Best Banks for Opening an Account in Japan: A Comparison Guide

Mareike Dornhege

All you need to know about opening a bank account in Japan and a detailed comparison of fees and services available with the most popular banks.

1. General requirements for opening a bank account in Japan

While you can’t open an account if you are on a 90-day tourist visa, foreigners that are here on other visa types, like work or student visa, are eligible to open an account with most banks. Generally, you would open a futsu yokin, the Japanese term for a general deposit account. Here is the skinny on what you need to bring and how to do it.

Editor’s note: This article is intended only as a preliminary guide to banking in Japan. We try our best to keep all information up to date, however fees and information are subject to change at any time. Consult the official site of any financial institution for specific and up-to-date details. Use all financial services at your own risk.
japan banks comparison
Photo by SteFou! used under CC

Required documents

  • ID (some banks might accept a driver’s license or residence card, but bring your passport to be safe
  • Hanko – your personal seal (some foreigner-friendly banks accept your signature, see below)
  • A small amount of cash for the initial deposit (from ¥1,000)
  • Juminhyo — certificate of residence (including your “My Number”, the Japanese tax ID number)

Depending on the bank, the following might also be required

  • Often, a recent utility bill showing your current address is required
  • A business card may sometimes be required as proof of your place of employment
  • Tax identification number is sometimes required if it’s issued in your home country

How to apply

  • At the bank counter (most Japanese banks are open from 9 am to 3 pm, Monday to Friday, except for national and year-end holidays)
  • By phone (most banks offer this service in Japanese only, see below for exceptions)
  • Online
  • By mail (if you are so inclined)

2. Closing your account

If you are leaving Japan, here is what you need to close your account for good.

Required documents

  • ID (bring your passport to be safe, some banks might accept a driver’s license or residence card)
  • Your bankbook and cash card associated with your account
  • Hanko – your personal stamp (some foreigner-friendly banks may accept your signature, see below)

How to close your account

Generally only accepted at the bank counter.

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2. Overview of Japan banks

Shinsei bank card | Photo by Adriana Paradiso

International banks in Japan (or somewhat international ones)

If you do not have very good Japanese language skills, then these international, or “foreigner-friendly”, banks are usually your best option.

SMBC Prestia

SMBC Prestia Trust Bank is a bank with Japanese and English banking services. You won’t need a hanko to open an account, your signature will do. The biggest relief is probably that telephone and online banking is in English. They also offer the option of a savings account with a separate foreign currency account.

Shinsei Bank

Shinsei had long been every foreigner in Japan’s favorite bank. Recently it’s been knocked off its pedestal as it now requires that clients live in Japan for at least for 6 months in order to open an account. If you can hold out that long, the pros include being able to open an account with your signature (and not a hanko seal) as well as telephone and online banking in English and Japanese.

Japan Post Bank

Instead of the standard futsu account (general deposit account), many opt for a post bank savings account. JP Banks are very no frills in their banking, but the fees are generally low. They are welcoming to foreigners, and many branches, especially larger ones, will have English staff who can assist you.



Traditional Japanese banks

Here are some options if you like to keep it very Japanese.

MUFG

MUFG is Japan’s largest bank and a global financial institution. English-speaking staff may be at your assistance, but don’t forget that hanko. Yet, it is still popular with a lot of international residents as many everyday services like withdrawals and in-bank transfers are free.

Mizuho

Mizuho is a very traditional domestic bank. Bring both your hanko and a Japanese speaker if you aren’t fluent.



SMBC

This bank’s official name in English is Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC), not to be confused with SMBC Prestia Trust Bank above, which is an off-shoot of this more traditional banking house. Their trust bank is more gaijin-friendly and generally more geared toward individual customers, while SMBC itself is rather domestic and focuses on corporate clients.

Online banks

Some online banks have recently entered the Japanese market. Seven Bank (of 7-11 convenience store fame) is proving popular with foreigners. Rakuten Bank is another notable option.

Photo by Gregory Lane

3. Fees and services comparison

Here is an overview of the most requested services by foreign residents, including the times and fees for cash withdrawals (ATMs can actually be closed during certain hours in Japan!), international transfers, and online banking.

