If you are no longer a resident of Japan (and have made regular pension payments for six months or more), you are eligible to receive a partial refund of the money you paid into the pension system, called a “Lump-sum Withdrawal Payment.” Please follow these steps to receive this money. You must apply for the “Lump-sum Withdrawal Payment” within two years after leaving Japan.
Because JETs are covered under the Employees’ Pension Insurance system while in Japan, your pension refunded is subject to a 20% income tax which is held by the Japanese government. However, you are also eligible to get this 20% back. The process described below is for both the pension and tax refunds.
How Much is the Refund?
The amount that you receive for your Lump-sum Withdrawal Payment depends on the specific fiscal year when you made your last pension contribution, and how many total months you made contributions into the pension system.
For the April 2019 – March 2020 fiscal year, below is a list of how much money you would receive (before tax) depending on how many total months you contributed (please see the Lump-sum Withdrawal Payment application form for calculation details):
- 6-11 months = ￥49,230
- 12-17 months (i.e. 1st-year JETs) = ￥98,460
- 18-23 months = ￥147,690
- 24-29 months (i.e. 2nd-year JETs) = ￥196,920
- 30-35 months = ￥246,150
- 36+ months (i.e. 3rd to 5th-year JETs) = ￥295,380
Wait! Should I Really Withdraw?
Applying for the Lump-sum Withdrawal Payment may seem like a good idea—it’s a fairly large sum of money, and if you properly notify your town/city hall of your move, then you can receive it fairly quickly too. However, it may not be suitable for all JETs, depending on your future plans.
Your contribution doesn’t disappear when you leave Japan, and if you ever move to Japan in the future, you can keep contributing where you left off. Since August 2017, if you have 10 years worth of valid pension contributions, you may be able to receive Japanese old-age pension.
Also, please note that you can only receive a refund up to the equivalent of 36 months (3 years)-worth of contributions, even if you contributed for over 36 months (i.e. a 5th-year JET Leaver will receive the same refund as a 3rd-year JET Leaver).
Furthermore, some countries have pension “totalization” agreements with Japan, where the number of months you have contributed to the pension system in Japan count as credit towards your home country’s pension plan. This is beneficial if you plan on claiming pension in another country that shares such a totalization agreement with Japan, but don’t have enough contributions to claim there; you can add your months contributed in Japan. This does not mean that any money or credits are “transferred” between the two countries—it simply means that each country counts the other country’s pension contributions as their own. For more information, please check your own country’s website or embassy.
As of August 2018, the following countries have totalization agreements with Japan: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Spain, Switzerland, United States of America
If you receive the Lump-sum Withdrawal Payment, you will no longer be able to count your contribution months in Japan towards pension/social security benefits of other countries. Therefore, it is important to think about your plans for the future (whether you plan on living in Japan over five years, or plan on moving to a country with a totalization agreement with Japan, etc.) before applying. Please read the “IMPORTANT INFORMATION” section of the application form for more information.
Before Leaving Japan
Report to your town/city hall that you will reside outside of Japan. If you report your departure, then you may claim your pension refund immediately after leaving Japan. If not, you will not be able to claim your refund until your re-entry permit period expires (written on your residence card).
Officially designate a friend or co-worker in Japan to be your tax agent, by filling out a 所得税・消費税の納税管理人の届出手続 (Report Naming a Manager of Income/Consumption Tax Payment) and submit it to your local tax office. The form is available here. You can give your designated tax agent instructions for filling out the form (Japanese).
Fill out an application for the Lump-sum Withdrawal Payments and bring it with you when you leave Japan.
Make sure to turn in your residence card to the immigration inspector at the airport!
What to Bring Home
- Pension handbook
- Application form
- Information regarding your bank account into which you would like to receive the refund (i.e. bank documents showing the bank name, branch office, account number, and proof that you are the account holder). If you don’t have these, you can also have your bank stamp the column “Bank stamp for verification” on your application form. Please not that you cannot receive your refund using Japan Post Bank. You may use a bank account in your home country.
- Contact information of your designated tax representative, school/office, and Contracting Organization (CO)
Once you Arrive Home
Mail your application form for the Lump-sum Withdrawal Payment (either inside or outside Japan) to:
Japan Pension Service
3-5-24 Takaido-nishi, Suginami-ku
Tokyo 168-8505 JAPAN
Along with the application form, you should include:
- Your pension handbook
- A photocopy of your passport showing your name, date of birth, nationality, signature, and status of residence (e.g. “Instructor”)
- An official stamp in the “Bank stamp for verification” section of the application form, or all pertinent information of the bank account into which you would like the refund to be transferred
After Form Submission
Wait until you receive a Notice of Lump-sum Withdrawal Payments (支給決定通知書) as a receipt of your refund in the mail. Make a copy of this form for your records. At this point, you will have received your refund into your designated bank account. The next steps are for getting the last 20% that was withheld as tax.
Mail the original “Notice of Lump-sum Withdrawal Payments” to your tax agent in Japan, and have them fill out a 確定申告書 (tax return) for you.
Instruct them to have the remaining 20% deposited into your tax agent’s bank account (it must be deposited into a Japanese bank account).
Have your tax agent transfer the money into a bank account of your choosing (see Sending Money Home). Please thank your tax agent for helping you.
You should receive this small book shortly after arriving in Japan. It is blue, and the front has 年金手帳 (nenkin techо̄ = pension handbook) written on it. When you apply for your pension refund, you need to send this book with your application. If your school or Contracting Organization is holding onto this for you, be sure to get it from them before leaving Japan.
You cannot receive your Lump-sum Withdrawal Payment without this book. If you misplace your pension handbook, you can apply for a replacement at any regional Pension Office (年金事務所 = nenkin jimusho). There is a Pension Office near JR Matsue Station which can be found on Google Maps here.