It is necessary for foreign residents in Japan to open a bank account in order to receive their income, make everyday purchases, and pay utility bills. In this article, we introduce the types of banks in Japan, documents needed to open an account, and banks where you can open an account in English.
If you would like to know about e-money in Japan, please read: Electronic Money in Japan
City banks are banks established under the Banking Act. They are based in major cities and operate on a nationwide scale. They are characterized by a large volume of deposits and loans, and by business with large corporations and listed companies.
With a city bank account, you can withdraw cash at ATMs of other banks including Japan Post Bank and convenience stores (bank commission will be charged).
There are 5 city banks in Japan: Mizuho Bank, MUFG Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Resona Bank, and Saitama Resona Bank.
These are banks under the Banking Act that have their head office in a regional city and operate on a regional basis. They are characterized by transactions with local businesses and individuals.
When it comes to daily money transfers, banks with nearby branches and ATMs are preferable. City banks will be convenient if you live in large cities, and regional banks will be convenient if you live in a rural area. Having branches and ATMs in your area is practical and you can also save commission fees.
Many banks, such as Hokkaido Bank, Chiba Bank and Bank of Yokohama, have the name of the region in the name of the bank.
The Second Regional Bank is a reassuring ally for small and medium-sized enterprises. The difference between Regional Banks and Regional Banks II is their historical background. While first regional banks are joint-stock companies, second regional banks are predecessors of mutual banks. Mutual banks were organisations that gathered a certain number of subscribers, deposited money regularly from their members/organisations and lent to the subscribers by lottery or by bidding.
Trust banks are community-based non-profit co-operative organizations. Unlike banks, which are joint-stock companies, Trust banks are non-profit-making corporations that operate as cooperative organizations with a membership system. The regulatory authority for trust banks is the Financial Services Agency. They have a limited area of operation and their purpose is to promote community vitality and mutual aid. Members are small and medium-sized enterprises and sole traders based in the area of operation, as well as people working or living in the area of operation.
Banks other than those mentioned above. Some banks have actual branches, but an increasing number of banks have recently started to offer account opening procedures and transactions such as transfers online only. AEON Bank, Rakuten Bank, and Sony Bank are a few examples. A growing number of banks are also providing English-language services.
Japanese banks offer these types of accounts.
1) Account for general deposits (Futsu yokin)
2) General savings (Tsujo chokin): a Japan Post Bank account with a slightly higher interest rate than a general deposit account.
3) Time deposit accounts (Teiki yokin): have higher interest rates but may require advance notice for withdrawals.
4) Current accounts (Toza yokin): usually allow for the use of checks, but are mostly used by businesses.
5) Foreign currency deposits and foreign currency term deposits (Gaika yokin, Gaika teiki yokin)
General deposit accounts and general savings accounts are the most commonly used accounts.
To open an account at a bank with a branch, you must choose between a branch near your home, a branch near your office, or a branch designated by your employer. If you prefer a branch other than these, you may be asked for a reason and there is a chance that they refuse the application.
You can open an account at the bank counter. If you fill in the necessary forms and complete the procedure successfully, you will receive your cash card on the same day (or it will be delivered to your home address via registered mail approximately one week after you open an account). An increasing number of banks allow you to open an account online. Be sure to check the required documents in advance, as they may vary from bank to bank.
Listed here below are examples of what normally Japanese banks require.
＊ Passport with valid visa: if you are in Japan with a “90 days visitor’s visa (tourist visa)” you cannot open a bank account.
＊ Residence Card (Zairyu Card) with your current address printed on the back
＊ Certificate of residence with your “My Number” printed (if you plan to transfer funds to overseas)
＊ Tax identification number if issued in your country (if asked)
＊ Certificate of employment or Student card
＊ (Japanese) phone number
＊ Personal Seal (Inkan/Hanko): Some banks mentioned below (ex: PRESTIA, Shinsei Bank) do not require this and you can open an account with your signature.
＊ Marriage certificate or Residence certificate with your partner’s name on ( For a supplementary card)
Note: Please contact the bank for further details before you visit there as they may require different documents
At these banks below, you can open an account online in English.
At PRESTIA (SMBC Trust Bank Ltd.) you don't need a personal seal (inkan/hanko) to open an account (your signature is effective) and telephone / online banking come as standard in English. Although they offer services in English, there is a chance that there is no English speaking stuff at your nearest branch, therefore we advice you to contact them in advance.
At Sony Bank you can open an account via the app in English. Simply follow their easy steps, there's no difficult paperwork required. You can find how to open an account and necessary documents here.
At Rakuten Bank you can apply to open an account in English via your PC or smartphone.
SEVEN BANK offers 3 types of accounts, simply follow the instructions in English.
At Shinsei Bank telephone / online banking are available in English.
Opening an account at Japan Post Bank is also an option. This can be done at most Post Offices across Japan. You may find a branch with an English speaker who can assist you however, most postal workers will probably be speaking primarily Japanese. It is advisable to bring a Japanese friend or colleague to assist you. Information on opening an account is posted on the website in multiple languages. To open an account online, it is necessary to understand Japanese.
Utility bills are usually paid via withdrawal from your bank account, such as electricity, water, and gas. Please follow the instructions to have your bills deducted, as this is a handy way to eliminate the inconvenience of paying at a bank or convenience store every month.
Go to your bank and ask for required documents, normally you will need your ID, bankbook, cash card and Hanko (or your signature).
Wise (formally known as Transfer Wise) would be the best option at this moment for major currencies if you would need only send money abroad or receive money from abroad.
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