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Q_iconI heard that there are businesses in Japan that require government licenses. What are these documents?

A_dark_iconA government license refers to documentation issued by administrative bodies such as the police station, health center, prefectural government, etc., which is a requirement to be able to operate specific kinds of businesses.

★ Explanation ★

1. Government licenses

business-permitsGovernment licenses here loosely refers to documents that are either submitted to (notifications, etc.) or obtained from (permits, licenses, etc.) administrative bodies such as the police station, health center, prefectural government, etc. that signify to the authority to conduct certain kinds of business. Operating a business despite failure to obtain the necessary documentation is a criminal activity and is punishable under law.

Applying for government licenses is generally done after the incorporation/registration of a company or branch office in Japan. However, it is important to be aware of what kinds of government licenses your business will need even prior to the establishment of the company, as there are some permits or licenses that include capital or business purposes requirements, which are indicated in the company’s articles of incorporation, facility/location-related requirements, which are usually decided early on in the establishment process.

The different government licenses are divided into 5 classifications, depending on how they are processed, their requirements, etc. (refer to Chart 7-4).

Chart 7-4 Classifications of Government Licenses

Classification Description
Notification Business operation is permitted following submission of a notification to the relevant government office/agency.
Registration Business operation is permitted following the notification to the relevant government office/agency and registration of the business at a certain registry./td>
Authorization Business operation is permitted following notification to the relevant government office/agency, provided that the business meets the predetermined criteria.
Permit Business operation is permitted following notification to the relevant government office/agency, provided that they pass an examination or inspection.
License A person who holds specific qualifications can submit notification to the relevant government office/agency, and may operate their business if the requirements are met.

2. Types of government licenses

Depending on the business contents, the permits and licenses as well as the government agency/office where applications are filed differ. Chart 7-5 shows typical businesses that require government licenses.

Chart 7-5 Types of Government Licenses

Classification Industry Relevant Agency Legal Basis
Notification Hairdresser Health center Barbers Act
Dry-cleaning Health center Laundries Act
Massage (government certified for medical treatment) Health center Act on Anma, Massage and Shiatsu, Acupuncture, and Moxibustion Practitioners
Paid parking lot (hourly rental) Municipal government Parking Lot Act
Registration Travel industry/agency Prefectural government Travel Agency Act
Pet shop Prefectural government Act on Welfare and Management of Animals
Electrical and demolition work Prefectural government Construction Business Act
Warehousing Transport Bureau Warehousing Business Act
Authorization Security services Police station Security Services Act
Nursery Prefectural government Child Welfare Act
Permit Sale of second-hand goods such as recycling shops, second-hand bookstores, second-hand car sales Police station Antique Dealings Law
Pachinko parlors, arcades, mahjong parlors, host/hostess clubs, bars, etc. Police station Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Business
Food service such as restaurants, cafes, and packed lunch stalls (Businesses offering alcoholic beverages beyond past midnight, the Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Business will apply) Health center Food Sanitation Act
Police station Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Business
Food production and sales of confectionery, bread, delicatessen, etc. Health center Food Sanitation Act
Pharmacy, drug store, drug wholesale Health center Pharmaceutical Affairs Act
Hotels and inns Health center Hotel Business Act
Hospitals and clinics Health center Medical Care Act
Nursing business (home visits, care at institution, home care, etc.) Prefectural government Long-Term Care Insurance Act
Construction and renovation work (excluding minor contract work) Prefectural government Construction Business Act
Manpower and job placement businesses Labor Bureau Worker Dispatching Act
Taxi and bus business (passenger transportation) Transport Bureau Road Transportation Law
Shipping (freight forwarding) Transport Bureau Motor Truck Transportation Business Act
License Real estate transaction Prefectural government Real Estate Brokerage Act