ATM withdrawl fees

BankLocationsWeekday daytimeWeekday after hoursWeekend daytimeWeekend after hours
PrestiaAt SMBC trust bank or SMBC ATMsFreeService not availableFreeService not available
SMBCAt SMBC ATMsFreeFreeFreeFree
MUFG BankAt MUFG Bank ATMsFree¥108Free¥108
MUFG BankAt MUFG Trust Bank ATMsFree¥108¥108¥108
Japan Post BankAt Japan Post Bank ATMsFreeFreeFreeFree††No service on Sundays from 00:05 to 21:00
Rakuten BankAt partner bank ATMsFree up to 5 times a month†Free up to 5 times a month†Free up to 5 times a month†Free up to 5 times a month††Need to register for the “Happy Program” in advance
Shinsei BankAt partner bank ATMs¥108¥108¥108¥108
Seven BankAt Seven Bank ATMs¥108Free¥108Free
japan bank
Photo by Kenneth Lu used under CC

Service fees for transfers from an ATM

BankWeekday daytimeWeekday after hoursWeekend daytimeWeekend after hours
Prestia
(SMBC ATMs)
By cash:
Free
+ transfer fee
¥216¥648
By cash card:
Free
+ transfer fee
¥0¥432
By cash:
Not available
By cash card:
Not available
By cash:
Free
+ transfer fee
¥216¥648
By cash card:
Free
+ transfer fee
¥0¥432
By cash:
Not available
By cash card:
Not available
SMBCBy cash:
Free
+ transfer fee
¥216¥864
By cash card:
Free
+ transfer fee
¥0¥432
By cash:
Not available
By cash card:
Free
+ transfer fee
¥0¥432
By cash:
Not available
By cash card:
Free
+ transfer fee
¥0¥432
By cash:
Not available
By cash card:
Free
+ transfer fee
¥0¥432
MUFG BankBy cash:
Free
+ transfer fee
¥216¥648
By cash card:
Free
+ transfer fee
¥0¥432
By cash:
¥108
+ transfer fee
¥216¥648
By cash card:
¥108
+ transfer fee
¥0¥432
By cash:
Free
+ transfer fee
¥216¥648
By cash card:
Free
+ transfer fee
¥0¥432
By cash:
¥108
+ transfer fee
¥216¥648
By cash card:
¥108
+ transfer fee
¥0¥432
Japan Post BankBy cash:
Not available
By cash card:
Free
+ transfer fee
¥0¥432
By cash:
Not available
By cash card:
Free
+ transfer fee
¥0¥432
By cash:
Not available
By cash card:
Free
+ transfer fee
¥0¥432
By cash:
Not available
By cash card:
Free
+ transfer fee
¥0¥432
Rakuten Bank
(at partner bank ATMs)
By cash:
Depends on the ATM
By cash card:
¥0¥216
+ transfer fee
¥0¥258
By cash:
Depends on the ATM
By cash card†:
¥0¥216
+ transfer fee
¥0¥258
†service may not
be available
depending on the ATM
By cash:
Depends on the ATM
By cash card:
¥0¥216
+ transfer fee
¥0¥258
By cash:
Depends on the ATM
By cash card:
¥0¥216
+ transfer fee
¥0¥258
Shinsei BankBy cash:
Not available
By cash card:
Not available
By cash:
Not available
By cash card:
Not available
By cash:
Not available
By cash card:
Not available
By cash:
Not available
By cash card:
Not available
Seven BankBy cash:
Not available
By cash card:
Free
+ transfer fee
¥54¥216
By cash:
Not available
By cash card:
¥108
+ transfer fee
¥54¥216
By cash:
Not available
By cash card:
Free
+ transfer fee
¥54¥216
By cash:
Not available
By cash card:
¥108
+ transfer fee
¥54¥216
Photo by Gregory Lane

