How Do I Get Money Back From The Pension System In Japan?

Pensions in Japan for foreign people

If like many others who have lived and worked in Japan, you find yourself asking the question “how can I get my Japanese pension money back?” it may be prudent to familiarise yourself with the procedure for getting a contribution rebate. Firstly, if you live in Japan at this time with no intention of leaving, then unfortunately you are currently unable to get a pension contribution refund. If you are currently in Japan, and leaving in the near future then you are in good stead to make the necessary preparations to ensure the procedure is painless. Similarly, if you have contributed for at least 6 months, left Japan not longer than 2 years ago, handed in your My Number, gaijin card and are no longer a Japan resident for tax purposes, then you may only be some tedious paperwork away from receiving up to 36 months of contribution money back.

Did you know: to qualify for Japanese pension benefits you have to have contributed to the pension system for 24 years. Somebody having paid for 23 years and 11 months has no legal right to pension benefits. Similarly, if this person, after 23 years of contributions, decides to leave japan the maximum lump-sum reimbursement will still be capped at 3 years of contributions. This may seem unfair. Japan’s pension system is geared to protect the interest of Japan’s populace. Suitability for foreign residents is sadly not a consideration. The introduction of a mini pension which requires a contribution period of 10 years goes some way to addressing the issue, but it is still far from ideal given the underfunded status of the Japanese Government Pension Investment Fund

how to get a japanese pension refund
How Much Of My Japanese Pension Money Can I Get Back If I Leave?

The amount that you will get back will depend upon your contributions and is case by case so a visit to the pensions office (the Nenkin Kikou) before leaving Japan will give you an objective picture of your currently accrued benefits, and potential withdrawal amount. You will probably have been contributing to the National Pension (kokumin nenkin) but may also have contributed to a Corporate/Employee Pension (kousei nenkin)- you are able to get a rebate from both.

It is important to be aware that Japan has a number of bilateral social security agreements which mean that your contributions to the Japanese National Pension System will contribute toward pension benefits in a member country. You lose these transferable benefits if you elect to take the lump sum withdrawal. As such, you should asses whether 36 months of contributions now is preferable to the accrued benefits that you would receive in your home country at retirement age (if your home country is an agreement holder– which should be checked).

DID YOU KNOW: at this time Germany, UK, Korea, USA, France, Canada, Australia, Netherland, Belgium, Czech, Spain, and Ireland all have bilateral agreements in place

The Procedure For Getting A Pension Refund

IMPORTANT POINT: if you do not, at your time of leaving Japan [even if you have to do it at the immigration section of the airport] register an address change report updating your juumin touroku then you will be unable to claim a rebate and get any pension money back until after the period of expiration of your special re-entry permit which is 5 years. The scrutinous among you will realise that once your special re-entry permit has expired, your 24 month window for refund application is long passed. No more rebate. You have been warned.

1) If you want to make sure everything goes smoothly, visit the Pensions Office and confirm your current accrued balance, and estimated withdrawal eligibility. If you have lost your Pension Book, consider attaining a new one for posterity.

2) Pick up a Lump Sum Withdrawal Form from your City or Ward Office. Or download the pension rebate form from us:

IMPORTANT POINT: At your ward or City office you have to submit a moving-out notification, or tenshutsu todoke, within two weeks of the day you plan to move out. The form is available at your local municipal office. You can download an example from Shibuya ward

3) Submit your application form, passport copy (the data page only; Visa pages etc are not required) and Japan Pension Book from your new country of residence (if you do not have your pension book, you need to at least know and include your pension number).
Send your documents to:

Social insurance Operation Center, Takaido-nishi 3-5-24,Suginami-ku,Tokyo 168-8505
〒168-8505 東京都杉並区高井戸西3丁目4番24 号 社会保険業務センター
Tel: 03-6700-1165 (in Japanese only)

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4) Approximately 4 months later your money will arrive in your specified bank account. It may be net of a 20% withholding tax. In certain circumstances you may be able to reclaim this deduction by employing a professional Japanese tax representative. Commonly, after having paid for this service the actual gain is nominal so look at the numbers first.

Ssimilarly, if you have already left Japan and want to get your pension money back you will need somebody in Japan to do the groundwork on your behalf and should submit a Japanese Tax Representative Form so somebody else (perhaps a friend or coworker) can obtain your tax information on your behalf. The rebate process may seem convoluted but is relatively simple as long as you take the necessary measures before having left the country; meaning that you can file your own documents without requiring professional assistance.

If you have already left Japan your “tax representative” does not necessarily have to be a tax professional. They do however have to be willing to do some running around to municipal and tax offices on your behalf. As is often the case with financial planning, it pays to plan ahead.

How do I get my pension money back in Japan?
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How do I get my pension money back in Japan?
Pension contribution rebate procedure. Application downloads.
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