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. I just got my 20% tax refund as well. That makes the whole process 7 months.
    5 months to get refund + 2 months for the 20% tax!

    I never thought I would see that cash but here it is.
    I simply can’t believe it!

    I hope everyone get their refunds fast!

    Keep posting guys. I am hooked on following this thread.

  2. plsssssssssss pakilagay lng yong adress N ational Pension and Employees Pension Isurance jan sa japan na wla kasi yong address ko

  3. Ok. I’m leaving Japan at the end of May, and I am currently in the process of finishing my job. I have been here 4 years now. My first job I never received a book of any types. And have yet to hear of receiving one from my company at the moment. I’m pretty sure I’ve been paying into the pension. Also about taxes…I kinda moved all over the place, so I lived in one place for 3 months and left the -ku and they wanted me to pay all the money for the year, but I didn’t and tried filling taxes last year but never got any money back or forms and just kept getting the bills. So long story short. I have a lot of city taxes.

    But when I leave and give back my gaijin card will they ask for the tax money? and will I still be able to get the pension money. I’m from Canada. if that changes anything.

    Thanks.

  4. Just received a notice letter from the Pension Office, they will be depositing my money sometime this March. It took me about 9 months to process everything, including sending them back the corrected form and terminating my residency there because I did not surrender my alien card when I left Japan.

  5. I submitted my documents about a month ago. I confirmed through tracking my international EMS that it got delivered. But my problem is I think I forgot to include the “resident status” part of my passport when I submitted my documents. This is because I renewed and got a new machine-readable passport at Osaka consulate office, before I went home to my country, and I think I misplaced my old/non-renewed passport (with my previous visa stamped in there). Will there be a problem with this? Will they just assume that I had a working visa since I renewed my passport in Japan and not in my home country? All the other needed document that I submitted from a passport (DOB, name, signature, date of last departure, etc.) were in the new passport. (except the previous visa)

    BTW I have worked in Japan for 5 years, and just expatriated July last year. Any feedbacks/answers would be awesome.

  6. Hi All,

    I sent my application last Aug 2010 and they sent it back to me in Oct of the same year because of some inadequacies. I re-sent it after a few days. Until now, I haven’t received any update on it. With all the disasters happening in Japan, do you think it’ll affect the processing of my refund and will further delay it?

    I appreciate your response.

    Thanks,
    Lee Anne

  7. To share experiences, I just received my refund, here was the process timeline:

    28 Oct 2010: Mailed application
    30 Dec 2010: Received notice of “inadequacy” in the application
    – I specified a local bank account without providing the katakana name registered with the bank
    7 Jan 2011: the details requested sent
    15 April 2011: Refund received

    So less than 6 months, which included a hiccup with having to provide some information missing in the original application. Not bad (and I think suggests no delays caused by the earthquake and surrounding issues).

    Now applying for the tax refund…..

  8. Bok,

    I also forgot to include the Japan resident status part of my passport (actually, I thought that meant proving residence outside of Japan, so did that instead). But when I got my notice of inadequacy back in Dec, it didn’t mention the absence of the Japan residency part of the passport being missing. However, I made sure to include that part when I resubmitted the missing information they requested (and to confirm an earlier posting, needed only to send the missing information on the re-submission, not everything).

    I would send it anyway just in case it helps avoid any delay and say something like “please add to my submission” (along with all the standard apologies) making sure they can easily locate the main application to add it to.

    But they overlooked the omission in mine and might do so with yours too – no guarantees though as each case can be different (as the different process times seem to suggest).

  9. Hello Guys,

    Does anyone of you know if this website is legit? I got my pension refund already but planning to claim my tax as well and I have nobody in Japan as my representative, so I am planning to use this website’s service.

    http://www.najapan.com/TAX_myservice.html

    Any inputs will be appreciated.

  10. Thanks AJ. If you don’t mind me asking, how much is your refund? You dont need to answer, but since we are all pretty anonymous here, I guess it wont hurt if you will 🙂

    I am on my two months waiting but still no update whatsoever (inadequacy notice etc.)

    I really hope that I can receive the money within 6 months or less because I really need the it urgently.

    Will update you guys for any development.

  11. Bok, total refund was a little over 2 million before tax deduction (so 1.65 million after tax deduction). That was for 50 covered months.

