Getting a National Pension Payment Rebate When Leaving Japan as a “Lump-sum Withdrawal Payment”

The Mighty YenThe Japanese Government has a system where foreigners leaving Japan, who have been paying into the pension system, can receive back a portion of these payments. This is known as a “National Pension Payment Rebate”, or a “Lump-sum Withdrawal Payment”. After all those hard years slugging it out working in the far east, you deserve to get back as much of that money as you possible can (it’s not like you are going to retire here right?). We have provided a “Dummies Guide” to getting as many of those hard earned yen that you have paid into this country’s convoluted pension scheme put back into your pocket where they belong, this is a must read for all foreigners thinking of leaving Japan soon, or have recently left Japan.

To set the ground rules, this is only applicable to foreigners actually leaving Japan “permanently”, and is a generous loophole. It is mandatory in Japan for all those employed to make monthly pension payments, and for full-time employees of companies it is automatically deducted from monthly salaries (as opposed to contractors who are required to make the payments themselves). However, how many of us will actually be in Japan long enough to receive a pension? (Yeah.. I thought so.)

Many people have heard that this rebate may exist, but due to the difficulties of understanding the Japanese bureaucratic system, as well as language difficulties, coupled with the fact that this is not widely publicized, we at stippy.com believe that the number of people exploiting this payback system is extremely low (which is exactly how the government wants to keep it mind you).

The Main Point:
Foreigners who have made monthly pension payments can receive back a portion of these payments once they have lost the right to receive such payments, and left Japan. The application for pay-back must be made within 2 years of leaving Japan.
* Note: There are two types of pension systems- the National Pension System (国民年金) and the Employee’s (or Corporate) Pension System (厚生年金). You can receive rebates from either of these systems, however this article will focus just on the National Pension System. Also, this rebate system does not apply to mandatory health insurance, or other social security payments.

The Conditions for Application:

  • You must not be a Japanese citizen (You probably wouldn’t be reading this if you were, but anyway..)
  • You must have been enrolled in and have been making pension payments for more than 6 months
  • Must not have an address in Japan (“Having an address” in Japan is often important for companies and Government agencies to do business with you – See comments below)
  • Must have not already received any pension payments (including disability allowance)

Payment Amounts:
If your last pension payment was made before March 2007, your rebate amount will be according to the following table (click table to see a bigger version):
yenpaymentsmall
However, if your last payment was April 2007 or later, things get slightly tricky and the calculation is as follows (click image to see a bigger version):
rebatesmall
* The reason for the two different calculations is that until March 2005, mandatory National Pension payments were fixed at 13,300 yen. However from April 2005 the rates were increased, and are planned to be increased each April for the foreseeable future. The current payment amount as of October 2006 is 13,860 yen per month.
The Process and the Tricky Parts (YOU MUST KNOW THIS BEFORE LEAVING JAPAN):

  • You must apply from overseas. The application form is available only at your local city/ward office (市役所, shiyakusho or 区役所, kuyakusho), or online here. It can only be filled in by the applicant. You need to submit your pension booklet (showing pension payments, or the equivalent proof of pension payment issued by your company), a copy of your passport, and bank account details with the application form.
  • The National Pension payment rebate is exempt of the 20% income withholding tax which applies to the Corporate Pension systems.
  • Payment is made into the bank account of your choice. This account can be in Japan, or overseas, and will be made at the exchange rate of the day of payment for overseas accounts.

Further Notes:
Having an Address: Most companies and Government agencies will not do business with you unless you have a registered address. However, this is a loose concept and can work both for and against you.
For example, Japanese securities companies won’t give you a trading account unless you have an address in Japan. If you then leave Japan, all you need then is a friend who is happy to receive mail for you.
To receive your pension rebate, as long as you don’t own property here and don’t put forward any other address, you should be fine.

