Opening a bank account in Japan

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Updated 2021-07-20 11:32

Opening a bank account in Japan is relatively simple - few documents are required, and it's a quick procedure. Feel free to choose your own bank: Shinsei Bank, Japan Post Bank, Mizuho Bank, Resona Bank and SMBC Trust Bank are the most popular options. The language barrier can be a major obstacle, so banks offering services in English, such as Shinsei Bank, are particularly popular.

Which documents will I need to open a bank account in Japan?

Generally, there is no opening fee for Japanese bank accounts. Initial deposits, when necessary to open the account, are symbolic.

To open an account, you will need to present:

  • Your residence card
  • Your address in Japan (sometimes proof of address is also required)
  • A Japanese phone number
  • Your passport 
  • Possibly, your inkan (signature seal). 

In Japan, to sign a document, one uses a hanko (seal). Above is engraved the inkan (stamp/seal). Easy to acquire, this only costs a handful of yen (about ¥ 400, 3 to 4 euros). Having an inkan is not an obligation. A signature (example: with the Shinsei bank) can suffice. 

 Good to know: 

At the bank, you will be asked about possible involvement in criminal organisations. Try not to be surprised: this question is required by law and is asked of anyone opening a new bank account.

After providing the documents, you will choose your private secret code, which you will type on a small machine, away from prying eyes. 

Depending on the bank, you may receive a bank book that you will use at bank counters to withdraw and deposit money. This is also used to make bank transfers, in the same way as a debit card. Japan Post Bank works on this system. Shinsen Bank does not give a passbook, but a debit card.

Since the winter of 2018, all withdrawals are charged: even those made at the ATM of your own bank. Expect a charge of ¥ 108 per withdrawal, regardless of the amount withdrawn. To escape this extra cost, you can choose to go upmarket, and subscribe to a paid bank account instead.

 Good to know:

Some banks also offer online banking. To take advantage of this service, you will need to go to your bank and fill out an application form.

Once your account is open, you can use it to withdraw and deposit money, and receive your salary. If you plan to make international transfers, consider asking your bank advisor about the facilities your card offers. The details can be important, as some accounts can be more restrictive than others. To have a credit card and increase its benefits, it's best to inquire with each bank as to the specific characteristics of each type of account.

 Useful links:

Shinsei Bank
Japan Post Bank
Mizuho Bank
Resona Bank
SMBC Trust Bank

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