  12. I have been living in Japan for 9 years. The first three years were on the JET Programme and I paid into the pension scheme for 36 months straight. Then I took a job at a local board of education, but that contract was 11 months per year. My pension payments were deducted from my salary for those 11 months, but I have not been paying for the one month that I am not employed. I get letters from the pension office requesting me to pay for that month, but I ignore them as I feel I should not have to pay for a month when I have no salary. This has been going on for 6 years now, and they send me letters but that’s about it.

    My concern is: when I move away from Japan and attempt to collect the reimbursement, will my not having paid my pension for that one month per year affect my application? Note that I DID pay year round for the first 36 months.

    Would appreciate any help. Thanks!

  13. Thanks AJ!

    Are you sure that was for 50 covered months? From what folks here are saying and from what I read, you can only get 3-year max worth of pension refund.

    That’s some pretty huge sum though. Don’t spend it in one place ;).

  14. bok, I was reading from the piece of paper they sent me and the entry said “50 covered months”, but your right it might be capped at 36 for refunds such that it means “50 covered months, but only 36 count”, not sure (ie might have been the same amount if it said 40 covered months, 50, 60 etc). And the wife spent it already…….

  15. Sorry to post again, but before it gets lost in the thread, I’d really be grateful if someone knows anything about this:

    I have been living in Japan for 9 years. The first three years were on the JET Programme and I paid into the pension scheme for 36 months straight. Then I took a job at a local board of education, but that contract was 11 months per year. My pension payments were deducted from my salary for those 11 months, but I have not been paying for the one month that I am not employed. I get letters from the pension office requesting me to pay for that month, but I ignore them as I feel I should not have to pay for a month when I have no salary. This has been going on for 6 years now, and they send me letters but that’s about it.

    My concern is: when I move away from Japan and attempt to collect the reimbursement, will my not having paid my pension for that one month per year affect my application? Note that I DID pay year round for the first 36 months.

    Would appreciate any help. Thanks!

  16. Information on the Japanese National Pension system for 2011 can be found here:

    http://www.nenkin.go.jp/english/pdf/1.pdf

    The Lump-sum Withdrawal Payment for those leaving Japan whose last payment will be 2011, and who have been paying into the system for 36 months or more is ¥270,360.

    It will be the same amount whether you have been paying for 36 months, 72 months or 120 months.

    To answer Kirk, it’s based on the number of contribution-paid months, not consecutive paid months. Your payments total; 3 x 12 + 6 x 11 = 102 months, so you get the so-called full amount.

    However, I am confused by this statement:

    “To apply for it you need to satisfy the following conditions; you have contributed to the National Pension system for at least six months in total (excluding your insured periods as the Category II or the Category III insured person)”

    and earlier it defines the categories:

    “If you are employed to work at a company, factory and such workplaces, and are covered by employees pension insurance systems including the Employees’ Pension Insurance system, you are a Category II insured person.”

    This seems to mean that if you have employees pension through your company you are not eligable to apply for the lump-sum withdrawal.

    Can anyone shed some light on this?

  17. OK. I dug around and found a bit more info.

    The National Pension System lump-sum payment is for those who are not full-time employees. And yes, the 3-year cap seems to be because of the JET program. It should also be noted that the lump-sum payment under the national pension is not taxed.

    If you are in an employee pension system (as you should be if you are full-time), then you still get a lump-sum payment, but it is based on a convoluted calculation using the contrbution percentage from 2 years prior. Generally it means you get back upto the last 3 years worth of premiums.

    Please see this document for details:

    http://www.nenkin.go.jp/main/individual_02/pdf/english.pdf

    This would explain why AJ received a higher lump-sum amount than has been discussed before, and why his lump-sum was taxed.

  18. Well. It’s not quite that simple.

    Doing the maths, and taking into account the contribution rate is halved, and given there are 2 methods for calculating the lump-sum for employee pension (and I don’t know which one is used when), it ends up that the amount you get, assuming 36 months of full-time employment, is about 3 times your average standard remuneration.

    Your Average Standard Remuneration is the sum of all your salary and bonus payments, before tax, since you joined the employee pension system, divided by the number of months you have been in that system.

    Gets confusing if you have been with the same company since April 2003, due to pension law changes, but generally speaking you get about 0.5 months pay for every 6 months of employment, upto a max of 3 years, minus tax.

