On June 15th of 2018, Japan’s minpaku law came into effect and tightened Japan’s regulation around offering short-term rentals through platforms like Airbnb and Booking.com. Japan also has specific regulation about collecting and reporting documentation and information from foreign guests staying overnight in the country. Here’s what you need to know to start hosting in Japan.
Japan’s Minpaku Law — General Summary
- One must obtain and display a notification number for their listing.
- If the owner doesn’t live onsite, they must have a designated admin to be responsible.
- A minpaku can only be operated for up to 180 days a year.
- One must report guestbook information to the government every two months.
Anyone looking to operate a short-term rental in Japan must obtain a minpaku operating licence. With the licence, operators are provided a notification number which they must display on any listings or advertisements for their short-term rental. Minpaku operators are permitted to book short-term rentals for up to 180 days of the year, with certain restrictions depending on specific wards and cities.
The minpaku licence has a variety of requirements and is a fairly lengthy process to complete in order to obtain a notification number. This process includes completing various building inspections, filing a variety of forms and documents, and having a designated outsourced administrator to be available and responsible if or when the homeowner isn’t living onsite.
General Minpaku Requirements:
- A minimum of 3.3 square meters of space dedicated for each guest.
- Installed and regularly checked emergency lighting equipment along with displayed evacuation routes.
- Information on how to use any equipment or amenities in a foreign language, along with foreign language information on means of transport and emergency phone numbers.
- Fire department approval and emergency fire safety equipment that is regularly checked.
- Waste must be collected from an industrial waste collection company rather than the residential waste collection services.
- Signs notifying the building’s purpose must be posted in a clearly visible and public place on the property.
- Prepare and maintain a guestbook that records guest information (name, nationality, and passport number must be listed) and days of business.
- This information must be kept for up to three years.
Every two months operators must report:
- The number of days hosting lodgers in the notified building.
- The current number of lodgers.
- The total number of lodgers.
- A breakdown of the number of lodgers per nationality.
Along with these requirements, minpaku operators must entrust a private lodging administrator to oversee the requirements and management of lodging space if the operator is absent while there are lodgers present. While this excludes the normal absences that occur in daily life, such as going out for groceries, if the operator is absent for extended periods of time during the day due to work or other reasons, they will need to hire an administrator. If a minpaku exceeds five lodging rooms a private lodging business administrator is required whether the operator is absent or present. Along with this, if a private lodging operator wants to use a property management service, they must use a registered private lodging agent and must entrust them with all key management duties of the property.
Collecting Lodger Information
A stipulation to the minpaku licence is the continuous collection and remittance of traveller information. Operators or administrators must keep a guestbook with information about all lodgers. If the lodger is Japanese, the operator or administrator must collect and store a picture of the lodger’s driver’s licence, or another piece of photo identification. If the lodger is foreign, then a picture of their passport must be collected. Along with this, the lodger’s identity (whether foreign or Japanese) must be verified and stored in a photo or video alongside their photo identification. The operator or administrator must also collect and store all lodgers’ names, dates of birth, addresses, occupations, and dates of lodging. Furthermore, if lodgers are foreign, their nationality and passport number must also be collected.
On top of collecting lodger information, operators or administrators of minpaku will need to submit a report of the past two months of traveller information every two months on the 15th day of February, April, June, August, October, and December to the prefectural governor. This report must contain the number of days spent hosting lodgers, number of current lodgers, number of total lodgers in the past two months, and a breakdown of the number of lodgers per nationality. All traveller information must be kept at the property for three years, and can be stored digitally using cloud services. Lastly, operators or administrators must be prepared to submit all traveller information if requested by the police or government.
Minpaku Necessary Documents:
In order to receive and file some of the necessary documents for the minpaku application, you must have a resident’s card which can be obtained from your local municipality. If you are a foreigner living in Japan, a residence card will have been given to you when you moved to Japan.
- Identification certificate (proof of lack of bankruptcy)
- If you are a foreigner, you must obtain this from your embassy in Japan, along with a translated copy of the document in Japanese.
- Certificate of non-registration (proof of sound judgement)
- Proof of ownership of the land or sublender agreement from landlord if applicant is currently renting
- Letter of approval from management of your apartment building
- Floor plans of the home
- Notification document for nearby residents
- Minpaku notification form
- Written pledge (proof of non-involvement with organised crime)
- Consultation and certificate from local fire station
- Declaration to ward mayor
- Flyer or photocopy of your listing
- Plate or sign that indicates your minpaku business
- Copy of agreement with private lodging administrator (if applicable)
Japan’s government minpaku online portal has both Japanese and English language versions of the website where you can brush up on the requirements to start a private lodging operation. Unfortunately, the English website is limited to providing general information, and you can only log in and apply for your notification number through the Japanese language website.
