Can a Foreigner Open a Bank Account in Japan

When a foreigner finds a job in the land of the rising sun and begins to live there, there are some difficult situations that they might face, such as finding a place to live or applying for a visa. Among them opening a bank account too.

What you need to open a Bank Account in Japan

A foreigner can legally open a bank account if he/she matches the requirements mentioned below.

In this article we would like to introduce to you what is generally needed when applying to open a bank account in Japan.

Nevertheless, some banks ask for additional requirements, so be sure to confirm them before opening an account by yourself.

  • Documents Proving the Address – as a foreigner, you need to prove your permission to stay in Japan, so please bring your valid residence card and passport. Also, it is recommended to bring your health insurance card, special permanent resident certificate, driver’s license (if you have one), student ID, and employee ID just in case.
  • Address Confirmation – It is necessary to show your residence certificate “Zyuminhyo” or a utility bill (gas, electricity, water, NHK, landline, etc.) to demonstrate that you live at the address indicated in the documents presented. Generally, mobile phones, and smartphones invoices cannot be used as certificates.
  • Personal Seal (Inkan) – Inkan is one of the oldest cultures in Japan. In overseas, it’s common to write a signature by hand at important contracts, but in Japan, the use of seals is the most traditional way to do it than writing a signature.
    Recently, some banks, such as Mitsubishi UFJ Bank and Resona Bank, have removed the seal from their requirements to open a bank account, but many banks still require a seal to open an account.
    Since there are many cases where you need an Inkan not only when opening a bank account but also when signing an important contract like a housing contract, we recommend you should make your Inkan.
  • Phone number that can be contacted – The bank will need a phone number to keep in touch with you. You can tell them your cell phone number.

The most common form of bank account in Japan is a general deposit account known as futsū yokin 普通預金. Interest rates are presently extremely low in Japan. The big three Japanese mega banks are The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and Mizuho Bank. Other banks include Resona Bank, Aozora Bank and Shinsei Bank. Sony Bank is a completely online/telephone banking operation and specializes in mortgages (home loans).

After opening your account you will receive in the post your cash card, which you can use to make withdrawals in any of your bank’s branches. If you make a withdrawal at the branch of another bank, which is not your own, you may be liable to a service charge. There are also out-of-hours charges for services outside normal banking hours of 9am-5pm weekdays, unless you have a Japan Post Bank account, where withdrawals are always free.

The ATMs in Japanese banks and post offices usually have an English and sometimes a Portuguese menu and instructions. You need your PIN number and can withdraw, deposit, update your pass book, check your balance and make transfers to another account.

Domestic & Overseas Transfers

You can make overseas transfers from the counter of your bank or from special machines in your branch. Alternatively, you can use the service of a digital wallet like Jeton that have become widely available in Japan.
With Jeton the transaction fees are usually cheaper than the traditional financial institutions and the transfer time can be even quicker.