  19. Hi, I have just received back a letter inquiry from the pension service. Basically I have contributed for 82 months (7yrs) and they want me to confirm that I am willing to give up my rights to a pension in Japan considering the long time I was there. They also mention that ‘if certain requirements are met’ I can combine the Japanese and Irish pension for the future. Does anyone have any advice on this?? Could it ever be worth it long term for me to combine rather than take the capped 36month payout?

    Thanks!

  20. I’ve recently returned to the states from Japan and I’m trying to apply for the lump-sum withdrawal but ran into some questions.
    1. What is the pension handbook? I don’t seem to have it and I don’t think I ever did.
    2. On the form it’s asking for 4 different pension numbers. The top one is Basic Pension Number. Is that the only one I need? And How can I find my pension number?
    3. If I was working in Japan for only one year what is the total amount of refund I can expect to receive from this? I can’t really understand the formula given.
    Any help on this would be much appreciated!! Thanks!

  21. @Caroline

    If there is a reciprocal agreement between your Irish and Japanese pension plans, then the payments you have made in Japan can be used towards your Irish pension so that it’s payout would be higher, as it would include those Japan payments. My suggestion is to talk to the Irish embassy about it.

    @Ash

    The pension handbook is something your full-time employer should give you when you leave. It is a record of the pension payments you have made. You could also inquire at your old ward office, but really all the information on the forms should come from your employer. You need the basic registration number and the registration number of the pension scheme you belong to, either national or employee. As for amount: For part-time workers not enrolled in an employee pension scheme but part of the national pension scheme, if your last contribution was between 2010/04 and 2011/03, and you had 12 months of contributions, you should get 90,600 Yen untaxed. For full-time employees enrolled in an employee pension scheme whose last payment was between September 2010 and August 2011, and had 12 months of contributions, you would get 0.9 months of your standard monthly remuneration, minus tax.

  22. My last pay stub was in 2007 and I am still here and about to leave. After reading all these posts I didn’t think I was eligible for a refund or pension transfer to my home country. But when I went to the ward office to make sure, they told me the deadline was 2 years within leaving Japan, NOT 2 years after the last pay in, as incorrectly stated above. Always get a second opinion!

  23. Guys,

    Can you help me fill up this form (Shotokuzi/Shohizei No Nozeikanrinin No Todokedesho ). I am going to send this form to my friend in Japan for the tax refund but I don’t know how to read Japanese characters. I will appreciate it very much.

    Thank you,

    Lucy

  24. @Lucy

    That form should of been submitted before you left, at the tax office where you were a resident, and I don’t know if they will allow you to declare a tax representitive once you’ve handed over your residence card.

    It would be best to have your friend help you fill it in, since they will need to take it, along with the original notice of payment, to the tax office to file for the refund. If they don’t speak/read/write Japanese, they are going to have a lot of problems.

  25. Andy, it is allowed to declare a tax representative after leaving Japan if you forgot to do it while still there. Anyway, the form posted above, I only need help in the part where I need to fill in before sending it.

    Thanks for your reply.

  26. Useful discussion here.
    My situation:
    2001-2004 worked on JET for 3 years paid pension
    2004-2011 worked for Interac, no pension
    I left in March 2011, can I claim for the pension I paid on JET – the form says you can claim within two years of leaving japan, not two years within final pension payment. I sent the forms last month, so how long do you think it will take??? Appreciate any help or advice, I’m sure there are people who are in similar situation.

  27. Hey everyone. So I got my pension lump-sum payment no problem, and am now trying to get the 20% tax refund. I assigned my supervisor to be my tax agent before I left Japan, but he’s away from work with an injury (and is a complete flake so probably wasn’t the best choice for a tax agent). Can I possibly chance my tax agent even though I’m not working in Japan anymore? If so, is it difficult, or just a matter of having someone refile the “Notification of Tax Agent” form? Thanks in advance!

  28. whoop, my comment before should say “Can I possibly *change my tax agent even though I’m not working in Japan anymore?”

  29. I’m leaving japan but will continue working for my japanese employer on a home basis. I guess I will be taxed by my home country instead of Japan, but does anybody know what happens about my japanese pension payments? can I apply for the pension refund? and stop paying pension contributions every month?