Japan’s City-Specific Short-Term Rental Restrictions
On top of the registration and requirements outlined by the minpaku law, there are also specific short-term rental restrictions depending on the specific city or ward. These restrictions can vary from only being able to host guests on weekends and holidays to outright bans for an entire residential districts.
- In Ota-ku in Tokyo, no minpaku or hotels are allowed to operate in residential districts.
- In Nakano-ku in Tokyo, minpaku in residential areas are restricted to operating only on weekends and holidays, with some special exceptions close to stations or areas with few hotels.
- Chuo-ku in Tokyo has completely forbidden weekday rentals.
- In Kyoto’s residential districts, one can only operate a minpaku from January 15th to March 15th. For hosts not residing on property, a caretaker must be stationed within 10 minutes of the property.
- In the residential districts of Shinjuku-ku, Nerima-ku, and Bunkyo-ku in Tokyo, and Yokohama City in Kanagawa, minpaku are only permitted to operate on weekends and holidays, with additional rules depending on if the owner is on or offsite.
- In Shibuya’s residential areas, minpaku are allowed only during school holidays (with some exceptions), so that children do not meet strangers on their way to school.
Make sure to research the regulation for your specific district, as it may have changed its restrictions since the time of writing.
The Different Licences to Host Short-Term Rentals in Japan
- Minpaku Licence
- Small Hotels Business Permit
- Special Zones Certification
Aside from the minpaku licence, there are some additional certifications or other business permits that you can choose to obtain depending on the location and scale of your short-term rental operation.
Inns and Hotels Act
While the majority of short-term rental hosts will be looking to register as a minpaku, a private lodging business, certain homeowners may wish to register their property as a hotel or inn operation. Registering as a hotel or inn has additional requirements one must fulfill, however it does allow for unlimited business throughout the year, unlike the minpaku’s 180 day limit. You can find more information about the Inns and Hotels Act on the official Minpaku online portal.
Special Zones Certification
If you are in a government-deemed special zone, an important location due to more tourist activity, then you can choose to obtain the special zone private lodging certification (known as Tokku Minpaku). While much of the process is similar to the standard minpaku licence, such as consulting the Environmental Health Division of your ward, clearing fire-safety regulations, notifying neighbours, and passing a field survey, the tokku minpaku certification has some differences in requirements and limitations.
In order to operate a tokku minpaku certified short-term rental, your property will need to have a minimum of 25 square meters of space dedicated to each guest. This is significantly more than the 3.3 square meters per guest required for the standard minpaku licence. However, tokku minpakus do not need to submit their guestbook information every two months, and just have to collect and retain guestbook information for up to three years. A tokku minpaku certification does not limit you to 180 days of hosting a year, like the standard minpaku licence does. This being said, guests booking with a tokku minpaku will have to stay for a minimum of two nights and only for a maximum of nine nights.
Using an Administrative Scrivener
Since Japan’s regulation around short-term rentals is fairly complex and involves a variety of paperwork and bureaucratic processes, administrative scriveners have started to grow in recent popularity. An administrative scrivener is a legal profession in Japan which provides legal counsel, drafts documents, and files government licences and permits. Certain companies have even started specialising in specifically guiding customers through the requirements and registration necessary to host a short-term rental.
This being said, hiring an administrative scrivener can be quite costly, and these companies will typically only offer their services in Japanese. While certain companies like Minpaku Brothers have English-speaking staff and can provide their services in English, be prepared to pay a premium for this. You can also look for a real estate agent that might be able to help prepare your property and guide you through the Minpaku law’s requirements.
While this article covers a lot of information regarding operating short-term rentals in Japan, you might have some additional questions about short-term rentals in Japan. Below are a few helpful links to websites which contain additional information.
Minpaku FAQs (English): https://www.mlit.go.jp/kankocho/minpaku/faq_en.html
Minpaku Online Portal (English): https://www.mlit.go.jp/kankocho/minpaku/index_en.html
Minpaku Online Portal (Japanese): https://www.mlit.go.jp/kankocho/minpaku/index.html
Japan Tourism Agency — Minpaku Law Information (Japanese): http://www.mlit.go.jp/kankocho/shisaku/sangyou/juutaku-shukuhaku.html
Airbnb — Japan Hosting FAQs (English): https://www.airbnbcitizen.com/japan-notification-faqs/
Airbnb — Japan Hosting FAQs (Japanese): https://www.airbnbcitizen.com/ja/japan-notification-faq/
Airbnb — Minpaku Resources (English): https://www.airbnb.ca/help/article/2177/notification-in-accordance-with-the-private-lodging-business-act---housing-accommodation-business-act----private-lodging-business-act----minpaku
Airbnb — Japan’s Relevant Laws and Regulations (English): https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/920/relevant-laws-and-regulations-in-japan
We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the regulations discussed in this article. Regulations often change on a regular basis, and we advise you to research the current regulations for your location. While we do our best to keep the information updated, if you find an error, omission, or something that needs an update, please let us know.