Questions about Bank Accounts

November 2005

How can I open a bank account?

Choose a bank that is conveniently located either to your work or home.
I really recommend that you bring a Japanese speaking colleague or friend since few banks will have any English speaking staff.

If possible, ask your colleague to phone the bank in advance and confirm what the necessary procedure is for that particular bank. Below is described the usual necessary steps to open an account but sometimes the individual bank can have some particular request or rule so it will save you time and stress if you ask in advance.

What you need to bring:

  • Passport
  • Proof of Alien registration "Gaikokujin touroku genpyou kisaijikou shomeisho"

    This is NOT the alien registration card but an official document that you have to apply for at the alien registration counter. You can apply for this at the same time as you register. The cost is about 200yen.

  • Alien Registration card

    If you have just registered you may not have it but if you do, bring it.

  • Inkan stamp

    If you have a stamp/seal "hanko" you can use it. If, not most banks will let a foreigner use their signature instead. However, some banks are reluctant to let persons from countries that have a history of using stamps like China and Korea use their signature instead. Also, some banks ask for a Signature Certificate from the embassy and that can make things very complicated so it is advisable to ask the bank before going.

  • Money(Even 10 yen will do)
  • A Japanese speaking friend

Is there any Internet bank that I can use?

Yes, there is a bank called SHINSEI BANK and they have internet banking in English.
I must tell you that I have no personal experience with this kind of banking but I know that several foreigners use this bank and so far I have not heard any bad comments or complaints.

Please check their homepage and judge for yourself.

Some friendly advice........
When you fill out the application form for your bank account, remember to write your name EXACTLY as it is written on your Alien Registration documents. Any difference, however small will result in you having to write it all over again. Also, you can not cross out something or rewrite something on the application. If you make a mistake while filling it out, just take a new form and start over.
When you apply for the cash card at the bank you are asked to decide on a "secret pin code", usually four numbers. Often, people forget their secret number and then it becomes rather a hassle since you have to start all over again......
It is not good to choose a number like your birthday but please choose one that you can remember.