Hanko in Japan: why is it necessary?

  • HOW TO
  • What is a hanko (inkan)?

    Nowhere else on earth is the name seal as popular as it is in Japan. Here, the name seal replaces your signature. Every registration, bank account, insurance or other document requires a stamp with your name. Any Japanese or foreign person living in Japan for a long period of time has at least 2 name seals. For the Japanese, the seal has their name in kanji. For foreigners, it’s their name in katakana.

    Q:What if the immigrants don’t have their own hanko?

    A:They are allowed to sign the papers with their hand, but it mostly applies to the immigration papers. For other documents they will have to make their own hanko, since to the Japanese companies, only documents stamped with hanko are legit.

    Q:What if the name on the hanko is slightly different from my own?

    A:The names are allowed to be different, because aside from the stamp, they also collect your private information and address.

    Q:Is it expensive?

    A:The regular price is about 2000 yen per hanko. However, if you are short on cash, you can go to a 100 yen shop and if you are lucky you may find the one with a name similar to yours. If you have money, the custom made hanko is the way to go. The price for it can go up to 10 000 yen and beyond.

    Q:Where to purchase an hanko?

    A:100yen shops have them. Or you can go into the nearest shopping area and find a specialised hanko shop.
    If you don’t live in Japan, but still want to own an hanko, there are websites that offer custom-made hankos and can ship it to you at very reasonable prices!

    Q:How many hanko types are there?

    A:Most people have at least 2 hanko. One is registered at the city office and is used for important documents, and the other one is used in daily life. Many people own a third hanko just for their bank accounts.