All business activities revolve around money. In this modern age, almost all financial transactions are done through a bank.
It is a good business practise to separate your personal bank account from that used to run your business. Running your business with a corporate account makes your business professional. It can also help you monitor your business profits, make your tax filing easier, have multiple authorized signatories to the account, and you can accept credit cards from your customers.
Often, foreign entrepreneurs in Japan have complained of the difficulty and tediousness of opening a corporate bank account. This article is here to make the process smoother by providing a summary of the necessary information and steps needed to open a corporate bank account.
Step 1: Have a registered Business
It is impossible to open up a corporate bank account without registering your business. If you are yet to register your business, here is a quick summary of how to. You can find more details on this page
As a foreign entrepreneur in Japan, starting a business requires a minimum capital (of ￥5,000,000). To register your business, this money has to be deposited into your personal account to serve as proof of the availability of the initial capital. If you do not have a personal bank account yet, this is nothing to worry about; opening one takes a day if you have all the necessary documents.
To open a personal bank account, you must either have the intent of staying in Japan for more than six months or be working in Japan.
The necessary documents are;
- Your passport
- Residence card
- Your address and phone number in Japan
- Signature stamp (referred to as Hanko)
- My Number (マイナンバー) may also be needed depending on the bank.
Deposit the capital (￥ 5,000,000) into the account and obtain a statement from the bank (計算書) which shows the deposit made as well as your balance certificate (残高証明書) to show how much money you have in the account. These two documents are amongst the documents required for the registration of your business.
Register your business and proceed to open your corporate bank account.
Step 2: Choose a bank
Most people typically use the same bank used for their personal account for their corporate account. The choice to use the same bank or change bank is yours. It is essential to add that there are several banks in Japan. Thus, you should carefully check if your bank choice meets the criteria you need to run your business before making your decision. Things like bank proximity from your office, the bank charges, ATM transfer limits, availability of online banking services and cost of the service usage are the few things you should consider.
It is also worth noting that banks like Shinsei Bank, Mizuho Bank, Mitsubishi UFJ (MUFG) Bank, and SMBC Trust Bank almost always have English-speaking staff in large branches.
Step 3: Gather the required documents and submit to the bank
The following documents are required to open a corporate account:
- A certified copy of corporate register (法人登記簿謄本) or a certificate showing the complete records of your company to-date (履歴事項全部証明書) which can be obtained from the Legal Affairs Bureau.
- Certification of official registration of the corporate signature stamp (法人の印鑑証明書) certified within the last three months. This is also gotten from the Legal Affairs Bureau (法務局).
- Your certificate of incorporation (会社の定款)
- A corporate signature stamp registered with the regional Legal Affairs Bureau (法務局へ届け出た法人実印)
- A corporate signature stamp that would be used for bank transactions (法人の印鑑)*. This should be a Hanko designed for your business.
- The ID of the representative director (代表者の身分証明書)
*You are allowed to use the signature stamp registered in the Legal Affairs Bureau as the signature stamp used in the bank transactions. However, most businesses have separated these signature stamps because of the problem it creates when the registered corporate signature stamp is lost.
Sometimes, they may request additional documents. Note that all the documents have to be original copies. They would be meticulous about consistency in all documents. If you have a partner, try to use the same personal information across all documents.
Step 4: Interview with the bank
After the document submission, there would be an interview with the bank representatives. You would be asked questions such as the kind of business you are operating, your clientele, and your prospective business income. If your business is already running, showing them things like your websites, business cards, and your customer receipts would be a good idea, to give the bank representatives a better insight into your business. Some bank representatives may come to see your office space.
A tip for the interview is to dress formally; a suit would be best as it is the norm in all Japanese formal settings.
After the interview, it takes about two weeks for the bank to go through the documents and get back to you.
Following the above four steps should ensure a smooth process in opening your corporate bank account. Don’t forget to comment and share how the process went for you and what tips to add to the above steps.
Notes for the readers:
Please use this article only as a reference, not as a legal guideline. Therefore, sugee.jp will take no responsibility or liability, so far as legally possible, for any consequences of your actions. This article was written on 04 April 2020.
 FAQs for starting a business in Japan. (n.d.). Retrieved 1 April 2020, from https://shiodome.or.jp/faqs-for-starting-a-business-in-japan/
 Hata, T. (2019, 4 April). How to open a personal or business bank account. Retrieved 1 April 2020, from https://homii.jp/guest-blog/live-in-japan/bank/
 Stacey A little shop in Tokyo. (2013, 25 October). Choosing a bank for a small business in Japan. Retrieved 1 April 2020, from http://alittleshopintokyo.blogspot.com/2013/10/choosing-bank-for-small-business-in.html
 Tanaka, M. (2019, 30 January). How to open a corporate bank account to start a business in Japan. Retrieved 1 April 2020, from https://medium.com/@mihotanaka/how-to-open-a-corporate-bank-account-to-start-a-business-in-japan-59f10e05aa66
 法人口座を開設しよう！法人口座の作り方と用意する書類まとめ: クラウド会計ソフト freee. (2020, 13 March). Retrieved 1 April 2020, from https://www.freee.co.jp/kb/kb-launch/after-found-bank-account/