Living in Japan: How to Send Money from Japan to Overseas

  • HOW TO
  • If you are like me, a foreigner living in Japan, there will be times when you need to send money from Japan, and it is not always that easy to find out how. Thanks to the more advanced banking technology lately, we now have more (and easier) options to do that, and here is how.

    The conventional way: Use bank transfer from your Japanese bank account

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    It is common to transfer money overseas from many banks in Japan, but keep in mind that the costs and requirements of each bank are varies. Some banks may only be able to remit to certain countries, and some banks also may require other procedure such as opening a new account that you will only use for remitting. The fees depend on banks, generally it will cost more than other options I will be mentioning below.

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    The common remittances fee starts from 3.000 yen and up. Other disadvantages are, as you may noticed, the staff in Japanese banks rarely use English, thus this procedure is only recommended for one with good Japanese ability.

    Now let’s take one example of using Japan Post’s remittance service. Japan Post offer quite affordable way to transfer money out of Japan (starting from 2.500 yen). One of the advantage choosing this procedure is Japan Post are easy to find and they have many branches in Japan. There are two options you can choose if you want to send money:

    a) Send the money as paper money: this means the money will be received in an envelope by the recipient (in the target currency)

    b) Send the money as electronic transfer: this means the money is transferred directly to an overseas bank account (in the target currency). You can do this with giving cash to the bank staff or tell them to deduct your Japan Post Bank account, if you have one.

    The well-known option: Use PayPal or Western Union service

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    PayPal and Western Union are the most well-known remittance service for many foreigners. Though it is not that complicated to set a new Japanese PayPal account, but for your information once you are in Japan and want to send your money from Japan, you may not be able to use your old PayPal account that is registered in other country. First of all, you need to open a new PayPal Japanese account.

    I have used Japanese PayPal to send some money to other Japanese PayPal account and the process went smooth with reasonable fee and delivery time. However, if we want to send to overseas PayPal account, some recipients were not be able to receive the cash we are sending. Also, sending small amount of money from Japanese PayPal to overseas PayPal is not preferable for me as the conversion rate is pretty low and they also apply some other withdrawal fee.

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    Western Union, as another option, has partnered with the most known convenient store services: 7-11 and Family Marts, which make it easier to be done than the previously mentioned options. If you want to use Western Union under 7-11 Bank or Family Marts services, first thing to do is to register an account (you need different account for each service). The details of using Seven Banks are here here and Family Mart are here here. One thing to be noted, is that with neither service are you told the exchange rate beforehand, that could leave you to receive a bad rate.

    There’s also the disadvantage that, to actually send money, you must go in person. From the recipients side, not all country and banks can accept direct transfer from Western Union, meaning the recipients also have to take the money in person.

    The easy and convenient way: Use dedicated Remittance Service

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    There are so many new, dedicated remittance services in Japan, which are foreigner-friendly (usually have many languages options on their websites) and easy to use. Some examples are: SBI Remit, Brastel Remit, KYODAI Remit, and GoRemit (under Shinsei Bank). I personally use KYODAI remittance service because of these two reasons: the rates are pretty good, and I can simply send money using the Japan Post ATM machine (which is located almost everywhere nearby). The next example will be on how to use the KYODAI remittance service, but probably other services that I mentioned have similar steps.

    To use KYODAI service, first we need to register and make an account on their website. If you can find nearby KYODAI branch, you can directly go there and ask for a new account, but if you can’t find one, or you do not have time to go, it is really convenient since you can open an account online, too. Once you have your account, you need to register the recipient’s bank account with all the details such as contact and address.

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    After one or two days, KYODAI will send you physical card to be used for remittance later on the Japan Post ATM machine.
    They provide one physical card for each recipients bank account, so make sure that you put marks on each card. They will also send you the details on how to use the card and ATM machines, in English or in your desired language.

    The advantages of these remittance services are: you don’t have to go in person to the bank or office. Some of them also have application to easily send the money (e.g. Brastel Remit, Go Remit), they have language options which make them more foreigner-friendly.

    However, they have varied fees and services options. For example, KYODAI remittance service are open following the Japan Post ATM service working hours, and it can only be used in Japan Post ATM Machine, Brastel Remit can be used via Japan Post and Mizuho bank ATM Machine, while Go Remit let you use them using an application that is available 24 hours a day. You can check all the details on their English website.

    Summary

    The process of sending money from Japan to overseas are not that complicated now, at least compared to five to ten years ago, and you have many options to choose.

    What to keep in mind when choosing the service wisely is first, the details of your recipients (which country and which banks, are they compatible with your sending option), the amount of money you are sending (some banks and services have varied limitation amount to be remit in one day), and of course, the fee of sending and receiving the money (some services charge the recipients some fee).