Fees for receiving money from overseas

BankPayments in yenPayments in other currencies
PrestiaFreeFree
SMBC¥1,500
+ 5% of remittance amount
(min. ¥2,500)
¥1,500
MUFG Bank¥1,500
+ 5% of remittance amount
(min. ¥2,500)
¥1,500
+ 5% of remittance amount
(min. ¥2,500)
Japan Post BankService not availableUSD $10 / EUR €5
Rakuten Bank¥2,450¥2,450
Shinsei BankCurrently free, ¥2,000 from December 16, 2019 (free for platinum and gold customers)Currently free, ¥2,000 from December 16, 2019 (free for platinum and gold customers)
Seven BankService not availableService not available

Fees for sending money overseas

International transfers can be quite costly in Japan. Here are the fees charged by the different banks. Here are some cheaper alternatives for sending money out of Japan.

BankPayments in yenPayments in other currencies
Prestia¥3,500¥3,500†via online banking
SMBC¥2,500¥4,500
+ ¥2,500 +
+ 5% of remittance amount
(min. ¥2,500)
¥2,500¥4,500
+ ¥2,500
MUFG Bank¥2,500¥3,000
+ 5% of remittance amount
(min. ¥2,500)
¥2,500¥3,000†via online banking
Japan Post BankService not available¥2,000†via online banking
Rakuten Bank¥750
+ ¥3,000
(+ ¥1,000†)
¥750
(+ ¥1,000†)
††intermediary bank fee
Shinsei Bank¥2,000
+ 0.1% of remittance amount
(min. ¥1,500)
¥2,000¥4,000†when using their partner GoRemit
Seven BankService not available~¥950†depends on the remittance amount
Rakuten online banking site

Online banking services and fees

Internet banking has not been widely available in Japan for all that long (not a big surprise in a country where companies still use fax). But by now, most banks have caught up and offer the full breadth of online services for banking.

BankLanguageHoursOSBrowserAppFees
PrestiaJapanese and English24 hWindows, MacOS XIE,
Google Chrome,
FireFox,
Safari
No, but allows mobile bankingMonthly fee:
Free
(a ¥2,000 monthly account
maintenance fee is required)
Transfer fee to Prestia:
Free
Transfer fee to other banks:
¥259
SMBCJapanese only24 h
*except from
Sun 21:00 to
Mon 07:00
Windows onlyIE,
Microsoft Edge,
Google Chrome,
FireFox
(browser and OS
must be in Japanese)
YesMonthly fee:
Free
Transfer fee to SMBC:
Free
Transfer fee to other banks:
¥216¥432
MUFG BankJapanese only24 h
(depending on
service)
Windows, MacOSIE,
Microsoft Edge,
Google Chrome,
Safari
YesMonthly fee:
Free
Transfer fee to MUFG:
Free
Transfer fee to other banks:
¥216¥324
Japan Post BankJapanese only00:05–23:55Windows, MacOS XIE, Microsoft Edge,
Google Chrome,
FireFox,
Safari
(browser and OS
must be in Japanese)
YesMonthly fee:
Free
Transfer fee to JP Bank:
Free for up to 5 transactions a month
Transfer fee to other banks:
¥216¥432
Rakuten BankJapanese only24 hWindows, MacOS XIE,
Microsoft Edge,
Safari
(browser and OS
must be in Japanese)
YesMonthly fee:
Free
Transfer fee to Rakuten:
Free
Transfer fee to other banks:
¥165¥258
Shinsei BankJapanese and English24 hWindows, MacOS XIE,
Microsoft Edge,
Google Chrome,
FireFox,
Safari
YesMonthly fee:
Free
Transfer fee to Shinsei:
Free
Transfer fee to other banks:
¥103¥308
Seven BankJapanese only24 hWindows, MacOS XIE,
Microsoft Edge,
Google Chrome,
Safari
YesMonthly fee:
Free
Transfer fee to Seven Banks:
¥54
Transfer fee to other banks:
¥216

Discover your deposit—check out The Geeky Cheapo’s Guide to Japanese Money.

Written by:
Filed under: Living
Tags: ATM Fees In Japan, Featured, Japanese Banks, Online Banking, Online Banks Japan, Sending Money From Japan, Sending Money To Japan
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