Photo by © cinnamonellie

A Guide to Japanese Banks for foreigners living in Japan

I remember the first time I got to Japan as an exchange student, and one of the things I had to do first was opening a bank account.

Although I know Japanese, a lot of specialty terms were not familiar to me at that time, so, fortunately, one of my dear friends came along to make sure I understand everything before choosing my bank and opening an account.

If you are coming to Japan on a visa other than a tourist one, sooner or later, you will need to get yourself accustomed to the whole process of opening a bank account here. Before going through some of the recommendations, here are a few things you need to know before opening an account.

A general deposit account, called futsū yokin (普通預金) is probably the most common one.

For opening an account at a bank where you will need to have the following things:

Your ID

When I opened mine, I got my passport, as well as the residence card with me.


A hanko is a personalized seal that most Japanese people use. As a foreigner, I was told that they need my signature instead, but if you have a hanko, it would be a good idea to also bring it with you. Usually, banks in Japan accept either one if you are a foreign resident.


When opening an account, they usually ask for an initial deposit. It is a small amount, and I think I had around 1,000 yen when I opened mine.

Certificate of residence

You will also need the certificate of residence, called jūminhyō (住民票) in Japanese. You can get it from the shiyakusho 市役所 (municipal office).

"My Number"

Lastly, you will need your Japanese ID number, also known as “My Number”. I got mine when I first arrived in Japan and went to the city hall (the same time I asked for the jūminhyō).

Now, here are some of the most popular banks in Japan:

JP Bank

The Japan Post Bank is probably the most used here in Japan.

At first, it got me confused as in my country, the post office and banking are two separate things. However, I found it so convenient and the fees are generally low if opening an account with the JP Bank.

JP Banks and ATMs are everywhere in Japan, and many foreigners choose to open an account with them. As there are many branches and it’s so popular, you can also find English friendly staff, and generally, it is foreigner-friendly, so it is my most recommended option.


Mizuho is a bank popular among Japanese people, but I’d say it’s more on the traditional side. In Kanto, I found a few places that have English speaking staff and is becoming more foreigner-friendly.

However, depending on the place, you should consider bringing your Hanko and maybe someone who knows Japanese to be safe.

As I already know Japanese and am already accustomed to the process of opening an account in Japan, I chose to make mine online on the Mizuho Official Website.

Shinsei Bank

A lot of my foreign friends opened a bank account at Shinsei. Most of them used their signature, and this bank is also very welcoming to foreigners, so I warmly recommend it.

SMBC/Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation

Another popular option is the SMBC. Both foreign residents and Japanese citizens choose it for opening an account.

Other than the banks above, you can also go for online options such as Rakuten or Seven Bank.

I find them quite convenient and a great option for international residents, have English options, and all you need is your residence card to open a free account.

These are my recommendations, and keep in mind that you can choose between going to the bank, making your account online, via email, or phone.


If you're leaving Japan, you need your ID, hanko/signature, bankbook, and card to close it.

Japan can be quite convenient when it comes to banking.

Nowadays, most of them also have online options, as well as English-speaking staff, so it is easy to access.

By - cinnamonellie.