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Procedures for Opening a Bank Account in Japan for Foreign Nationals

Updated: Jun 17

opening a bank account in Japan

Living in Japan can be quite overwhelming for foreigners, and how to open a bank account in Japan is essential. You'll need a Japanese bank account for various things, like receiving your salary and making payments. To help you get started, this article will provide a guide to the Japanese banking system, a step-by-step guide to opening a bank account, and specific advice for common issues foreigners might face. We aim to equip you with the knowledge you need to smoothly open a bank account before you start your life in Japan.


*Please note that this article is based solely on information derived from public data, and our company cannot assume any legal responsibility for events arising from this article. For legal advice, please contact a law firm.



Bank Account Requirements in Japan


  1. Stay in Japan for over 6 months: Whether for work or study, you need to be staying in Japan for more than six months.

  2. Obtain a resident card: You must have your resident card.

  3. Get a personal seal (inkan): This includes both a registered seal (jitsuin) and a bank seal (ginkoin).

    1. Bank seal (ginkoin): This is a personal seal registered with financial institutions like banks, credit unions, etc. It verifies the identity of the person withdrawing money.

    2. Registered seal (jitsuin): This seal is registered at the city or ward office where you reside. It must have your legal name as recorded in your family register.

    3. You can make a jitsuin after registering as a resident. It's possible to order one online or at a store.

      1. Example of a site for creating a registered seal: ハンコマン

    4. You can use the same seal as both your jitsuin and ginkoin.

  4. Get a Japanese phone number: You need to have a domestic phone number.



Features of the Japanese Banking System


Types of Banks

Japan has various financial institutions, each with unique features:

  1. Private Banks: Such as Mitsubishi UFJ Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, and Mizuho Bank.

  2. Japan Post Bank (Yucho Bank): With branches at post offices nationwide, it is very convenient to use.

  3. Credit Unions (Shinkin): Community-based financial institutions offering extensive services to local residents and small businesses.

  4. Agricultural Cooperatives (JA Bank): Primarily serving those in the agricultural sector.

For recommended banks for foreigners, check the "Major Banks and Their Features" section below.


Main Services Provided

These financial institutions offer a wide range of services, including:

  • Deposits: Such as regular savings and fixed deposits.

  • Loans: Including home loans and education loans.

  • Currency Transactions: Domestic and international money transfers.

  • Investment Products: Including mutual funds, stocks, and bonds.



Importance and Benefits of a Bank Account


Importance

A bank account is essential for living in Japan. You will need it for:

  • Receiving your salary

  • Paying rent and utility bills

  • Sending money domestically and internationally


Benefits

The main benefits of having a Japanese bank account include:

  • Receiving Salary: Direct deposit of your salary from domestic employers (in Japanese yen).

  • Earning Interest: Your deposits will earn interest.

    • Average deposit interest rate: 0.020% per year (as of May 13, 2024)*1.

  • Using a Cash Card: For withdrawing cash at ATMs and making payments at stores.

  • Using a Debit Card: Immediate deduction from your account to pay for goods and services.

  • Using Online Banking: Manage your account via the Internet or smartphone.

  • Access to Loans and Credit Cards: Available upon passing the necessary screenings.



How to Open a Bank Account


Follow these steps to open a bank account in Japan. There are three main methods to open a bank account in Japan, which vary by bank:

  1. At a bank branch

  2. Online

  3. Using a mobile app


Opening a Bank Account at a Branch
  1. Choose a Bank

    1. Your employer may specify a bank for your salary deposit. If so, follow their instructions.

    2. If not, choose a bank that meets your needs. Compare interest rates, fees, services, and branch locations (proximity to your home).

  2. Prepare the Necessary Documents (What Documents Needed for Japanese Bank Account)

    1. Identification documents: Passport, residence card (your residence card usually needs to be valid for at least three more months).

