This process will cost ¥2500 at the post office plus $10 from your Charles Schwab account after the money has been processed. It takes anywhere between 4-10 days, but my average is about 4-7 days. You do not need a Japanese Post account. The exchange rate is about what Google states for the day. You will need to bring your Japanese cash, gaijin card, and My Number card.
This guide works only for Charles Schwab users with a brokerage account (the standard account you will most likely have.) I do not know if this guide works for other banks. I have not tried. During this process your yen will convert to USD so you will be depositing USD, not yen.
When transferring money at the post office you will need to ask for an international remittance form. My Japanese is too poor for such a request so I simply took a photo of the kanji for it that was posted on the door.
Filling it out can be difficult if you are unprepared with the necessary information such as your bank code and bank address in the US. Fortunately, all Charles Schwab users will have the same information, up until it comes time for your individual brokerage account number.
I found the banking information for all Charles Schwab brokerage account users from their website http://international.schwab.com/public/international/nn/open_an_account/wire_instructions.html. Scroll down until you see the information for US Dollar originating outside the US. Use this information, minus the account name (because I could not find an appropriate space for it on the remittance form.)
This means that the space asking for an account number is not your personal account number, but the one listed on their website (4060-7595.) The same goes for the bank address. Use the one listed (Wall Street in New York,) not your personal branch. Leave the space for branch name blank.
Different countries use different banking codes. This is extremely confusing and I don’t know why we all don’t just use the same kind of code. The code you need is CITIUS33. This is a Swift code, not an ABA or IBAN code. I don’t know the differences, but this is the method that made my form go through. Again, this code can be found on the Charles Schwab link provided above.
Every time the form asks for an address, minus the bank address, use your Japanese address. You will write it a total of three times. It will confuse them why you want to send money to yourself. No, I do not know the difference between “payee” and “remitter.” I only know what combination of information was accepted after my numerous tries. When I used my Japanese address for everything the form was accepted so that is what I do.
When it asks for your social security and tax number, it is asking for your twelve digit My Number card number, not your American social security number.
The form will want you to give the reason for the payment. Be very specific. The first time I simply wrote “loan payment” and they called me to clarify what type of loan payment. Now I write “school loan payment” and they seem to be fine with that. (They are more familiar with the term “school scholarship” so sometimes I’ll tell them verbally if they look confused.)
To make sure your money reaches your personal bank account you need to write a message in the provided space. Be sure to include your name, type of account, and account number. Make sure it can fit in the provided spaces. Abbreviate if necessary. They will not accept it if it does not fit.
The account number you are using is your brokerage account, not your checking account. Charles Schwab charges you a $10 fee for this transfer. You can transfer from your brokerage account into your checking account later for free. (Directions on how to do this are at the bottom of this post.)
Because the exchange rate fluctuates daily, I leave the amount blank on the form, but mark the currency code as USD. I write on a small piece of paper the amount of yen I want to send over, plus the ¥2500 charge. They always understand that I want them to tell me the USD. They will do the conversion for you, and then ask you to write it on the form.
And that is it.
It is not that difficult and the post office will get used to it after your first or second time. You may be the only one in the city that uses that service so they may not know how to do it. Every post office has a big binder of procedures behind the desk, including the procedure for international remittances. They will probably use their guide to make sure they are doing it correctly. They quite literally go by the book.
There are lots of other options to transfer money. GoRemit is a great option if you can figure out how to fill out the form correctly. After numerous rejections, time got to me and I turned to the post office. GoRemit is more convenient, faster, and a little cheaper, if you can get your application accepted.
You can also transfer straight from your Japanese bank account into your American account, but this is often expensive. My bank, Shinsei, charges ¥4000.
Western Union is another option, but then you have to rely on someone back home to receive it and deposit it into your account. I hear that it is fast and inexpensive. I just don’t use it because I don’t want to inconvenience anyone at home.
I am no expert. This is just what works for me and I hope it works for you too. Ganbatte kudasai! (Good luck!)
Directions for transferring from your Charles Schwab brokerage account into your Charles Schwab checking account:
Log into your Charles Schwab account online. There is a big bold tab that says “Transfers & Payments.” Click it and it leads you directly to the page you need (online transfer). Select your brokerage account from the dropdown list on the left (probably the only account on the list) and type how much money you want to transfer. In the second dropdown menu select your checking account, again probably the only account on the list.
And that’s that. Your Japanese cash was transferred from yen to USD at the post office into your brokerage account then later into your checking account. It all took about a week and cost you ¥2500 at the post office and $10 from your Charles Schwab account.
Be sure to keep your original form so you can use it as reference for future transfers. Asking them for multiple forms and filling them out at home will save you about twenty minutes at the post office too.
Again, this is just how I do it. I’m sure there is a wealth of combinations for the post office method alone. Find a way that works for your budget, schedule, and Japanese ability.