The myth of Bank Account in Japan

Photo by Moja Msanii on Unsplash

Banking industry is getting stricter every year against account set up because of the increasing risks of money laundering, terrorist financing, corruption and fraud.

Incidents of money laundering rose about 40% on the year to 511 in 2018.

Bank account set up is crucial especially when we need to launch a business, get investment for the business and start transaction with clients in Japan. At least we should know the timeline so that we can plan the next steps according to the timeline of account set up.

1. Personal Bank Account

At least 6-month residential period as a residence card holder

Although banks do not specify how many months the applicants need to stay in Japan before setting up a personal account, most banks require them to hold 6+ months residential period. This residential period must be stated on their residence card.

No less than 3-month until the expiration date of the current visa

All applicants must have 3+ months on their residence card until the expiration date. If the applicants have less than 3 months to stay in Japan, they need to apply for a bank account after renewing the current visa.

Some banks specify this rule on their own website. ( Mizuho / SMBC )

2. Corporate Bank Account

Most of the process for setting up Corporate Bank Account is being digitalized on the first step. Usually the process is

  1. Send general information via online
    Submit the general information about our business such as name, address, phone number, company registry, stamp certificate, amount of capital, expected sales amount, etc.
    NOTE : practically bank side needs to confirm whether the business owner has enough capital to operate the business for the next 6 months. That being said, many business owners put the minimum of 1 million JPY regardless of the nationality. If the representative director is targeting a Business Manager Visa in the future, let’s put 5 million JPY to make all the process easier afterwords.
  2. Wait for a response from the bank
    Bank will get back to us about the result of the first examination process via email or phone. Bank will request additional documents such as office contract, invoice, or brochure of the business to better understand the contents of the business.
  3. Face-to-face meeting with a banker
    Some banks offer the meeting online, but most of the banks still ask us for a face to face meeting at their office.
  4. Final answer from a bank!
    Bank will get back to us via email or phone

Please don’t be too stressed out, because all entrepreneurs including Japanese people face the same challenge, so you are not the only one.

I am Japanese citizen living in Japan for a few decades, but several banks refused to open a corporate bank account for my business. One of the banks that I have been using for 5 years kindly accept the application probably because my personal bank account shows that I have been saving money every month little by little.

Of course when a bank refused to open my account, I was disappointed, but I have been trying to understand that banks have to operate the business under tight restrictions and regulations to combat financial crime all over the world. This effort might reduce the risks of operating a business for us in the future!



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