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Welcome to the February 2010 ACS newsletter!

To subscribe to the ACS Newsletter (it's free), just go to our website and enter your email address.

Here are the topics for this month

Services

Upcoming Holidays and ACS Office Closures

The U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulates on Japan will be closed for the following U.S. or Japanese holidays in January 2010:


National Foundation DayThursday, Feb. 11
President’s DayMonday, Feb. 15

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

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.

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


Appointments required for Tokyo ACS services

The American Citizen Services section at Embassy Tokyo provides all routine services on an appointment-only basis. The Embassy is unable to accommodate applicants without an appointment. Emergency services are available without an appointment.

Click here to make your appointment.

Appointments are needed for all Passport services, Consular Report of Birth applications and notary services.

Federal Benefits services are provided on an appointment-only basis. Please see the Federal Benefits webpage for details.

The ACS branch in Tokyo is closed on Wednesday afternoons.

This announcement does not affect U.S. Consulates elsewhere in Japan. For information on operating hours and ACS services provided by Consulates in Sapporo, Nagoya, Osaka-Kobe, Fukuoka, and Naha, please see their individual web pages.


Important Changes to Consular Services in Okinawa

In order to better serve American Citizen Service customers in Okinawa and reduce wait times, the U.S. Consulate General, Naha will implement a new online appointment system. As of Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2010 all non-emergency American Citizen Services in Naha will be offered on an appointment only basis. Appointments are required for all Passport services, Consular Report of Birth Abroad applications, notary services, and Federal Benefits services.

For details on the new appointment system at U.S. Consulate General, Naha, application requirements, and hours of service, please refer to this online page.

For links to similar consular services at U.S. Embassy Tokyo or other consulates around Japan, please consult the Embassy's pages.


FBI issues warning on Internet Scams following Haiti earthquake

The FBI reminds Internet users who receive appeals to donate money in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti to apply a critical eye and do their due diligence before responding to those requests. Past tragedies and natural disasters have prompted individuals with criminal intent to solicit contributions purportedly for a charitable organization and/or a good cause. Information on Internet scams is available online here.


U.S. Customs and Border Protection Global Entry Program

Global Entry is a pilot program managed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection that allows pre-approved, low-risk travelers expedited clearance upon arrival into the United States. Although this program is intended for "frequent travelers" who make several international trips per year, there is no minimum number of trips an applicant must make in order to qualify. Participants may enter the United States by utilizing automated kiosks located at airports such as Washington Dulles (IAD), Los Angeles International (LAX), John F. Kennedy (JFK), Honolulu International (HNL), and many more. Currently, 20 airports are participating in Global Entry.

The process requires participants to present their machine-readable U.S. passport or permanent resident card, submit their fingerprints for biometric verification, and make a customs declaration at the kiosk's touch-screen. Upon successful completion of the Global Entry process at the kiosk, the traveler is issued a transaction receipt and directed to baggage claim and the exit, unless chosen for a selective or random secondary referral.

Additional information, including how to enroll, is available from the Department of Homeland Security online here.


Attention Illinois Military and Overseas Voters

Return your Ballot for the Feb. 2, 2010, State Primary. Illinois will hold its state primary election on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010. If you requested your ballot and have not received it, submit the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot. If you are eligible to vote in this election and requested and received a ballot for the Nov. 4, 2008 presidential election, you should have received an absentee ballot by now, unless your mailing address has changed. If you have not requested your ballot for this election, it may be too late. Find out by referring to FVAP News Release #18. You may download a FWAB at www.FVAP.gov.


Security Delays for U.S. Flights

Flights arriving to and departing from the United States may experience delays due to increased security measures. Passengers should plan to arrive early at airports overseas and in the U.S. For more information on these increased security measures, please see the Transportation Security Administration website.


Security Situation

Security reminder: There is no specific threat information for American citizens in Japan. However, it's a good idea for you and your family to review your personal security profile and to be aware of your surroundings at all times. The Department of State maintains its Worldwide Caution issued July 29, 2009, which updated information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against American citizens and interests throughout the world.

Since our previous ACS Newsletter, the U.S. Department of State has issued new Travel Warnings for the following countries. This information is available online here.

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

Haiti1/14/2010
Pakistan1/7/2010
Sudan12/31/2009
Somalia12/31/2009

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 new Travel Alerts for:

Philippines1/20/2010
Malaysia1/15/2010
India12/29/2009

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 information is available online here.

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 especially for them.

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.


While in Japan, carry your passport or alien registration at all times

All Americans in Japan are reminded that Japan's Immigration Control Act requires all foreigners 16 years old and older to carry their passport or alien registration card with them at all times. Foreigners in Japan must present these identity documents upon request from an authorized immigration official or police officer. The Embassy has been notified of Americans being detained by police for not carrying these documents. Foreigners in possession of an alien registration card are not required to also carry their passport, but visitors without the card need to carry their passport. A foreign national who does not obey this requirement will face criminal penalty under Article 76 of the Immigration Control Act, or possibly an administrative penalty under Article 77-2 of the act.


U.S. Government Pandemic Policy for Americans Abroad

The U.S. Government remains concerned about the possibility of a severe influenza pandemic resulting from changes in the 2009-H1N1 virus or emergence of an even newer influenza virus that may affect Americans abroad. This fact sheet offers information on measures Americans can take to prepare for and cope with a severe pandemic. It also includes information on the U. S. Government's efforts to plan for and respond to such an event. The entire fact sheet is available here.


Passports and Consular Reports of Birth delivered by mail only

Tokyo ACS requires all passport and Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) applicants to submit an LetterPack 500 envelope or a self-addressed, stamped envelope with their passport or CRBA applications. These envelopes will be used to mail your passports and CRBAs back to you. Both passports and CRBAs will fit into an LetterPack envelope. If you provide a self-addressed, stamped envelope for returning a CRBA, it must be at least 30 x 24 cm (width x length) to accommodate the A4 size CRBA certificate.

LetterPack envelopes cost only 500 yen and can be purchased at any post office in Japan. They are also available for purchase at the Lawson's convenience store located directly across from the Embassy. LetterPack envelopes are a quick, reliable, and secure method of mailing, and envelopes are tracked from sender to receiver.

Tokyo ACS regrets that we cannot phone customers for pickup of their passports and other documents at the Embassy except in emergency circumstances. Please note that this applies only to Embassy Tokyo and not to the U.S. Consulates elsewhere in Japan.


Want Faster Service? Fill out Passport Application online before coming to Embassy

Effective immediately, when applying for a passport at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, the American Citizen Services (ACS) Branch asks that all applicants utilize the online Passport Application Wizard (https://pptform.state.gov/) and print (single-sided only) the completed passport application prior to coming to the Embassy.


Department of State Online Travel Registration

The Department of State maintains a secure online travel registration website which will allow you, as an American citizen, to record foreign trip and residence information that the 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. If you encounter any difficulties or have any questions about our travel registration website, please send an e-mail to CAIbrs@state.gov.


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

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 prefectures. All American Citizen Services are by appointment only.

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.