When people consider moving to Japan, one of the biggest concerns is taking care of those outstanding bills/debts from back home. You know, the car payments, credit-card bills, student loans, etc. This often makes people feel like they are tethered to their home countries; it’s a major reason people avoid making extended trips abroad. I know because I’ve been there. I remember being so worried about how I was going to handle my financial obligations if I came to Japan to live and work…for an entire year no less. I nearly let my doubt get the better of me, and came incredibly close to missing one the most fulfilling experiences of my life. Despite the worries, assured myself that everything would be fine and I came to Japan anyway.
So, I had a stable job, and was making enough to pay my bills…but…getting money to the US was a real hassle. I had a hard time finding a service that would do it easily. I searched and searched….and searched, but everything was either too expensive, or took too long. In the mean time, bills were coming due, and they had to be paid. Banks and student loan companies weren’t going to wait for me to finish searching for a convenient way to pay them.
My initial solution was 1) sending money to my family members via the Japan Post, 2) getting them to deposit it in my bank account, and then 3) finally making payments. For some banks, you can also send the money order directly to them, but that still takes a bit of time. The good thing about doing it this way is that it wasn’t so expensive. After doing it the hard way a few times, though…waiting in line, filling out paper work for every transaction, paying for postage, etc., I thought to myself “There has to be a better way!!”
I ended up speaking to one of my American co-workers (and now good friends) and learned that it’s really not as hard as it seems. I was introduced to a service called GoLloyd’s (www.golloyds.com).
- What is GoLloyd’s? GoLloyds is the largest retail bank in the United Kingdom, it specializes in foreign currency deposits and overseas remittances, but also does corporate and institutional banking. The Tokyo Branch has been around since 1974.
- How much does it cost to transfer money? There are three fees to consider when sending money overseas: 1) the domestic remittance fee to GoLloyds (from your bank here in Japan), 2) the ￥2000 GoLloyds commission fee, and 3) your home country’s wire fee. Yes, I know it’s sounds a bit scary, right. But I’m telling your from experience…don’t worry…it’s not as bad as it seems. Here’s a real example:
My last transfer was on September 1, 2010, for ￥14,000. I’ll show you a breakdown of the fees:
-￥14,000-￥525 (Domestic remittance to GoLloyds)= ￥13,475
-￥13,475-￥2000 (GoLloyds Commision Fee)= ￥11,475
The amount I received in my US bank account for this transaction was $130.00.
-$130.00-$15.00 (Home bank, domestic wire transfer)= $115.00
So there is some expense involved, but depending on your home country’s exchange rate, sometimes you may lose a bit, and sometimes you may make a bit (the latter is always nice).
- How fast is it? I am from America, and if I make a transfer at 10:30 on weekday morning, it’s there by 10:30 pm the same day. This may vary depending on your bank and country, but it’s really fast and efficient.
- What do you need in order to sign up?
- An account to send your funds to (your bank account back home)
- A copy of your passport’s photo page
- A copy of a card with your official address (one of the following: Japanese Drivers License, Alien Registration Card, Inhabitant Certificate (issued within the last 3 months, or a Health Insurance Certificate)
- Home Bank Name and Address (I called my bank’s customer service department and found out in about 1 minute…don’t worry)
- Home Bank Branch/Routing Number and your account number (if you don’t have this info in Japan, you can get it pretty easily. If you have online access to your account your can find this info, or…again, your bank’s customer service line should be able to help you)
- How do I sign up?
- Visit the GoLloyds website http://www.golloyds.com/.
- Fill out the online application or simply print the PDF file.
- Mail your signed, original application along with the copies of your passport’s photo page, and one card with your official Japan address (please refer to the “What do you need in order to sign up?” section above).
- Wait 7-10 business days for your Welcome Pack.
This company was simply a godsend! After filling out the brief application, and waiting about 2 weeks, I got my welcome pack in the mail. Now, sending money home has never been easier. I go to my branch bank ATM and within 2 minutes, my transaction is done.