Opening a Corporate Bank Account in Japan

Recently Bridgewater Japan successfully helped set up a finance and accounting team for a start-up client here in Tokyo. In addition to engaging Bridgewater in this retained search project, our client had to carry out the crucial task of opening a corporate bank account. We thought it would be worthwhile to share with any potential start-ups out there the basic requirements for setting up a corporate bank account in Japan.

 

Before you apply for a corporate bank account, please make sure to

  • Register your business at the Legal Affairs Bureau. Registering your business means preparing the articles of incorporation, filing the incorporation papers, etc.
  • Register your company at the Local and National Tax Office

 

Here are the basic steps

Step 1. Submit the bank account application by post to the bank

Step 2. Visit a branch or arrange an online interview

Step 3. Depending on what you applied for you will receive an ATM card, bankbook, token, etc. in the mail

 

Why do Japanese banks ask for so many documents to open a corporate bank account?

Japanese laws require banks to screen their potential clients to establish whether the company is who they say they are. Revisions* were made in 2017 to prevent the increasing number of organized crimes such as running scams and frauds, money laundering, funding terrorist activities, etc. The following can potentially lower the chances of successfully opening a corporate bank account.

  1. Company’s registered address is a shared office.
    Banks may think your company is a shell corporation.
  2. Applying for an account at a branch that is not the closest to the company’s registered address.
    If a company’s registered address is in Shibuya, you should apply for an account at a Shibuya branch.
  3. The purposes of the business are too many and not related to each other.
    Banks may think your company is not legitimate or the business purpose is too general.
  4. Paid-in capital is less than 1,000,000 JPY (In some cases, a minimum of 5,000,000 JPY is desirable)
    With low paid-in capital, your company may be perceived as under-funded and thus a high risk of failure.
  5. Registering your personal mobile number as the company contact number.
    In the eyes of the Bank, your company may not look serious or trustworthy if you are not prepared to spend on setting up a landline number.
  6. Director or shareholder does not live in Japan.
    Japanese banks do not access the credit information of overseas individuals. Banks would rather decline opening an account than taking a risk on a director or shareholder who resides overseas.
  7. Shareholder is a foreign corporation.
    Unless the shareholder is a publicly listed company, Japanese banks prefer not to take the risk of having involvement with foreign corporations due to potential involvement in bribery and corruption issues.
  8. Director or shareholder is an American citizen.
    American tax laws require financial institutions to report American citizen’s financial activities to the IRS. If an American citizen opens an account, the Japanese Bank has to report the account activities record to the IRS, this requires additional work for the Japanese Banks and takes time while generating no additional income for the bank.
  9. Website does not have Japanese translation.
    Every document must be translated to Japanese. For ease of communication and understanding, this includes the company website, brochure, etc.
  10. Applying for a bank account before obtaining a permit or license.
    If your company requires but does not have a permit or license, you are not legitimate in the eyes of the bank.

 

What are the required documents?

 

Certified copy of company registration, tokibo tohon
You can order online for 500 JPY per copy. No software is required for online orders. The copy will be sent by post and usually arrive in 1-2 business days. Or you can visit any branch of Legal Affairs Bureau houmukyoku in Japan and get it printed for 600 JPY per copy on the same day.

 

Certified copy of corporate seal, inkan shomeisho
If you already installed e-certificate on your computer, you can order online for 410 JPY per copy. The copy will be sent by post and usually arrive in 1-2 business days.
If you don’t have e-certificate, you need to visit a Legal Affairs Bureau branch with the corporate seal card. The fee is 450 JPY per copy, and you can get it printed on the same day.

 

Copy of Tax Office Registration, houjin setsuritsu todoke no kopi
The contents of tax office registration should match tokibo tohon.

Landline Number
For start-up companies, a landline number will increase your chance of opening a corporate account. A landline number is a preferred means of contact at banks, government offices, etc.

 

Company Website in Japanese
“About Us” page should include

  • Company name
  • Company address
  • Phone number
  • Name of director(s)
  • Product and/or service information
    • What kind of product or service does your company sell?
    • Product price chart and/or service fee chart
    • Where do you sell? Online or physical store?

The website contents should match tokibo tohon.

 

Copy of Representative Director’s Photo ID, daihyosha no mibunsho no kopi
The name and address should match tokibo tohon.

Sample Japanese driver’s license:

 

List of Shareholder(s), kabunushi meibo
The list should include

  • Full name of shareholder
  • Registered address of shareholder
  • Number of shares

 

Copy of Shareholder’s Photo ID (if applicable)
If the shareholder is different from the representative director, please provide a copy of the government-issued ID.

If the shareholder is a corporation, please provide:

  • Proof of company registration
  • Proof of representative director’s signature verification
  • Corporate Tax Payer ID Number
  • Organization chart (relationship between the shareholder and the company)

Documents need to be translated to Japanese. The bank may request additional documents regarding the shareholder company.

 

Copy of Business License (if applicable), eigyo kyoka sho no kopi
If your company wants to sell liquor, food, second-hand items, services, etc., you may need to apply for a permit or license.

Sample resale license:

 

 

 

*租税条約の実施に伴う所得税法、法人税法及び地方税法の特例等に関する法律

Act on Special Provisions of the Income Tax Act, the Corporation Tax Act and the Local Tax Act Incidental to Enforcement of Tax Treaties