If you’re an expat in Japan, you’ll need a Japanese bank account to receive payments, set up crucial utilities and manage your money day to day.
To help you choose the right account for your needs, this guide walks through the best banks in Japan for foreigners. We’ll also look at how Wise and the Wise multi-currency account can help you sending, spending and receiving internationally.
Here’s an overview of the key requirements in place at most major banks in Japan for foreigners looking to open an account:
You have been in Japan for at least 6 months
You may well need to be a resident of Japan as defined by FEFTA (Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Act). This usually means you’ve been in Japan for at least 6 months, or are employed in Japan and hold a valid visa and permit. If you have not been resident for 6 months, you may be able to open an account with some banks - but it might not offer a full range of services as it would often be the same account as offered to non-resident customers.
You have your Residence (Zairyu)
You need to have your Residence card - also known as a Zairyu card. Your bank may ask that your card has at least 3 months of validity remaining on it. Japan Post Bank, for example, states that applicants must wait until after their card has been renewed if it is due to expire in 3 months or less.
You have an address in Japan
You should be able to prove your address in Japan - often with a utility bill or similar document in your name.
(Optional) You have your Hanko
You might need a hanko - a personal seal. However, some banks, such as Shinsei Bank, will allow you to use a signature instead
If you’re not sure about whether you’d be defined as a resident under FEFTA, Shinsei Bank has a handy online simulation which you can work through to check.
The best bank in Japan will depend on your personal needs and preferences. However, there are a few of Japan’s major banks which are usually better suited to helping foreigners get accounts set up. Here are a few of them:
- JP Bank
- Shinsei Bank
- Rakuten Bank
- MUFG Bank
Let’s take a more detailed look at some options of the best bank for foreigners in Japan.
Japan Post Bank is especially popular among foreigners in Japan and it provides online information for customers who want to open an account in over a dozen languages such as English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, French, and more.
How to open a bank account with Japan Post Bank
Take along ID documents and visit a Japan Post Bank branch.
|ID documents you need to open a bank account with Japan Post Bank|
Opening an account may take some time. Your account passbook may be sent to your home address at a later stage, rather than being handed to you on the day.
If you’re an expat in Japan you’ll probably need to send and receive international transfers from time to time.
To send money abroad with Japan Post Bank, transfer fees cost 3,000 JPY via online banking or 7,500 JPY at a branch. You should also expect that exchange rates provided by Japan Post Bank include markup, just like other banks. Furthermore, intermediary banks’ fees may cost, too.
If you receive money from abroad, you can only receive in EUR or USD, and you may find intermediary charges are deducted as the payment is processed - these will be at least 5 EUR or 10 USD for transfers over 100 EUR/USD.
|Japan Post Bank|
|International transfer fees||3,000 JPY via online banking or 7,500 JPY at a branch|
|Exchange rates||May include markup|
|Intermediary banks’ fees||May occur|
|International transfer receiving fees||At least 5 EUR or 10 USD|
Let’s look an example to illustrate this: Sending 100,000 JPY (including transfer fees) to the United States.
Sending money abroad with a Japanese bank may cost you a lot, not just because of the expensive transfer fees but also thanks to markups in the exchange rates used.
After you successfully open a bank account in Japan, you can use an international transfer service like Wise - and may be able to save on international transfer costs.
Moreover, you can receive money for free to a Wise multi-currency account from the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and many European countries, just as if you had a local bank account in those countries. Hold your money in 50+ different currencies, and switch it using the mid-market rate whenever you want to!
You can apply for a Shinsei Bank account if you’ve been resident in Japan for 6 months, or are working in the country. You’ll also need a Japanese cell phone. There’s a helpful tool on the Shinsei Bank website to enter your personal information and check your eligibility.
How to open a bank account with Shinsei Bank
- Order a Starter Pack - which will take a few days to arrive by mail
- Complete the application in hard copy
- Send the application along with copies of the required paperwork
- Your account documents will arrive in the post once everything has been verified [7,8]
|ID documents you need to open a bank account with Shinsei Bank|
To send an international transfer with Shinsei Bank you can use the Go Remit service from your smartphone. Here are the fees:
|Shinsei Bank GoRemit|
|Shinsei PowerFlex JPY account||2,000 JPY|
|Shinsei PowerFlex foreign currency account||4,000 JPY|
|Receiving international transfers||2,000 JPY + any intermediary charges|
|Exchange rates||May include markup|
Rakuten is the biggest online bank in Japan. You can open a bank account online without visiting a branch or mailing the documents physically.
Rakuten also offers a range of credit cards which can be used to earn cashback and points to spend online or in the Rakuten marketplace site.
How to open a bank account with Rakuten Bank
- Simply upload images of the documents required using your smartphone
- Receive your account card and information by mail later.
|ID documents you need to open a bank account with Rakuten Bank|
|You need to upload photos of any 2 documents from the list below;|
You can send international payments from a Rakuten account. Here are the costs:
|International transfer fees||750 JPY|
|Intermediary fees||1,000 JPY|
|Exchange rates||May include markup|
Japanese customers can open an account with MUFG online or using a smartphone - but foreigners in Japan will need to visit a branch to get started.
How to open a bank account with MUFG Bank
Visit a branch with necessary ID documents
|ID documents you need to open a bank account with MUFG|
※Not all branches can deal with applications from foreign customers, and advance appointment is necessary
You can send and receive international payments with MUFG. To send via online banking, it costs 3,000 JPY, at a branch the cost is 7,500 JPY. If you send online, you cannot pay beforehand the intermediary bank fees, and they’ll be likely to be deducted from the amount you send. And again, don’t forget that the bank uses exchange rates with a possible markup for your international transfer. 
No matter who you choose to bank with while you’re in Japan, make sure you check out how low cost payments from Wise, and the Wise multi-currency borderless account may be able to help you send and receive money internationally.
- Japan Post Bank - To foreign nationals applying to open an account
- Shinsei Bank - Do I need a personal seal (hanko) to open an account?
- Shinsei Bank - Foreigners opening a bank account
- Japan Post Bank - For foreigners who want to open a bank account (in Japanese)
- Japan Post Bank - International transfer (in Japanese)
- Japan Post Bank - Receiving an international transfer (in Japanese)
- Shinsei Bank - Open an account by mail
- Shinsei Bank - PowerFlex Account Application
- Shinsei Bank - How to send money overseas with GoRemit
- Shinsei Bank - Receiving Funds from Overseas
- Rakuten Bank - Open a bank account today
- Wise Japan Blog - How foreigners can open a bank account in Japan
- Rakuten Bank - International transfer (in Japanese)
- MUFG Bank - Clients wishing to open a personal bank account
- MUFG Bank - Branch locator (within Japan)
- MUFG Bank - International transfer (in Japanese)
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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