Opening a bank account in Japan: What you need to have and phrases to use

Everything is ready and you are good to go live your dream in Tokyo. And after your arrival…Opening a bank account will be your first challenge in Japan

Opening a Japanese Bank Account in Japan

The procedures for opening a bank account are known to be one of the most challenging tasks for expats living in Japan. Indeed, it can be very difficult and frightening if you are not an expert in Japanese and you will probably be overwhelmed with paperwork, questions, and requirements.

However, the mission is not impossible and you will soon realize that it more a question of time, than difficulty.

To tell the truth, once you have all that is needed, you just have to follow some useful tips on how to open a bank account in Japan!

Opening a bank account is (almost always) necessary if you are planning to live and especially work in Japan for a long term.

If you want to open a bank account in Japan we recommend you to open an ordinary account, called “fustsuu yokin” (普通預金).

Required Documents

This is what you will be needing:

  • Your resident card 在留カード
  • Your passport パスポート
  • A valid visa ビザ
  • Address (in Japan) and phone number 住所と電話番語
  • Hanko or Japanese seal depending on the bank 判子

It is important to emphasize that only people residing in Japan with a valid visa and the registration card are allowed to open a bank account. Some of the institutions can ask you as well for an insurance card.

“Inkan” by colincookman is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Hanko: The Japanese Seal

In Japan, it is usual to use a personal hanko (判子), the Japanese typical seal for official paperwork which includes bank applications. These are used in place of handwritten signatures and, although some may allow you to just sign, be sure you ask your bank institution if you are going to need one!

Opening the Account

Have you everything on the list? Now it is time to choose where to open your bank account! Go to the most convenient branch from where you are living and try to check the different conditions, options, offers, etc.

In our experience, we have heard really good opinions about the Japan Post Bank (ゆうちょ銀行) and the Shinsei Bank(新生銀行).

Please do not worry if you do not understand a single word of the paperwork you are supposed to fill.

Ask for help to someone in the bank and they should help you even if your Japanese level is low. They are usually patient and kind enough to do the best they can to explain you.

After a while, and many verifications your provisional account will be ready. Don’t forget to indicate the amount of your first deposit, which should be around 2000 yen.

Cash Card and ATM Services

After some days, you will receive at home your brand new cash card (キャッシュカード) that will allow you to withdraw some money from ATMs.

You will not be able to pay as if it was a VISA card. Remember that Japan is a “cash culture”, so be sure you always withdraw some cash before you go into a restaurant, izakaya, karaoke, etc.

If you are actually looking for a credit card, you should know that the percentage of foreign applications who actually pass the filter is really low, so don’t be disappointed, it is normal.

This is an example of a conversation you will have if you want to open a bank account in Japan:

  • お客様:すみません、口座を開きたいんですが。
    (Okyaku-sama: Sumimasen, Kouza wo hirakitai n desu ga)
    Excuse me, I would like to open a bank account.
  • 店員:はい、そうですか。今日身分証明書お持ちですか。
    (Ten’in: Hai, sou desu ka Kyou mibun shoumei sho wa o mochi desu ka)
    Oh, I see. Do you have your ID card?
  • お客様:在留カードでいいですか。
    (Okyaku-sama: Zairyuu kaado de ii desu ka)
    Can I use my Resident Card?
  • 店員:はい、けっこうです。それから判子はお持ちですか。
    (Ten’in: Hai, kekko desu. Sore kara hanko o-mochi desu ka)
    Yes, no problem. Do you have your hanko?
  • お客様:実は判子は持っていません。
    (Okyaku-san: Jitsu wa hanko wa motte imasen.)
    To tell the truth, I do not have a hanko.
  • 店員:じゃあ、サインでも大丈夫です。
    (Ten’in: Jaa, sain demo daijoubu desu.)
    Then, with your sign will be OK.

Good luck! 

Credit CC BY-SA 4.0:
Title: Japanese Yen Bills

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