4. Phone, Bank, & Name Seal

Mar 25

4. Phone, Bank, & Name Seal

Japan Business Startup Series

The previous article explained how to rent a house in Japan and resident registration as a foreigner after coming to Japan with a Startup VISA. The next step in starting a smooth daily life in Japan is to obtain a mobile phone number, a name seal, and open a bank account. This article will explain the procedures for these three things. We hope this information on Procedures for Coming to Japan with a Startup VISA will help foreigners with starting their life in Japan. 


1. Obtaining a Phone Number
2. Obtaining a Name Seal
3. Opening a Personal Bank Account

1. Obtaining a Phone Number

After your resident registration, you are eligible to get a Japanese phone number. A phone number is required on many occasions, including opening a bank account. Therefore, you are advised to obtain one as soon as possible. Japan has various mobile carriers, so choose a carrier service that suits you best.



a. A passport
b. A residence card
c. A credit card (in case of credit card payment) or a cash card or a passbook with a financial institution stamp (in case of direct debit)


Application Process

a. Choose a mobile phone carrier

  • Major Mobile Phone Carriers in Japan
    • AU, Docomo, etc.
    • You can easily find their shops in nearly every city in the country. You can also apply for a SIM card online. 
    • The major mobile phone carriers always have long contract periods, and the monthly fee is much higher than the Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) SIM cards. 
    • Internet data speeds are fast and stable. 
    • In most cases, major mobile phone carriers offer English support.
  • Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) SIM cards
    • You can obtain it from their websites, physical stores, electronics retailers such as BIC Camera and Yodobashi Camera.
    • MVNOs have shorter contract periods (between 6 months to a year or even shorter) than major mobile carriers. 
    • MVNO SIM card is a low-cost option, but some of them have slow internet speeds.
    • Not all of them offer services in English.
b. Visit the physical store or apply online with the required documents. Please visit the physical store if you want to get the SIM card as soon as possible. You will have to wait for about 2 to 4 days if you choose to apply online.

2. Obtaining a Name Seal

People in Japan typically sign important documents with a name seal (判子- Hanko). In some cases, foreigners are allowed to use a written signature instead of a name seal. However, a name seal is still required when signing some important contracts, so you are advised to obtain one. 


Types of Name Seal

There are different types of name seal based on the purpose of use.

a. Registered seal (実印- Jitsu-in)
  • This is used when signing important contracts such as real estate transactions, loan contracts, etc.
  • You must register it at a local city office for it to have legal standing.
  • One person can register only one seal at a time, and you cannot share your seal with others. 
b. Bank seal (銀行印- Ginko-in)
  • It is a seal for financial transactions.
  • Instead of registering it with the local city office, it is registered with banks.
  • If you have multiple bank accounts, you can register a bank seal for each of your accounts.
  • If you are registered with different financial institutions, you can register the same stamp in duplicate.
c. Personal seal (認印- Mitome-in)
  • It is your regular, everyday hanko used for everyday things, like receiving packages or sign some general documents at work.
  • It is not registered anywhere and has no legal standing.

Cautions for obtaining a seal

Some people use the same seal for all three different purposes. It should be noted that the registered seal is equivalent to your signature. Therefore, if it is stolen, there may be risks such as your name being used to take out a loan by someone or being made a guarantor of someone’s debts. If your bank seal is stolen, your money may be withdrawn without your knowledge. Besides that, if you lose your seal, you will not be able to do some administrative and banking procedures until you apply for cancellation of the lost seal and register a new one, which is inconvenient. Therefore, you have to be very careful with your seals, and it is safer to use a different seal for different purposes.

The Rules for Making a Name Seal

a. The word on the seal has to be a part of your name.
b. Full name, last name, first name, are all acceptable.
c. Latin alphabets and katakana are both acceptable. If you choose katakana, make sure you have the same  katakana version of your name registered at your city office (this may be recorded on the back of your residence card).

Procedures for Ordering a Seal and Seal Registration

The most convenient way to get a name seal is to order it online. As earlier stated, you can decide to make one seal for three purposes or make different seals for different purposes.

Choose the size, material, and typeface of the seal and order it from an online seal shop. The seal will arrive two or three days after purchase.

Registration of a Registered Seal (Jitsu-in)

a. Take the seal you want to use as a registered seal along with your residence card to the seal registration section of the local city office.
b. Fill out the Name Seal (Inkan) Registration Application Form and get a Certificate of Seal.