Aggregated Pension Schemes: Many countries have an Aggregated Pension Scheme Agreement with Japan. This means that applications may receive two countries pensions by summing the enrollment period in each country’s National Pension Systems. Such countries currently include the US and Germany. (France, Canada and Australia are in negotiation to start up similar agreements).
However if you receive a “National Pension System payment rebate”, then you will not be eligible for this. Receiving this payment effectively nullifies your enrollment in the system.
For further details, contact your local Ward Office. And good luck!

331 thoughts on “Getting a National Pension Payment Rebate When Leaving Japan as a “Lump-sum Withdrawal Payment””

  1. Hi,

    I speak to them, they are saying you are worked in Japan only 5 months.
    But i worked in Japan from March 2008 to December 2008,
    i don’t understand what i have to do…
    could you please advice me what i have to do?

  2. Guys, update in the problem that I encountered. I decided to bring my problem to the head office where I had an account. In just two days they already fixed it with out any paper work or anything in my part. They said to me as long as an amount was paid through an account that is already close, they can trace it once a claimant surfaced.Hopefully it can help this with others who will encounter this. Just contact the head office because they had a greater access with their database.

  3. I understand that 20% tax deduction from lumsum can be claimed. Does anyone know how long does it take to get and if 100% of the deduction refunded?

    -Looking forward to anyones reply, Thanks!

  4. @leo – This is a good question that I would like to know too. I would assume that any government would try to short change you a bit but that’s just my opinion. I am sure that someone can answer this question.

  5. I am glad to see most people got their refund but am wondering if anyone would let me know about how much they got???

    Thanks

  6. @ leo – From what I read from the web, it takes only a week for you to receive the tax refund once you apply for it. You need a friend in Japan who had an active bank account where they can put the money. They are not allowing foreign bank account and yes they give it back 100%.But I haven`t experience it yet.

  7. Hi all.

    How soon after returning the “Request for Lump Sum withdrawal payment (Inquiry)” were you all paid? Anyone here with that experience???

    Julie

  8. @Julie Ueno – – Thank you for posting this. As you know I am in the exact same situation and I am worried. I am applying to JD/MBA programs right now and I am literally slobbering for this cash. I can afford school but in New York City “Rent Is Too Damn High” 🙂

    If anyone can answer Julie Ueno’s question please do.

  9. Hi,

    I have worked for 4 years in Japan and now planning to return to India. On my retrun to India, I wish to withdraw my pension fund as Lumpsum amount. Can someone please tell me me what is the amount I may get refunded.

    Monthly pension amount (from Employee) – around 47,000 yen
    Monthly pension amount (from Employer) – around 47,000 yen
    Total monthly contribution – (47000 + 47000 = 94000)
    Total contributed months (Dec-06 ~ Nov-10) – 48 months

    Thanks very much for your time and help!

    Aman

  10. fyi, about surrendering the gaijin card, i have friends who did not surrendered their gaijin cards upon exiting Japan, but still got their pension refund without any problems. and one of them still used his visa and his un-surrendered gaijin card to re-enter japan, after 1 yr of getting back his pension for 1 yr. and also, aside from instructing us to file for pension refund application (and give us the necessary forms and requirements for the refund), our HR also instructed us not to surrender them to the immigration for we could still come back to japan for future assignments. though my re-entry visa will expire on mar 2011. and i don’t think i will be coming back there because im planning to move to a different company.

    i am anxious though of what Mark is saying here. because it has been 4 months since i applied for the pension refund and yes, just like most of you, i am not sure if they got my application form together with the blue book.

    i will be waiting for 2 more months or call them now to confirm if they received my application.

  11. If you want to be sure they got your application, just send it registered mail. I did this 4 weeks ago, tracked it via FedEx and can see that it was delivered. From reading this site it sounds like I will get my money within about 4 months…

  12. yey! i’ve got mine on the 5th month. and i was surprised, that the amount i got is a lot bigger than what i expected. i am now starting to process for the tax refund (20%).

