How to open an account in Japan

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Choosing a bank

If you've just arrived in Japan, you may find it difficult to open a bank account. Most major banks will only let foreigners open an account after they've been in the country for more than 6 months. If you need an account but haven't been in the country long, your best bets are the Japan Post Bank (which has a branch in every post office in Japan) or a bank like Shinsei, which caters to foreigners.

If you've been in the country for more than 6 months, you're free to choose any bank. But if you're planning to use the account to receive your salary, consult your employer, as many companies are only able to make payments to certain banks.

The last thing to do before opening an account is choosing a branch location. Lately, in order to prevent crimes, opening an account can be done at the branch of the bank that's closest to your home or your workplace. Also, without good reason, only one account can be opened at each bank.

Opening an account

To open an account, you'll need your alien registration card. And if you're from a country such as China and Korea where seals are used instead of signatures, you'll need to bring your stamp so the imprint can be registered. If you're from a country that doesn't use seals, you can open an account using your signature. But if you prefer, you can register a seal instead. You can order a seal that has your name in katakana or the alphabet either online or in a specialty store. However, since most transactions can be done at an ATM with your cash card, there aren't that many occasions to use your signature or seal.

Recently, the rules for opening a bank account have become strict due to the fact that some accounts are being used for crime or money laundering. If your application is rejected, it's best to ask the manager what the issue was and what you need to do to get your application approved.