Registration of a Bank Seal (Ginko-in)

This procedure is done at the same time with the opening of your personal bank account.

a. Take the seal you want to use as a bank seal along with your residence card to the bank.
b. Complete the procedures for the notification of a bank seal (銀行印届出- Ginko shirushi todoke) under the guidance of bank staff.

3. Open a Personal Bank Account

Foreigners staying in Japan for more than 6 months for work or study, and who are able to obtain the Certificate of Residence, can open a bank account. Foreigners who come to Japan with the Startup VISA, whose initial period of stay is only half a year, can open a non-resident yen deposit account (非居住円預金口座- Hi-kyojusha-yen-yokin-kouza), but it is hard for them to create a savings account (普通預金口座- Futsuu-yokin-kouza). However, some banks, such as Japan Post Bank (ゆうちょ銀行- Yu-cho-ginko), will create a regular savings account even if the stay period is between 3 months to 6 months. The following section will introduce the difference between these three types of bank account.

Non-Resident Yen Deposit Accounts (非居住円預金口座- Hi-kyojusha-yen-yokin-kouza)

Your period of stay must be between 3 months to 6 months. Many functions are restricted in this type of bank account when compared with a savings account. Some of the restrictions are:

a. Cash cards cannot be issued. All withdrawals are made using a passbook.
b. Allows only the minimum functionality of depositing money and withdrawing money from ATMs. Additionally, the number of branches where cash can be deposited and withdrawn are limited.
c. Overseas remittances and direct debit payment functions are not available. 
d. Service charge is much higher than a regular savings account.

* The restricted functions depend on the bank you choose. Please ask for the details at the bank counter.

Regular Savings Accounts (普通預金口座- Futsuu-yokin-kouza)

Typically, your period of stay in Japan must be more than 6 months to open this type of bank account, although some banks may require a period of stay of more than 1 year or even longer. Since the initial period of stay if you have a Startup VISA is 6 months, it is difficult for foreigners with a Startup VISA to apply for a regular savings accounts. The functions of this savings account are no different from those of other countries. 

Japan Post Bank Savings Accounts (ゆうちょ銀行- Yu-cho-ginko)

The functions of Japan Post Bank savings accounts is no different from that of regular savings accounts of other banks. However, you can open a bank account (if you meet all other requirements) even if your stay period is between 3 months to 6 months, making it very friendly to foreigners staying in Japan with Startup VISA. There are other advantages to opening a Japan Post Bank savings account.

a. You can deposit and withdraw with no fee, at 32,000 ATMs equipped in 24,000 shops around Japan, which is the largest number of ATMs among all the banks. 
b. You can deposit and withdraw at more than 50,000 convenience stores anytime throughout Japan with a cash card.
c. Transferring money into other saving accounts of Japan Post Bank through the internet banking service “Yucho Direct” is free.

In summary, foreigners with a short period of stay of 6 months or less cannot open a regular savings account in most cases, except for the Japan Post Bank. On the other hand, although the foreigners with a period of stay between 3 to 6 months are eligible to open a non-resident yen deposit account, it comes with many restrictions. Therefore, opening a bank account in Japan Post Bank is the easiest option for most foreigners with a Startup VISA.


Regardless of your choice of the above three bank accounts, you will need the following to open an account: 

a. A name seal (to be used as a bank seal (
b. A residence card with your address printed on the back

Your address will be printed on the residence card during resident registration.

c. A passport

*Some banks may ask for additional requirements, so be sure to confirm them yourself before opening an account.

Application Process

All three types of bank accounts have the same application process.

a. Prepare the necessary documents and fill an application form. The required documents depend on the bank.

b. The bank staff will verify your documents, and you will be required to explain the details of the bank account’s use.
c. Your bank account will be opened, and you will obtain a passbook. 
d. A cash card will be sent to your address a week after opening the bank account. (In case of non-resident Yen deposit accounts, cash card will not be issued). 

*You will be required to provide your phone number when opening a bank account. Therefore, it is advisable to get a phone number before you open a bank account.

*After your stay in Japan exceeds half a year, you can open a regular savings account in other banks.


Stay tuned for further articles on “How to Start a Business in Japan,” our series on foreign entrepreneurship! 

Previous Articles:

  • How to Start a Business in Japan: An Overview
  • All you need to know about the Startup VISA
  • Procedures for Coming to Japan with a Startup VISA: Renting a House and Resident Registration
Coming Soon:
  • Business Manager VISA
  • Incorporating in Japan
  • Banking in Japan
  • And more!





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Chen Xin

About Chen Xin

Chen Xin is a writer for Sugee Kansai, eftax Co., Ltd. We thank her for contributing to our series "How to Start a Business in Japan."