Japanese Banks for Foreigners in 2021
Opening a Japanese bank account can be a headache. Yet, your first banking experience in Japan doesn't have to be a bad one.
This article lists the best Japanese banks for foreigners in 2021, along with what you will need to prepare to open your account.
In Japan, to open a bank account, foreigners must have a residence card to complete an application, which means that anyone on a 90-day tourist visa cannot open a bank account in Japan. This is also referred to as the "6-month rule," limiting foreigners who can apply to those who have legally resided in Japan for 6 months, essentially those with long-term visas.
There are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, opening a limited-type bank account that allows for deposits and cash withdrawal—but little else. The standard eligibility for opening a Japanese bank account is completing 6 months in Japan as a resident on a legal visa.
Finding trustworthy bilingual legal assistance is an essential step if you are setting up a company in Japan.
While some banks require only a few of these items, it is often best to be overprepared when filling out forms in Japan.
Residence card (zairyu card)
Residency certificate (jyuminho)
Inkan/hanko (personal seal)
Verifying documents or receipts that prove your address
Business card, or another verifying document that shows your name in katakana
Coming up, here are the banks that have an English-language online banking interface, where you can open a bank account in Japan with zero Japanese ability, using an English application form.
Shinsei has physical branches and online services, but its English online banking interface makes this bank one of the most English-friendly banks in Japan in 2021. Shinsei's online banking is easy to navigate, and they have an international phone support service, which you can call toll-free.
Another advantage of Shinsei is that you can mail in your application. The English application form can be found on the "Open an account" page, where you can view a thorough explanation of the whole procedure. You can even apply through an app with your phone (but this is only available in Japanese).
Prestia has their official site, customer support (phone calls available), and online banking service, all in English. This bank allows you to deposit savings in 17 foreign currencies. You can open an account entirely online, and they do not require an inkan/hanko for the procedure.
One thing to note: There is a monthly maintenance fee of ¥2,200 for those who do not have a monthly average balance of ¥500,000 or the equivalent of ¥200,000 in foreign currencies. Based on reviews of this service, SMBC Prestia is an excellent option for international customers who have large sums of foreign currencies to deposit.
Sony Bank is strictly online, with an all-English site, and doesn't have any physical branches. You can open a bank account with just your phone by downloading the app (scroll to the bottom of the page), also entirely in English. Sony doesn't require a seal or a phone number, two things that most foreign residents have a hard time getting after having just arrived. You only need a valid address and residence card for the application process.
Another great feature of Sony Bank is that it handles 12 foreign currencies, and you can deposit or transfer at reasonable exchange rates and interest fees. They also offer low charges when making a foreign currency remittance. However, one downside is that businesses cannot use Sony Bank to open accounts, and you cannot make foreign currency remittances for business-related purposes. Here's an explanation of the restrictions for sending money abroad.
Notable mention: Japan Post Bank (Yucho)
Japan Post Bank, called yucho ginko in Japanese, is operated by Japan's postal service and can be found everywhere in Japan. It is one of the most common bank account types held by the average Japanese individual. According to a survey conducted by YOLO Japan, 99% of those who took the survey had a Japanese bank account, and close to 60% of the bank account holders said they had a Yucho Bank account.
Yucho Bank is one of the few banks that allows foreign residents to make accounts right after arriving in Japan, and post offices in bigger cities are likely to have English-speaking staff, who can help you fill out an application form. Also, they do not require an inkan/hanko or a phone number when applying. However, services are restricted to only depositing and withdrawing savings until you reach your sixth month of living in Japan. One drawback—although Yucho has an online banking system, opening an account must be done in person. Upon successfully completing the application form, you will be able to open an account on the same day.
Note: The policies discussed here are current as of the publishing of this article. However, requirements and policies surrounding opening bank accounts for foreigners change intermittently. Please refer to each bank’s official site directly to confirm whether you are eligible for opening an account and what you need to prepare for the procedure.
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