Top English-Friendly Japanese Banks for Foreigners [2022 Guide]

Top English-Friendly Japanese Banks for Foreigners [2022 Guide]

If you don’t speak Japanese but you need to open a Japanese bank account to send or receive money, then this article is for you.

Today, we’re listing the most English-friendly Japanese banks for foreigners in 2022—so that you can open a bank account even if you can’t speak nor read any Japanese.

Before we cover the top international banks in Japan, here are 2 essential points to assess before we go further.

Point #1 - Eligibility: Who can open a bank account in Japan? 

To open a bank account in Japan, foreign residents must have a residence card (zairyu caado) to complete their application. With few exceptions, anyone on a 90-day tourist visa won’t be permitted to open a bank account in Japan. 

Essentially, this means that only foreign residents with long-term visas (over 6 months) and those who have resided for longer than 6 months in Japan can apply. 

Exceptions to this rule include opening a limited-type account that allows for cash deposits and withdrawals. 

Point #2 - Personal ID: What ID is required to open a bank account in Japan?

Banks may differ in their requirements for opening a bank account, but in general, the following are typically required when opening a bank in Japan. 

  • Your passport

  • Your residence card (zairyu card)

  • A residency certificate (jyuminho)

  • Your inkan/hanko (personal seal) 

  • Your phone number

  • Verifying documents or receipts that prove your address

  • Your business card, or another verifying document that shows your name in katakana 

Coming up, here are the banks that have an English-language online banking interface, where you can open a bank account in Japan with zero Japanese ability, using an English application form. 

1. Shinsei Bank – Top choice for best English interface

A long-time popular choice among foreign residents in Japan, Shinsei Bank’s English online banking interface makes this bank a solid option for foreign residents in Japan in 2022. This is one of the few banks in Japan that allows you to complete the application entirely in English (see "Open an account"). Additionally, they have toll-free English-speaking customer support call lines. 

You can mail-in your English application form, saving you a trip to a local branch. There is an app where you can send in your application online, but this is only available in Japanese. Please note, they do not accept applications for corporate bank accounts via the mail-in method. 

  • Overseas remittance fee: JPY ¥2,000 per remittance/not dependent on the amount you remit.

  • Monthly maintenance fee: As of 2022, there are no account maintenance fees

  • Domestic ATM withdrawal fees: ¥110. Free for those with over 1 million yen in their account.

2. SMBC Trust Bank – Top choice for heavy bank users 

SMBC Trust Bank runs a close second to Shinsei Bank. In fact, for foreign residents with large sums of foreign currencies to deposit, this might be a preferred choice, as the bank allows you to deposit savings in 17 foreign currencies (Shinsei allows 13). 

Additionally, their application process does not require a personal seal (inkan/hanko) for the procedure, which many other Japanese banks still require. Customer support and online banking interface are all in English. 

  • Overseas remittance fee: No transfer fees for Prestia Gold customers. For those with a previous month’s balance equivalent to 1 million yen, it is ¥2,500 per online transfer.  

  • Monthly maintenance fee: ¥2,200 for those who do not have a monthly average balance of ¥500,000 or the equivalent of ¥200,000 in foreign currencies.

  • Domestic ATM withdrawal fees: ¥0 for withdrawals at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation ATMs. From ¥110 to ¥330 at Domestic Affiliated Financial Institution ATMs.

3. Sony Bank – Top choice for personal use

With no physical branches, Sony Bank is entirely online and provides an all-English experience and an English-friendly application process. Check out their requirements for applications here. To start the application process, download their all-English app (scroll to the bottom of the page). 

Sony Bank handles 11 foreign currencies and deposits and transfers are at comparably reasonable exchange rates and interest fees. Please note, some restrictions surround Sony Bank use. For example, businesses cannot use Sony Bank to open corporate accounts, and you cannot make foreign currency remittances for business-related purposes. But for personal use, it’s aces.  

4. WISE (formerly TransferWise) – Top choice for cheap overseas transfers 

While not classified as a bank, WISE is a money transfer payments provider that offers international transfer services at an affordable cost. The website and app are both available in English, making it easy for foreign residents to send Japanese yen or any of 50+ currencies at mid-market exchange rates and upfront fees. 

A study conducted by Alderson Consulting, found that Wise transfers are on average 7x cheaper to send money compared to 5 other Japanese bank accounts: MUFG, Rakuten, Shinsei, SMBC, and Sony. Pricing details here

  • Overseas remittance fee: Fees vary by currency. Starts from 0.41%. Use their price calculator

  • Monthly maintenance fee: None. 

  • Withdrawal fees: Free to withdraw 30,000 JPY per month/2 or less withdrawals.

5. Japan Post Bank (Yucho) – Most common bank account type in Japan

Japan Post Bank, yucho ginko in Japanese, is one of the most common bank account types held by the average Japanese individual. It is also one of the few banks in Japan that will allow foreign residents to make accounts without requiring 6-months of residence in order to apply. (Although services are restricted to only deposits and withdrawals until you reach your 6th month of living in Japan.) 

You can apply online in up to 16 different languages, including English, Chinese, Vietnam, Korean, Tagalog, Thai, French, Spanish, etc. Applying via this method, you will not be issued a bankbook, but you will receive a bank card which you can use to check your balance and make transfers. The following video provides a look at applying online to Japan Post Bank Plus. 

 

Video. “How to open a bank account in Japan,” by Elpmis Japan.

If you wish to apply in person, there’s a high chance of finding English-speaking staff if you’re applying in Tokyo. Refer to this English PDF for guidelines on who can open an account. 

  • Overseas remittance fee: Fixed fee of ¥7,500 per remittance, regardless of amount.

  • Monthly maintenance fee: None. 

  • Withdrawal fees: Free at Japan Post Bank ATMs (located in post offices throughout Japan).

Closing thoughts

All policies are current as of the publishing of this article in 2022. Requirements and policies surrounding Japanese bank accounts for foreign residents change intermittently. Please refer to each bank’s official site directly to confirm whether you are eligible for opening an account and what you need to prepare for the procedure.


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