are available for download from the IRS website.

For more information on U.S. taxes, please consult the list of websites and telephone numbers below to help find the forms and answers you need.

Phone Services:

(Toll free numbers will only work with Voice Over Internet Systems)

Customer Service Phone Number1-215-516-2000
E-Services Help Desk1-512-416-7750
Individuals1-800-829-1040
Businesses1-800-829-4933
Refund Inquiries1-800-829-4477
TeleTax1-800-829-4477
ITINs after 6 weeks1-800-829-1040
Exempt Organization Help Desk1-877-829-5500
Tax Offset Program (TOP) Help Desk1-800-304-3107

State Tax Returns:

For individual state income tax information, visit www.taxadmin.org. The Embassy does not have state tax forms or state tax information.

* New IRS Regulations - Disclosure or Use of Tax Information by Preparers of Returns

New regulations under Internal Revenue Code Section 7216, Disclosure or Use of Tax Information by Preparers of Returns, became effective January 1, 2009.

These regulations give taxpayers greater control over their personal tax return information by limiting tax return preparers' use and disclosure of information obtained during the return preparation process to activities directly related to the preparation of the return.

For more information on this topic, please view the IRS website at www.irs.gov.

Online Passport Application Wizard

When applying for a passport at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, the American Citizen Services (ACS) unit recommends that all applicants utilize the online Passport Application Wizard (https://pptform.state.gov).

The Wizard will help you determine which form you need (Form DS-11, DS-82, DS-5504 or DS-4085), then assist you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the documents to print and submit.

Also, if your passport is ever lost or stolen, you can use the Wizard to print out a Statement Regarding Lost or Stolen Passport (Form DS-64). And if you are applying for a minor's passport and both parents are unable to sign the application together with the child at the Embassy, one of the parents may use the Wizard to print out a Statement of Consent (Form DS-3053), which must be notarized.

Hints to Streamline Your Passport Services
U.S. Embassy Charge d' Affaires Jim Zumwalt Enters the Blogosphere

In March, the U.S. Embassy launched a new feature on its website, "Z Notes," a blog by Charge d' Affaires James P. Zumwalt. In it, Mr. Zumwalt shares some of his experiences living, working, and traveling in Japan. Since 1983, Mr. Zumwalt has spent about eleven years working for the State Department in Japan. He looks forward to hearing from readers of his blog. Check it out at http://japan.usembassy.gov/zblog/ (Japanese version) or http://japan.usembassy.gov/zblog/e/zblog-emain.html (English version).

Japan Country Commercial Guide Released

The U.S. Commercial Service in Japan, in conjunction with other U.S. government agencies, released the 2009 Country Commercial Guide in March 2009. Comprehensively looking at the Japanese commercial environment, the guide reviews economic and political conditions and trends, identifies commercial opportunities for U.S. exports, and examines the overall investment climate in Japan.

Travel Reminder - Taiwan

We would like to remind all U.S. citizens entering or transiting Taiwan that they must be in possession of a valid U.S. tourist passport with a minimum of 6 months validity. U.S. citizens should not attempt to enter Taiwan using Official or Diplomatic U.S. passports, and military service members can not enter using their DOD issued ID card and orders.

Washington Post article on Information Security

This March 3, 2009 Washington Post article may be of interest to you or your business.

Key Highlights:

Disclaimer - Links to articles are included because the content is worth considering, but inclusion should not be considered an official endorsement by the Department of State.

Federal Voting Assistance Program

The Federal Voting Assistance Program publishes the Voting Information News, which is a roundup of voting news from the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP). FVAP’s April 2009 issue can now be viewed on their website. Some of the topics included in the April 2009 issue are as follows:

Leaving Japan?

If you are departing from Japan after a long stay here, and you formally registered your stay with the Embassy or closest U.S. consulate, please be sure to "cancel" your registration when you leave.

You can deregister yourself by visiting the travelregistration.state.gov site.

You may also want to consider unsubscribing from the newsletter mailing list. Please see the instructions on how to accomplish this below.

How to Unsubscribe

We make every attempt to include in our newsletter information of real value. We know that should world events dictate, we can use this e-mail channel to get important information to you, as we did in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

If you are leaving Japan or otherwise wish to unsubscribe from this list you can unsubscribe by writing from the same email address you used to subscribe, and send a blank e-mail to:

leave-tokyoacs@mh.databack.com

If you need to receive these newsletters at a different email address, unsubscribe first, using the old address, and subscribe again from the new address.

Contact us:

American Embassy in Tokyo
American Citizen Services
1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8420
Tel: 03-3224-5174
Fax: 03-3224-5856
http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/tacs-main.html

The Embassy helps Americans in Tokyo, Chiba, Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Kanagawa, Nagano, Niigata, Saitama, Shizuoka, Tochigi, Yamagata and Yamanashi.

American Consulate General Sapporo
American Citizen Services
Kita 1-jo, Nishi 28-chome
Chuo-ku, Sapporo 064-0821
Tel: 011-641-1115
Fax: 011-643-1283

The Consulate in Sapporo helps Americans in Akita, Aomori, Hokkaido, Iwate and Miyagi. As there are times when both officers are away from the office, we ask that you make an appointment before coming to the Consulate General.

American Consulate Nagoya
Nagoya International Center Bldg. 6th floor
1-47-1 Nagono, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya 450-0001
TEL (052) 581-4501
FAX (052) 581-3190

Consulate Nagoya provides emergency consular services including death and arrest cases for Americans living in Aichi, Gifu, and Mie prefectures. Please call Nagoya or Osaka for confirmation before traveling to Nagoya if you believe you have an emergency situation. Routine American Citizen services are provided by appointment only. If an appointment is not available, American residents may also receive service at the Consulate in Osaka.

American Consulate General Osaka-Kobe
American Citizen Services
11-5, Nishitenma 2-chome
Kita-ku, Osaka 530-8543
Tel: 06-6315-5912
Fax: 06-6315-5914

The Consulate in Osaka helps Americans in Osaka, Aichi, Ehime, Fukui, Gifu, Hiroshima, Hyogo, Ishikawa, Kagawa, Kochi, Kyoto, Mie, Nara, Okayama, Shimane, Shiga, Tokushima, Tottori, Toyama, Wakayama.

American Consulate Fukuoka
American Citizen Services
5-26, Ohori 2-chome
Chuo-ku, Fukuoka 810-0052
Tel: 092-751-9331
Fax: 092-713-9222

The Consulate in Fukuoka helps Americans in Fukuoka, Kagoshima, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Nagasaki, Oita, Saga and Yamaguchi.

American Consulate General Naha
2-1-1 Toyama,
Urasoe City
Okinawa 901-2104
Phone: 098.876.4211
Fax: 098.876.4243
DSN: 645-7323

The Consulate in Naha helps Americans in Okinawa and the Amami Oshima Island group (which is the southern island group of Kagoshima Prefecture).

Travel, safety and security information is also available directly from the Department of State.


Inclusion of Non-U.S. Government links or information does not imply endorsement of contents. This subscription list is maintained by a private company and the U.S. Government cannot guarantee the privacy of any e-mail address.