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Opening a Bank Account
You may open accounts at banks by filling out an application form and showing a resident card (former: alien registration card). Some banks may require a personal seal, but often, just your signature will be sufficient.
Both Citibank and Shinsei Bank provide services in English, including online banking. Be aware that many other Japanese banks do not offer any English information or support at the counters. Some banks will require you to have been resident for a period of 6 months to a year before you can open an account.
Japan is largely a cash-based society, and it is not unusual to make large transactions in cash. Personal checks are not used, and though credit cards are gaining popularity in Japan, many shops still operate on a cash-only basis.
If your card has the logo “Cirrus” or “Plus” on it, then you can withdraw cash from nationwide ATMs conveniently located in post offices, Japan Post Banks, Citibank, as well as Seven Bank ATMs.
There are approximately 26,700 Japan Post Bank ATMs at post offices and branch offices of Japan Post Bank, and over 18,000 Seven Bank ATMs located in one of the biggest convenience store chains, Seven-Eleven. You will be able to easily find one near your home or office, whether you are in Tokyo or Yokohama. Because Seven-Elevens are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, you can withdraw cash anytime, day or night, at your convenience.
Opening a Japanese bank account will enable you to withdraw cash from any ATM using your cash card regardless of your bank; however, a handling fee may be charged. Additional fees may also be charged when cash is withdrawn outside of restricted operation hours, and smaller post-office and bank-specific ATMs may stop service completely at night, weekends, Sundays, or on public holidays. Other ATMs are generally located in convenience stores, train stations, and large department stores. Bank accounts come with a tsuuchou (通帳, bankbook), which are inserted into bank ATMs and will print a record of your account history.
Transferring Money within Japan
You can use the ATM for national bank transfers, even without a bank account, if the amount is less than 100,000 Yen. You can save on the transfer commission by opening an account at a bank. Transmissions between accounts at the same bank are the cheapest option.
Overseas Money Transfers
Dedicated overseas remittance services are usually the cheapest way of sending money to other countries. These services operate online, through convenience stores and by domestic transfers to intermediary banks. Commission fees are usually lower than they are at banks, and in some cases the transfer is completed in a matter of hours.
Overseas money transfers through banks take at least 2-7 business days. You can make a transfer from Japan Post Bank’s branches or post offices handling overseas money transfers for a commission of 2,500 Yen. From other banks, the cost will be 4,000 Yen or more. If intermediary banks are involved in your transaction, they may deduct intermediary fees from the amount transferred. In the case of receiving money from abroad, some banks will not allow receipt of foreign transfers within the first six months of the account being opened. For details on specific policies, please inquire at your bank.
Banks & Money Transfer Services