Many people are unsure of where and how to open a bank account when they come to Japan. Not all banks offer English support, and many banks have rules like “ATMs close after 5pm, it costs money to transfer funds even within that bank” and so on. Here is Omakase Helper’s guide to setting up your first bank account in Japan.
These banks all offer English support. Mostly you will want to open a “futsu yokin” account, which is just a general bank account.
Sony is one of the simplest banks to sign up with – you can do it all using your smartphone, in English. They don’t require a personal stamp (hanko) or Japanese paperwork. One good point about Sony – they allow you to hold multiple foreign currencies in one account and offer very cheap international remittances.
PRESTIA is well known and used by many foreigners, so it is a trustworthy service. They offer online banking in English as well as in certain branches (call in advance to check). Again, no “hanko” (name stamp) is required.
You can sign up here: https://www.smbctb.co.jp/en/index.html
Seven Bank is an online bank that is quite popular with foreigners for their English friendly interface. You can use the card to withdraw money freely at 7-Eleven stores which is very convenient. You can’t receive money from abroad however using Seven Bank.
You can sign up at: https://www.sevenbank.co.jp/english/
Japan Post Bank:
You should go in person to open a Japan Post Bank account. Although you can do it at any post office, it’s best to go to a larger bank, especially one in an expat-friendly area, as they are more likely to have an English speaker on staff. If they don’t have an English speaker, then you may need an interpreter. Although JP Post is not the most foreigner friendly bank, it can be useful as their ATMs are found all over the countryside unlike other banks, and sometimes companies will only pay into certain accounts, Japan Post being one of them.
Shinsei Bank offers online banking services in English. It is well known and popular amongst expats, however they require people to live in Japan for at least six months in order to open an account. If you are employed by a Japanese company, you can waive this requirement. The bank has few branches, mostly operating online. Good for avoiding using Japanese!
Instructions are here: https://www.shinseibank.com/english/
What do you need to bring with you if signing up in person?
- A passport with a visa (90 day visa does not count).
- Zairyu Card
- Juminhyo (a certificate of residence – it should display your “My Number”)
- Proof of Employment (eg a contract or a business card) (not always required)
- Japanese phone number
- Hanko/name stamp (not always required these days)
- Cash for initial deposit (even 1000 yen is okay)
- It is good to bring a proof of address (for example a recent bill)
- If your country issues a tax ID number then you may need this
Good luck with opening up your bank account in Japan!