Getchan on how to circumvent Postal Money Orders and transfer money more easily


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Hi Blog.  Got this from “Getchan” yesterday regarding circumventing the difficulties remitting money overseas through the Post Office.  Lots of good stuff here, too good to be relegated to a comment.  Let me devote a whole blog entry to it.  Thanks Getchan.  Debito in Sapporo


Here’s some idea how to circumvent the system:

I send money regularly to places all around the world, and to two overseas accounts I am holding (one in Germany, one in the US).

1) Get a postal savings account (formerly known as Pa-ru-ru).

2) Get your postal money orders debited from directly debited from that account instead of paying cash (there are special forms available for that kind of service). Present your account passbook when you make the payment.

3) For regular payments to recipients living overseas, wire a lump sum to an account of your choice. If in your name, note “savings” as your reason of payment.

4) If to the US, your stateside bank will charge you $12 to $22 to credit the wire, which usually takes 3 to 5 banking days, and the charge depends on whether a third bank is involved.

Inquire with your bank to get the correct routing number. Routing numbers for wire transfers MAY be different from those printed on your checks. The time frame depends on where you live (the P.O. sends a fax to the postal giro center in charge of int’l transactions – it used to be a straight wire before the fees were “adjusted”, as they put it). Tokyo and Osaka are usually the fastest, with countryside P.O.’s trailing far behind.

5) If to Germany, the Postbank will not charge any fees, and other banks will charge EUR 5 to credit incoming wires. For time frames, see previous comments.

6) From a US account, write checks against your balance & send them thru the mail. At $1 a pop it should be cheaper than spending 2000+ Yen per IPMO…

7) From a German account, make online IBAN / BIC transfers to any Euro zone bank (Postbank offers them for free).

Sending funds directly from a postal savings passbook SHOULD save you all those stupid questions P.O. employees are supposedly supposed to ask. At my P.O. some do, some don’t – the passbook plus my “hanko”, and eventually plus my DL are sufficient to confirm my identity, and “savings” (”貯金”) is a valid reason. It’s no one’s business what you do with your money once it hits an overseas account in your name. It is legally earned and has been taxed, and the trail can be followed to the point where it exits Japan. End of story for nosey counter clerks.

On a personal note – I do a lot of buying on eBay, and the safest way is to NOT use Paypal!!
Check this site:

Paypal has made it a habit to freeze accounts and seize funds at will, leaving little or no recourse to defrauded sellers and buyers alike, other than go thru law enforcement, the BBB or even the court system.

Many sellers refuse to deal with PayPal, and eBay will see their core business shrink further come the end of this month due to their third line forcing of their own subsidiary (checks and MOs will be banned from

I am both a seller and a buyer with 10,000s of transactions since 1999…


If you happen to encounter a postal clerk with little or no knowledge / training, assume (s)he is a newbie. It happens. If the same person messes up the second time, call the supervisor and ask him politely to re-train the counter clerk in question. If it happens again, call the supervisor again, and tell him, that time is a customer’s most valuable asset, and that nobody should be stealing it (this particular phrase got a lot of nods from customers waiting in line every time I have used it!), and that you would not want to see that person serving you again.

At my local P.O., six consecutive foul-ups by one particular clerk that cost almost four hours of my time excluding waiting in line earned him five a**-chewings, and a backroom desk job as a consequence.


5 comments on “Getchan on how to circumvent Postal Money Orders and transfer money more easily

  • I would note that you don’t need a postal account to wire money overseas — most banks provide the same service if they are connected to the SWIFT network. If you live in a city with a conveniently-located bank branch, it may make sense to compare fees and see who will give you the best deal.

    The post office charges Y2,500 for international wires — most banks I know of charge Y3,000 or Y4,000. If you’re sending money to a particular country you may get cheaper wires by banking with a registered branch of a bank from that country (I’ve heard that Woori’s Tokyo branch is cheap for wiring money to Korea, for instance.) I usually wire money out of my bank’s head office in Tokyo: funds generally appear in my US account (at a little regional bank near my parents’ house) within 24-48 hours and are available for withdrawal within 72 or so.

    If you need to make smaller transfers, the cheapest method may be to get an international cash card from a bank like Shinsei or Suruga and give it to a relative in the target country. Then they can pull money from your account and deposit or pay it in the target country. This doesn’t work well for larger amounts, though, because the exchange rate on cash cards is a point or two worse than that used for wire transfers: it’s only a better choice when the difference in rates is less than the wire transfer fee would be.

  • Michael Weidner says:

    I like some of your ideas here, but international wires tend to take a LOT of time and money. There is a MUCH faster way that can deposit your money IMMEDIATELY in your overseas account as long as it’s transfered before 3pm. It’s called Lloyd’s TSB, and it’s a service for sending money home from Japan. It costs 2000 yen on this side, and whatever bacnk fees applicable on the other side. You sign up once and state why you’re sending money and then you can send as many, or as much as you would like. You can find more info at . I’ve been using their service for over 2 years now and I can say that it’s the safest and fastest way to get money home so far that I’ve found. Plus, you can do it from any ATM, so it’s incredibly convienient.

  • Ditto on Lloyds. I have been using them for years, and it is definitely the most convenient method to send money. Once your accounts are set up, you can send cash from any ATM and my transfers usually go through within the same day. Only problem is that it is geared for regular transfers, so if you make a lot of once only transfers it will end up being the same amount of paperwork…(but at least you don’t have to wait in line at the bank).

  • Michael Weidner says:

    True about the once only transfers with Lloyds. However, once your funds are in a foreign bank, most other types of bank transfers are exetremely easily done online. I pay all my bills plus other purchases through this method seeing as Japanese banks don’t really do the whole online banking thing. I know that this works for Canada for sure, but other people I am sure would be able to vouch for their own countries.

  • Few notes.

    The original topic was purchasing a small $65 item on e-bay. Sellers do not accept personal checks, and wiring cash is extremely risky. Going to a bank too is not possible because banks sell in specific denominations only (you cannot get the exact amount of $ 65 in travelers check form.)

    E-bay has changed their policy as of October that they will only accept pay pal for payment. Therefore, the problem of sending a money order for any item is no longer. In a way, I do applaud this policy because it makes my life easier when purchasing an item while located in Japan. However on the other hand, I could see the argument that Ebay should allow sellers the choice to avoid paypal if possible. To me it does sound monopolistic.

    I agree with lloyds and use them constantly to transfer money, However, I heard when sending cash to send only less than $9999.99 at a time. If you send over $10,000 there is some kind of red flag w/ the American government.

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