  13. hey there, i just have a couple of questions about the application:

    first, when I’m filling out bank info, it only asks me for my bank’s address and my personal account number, but should I also include my bank’s routing number and SWIFT code for the international transfer, or will they just take care of that on their end? also, if i should write it, should i just write all of that info where it says “account number”?

    second, just to make sure, i don’t need to send in the blue pension book, right? i just need to write the Basic Pension number on the application?

    thanks for all this info, this is a killer thread.

  14. Hey all you waiting for your refund, I am reposting this.

    How soon after returning the “Request for Lump Sum withdrawal payment (Inquiry)” were you all paid? Anyone here with that experience???

    I know it is in our nature to post and inquire when we are all wondering and waiting, but for the benefit of all here, please post when you know something. It gives those of us who have been waiting FOREVER some hope! 😉

    Julie

  15. Hi Julie (and everybody),

    I returned from Japan in early August 2009, and sent out my request just about a month later (early September 2009). In mid-April of 2010 I got the dreaded “Inadequacies in the Claim for Lump-Sum Withdrawal Payment” form, which I filled out and sent back in very early June. Mid-November (just a couple weeks ago) I got my money, deposited in my account, and the form telling me all about it right about the same time.

    I haven’t filled out the bit to get my taxes back yet, but hopefully soon. All told, fifteen months to get my money.

  16. Thanks for posting, Tracy.
    It seems we may be in the same cycle.
    I personally feel the inadequacy form is a farce or a means of delaying payment, or just to check if we are still out there waiting. Does one no good to argue the point, let alone ask why. Just gotta go through the motions I guess.
    Charles and I seem to be on the same cycle, too, so hopefully next week…
    I will call the office again Monday morning to see if I can get an update. It will be 14 months then.
    Julie

  17. Hi, All.
    I just wanted to post an update.
    Being as it is the eve of my 14 month of waiting, I called the pension center to check the status of my refund.
    They have FINALLY made a monetary determination AND date for deposit into my account.
    The amount is twice as much as I figured it to be, and the date of deposit is January 14, 2011. The written notification will not reach here until around that time apparently.
    I do not know the reasoning behind it, but it will have taken me 15 months almost to the day by the time I receive it, so all others, don’t give up, and continue to share. Perhaps we can put a method to this madness afterall.
    I will keep you posted as to whether or not I actually get what I am supposed when I am supposed to.
    Julie

  18. Hi All,

    My refund just hit my account! It is a tiny bit more than expected.
    My initial paperwork was filed on July 8th so this is about 5 months.

    It seems that the 14th/15th might be a magic date for the payment.

    Now to file for my tax witholding. I wonder when that letter will arrive.

    I can’t say how happy I am right now!

    So to recap 5 months and the payment landed on the 15th.

    I am happy to answer any questions but I can’t imagine why I got my
    refund so fast as compared to other people.

    -Chuckles

  19. @ Chuckles,

    Good for you!!!

    I wonder what the difference in timing is for everyone. I wonder if it is the payout amount. Like I said, I am getting twice what I calculated, so obviously payment amounts vary from the scale they have published.

    I also agree with you, the 15th of the month seems to be the date. Mine is January 14 because the 15th falls on a Saturday.

    Don’t spend it all in one place! 😉

    Julie

  20. @ Julie – Thanks!

    I was actually surprised to get mine so fast after so many horror stories I have heard and seen. The most amazing thing is that my refund came so fast after that weird form you and I got, “Request for Lump Sum withdrawal payment (Inquiry)”. It looks like this form might actually be the “your money is here and it’s coming soon” form.

    Because of how long I worked in Japan I think my amount is larger than most so I have to think that, amount, doesn’t matter much in terms of time frame. I would assume that the gov wants to hang on to larger sums as long as possible. Sadly, I am now convinced that it’s a crap shoot. Maybe calling as you did helps. In the US I know that calling would not help at all but maybe Japan is different.

    I will keep posting on this board and I wish the best to everybody.

