Opening a Bank Account in Japan

Find out about the different types of account and how to go about opening a Japan bank account: the documents needed and the process to expect...

Types of Account

The main types of account are:

  • General deposit account (Futsu yokin)
  • General savings (Tsujo choking): this is a post office account and generates a slightly higher rate of interest than a general deposit account
  • Time deposit account (Teiki yokin): these usually have higher rates of interest but may require notice for withdrawals
  • Current account (Toza yokin): these accounts usually provide the option of using cheques but are mostly for businesses rather than individuals
  • Foreign-denominated currency deposits, foreign-currency term deposits (Gaika yokin, Gaika teiki yokin)

The most widely used types of accounts are the general savings or general deposit accounts.

Opening hours

Office hours are usually from 09:00 to 15:00 on business days. Banks are closed on public holidays and at weekends.

Opening an Account

Generally, only domestic residents are allowed to open an account in Japanese banks; therefore, it is impossible for non-residents to open a bank account before arrival. A foreigner staying in Japan as a tourist (for less than 90 days) cannot open an account.

In order to open a bank account, the resident card/alien registration card should first be obtained (if this has not already been done) and the required documents should be taken to the chosen bank.

Note: the resident card replaced the alien registration card in July 2012 as part of the new residency management system, although the alien registration card remains valid until July 2015.

Usually, an account is opened at the closest branch of the preferred bank to the individual's home address or place of work. Applications to open an account can also be made via the Internet, by mail or telephone; conditions vary according to the bank chosen.

If the application is made in person at a branch an account can be opened on the same day. The applicant receives a bank book (tsucho), and a cash card (kyasshu kado) is sent to the address of the account holder approximately one week later. With other application methods, it can sometimes take about two weeks for the cash card to be delivered.

In general there is no minimum deposit required to open an account, although this should be checked with the individual bank as a fee may be charged if the balance is less than a certain amount.

It is normally impossible to open multiple accounts in one name, even at different branches.

Documents required

Documents which can verify the applicant's identity are usually required, although requirements may differ from bank to bank:

  • Passport with valid visa
  • Resident card/Alien registration card
  • Personal seal (inkan/hanko): A small seal is often used instead of a signature for official verifications; see below for further information. Whether this requirement applies to foreigners may depend on the bank
  • Original utility bill (telephone, electricity, water) with the person's name on
  • Driver's licence (if possible)
  • For an example of the procedure of opening an account, see the Shinsei Bank's checklist for opening an account: Click here

A hanko/inkan (personal seal) may be required when opening a bank account, although a signature is sometimes accepted on mentioning foreign nationality; however, if this is not the case, consider having an inkan made. This is a name stamp used instead of, or in addition to, a signature on official documents.

  • For further information on seals and seal registration: Click here