Sending Money Home

Useful Vocabulary:

English Japanese
remittance sōkin

送金 そうきん

fee/charges tesūryō

手数料 てすうりょう

overseas remittance gaikoku sōkin

外国送金 がいこくそうきん

electronic transfer furikomi

振込 ふりこみ

5th Aug 2016 PayPal

There are several ways of sending money back to your home country, each with their own positive and negative aspects.  Exchange rates differ by bank and by day, and a charge for exchanging money is usually included in that rate.  Be sure to ask about all charges involved in sending money from Japan, and be aware that if you send money to an account overseas, there may be additional charges on that end too.

For all services rendered at a bank or post office, you MUST show your Residency Card (Zairyū Card, 在留カード) as well as your I.D. (e.g., passport or Japanese driver’s license, not an International Driver’s Permit).  You may be asked for permission to have your I.D. photocopied.

The information here is by no means all-inclusive, and since publication, fees, rates, etc., have been known to change, it’s best to do a little independent research first.

Here are the most common ways that JETs send home their money:

1.   Mail Transfer (futsu sokin)

2.   Postal Money Transfer (kokusai yubin kawase)

3.   Remittance Cheque (sokin kogitte)

4.   Telegraphic Transfer (denshin sokin)

Mail Transfer (futsu sokin, 普通送金)

This is a relatively fast method available at banks, but a little on the expensive side.  Funds are changed to foreign currency in Japan and the amount is written on a transfer statement which is mailed overseas for deposit into a specified bank account.  Upon arrival at the bank (it can take from 10 days to 6 weeks, depending on the country), the funds are immediately deposited.  This service about ¥4,000 per transfer.  Your bank here in Japan may charge additional transaction fees.

Remittance Cheque (sokin koitte)

This is a slow method available at banks.  Yen may be used or changed into foreign currency, written up as a cheque, and mailed to whomever you like.  The recipient must cash your cheque at the bank specified on the cheque (normally a bank having special connections with the Japanese bank).  Once cashed, the money can be deposited into your or the recipient’s home account.  You may also deposit the cheque directly into your own account but clearance may take weeks.  This service costs approximately ¥2,500 for foreign currencies and ¥4,000 for yen cheques.

 Telegraphic Transfer (denshin sokin)

This is the fastest and most expensive method available at banks and post offices.  The commission at banks (generally ¥5,000-7,500, sometimes over ¥10,000) depends on the connections between the Japanese bank and your home bank.  Usually there is no limit to the amount you can send at once, but you may be asked to provide an explanation for amounts of ¥1,000,000 or more.  Funds are deposited directly into the account you specify.  This usually takes about 2 to 6 days.

The handling charge at post offices depends on the way you use the service.  If you send to the payee’s address and you in-payment to the payee’s postal account by telegraphic transfer, ¥4,400 is added to the remittance amount of each postal money transfer.

Transferring money home

Many JETs can be quite evangelical when it comes to there choice of remittance provider. I’m no exception. Regardless of the method you choose, make sure you are intimate with any fees that your bank in Japan charges, that the remittance agent charges and any fees your bank in your home country may charge. Also, remember the fundamental truth; If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. It’s important to understand that almost all providers effectively charge you two fees; their advertised fee and their cut on the market exchange rate. Many remittance agents say they charge ‘zero fees’ but in reality they will make up the difference (and then some) by offering a much lower exchange rate than the market exchange rate.

It is also important to check with you bank back home any fees they may charge for incoming transfers. Sometimes, intermediary banks are used particularly if you use a smaller bank back in your home country that may also charge fees.

The four most common remittance methods that JETs use are; JP Post, Go Remit, TransferWise and Paypal. I’ll go over them one-by-one.

JP Post (ゆうちょ銀行)

JP Post, has slightly worse exchange rates than the others mentioned here and they are not included in the comparison below (as they don’t advertise their information online). But, unlike GoRemit and TransferWise you don’t need to sign up beforehand and can show up at the Post Office and send your money the same day. Make sure to bring the following with you;

-2,000-2,500 yen transfer fee(Note: May vary slightly from country to country)+ transfer amount in cash if you’re not a JP customer (most branches have an ATM right outside the Post Office).

