Seals Required for Business in Japan

【Koshida Accounting Firm Column Date:

“Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.” ― W. Somerset Maugham

 

 

 

Hi, my name is Taisei Koshida, and I am a certified public accountant as well as a tax accountant.

 

I aim to assist non-Japanese business owners who struggle with reading or writing in Japanese. If you find the Japanese tax return system challenging, I can help you with your tax filings.

 

This blog may help if you are unclear about seals in Japan.

 

 

 

 

The Registered Seal and its Registration System

In Japan, there exists the concept of the “registered seal”. This refers to a publicly recognized seal, equivalent to handwritten signatures in many other countries. An individual’s seal is registered at the municipal office where they reside, while a company’s seal is registered with the Regional Legal Affairs Bureau. For significant contracts, such as real estate transactions, both parties confirm the authenticity of the individuals involved by providing seal certifications.

 

Individual Proprietors

For individual proprietors handling significant business transactions, applying their seal on the contract and providing certification of the registered seal is often required. Thus, it’s advisable for foreigners living in Japan to obtain and register their seal. While tax offices and social insurance offices don’t require seals from registered documents, starting business activities with banks, such as opening an account, requires you to register your seal with the bank. However, this is different from the registered seal mentioned above.

 

Corporations

When establishing a corporation, registration of the corporation’s seal is required. The president, who is also the founder, must provide documents bearing his registered seal. However, if he doesn’t possess a Japanese residency card, he cannot register his seal and must instead provide his handwritten signature.
When engaging in business with banks, they require you to register a seal, commonly referred to as a “bank seal”. While it’s possible to use the registered seal as the bank seal, for risk management reasons, a distinct bank seal is typically prepared. Many also use a square-shaped seal for invoices and other documents. Ultimately, it’s customary for businesses to prepare a set of three seals: the registered seal, bank seal, and square seal. The combined cost for these typically ranges from about 50,000 yen to 100,000 yen.

 

 

Our accounting firm has been actively assisting foreign business owners in Japan with accounting and tax matters. Please feel free to contact us through the inquiry form.