    2. Proof of address: Resident card, utility bill receipts, etc.

    3. Other documents: Depending on the bank, you might also need a student ID or employment certificate.

    4. Check the specific document requirements on each bank’s website.

  3. Visit the Bank Branch

    1. Go to your chosen bank’s branch and inform them that you wish to open an account.

  4. Fill Out the Application Form

    1. Follow the instructions of the bank staff to fill out the application form with the necessary details.

  5. Present Your Identification Documents

    1. Show your identification documents to verify your identity.

  6. Complete the Account Opening Process

    1. Once the process is complete, you will receive your cash card and passbook.


Opening a Bank Account Online

Some banks allow you to simplify the process by opening a bank account in Japan online through their website or mobile app. Here are the steps, benefits, and points to consider:


Procedural Process:
  1. Select a Bank

    1. Choose the bank you want to open an account with.

  2. Fill Out the Online Form

    1. Go to the bank’s account opening page and enter the required information.

    2. Select the type of card and passbook you want.

  3. Prepare and Send the Application Form

    1. Some banks, like Mizuho Bank, require you to send a physical application form.

    2. Print the form according to the specified format (size, blank side, single-sided printing), fill it out, and prepare it for mailing.

  4. Send the Required Documents

    1. Mail the completed application form along with the necessary documents.


Benefits of Opening an Account Online
  • Convenience: You can complete the process anytime, anywhere.

  • Document Submission: Submit required documents by mail.

  • Faster Processing: The account opening process can be quicker.


*Points to Consider
  • Card Delivery Time: It may take 1 to 4 weeks to receive your cash card.

  • Document Submission: You may need to send identification documents by mail.

  • Video Verification: Some banks might require identity verification via video call.

  • Availability: Not all banks offer the option to open accounts online.



Major Banks and Their Features


  1. Mitsubishi UFJ Bank (MUFG Bank)

    1. Overview: The largest bank in Japan with numerous branches nationwide.

    2. Services: Offers a wide range of financial services for individuals, corporations, and international clients.

    3. Account Opening:

      1. At a Branch: Visit a branch near your home or workplace, fill out the application form, and submit the required documents.

      2. Mobile App: Available, but only for Japanese nationals.

  2. Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC)

    1. Overview: The second-largest bank in Japan, providing extensive financial services for individuals, corporations, and international clients.

    2. Account Opening:

      1. Methods: At a branch, online, or via mobile app.

      2. Restrictions: Must apply at a branch if you:

      3. Are a U.S. national

      4. Intend to use the account for business purposes

      5. Have a tax residence outside Japan

  3. Mizuho Bank

    1. Overview: A major bank with branches and ATMs nationwide.

    2. Account Opening:

      1. Methods: At a branch or online.

      2. Mobile App: Available, but only for Japanese nationals.

  4. Japan Post Bank (Yucho Bank)

    1. Overview: Has branches at post offices nationwide, offering simple financial services primarily for individuals.

    2. Account Opening:

      1. Requirements: Residence period of at least three months.

      2. Services: Provides guidance for foreigners and offers application forms in 14 languages online.

    3. Benefits: No ATM withdrawal fees at any time.

  5. Rakuten Bank

    1. Overview: An online bank operated by the Rakuten Group.

    2. Services: Collaborates with many banks and convenience stores, providing access to numerous ATMs.

    3. Account Opening: Can be done online.



Challenges and Solutions of Banking in Japan for Foreigners


Language Barrier

Many Japanese banks provide information primarily in Japanese. Account opening documents and procedures are often conducted in Japanese, which can be challenging even if you have a conversational level of proficiency. Here are some tips to overcome the language barrier:

  • Use Interpreter Services: Some banks offer interpreter services. Don’t hesitate to ask for help.

  • Seek Help from Friends: If you have a friend who is fluent in Japanese, ask them to accompany you.

  • Prepare in Advance: Familiarize yourself with key banking terms in Japanese.


Preparing Necessary Documents

Additional documents may be required when a foreigner opens a bank account. For example, a residence card, certificate of residence, and proof of employment. If you have any questions, you should contact the bank in advance and prepare the necessary documents.



Conclusion


Having a bank account is essential for living in Japan. While there are several steps to opening an account, being well-prepared can make the process smooth. Foreigners may face challenges such as language barriers and preparing the necessary documents, but these can be overcome with proper preparation. If you have any concerns, feel free to share them on Jelper Club's Feed. Other Jelper Club members are likely to provide helpful information.


At Jelper Club, we're here to support you every step of the way for your career development in Japan. Our platform connects ambitious students from top universities worldwide with exclusive internship and full-time job opportunities in Japan with a variety of Japanese proficiency requirements. We also provide access to practical information, member-only events, and a professional community of like-minded individuals.

 

If you're ready to embark on your own Japanese adventure, visit Jelper Club today and discover how we can help you unlock your potential in Japan.




Sources and Notes


  1. 「最新預金平均金利情報」(株式会社日本金融通信社):https://www.nikkin.co.jp/kinri/average/

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