Important notice: At the moment, in order to obtain a digital identity, is it necessary to produce documents stating that you have domicile within Japan, or that your company is registered in Japan.
Digital or on-line tendering systems are rapidly becoming the norm for Japanese government entities, to conduct their bidding procedures. In the case public works related tenders above a certain threshold; digital tendering is rapidly becoming the norm.
For Europe-based companies, this form of bidding might speed up procedures and offer opportunities to save time when preparing a tender. There are however a number of preparations that need to be made, in order to participate in electronic bidding, one of which is to obtain a digital identity.
The landscape concerning electronic bidding is rapidly changing, due to efforts to streamline procedures and technical platforms. The Japanese central government is in 2014 started a new online platform, called GEPS, for electronic bidding with central government entities.
Obtaining a digital identity
There are two methods of certifying the identity of an online bidder used in Japan. One is an IC-card, where users will have to purchase an IC-card and compatible USB card-reader. The other works with a ‘digital passport’ or certificate. The services are offered by a small number of designated companies, which will charge you for a set period. The minimum period is usually a year. IC-card readers need to be purchased separately. The following companies offer these services (In Japanese only).
Companies offering digital ID services for government procurement (As of July 2014)
* Two years
** Excluding 8% VAT
*** Three years
Most of the electronic bidding systems require fairly complicated technical environments. Most systems only work with certain browsers and require certain versions of supporting software such as JAVA. Systems should also be able to enter Japanese text. If you are considering participating in electronic bidding procedures, it is therefore highly recommended to prepare a computer terminal specifically for this purpose and test the system extensively.