    -Chuckles

  21. I have blogged the complete process together with the list of forms to download here in my blog post.

    http://daddyparentingtips.blogspot.com/2010/11/tip-228-withdraw-japan-pension-lump-sum.html

    However, I have yet to receive my 20% tax. I designated an old Japanese friend to go to the tax office and unfortunately, he just accepted whatever the officer told him. The officer said that he has to come back next year to do the tax refund. However, according to some of the comments on this blog, the tax refund can be immediate and there is no need to wait for the following year. I guess even officers in the NTA can get confused. What should we do in such cases?

  22. Hello guys,

    I mailed my application October last year and then same month of this year, i got a letter from them telling me to informed the place I lived that I left Japan already ( this happened because I also did not surrender my alien card) and at the same time, a little correction in my application. I then informed them right away and then 2 weeks after that ( first week of November) I also sent my corrected application.

    Now I have a question. I am planning to call their office to follow up but my Japanese is very limited. Do you think they will understand me if I speak in English?

  23. Hi Lucy,

    I think they will try to find someone who can help you. Considering that this section probably deals with tons of gaijins they should have one person who can help you out.

    I say go for it and call them.

  24. The forms clearly say “Japanese only” for the phone number. Please do not call and just assume someone on the other end will know functional English. That notice is there for a reason and it’s presumptive and obtuse to assume otherwise.

    You are better off using your limited Japanese or having a friend in Japan call for you. Prepare in advance what you need to say. Explain that Japanese is very difficult for you and hopefully they will drop the phone keigo.

  25. Hi Lucy,

    Don’t be discouraged. Just go for it. They may have someone that speaks English. The warning on the form is just to try to get people to not call.

    What’s the worst that can happen? Don’t let warning get in your way. It’s your money and you have a right to ask questions!

    Go for it! 🙂

  26. Great site. One question from the claim form.

    Among many other requirements, it requests copies of passport pages showing (1) date of final departure from Japan (2) name (3) DOB (4) nationality (5) signature and (6) resident status

    Numbers (1) through (5) no problem, but is (6) looking for evidence of (a) CURRENT residence (ie outside of Japan), or (b) copy of the page showing residence status while in Japan ?

    I can think why they would want evidence of non residence in Japan, but can’t think of any reason residence status in Japan would make any difference too them.

    Can anyone confirm which residence status needs to be evidenced ? (current or past)

  27. @ Pongo,

    They want to see what visa you had last stamped in your passport for permission to reside in Japan, whether it was tourist visa, student, or permanent resident or whatever.

    Julie

  28. I never claimed my pension and I left Japan in Summer, 2008. I know you can only claim it within 2 years, so by now it’s over the time limit (it’s Winter 2010). However, I visited Japan in the Spring of 2010. I was wondering if it would renew the two year limit to claim the pension. I assume not, but was hoping.

  29. Ex-Pat: did you give your gaijin card back? I left more than 2 years ago also, but never “officially” left (i.e. I didnt return my gaijin card). So, I think in their eyes, I have never left, and should be able to claim it any time I suppose. Not sure. Anyone have any ideas?

  30. @Blue: Thanks for the quick response. I gave my gaijin card back to them when I went back for a visit in Spring 2010. I think if I just show them the exit date of my “final” departure, which is Spring 2010, then I can still claim it.

    By my reasoning, if you’re owed significant money, it might be worth it to go to Japan for vacation and then leave again just for the exit stamp. I worked as a JET for 2 years and can probably claim around 5,000 USD.

    Not sure if this works. I’m going to try and I’ll let everyone know how it goes.

  31. Just to share experiences, I applied for the refund 28 Oct, and just received the “inadequacy” form back 30 Dec (fairly quickly based on above).

    All was in order except I designated a Japan bank account and the info provided was as follows:

    “…..regarding a bank account..if a person would designate a bank in Japan…transfer can only be made to an account where the account holder name is registered in katakana, because the system uses the name written in katakana for its convenience….”

    So just need to fill in the bank part with my katakana name registered with the bank and attach a document confirming my katakana name (this probably assumes I won’t write the katakana that well, which they are probably right about). Bankbook has the katakana name inside, so easy enough.

