Basics of banking in Japan



Opening a Bank Account in Japan 

To open a bank account in Japan you need your passport, alien registration card and your inkan (official ink seal) as well ss an initial deposit amount in some cases. You will be regarded as a tourist if your stay in Japan is less than 90 days in which case you cannot open a bank account but can open a post office savings account through a branch of the Japanese Postal Service, Japan Post Bank.  

You will be required to complete an application form and make an initial deposit, after which your account will be set up. After this you can apply for a debit card (kyasshu kado) and PIN number (ansho bango).

There are a number of international banks like Citibank and HSBC who do business in Japan. However, most Japanese people use domestic banks like Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and Mizuho Bank. All banks offer a wide range of banking services and accounts: savings, current and foreign currency accounts. You may arrange to pay most of your bills directly from your account.  

Tourists and expatriates in Japan can also present a valid passport and mailing address to open a post office savings bank account in Japan. This will give you access to ATM's in the country. 

Credit & Debit Cards in Japan

Despite all its technological advancements, Japan is still a cash based economy and credit cards are not that popular. Only some of the biggest retailers will accept a Visa or MasterCard. You will also need to present a passport along with your card to get a cash advance at a bank. Most ATMs do not offer cash advances for credit cards at all.

Foreign debit cards are not accepted in most Japanese stores and you will probably only be able to use a debit card to withdraw money from an ATM (if the ATM accepts foreign cards). 

ATM's in Japan 

A combination of traditional ATM machines and CDs (cash dispensers) that only process withdrawals in Japan are commonly found in major cities. These ATMS do not usually accept foreign debit and credit cards unless they are operated by an international bank such as Citigroup, HSBC and 7ElevenBank. ATMs are hard to find outside cities and it is practically impossible to use them with a foreign card. The best way to ensure you have access to cash is by setting up a post office savings account. 

Most Japanese ATMs are not open for 24 hours and are turned off at night (usually 19:00 during the week, 17:00 on Saturdays). 24-hour ATMs that accept international credit and debit cards can be found at 7-Eleven convenience stores.

You will be charged a small fee of around 100 yen unless you use your Japanese bank´s ATM during regular bank hours. 

Money Transfers in Japan 

In order to transfer money you will need to present your passport, alien registration card and driver´s license. The three main methods used to transfer funds in Japan:

-Telegraphic or wire transfer which is the quickest and most efficient way. Electronic transfers are offered by most banks.

-Demand drafts

-Mailing cash (if you have a post office savings account).



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Banking Guide