Should You Bring The Kitchen Sink?

CONTRIBUTED BY JOELLE YAMADA

Once more on my adventure brave and new. (R. Browning)

Amy is about to embark on her new adventure of moving to Okinawa.  She’s doing her research and spending tons of time online looking stuff up (that’s how she found us!).  But she has a question:

In one of my many web surf marathons I found a site that said once we come to Okinawa we are not allowed to leave Japan for 6 months. I only found it on the one site and it just doesn’t seem like it can be true. Do you know anything about this regulation? I’m hoping it’s false because my best friend gets married in December and I really need to be in Florida.

I vaguely remember that when we arrived (how is it that you forget so fast??) my husband had to take our passports to work to get some sort of stamp so that we could stay?  Or was it so we could go?  Man, hoping some of the rest of you remember this info better than I.  Help Amy, please!

18 COMMENTS

  1. We are PCSing in November and I was wondering if military is going to get all the visas for us. I mean, especially for me as I am not a US Citizen yet. Does anyone have any info on that?

  2. i’m planning to go to philippines on feb, i have a SOFA stamp in my passport,and i have a command sponsor orders,i’m here in misawa, my question is, do i need a re-entry stamp? cause i’m worry if i can’t comeback here if i don’t have re-entry stamp.anyone can give me advice?please!

  3. I have absolutely no idea if you will need a passport in your travels, but there will be some sort of Passport days/workshop going on this month…I think the 19th at Foster (not sure where) and at Kadena (Schilling Center – I think) on the 30th. I am not sure if they are just helping people fill out forms or issuing Passports right then and there. I have seen fliers for it on a couple of the bases that list the forms that you will need and I think pricing, but besides that I am not sure of much else, but Schilling might have additional information for you as to the time.

  4. I was told by IPAC on Foster that you are not supposed to travel with your mil passport unless on orders so I got regular US ones (for the kids). I am not sure if this would apply for traveling to the states as we were traveling to Europe, BUT I am pretty sure it would apply since it’s an international flight…
    Also, check this out, this might help you out if you do need a reg. passport quickly
    http://americanredcrossokinawa.org/events.aspx
    Good luck, I hate all the form filling stuff!

  5. Told by whom? You should be fine with your military issued passport as long as you are only going to the US. If you were vacationing in another foreign country, then you would need a different passport. Call the Consulate on Tuesday and ask them or ask the IPAC office on Foster. Get the info directly from the people who deal with this, don’t trust hearsay.

  6. My daughter and I will be traveling to the states via a commercial flight. I was told I needed a regular passport, not my military issued one. Does anyone know where I can get one here on island?
    Thanks!

  7. Okay, so linked to the above comment, I went to Foster PMO Customs, Bldg. 496, to get a new multiple re-entry stamp today, just in case, since mine had expired–I am taking a hop this week to climb Mt. Fuji!
    Here is the number: 645-2217. Also, Ruth PCSd, so now Bernie is there to help.

  8. Reiterating what Suzy said, it has been my experience that you do not have to show your re-entry stamp to get your driver’s license, though we are on the Marine Corps side. Perhaps Mishka is referring to her “UNDER SOFA” stamp?

    Yes, you are supposed to get a re-entry stamp, and if you arrive through Kadena via the Patriot Express, you should get a multiple re-entry stamp prior to exiting the Kadena terminal. If you travel commercially, you will NOT get one upon entry into Naha–you will not even get a SOFA stamp. My husband and I arrived in Dec of ’05 commerically and I went until March of ’07 without one; I needed one because I traveled to S. Korea that month. Tracy–because you flew AMC, no stamp was required, though I am sure you needed to flash your orders. Servicemembers can even take domestic Japanese flights via AMC without a passport. Without at least your orders, you will need a re-entry stamp in your passport if you will be traveling internationally from Japan to any other country besides the U.S.A.

    Prior to departing for Korea, I went to Camp Foster PMO to get a re-entry stamp in my passport. My stamp was good for one year.

    If you park in the PMO parking lot, you want to enter the tinted door to the LEFT of the PMO front door, on the first floor. There will be a female GS civilian named Ruth signing off on re-entry stamps, but call in advance first–she is the only one in the office and is not always there. She also takes a 90 minute lunch, so definitely don’t go from 1130-1300 without calling first. Sorry I don’t know the number, but if you call the PMO front desk at 645-7441 (non-emergency number) I am sure they can help get you to the right place…

    It is good to go there before flying just to make sure you have all your stamps–I didn’t even have an “UNDER SOFA” stamp in my passport until Ruth caught it!

  9. I arrived on Island and 2 weeks later had to fly back to Florida for my father’s funeral…..I had no issues! We received no additional stamps in our passports. We arrived on Island via AMC flight. Not sure if this makes any difference or not.

  10. I arrived here in early January then went to China for three weeks in early February. I was stupid enough not to get my passport stamped for re-entry before leaving (I had just arrived in Okinawa in January–I didn’t know anything!) but they still let me in without any additional paperwork after I showed them my husbands orders from January (the immigration guy was quite old and spoke very little English, so I think I managed to skate by). Before I went TAD for work in June, I went to IPAC and got the multiple re-entry stamp. it literally took 5 minutes to get.

  11. You don’t have to have the re-entry stamp to get a SOFA driver’s license…I didn’t even bring my passport to the office when I got my driver’s licenses both times we have lived here.

  12. You just need to get the stamp like they said above from the office that deals with your pay issues, DEERS, and such. We call ours PSD but the Marine Corps calls theirs IPAC. No worries though on the traveling. You’ll be good to go once you get that little stamp:) Good luck on the move here:)!

  13. We arrived here in late August of 2004 then around the last week of December, we had to go back to the States for my citizenship that was pending. We used EML leave then and was able to fly Sapce-A on category 2. I don’t know if the rules have changed, but it’s worth calling AMC on Kadena.
    As for the re-entry stamp, just make sure you get the re-entry stamp at the AMC terminal before you leave the island…whether you fly Space-A or commercial. They give you a certain number of months, but if you need more time, you can always ask to have an extended date. I had it done when I flew Space-A to the Philippines since I didn’t know how soon I’d be able to return to Okinawa.

  14. As far as the Space-A rule….you have to be on island 6 months before you can get the EML paperwork to fly Space-A. It basically bumps you up on the (priority) catagory list. But, other than that I don’t know what waiting the 6 months would refer to?

  15. I believe that this applies to flying space-a. For some reason, I remember my husband saying something about a six month rule…..can’t remember exactly what it was about though.

  16. I believe what we are talking about here is the re-entry stamp. I allows to leave and re-enter Japan as many times as you want to.
    It is good for 1 year.
    If you don’t have the stamp you have to deal with Japanese immigration and a lot of paper work.
    I got a SOFA stamp when I first entered, but we flew AMC directly into Kadena. However, you need the re-entry stamp in addition to that.
    I am not aware of having to stay for a least 6 months before you can leave.

  17. You have to take your passports to MPF (I believe it’s MPF…don’t quote me on that) and get your SOFA stamp. After that, you can leave and re-enter whenever you want to. I had a family emergency and had to fly from here to Hawai’i about 3 weeks after I got here.

    You cannot get a driver’s license here without a SOFA stamp, so it’s important to get it ASAP.

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