How to open a bank account in Japan and not die trying: foreign-friendly options for those who aren’t fluent in Japanese
Friday, July 13, 2018
Believe us, it is not that difficult as it seems.
Opening a bank account is one of the basic steps you should take when you relocate to a new country… But honestly, it can be complicated enough even if you are in your own country and the documents in your mother tongue. If you are planning to stay in Japan during a long term or to work in a Japanese company, you are going to need a bank account in Japan. It may sound a little bit scary in the beginning, especially if you are not fluent in Japanese, but we have you covered: here you go with our guide on how to get your bank account in Japan and not die trying!
What will you need
The basic documents you will be asked for are:
- Your 在留カード (zairyu kaado, residence card)
- Passport with a valid visa
- 判子 (hanko, name stamp)－optional in some banks.
- Some cash to make your first deposit (1,000 yen would be enough).
Foreign-friendly banking options in Japan
There are so many different banks in Japan: Mizuho, SMBC, Resona… But the most widely used options by expats are Japan Post Bank and Shinsei Bank. Both accounts are easy to open and they will ask you little documentation. Let’s take a closer look on their main features
Japan Post Bank
- Personal telephone number not required (in case you don’t have your own number yet, it will be enough with your work or your share house number)
- Extensive number of branches and ATMs, where withdrawing is free of charge
- Cash card can be linked with a Suica card
- Online banking available (in Japanese, also be aware that the interface is not the best)
- No fees when transferring money from overseas to a JP Bank account
- All documentation is provided in English
- You can use your cash card overseas
- Foreign currency deposits available
- Online banking and telephone support in English
- hey let you choose the color of your cash card - isn’t it lovely?
How to open your Japanese bank account
First of all, head to the nearest branch of your soon to be bank - it will be your “main” branch, so it would be better if it is near your house or your workplace. Once you walk in, just wait for your turn and explain that you want to open a 普通預金 (futsū yokin, regular deposit account). Don’t worry if your Japanese level is not good enough - they will help you as much as they can or they will give you an English version of the forms if available. The main things you have to fill in are pretty simple - name, address, birth date, account type you want to open, card type you want to have, amount of the first deposit and so on. Basic reading and writing Japanese skills would be extremely helpful here, but in case you have any doubts don’t hesitate to inquire the staff. Some banks will ask you to write your name in katakana, so it maybe nice to train before going to register! After that, you will be asked if you want to donate a percentage of the generated interests to charity and - don’t freak out, it’s mandatory - they are required to ask you if you belong to a criminal organisation, so please make sure you don’t enroll in the ヤクザ (yakuza, Japanese mafia) before you get your bank account. Once you finish to fill in the forms with your personal data, you will have to choose your PIN number and after waiting a few minutes you will get your passbook (your card and the rest of the documents will be likely send by post).
And that’s all! Now you are ready to receive your salary and start using your money (wisely). Well done!
Comprehensive glossary on Japanese banking terms
In case you are still struggling with some terms, here is your ABC of useful words - we strongly recommend you to memorise them as soon as possible.
- 銀行: ginkō, bank
- お引き出し: ohikidashi, withdrawal
- お振り込み: ofurikomi, transfer
- カード: kaado, card
- 通帳: tsūchō, passbook
- 手数料: tesūryō, fee
- 預金: yokin, deposit
- 口座番号: kōza bangō, account number
- 通帳記入: tsūchōkinyū, passbook update
- 貯金: chokin, savings
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About the Author
Half writer, half reader. Tokyo based and deeply in love with - you can easily find me meandering around Shibuya or Shin-Okubo. Communication and marketing assistant by day, video game localizer by night.