In Japan, a personal seal (inkan/hanko) is used in lieu of a signature as official authentication. A personal seal needed for important documents must be registered with the local municipal office of the area of residence. This seal is called a "jitsuin", and a personal seal registration card will be issued upon registration. When you are required to provide your personal seal registration certificate which proves that the seal is in fact your own, please visit your local municipal office with your personal seal registration card.
If you wish to register your own personal seal, please bear in mind the following:
- To register a seal there are specific regulations regarding material, size, and the permitted characters and letters.
- You need to use the name that is recorded in your residence record.
- Only one seal per person may be registered.
- The applicant must apply for the registration in person. The application may be made by an agent under certain conditions, such as illness of the applicant, but must accompany a letter of attorney signed by the applicant.
- Your ID, such as resident card, is required for the application.
- There is a registration fee; contact the municipal office in the ward (or city, town or village) where you reside for details.
- Keep your personal seal registration card in a secure place. If lost you must register your seal again.