    It goes on to give the process if I want the refund to go to a non Japanese bank, which implies the katakana name is not needed with a foreign account (different system one assumes), so I guess the bottom line is that if using a Japan bank account, make sure you include your katakana name and a copy of the bank book (or some other document) verifying it.

  32. Hello

    I guess this is an impossible case but I am desperate so it’s worth a try anyway.

    I worked for almost 11 years in Japan and left in 1997, intending to come back to Japan soon after. I started working with Sony in Germany in 1999 and forgot about returning to Japan or applying for the lump sum refund. I have been working freelance since 2006 and my pension prospects are minimal. Reality – I am going to be poor when I retire. I have a good Japanese friend over there who is a company owner. Do you think there is any way he can help me to get my pension payment refund after such a long time? I worked for his company for about 2.5 years and he definitely registered everything properly. I have all the relevant papers back in England.

    Please give me hope!

    Hazel

  33. @Ex-pat (30 Dec. 2010) I’m interested to hear how your attempt to get the refund with the vacation exit stamp goes.

  34. This is a great site, with lots of helpful information. I’m still a little confused, though. I worked in Japan from 1995-97, teaching for the YMCA. After I returned to the US, I filed for the return of my pension contributions. I don’t recall which pension plan it was, national or employee’s. Probably national?

    I’ve recently accepted a position at a private university in another city, and, presumably, will again be paying into a pension plan. I don’t know yet whether it will be the national or the employee’s plan. Are large private employers more likely to put you in the employee’s plan?

    Will my receiving the pension payout 14 years ago prevent me from getting another payout when I leave several years from now? Will they actually be able to connect my two sets of payments? Will it matter if I’m paying into two different systems (i.e., the national plan the first time, and the employee’s plan the second time)?

    Thank you.

  35. Hello again guys.

    To those who have called the office to follow up their application for pension refund, I would like to know what they asked you? What information they need to know? I am asking these because I will be asking a friend of mine who speaks japanese fluently to call the office on behalf of me to follow up mine.

    Thanks.

  36. @ All,

    After 15 long months, I FINALLY got it!!!

    Good luck to you all who are waiting, and thank you for this site! It was a sanity-saver!

    Julie

  37. @Julie

    WOW! Congratulations! So what are you going to do with it!!?
    I put mine in Chase bank and got $125 account credit. Sorry to
    promote a bank here but I just felt like it was the least I could
    do to get some equalizer on the interest for how long I waited
    to get my cash.

    Now the race is on for the 20% TAX!

  38. Hi,
    I worked in Japan for 4 yrs and left 10 yrs ago, and received the lump payment. I have all the documentation still and I belive that there is a pension I can claim and one I would like to claim. Any advice as to what value it may be and how to go about getting it?
    regards Edward

  39. Hi,
    I worked in Japan for 4 years about 10yrs ago, I left and received the lump pension payback. I was informed at the time that the remaining monies in the pension fund would entitle me to some pension,however small it may be. Is it possible to claim this?Is it worth claiming it? How would you go about claiming it?
    I have all the documents, books ect, the job was for the Japanese government so I presume all the info I have is correct.

    rwdards Edward

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  42. I have paid pension in Japan for a total of over 36 months. However, on my 36th month, my employer screwed up and didnt charge the pension on my last paycheck with them. I started a new job in my 37th month and continued paying pension.
    So, I paid 35 months, then skipped a month, then continued and have paid 36-plus months of pension by now.
    Is it okay that a month was skipped, or will I be grouped in the 35-month re-payment?
    Thank you so much for any advice – it’s really hard to find the answer online.

  43. @ryry – This really is a tough and strange situation and I am not sure anyone would have any idea. I can only guess. You need to ask a lawyer or a government rep. Sorry and good luck.

  44. What happens if I get the refund having left Japan and then sometime in the future I have the need to return to work in Japan?

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