-ID; MyNumber notification paper and Residence Card/Passport. I’ve seen conflicting points online, but just to be safe bring a recent utility bill with your address and name on it too.

You will need to fill out a bi-lingual form(ask for a Kouza ate soukin (口座あて送金) form) and have all your bank details from your home country (including the SWIFT/IBAN code and your Branch Address and number etc.)

This is a Telegraphic Transfer, and fees may be charged by your bank by your home country in addition to the fees mentioned above.

GoRemit

GoRemit (formerly known as GoLlyods), is owned by Shinsei bank. And the application process is almost identical to Shinsei. You sign up online(all in English), receive the forms and then post back with photocopies of your ID, your bank information back home, proof of address(a recent utility bill) and your inkan. Later in the mail you’ll receive a bilingual letter with GoRemit’s bank details on it via 振込・ふりこみ/furikomi AKA electronic transfer from your bank account to the official Go Remit account. The transfer is done automatically and should take 1-3 business days to reach your account back home. GoRemit take a flat 2,000 yen fee deduction and your bank back home as well as intermediary banks may also take a deduction. Contact your bank in your home country for information about incoming telegraphic transfer fees.

TransferWise

TransferWise is the new kid on the block. They have a sliding fee scale depending on how much you’re sending. Often their fees may appear more expensive than their competitors BUT they offer market exchange rates making them more competitive(see the table below). To sign up, you can do it entirely online using your webcam or phone to take photos of your identity information(Residence card, My number notification card etc.). After that it’s just a few days until you get your notification card in the mail, enter this information online and you’re ready to go. Just write down the information and transfer the funds to TransferWise via Furikomi. Like GoRemit, you may have to pay a transfer fee to your Japanese Bank. However, unlike GoRemit the money is received in your home country from a domestic bank account (ie. An American will receive the amount from an American bank account etc.) this means in most circumstances(unlike GoRemit) you will not pay a fee to your bank in your home country for receiving funds.

TransferWise also offer a generous referral system, that gives you a credit on your first transfer as well as a reward to whoever refers you. However, you must follow the referral link from the start. Ask an existing customer for a referral link if you wish to sign up.

To use GoRemit and TransferWise you’ll need to do a Furikomi or bank transfer. You can do this via an ATM(see this English guide here) or take the info you receive from the bank into a branch yourself or ask to do a 振込・ふりこみ。Furikomi or electronic transfer. Go Remit send you a bi-lingual letter whereas TransferWise have bi-lingual e-mail you can print off. Make sure to bring the bank details for GoRemit or TransferWise with you and include your customer ID.

Note; Your bank will charge you a fee(unless you use Shinsei, see above), San-In Godo the bank that most JETs use charges about 500 yen (varies on the amount of the transaction). Just to be clear, this transfer is a domestic transfer to a holding account in Japan, which from there is transferred to your account in your home country. Avoid say you are doing an international transfer, as you will likely confuse the staff.

PayPal

PayPal is not a remittance service however, it is often sited by some JETs as a good option because there are ‘zero fees’. However, that excludes the large chunk that PayPal often takes from the exchange rate.

Take a look at the comparison below. This does not include the fees you may pay for electronic transfers within Japan or what you may pay in your home country as this varies from situation to situation. But for sending a month of your first-year salary pre-tax this should give you an idea of how much you should expect to receive;

5th Aug 2016 Transfer Wise Go Remit PayPal
Amount 280,000 280,000 280,000
Fees 2,772 2,000 0
Rates(JPY per USD) 101.01 102.40 108.70
USD amount received $2,739.01 $2,714.84 $2575.00
5th Aug 2016 Transfer Wise Go Remit PayPal
Amount 280,000 280,000 280,000
Fees 2,772 2,000 0
Rates (JPY per NZD) 72.46 74.75 78.10
NZD amount received 3,812.86 3,719.06 $3584.90

Finally, a word of warning exchange rates fluctuate a lot. Do not expect to receive the same amount. I would also say avoid the logic of the rate has gone down it must go back up, no one knows for sure what the rate will do. I recommend sending a fixed amount back every few months, and absorbing both the gains and losses of the exchange rates rather than take a risk on the future rates.

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