finances and communications

Finances and Communications

Probably everyone who arrives in Japan is worried about managing finances and communications. In this post, we will explain the first steps you should take.

Opening Bank Account

If you are planning to stay in Japan for the long term, you should open a local bank account. In order to open a bank account, you need to bring with you an ID card and inkan (hanko – personal seal which can be purchased in different stores or online). Depending on the bank, you might need some additional documentation. At least for the first time, we recommend going with someone who speaks Japanese well. Also, remember that banks are open only on the weekdays between 9 AM and 3 PM.

Applying for a Credit Card

Some credit cards issued abroad can be used in Japan. However, additional fees might apply. Therefore, it is better to have a local card too. A card can be issued from one of the banks, from major department stores, or from flying companies, etc. You can apply for a credit card via the Internet, by mail, or by coming to the credit card application counter. You will need your ID card, bank account number, and inkan. Some credit companies will ask for additional documents, such as your yearly income and proof of employment.

Mobile Phone, Internet, TV

if you want to buy a phone in Japan, you can buy it from one of the big telecommunication companies, such as Au or Docomo. Usually, a contract will be for two years. Every month you will pay for the device itself and for your plan. Or you can buy a sim-free phone, which doesn’t have to be from Japan, and then buy a sim card. Usually, these plans are much cheaper. If you purchase your phone at one of the big stores such as Bic Camera or Yodobashi, you will also get points, that later can be used in the store for buying other products.

As for the Internet, the process is very similar. Head to Bic Camera, talk to different providers, chose your plan, and sign a contract. Be noted, that the installation time will be about 2-3 weeks, so be ready for it. Meanwhile, you can use the mobile internet. Also, in the past few years, many WiFi spots were added across the city, at convenience stores, in the metro, etc. Hence, finding an Internet connection is not a huge hassle.

If you decide to buy a TV, you will have to pay a monthly fee to Japan’s telecommunication company NHK. You will have to pay for it, even if you do not watch the NHK channel at all.

Starting life in Japan – Part 1, Part 2.