How to open a bank account in Japan if you're a foreigner
Japanese Culture & Customs
Are you a foreigner living in Japan who needs to open a Japanese bank account, but you don’t know what you should do, or what you need to prepare?
As you begin your life in Japan, you’re probably feeling somewhat perplexed from all the cultural differences and unique social rules. And in order to survive from day to day, you of course need to manage your personal finances properly. For this, you most likely need to have a Japanese bank account.
If you’re a foreigner in Japan looking to open a Japanese bank account, then this article is for you. Here we explain what you need to prepare and what the procedure is for opening a bank account in Japan.
１．Requirements for foreigners to open a Japanese bank account
Before you can open a Japanese bank account, you need to meet certain conditions. You also need to complete some other procedures in advance. Make sure to check the following before you proceed to the bank.
In order to open an ordinary savings account in Japan, you normally need to meet the following two conditions:
・You need to have a residence card and a period of stay of at least 6 months.
・You need to have a residence certificate (juminhyo).
If your period of stay is less than 6 months but more than 3 months, it is possible to open a “non-resident yen deposit” account (hikyojusha enyokin). Note that this type of account has several restrictions, such as not being able to do overseas remittances and automatic debits.
1-2. Things to prepare in advance
In order to open a bank account in Japan, you need to have a phone number in Japan where you can be reached. It is advisable to visit a mobile phone shop and start a phone contract in advance.
Depending on the bank, you may also need to have a personal seal (hanko). While signatures are the norm in most countries, personal seals are the widely accepted form of signature in Japan. If the bank requires it, make sure to make a personal seal in your name beforehand.
1-3. What you need to bring
If you meet the conditions noted above and you already have your phone number and personal seal, then you should prepare the following documents:
・Valid identification document e.g. residence card, special permanent resident certificate, national health insurance card, passport, driver’s license, etc. (in some cases, you may also need to bring a school or company ID).
・Proof of address e.g. residence certificate (juminhyo) or a recent utility bill/receipt (gas, electricity, water, etc.)
To recap, you need to have the following items ready:
① Valid identification document
② Proof of address
③ Personal seal (hanko)
④ Phone number in Japan
２．Options for opening a bank account -part１-
There are two ways you can choose from to open a bank account in Japan:
① Apply in person at the bank
② Open an account online (for online banks and traditional banks that offer the service)
The requirements and actual procedure may vary from bank to bank, so it is best to confirm with the bank in advance.
Below are two banks that are recommended for foreigners.
2-1. Recommended banks for foreigners
- Japan Post Bank (Yucho Ginko)
・Has around 24,000 branches and 32,000 ATMs nationwide (ATM services are available in 16 languages).
・Allows you to open an ordinary savings account (with no restrictions) if your period of stay is 3 months or more.
・No minimum initial deposit.
- Shinsei Bank
・Offers a full-service internet banking website in English. Recommended for foreigners who don’t speak any Japanese.
・Procedure can be done completely online, so you can open an account anytime, anywhere.
・Bank fees are inexpensive.
３． Opening the bank account -part2-
Below is the general procedure for opening a bank account in-person and online.
3-1. Opening an account in-person at the bank
① Visit the bank
Bring the required items and documents and head to the bank of your choice. It is recommended that you visit a bank that is near your home or place of work. If you choose to open a Japan Post Bank account, you need to visit a post office that offers banking services. Depending on how busy the bank is, you may have to wait 30 minutes to an hour, so make sure you have plenty of time.
② Procedure for opening an account
After informing the teller that you want to open an account, you will fill out a form while they verify your documents. You will also be asked to sign or stamp your personal seal. You also need to provide a 4-digit PIN for your account (avoid using your birthday or any number that can be easily guessed). When your application is complete, you will receive a passbook and you can now use your bank account.
3-2. Opening an account online
Connect to the Internet and open the bank’s website, then just follow the procedure for opening a bank account.
In Japan, it is very common for your salary to be paid by direct deposit to a bank account. Many rental properties also charge rent by direct debit from your bank account. So make sure to check all the requirements and follow the procedures to open your very own bank account in Japan.