This is some of the most important information you will need while you are living in Japan. In your home countries you will probably be used to using your credit card to pay for things either over the phone, online, or in a shop. This usually isn’t the case in Japan. If you buy plane tickets or need to pay for conference costs, it is more than likely you will pay for this by bank transfer. Once you know the process, it’s relatively easy, and varies little from bank to bank.
1. Go to the bank counter and say “furikomi o shitai desu kedo, yoshi ga arimasen ka” (I’d like to make a bank transfer – do you have a form?)
2. Fill out the form, which will ask for information such as: bank name, branch name, recipient’s account number, amount to be transferred, recipient’s contact info, your contact info. Be careful not to write outside of the surrounding lines.
3. Choose how you want to send the form – Telex is expensive but instant, or you can send by mail if it isn’t urgent.
4. Wait for the form to be processed and then pay.
5. Keep in mind there will be a bank charge for the transfer. This will range from 100 to 1000 yen, depending on the bank, method and amount.
Unless your Japanese is really good, it is highly recommended that you take someone with you the first time such as your supervisor. Your supervisor will most likely take you to set up your bank account when you arrive, so it may be worth asking them to show you how to do it then!
I highly recommend doing a furikomi, though it may seem a daunting task at first. It cuts out all that pesky human interaction, kanji writing, and sitting around waiting. You can either do it with cash, which you pop into the machine, or transfer money directly from your bank account. Check out the Furikomi ATM Guide!
If you plan on sending money transfers to the same place multiple times, you can ask to have a “furikomi ken” made for that specific transfer. If you make multiple transfers to different places, you will need to make separate cards. The process varies from bank to bank, but if you take along all the information of the recipient and say “furikomi ken o tsukuritai desu kedo” (I’d like to make a transfer card) someone should be able to help you. Alternatively these can be made at the end of a transfer from an ATM. Again, see the Furikomi ATM Guide. Furikomi cards can be made for domestic or international transfers.
1. International Postal Money Order
One way to send money home is via an International Postal Money Order (yubin kawase) at the post office. You CANNOT send this to yourself or your bank at home. So you will have to send it to someone back home who is willing to receive it, endorse it, and deposit it for you. Here’s how to do it:
1. Bring some identification (Resident’s card, health card or passport). You can’t send money to another country without showing I.D. and giving a reason for sending it (anything is okay: pay for loan, debt etc). They will want to photocopy it.
2. Go to the Green Counter at the post office (it will say Money Order in English). If it is busy take a ticket and wait until your number is called.
3. When it is your turn say “(country) e kokusai sookin shitai no desu ga. Yooshi o (ichi, ni, etc) mai kudasai.” You have just said, “I would like an international Money Order for (country). Please give me (1, 2, etc) sets of forms.” I have also found that if you say money order with a Japanese accent (i.e.: manee ohrda) they will understand what you are talking about. You will need a separate form for each payee you send to.
4. The form should be in English. If it is not the clerk should be able to help you. **Any form of mistake is a major hassle on this form, so if you make a mistake, ask the clerk right away if it is okay because you may end up throwing it out and starting a whole new form.** After you have filled in the form hand it and the money you want to send, to the clerk. The clerk will at this time ask you for money to pay for the money order;
- To send money home to the U.S.A. only it costs 2500 yen. Non-express registered postage is 520 yen and takes 1-2 weeks, or, if you are in a hurry, you can choose to send your money order via EMS Express for 1100 yen, which takes up 3-4 days. Since the general cost of this form of remittance is higher, I would suggest using the second option, which is a Telegraphic Transfer.
- The second option is to send money order via a Telegraphic Transfer for a set amount (postage included) of 2500 yen. However, the delivery date of your money order varies depending on the arrival destination. It’s best to ask at the Post Office for the approximate date of arrival.
5. The clerk will give you your copy of the form and return the check portion with the amount typed in. You will write in the payee’s name yourself.
Some of you will have to send the check yourself, if so, put it in an envelope (note, they don’t sell envelopes at the post office), buy a stamp and send it off.
Recently, the number of countries that you can send to and the cost of sending has changed. However, there is not much information available in English after the privatization of JP Bank.
2. Wire Transfers
Two popular options for wire transfers are GoRemit and TransferWise. Depending on how much money you want to send, the fees will vary.
GoRemit bank transfers take about 1-2 days. They charge ￥2,000 (for any amount up to ￥1,000,000, I think). However, you can send this money directly to your own bank account in your home country. Your bank at home will probably also charge you a fee, so bear this in mind. You must register (free) with GoRemit before you can send any money. The easiest way to register is over the internet at their website or, you can call them in Tokyo and they will send you the necessary forms, which you complete, and then send back. The whole process can take less than a week. Here is how to do it:
1. Register online at their website or by filling out the PDF form and mailing it in to them.
After you send it back to GoRemit, they will send you the bank transfer information. The letter is in both English and Japanese, so you just show it to the teller and say “Furikomi onegaishimasu” (bank transfer please). This is basically the same as a domestic transfer as you are sending the money to your account with GoRemit in Japan, which is then transferred internationally for you. When you do it for the first time, make a furikomi card and then in the future you can send money home in a matter of seconds. Easy peasy! If you need to send money home every month you can make the transfer automatic by asking the bank teller for the necessary forms. I suggest you have your supervisor help you fill out these forms.
If you want to go the high-tech route, after mailing in your application and receiving the forms back from GoRemit, you can download their smartphone application and do your remittances from your phone. This is a relatively new offering from Shinsei Bank, so we’re not sure how smooth the process is.
TransferWise works a little differently than GoRemit. Their transfers are speedy, often taking about 24 hours to go through because they do not go directly to the foreign bank account. Let’s say you want to send money from Japan to the US. You do a local transfer to the Japanese TransferWire account, then they will send the money to their own US TransferWire account. Then they will do a local transfer from their US Transferwire account to your bank account in the US. They give you the mid-market rate- instead of their own exchange rate- so the fees are often smaller than other transfer services like GoRemit.
To register, go to their website and make an account. Follow the prompts and in a couple of days you will receive a letter with a special code that you can use to complete the registration. Then you are all set to go! You can do the transfers at local ATMs. Their website is set up in multiple languages so you can easily adjust it to your preference at any time.
3. INTERNATIONAL BANK TRANSFER
You can send international bank transfers with any large bank in Japan, but the cost is usually much higher (at least ￥6,000). So, even though the set up takes an extra week, I recommend GoRemit instead. You can begin the process before your first paycheck even, and have it ready by the time you have money in your account to send. Some people don’t use GoRemit because they say the cost is too high. However for the level and speed of the service and ease of transfer, I really think it’s worth it. I have a GoRemit account back in the US, and if I transfer money home at lunchtime in Japan, the money is usually in my account by breakfast the next morning.
Super helpful. Thank you SO much.