  30. Hi everyone,

    I got my lump-sum pension pay back, and now looking into tax refund.
    My question: is it mandatory to assign a tax representative for the tax refund?
    Does it require Japanese bank account or Japanese address for this application?
    Can I apply myself for the tax refund in the tax office when I go to Japan for short visit twice a year? I still have my Japanese bank account, but have no Japanese address already of course.

    Thanks for answering.

  31. I have the same question as Mark. If I am transferred and work in a different country, but for my Japanese employer, what are my pension obligations and payments? can I get the withdrawal payment or should I later try to get a Japanese pension?

  32. I notably like and agree with this approach to writing: “The reality is that any writing is only one person’s very skewed model of the story.” Not solely do readers need to take that to coronary heart, however as writers, we’d do ourselves a favor by embracing that more totally and openly.

  33. I would be interested in knowing the answer to Ryan’s question too, as I will be in a similar situation next year!

  34. Hi,

    Thank you for the very insightful information. I have a slightly different question: if I do want to receive the pensions when I get to 65 (or whenever is the retirement age in Japan), how long do I have to work in Japan in order to enter the system? And how much do I receive in accordance to how much / how long I work?

    -Thanks

  35. To Mon and others,

    Received notice that lump sum would be sent 15th Aug…yay!
    For 3-year JET amount was just over 900,000

    Timeline was;
    sent forms May1st
    received notice of payment Aug11th
    so 3&1/2months

    Will update on actual date paid as said it could take a few days. Now time for getting the taxed part back. Good luck all,
    Ryan

  36. Hi Ryan,
    I worked on the ITER site before you arrived and received my monies quickly. I do have a question though.#
    The monies received were a part of the pension that was paid in, I was given to understand that there would be a small amount payed out monthly by the Japanese government on reaching 65rys old.
    Do you know if this is correct? Do you have any contact names addresses that I could use to contact the peopel at ITER, Iberaki?
    I sent off a request 2 weeks before the disaster this year and I am not sure if it arrived ,so any info would be usefull.

    Edward Junger

  37. hello everyone. i’d like to know if someone here has successfully nominated a tax representative after leaving japan. i just received my lump sum notice, however, i did not nominate a tax representative when i left japan. thanks!

    also, do you have any feedbacks regarding the service provided by taxback.com? im thinking of trying that to get the the remaining 20%. thanks!

  38. To all,
    Pension refund was received promptly on the 15th Aug – it seems that the 15th of the month is the magic day for payments for all you still waiting.

    They seem to convert it in Japan and send it in your local currency which usually means a better exchange rate and also i wasnt charged anything by my bank for receiving it.

    Now I have to apply for the refund of the taxed 20%. Anyone have experience of how long this takes. I already sent the docs to my tax rep so is it a 1-2 month wait or longer???

  39. Hi all.. I do not have the blue pension book. I’ve already tried contacting my former employer in Japan and I am unable to get this blue book. So, do I absolutely need to send this blue book in with my forms in order to receive the lump-sum? Has anyone out there tried to do so without the book? Any help on this will be much appreciated!!

  40. Yes, you can mail in the Tax Representative Declaration form after you’ve left Japan, so I don’t see any problem with doing that to change the Tax Representative either.

    When you quit your job in Japan, your employer should of sent you your welfare pension book and the employment insurance certificate. If they didn’t, try contacting the Japan Pension Service on 03-5344-1100. Expect them only to talk Japanese.

    If you take the lump-sum payment, you will not be entitled to any future pension payments based on work used to calculate your lump-sum. Also, they recently changed the law so that you only need to contribute for 10 years before you can claim pension benefits upon reaching retirement age. It used to be 25 years.

    If your transfering out of Japan, but will continue to work for the same Japanese company, check with their payroll department about whether you will remain in the Japanese pension system or if your pension contributions in Japan will get transfered to a pension scheme in the country you are moving to.

  41. Whoops. Incorrect information. I just checked to be sure, but the law change for reducing the number of years of contributions wasn’t put into effect by the new Japanese government, so it’s still 25 years. Not 10.

    And the pension is not a lot. According to the JPS website – http://www.nenkin.go.jp/english/np.html – if you have been fully contributing into the national pension scheme for 40 years, you get 788,900 Yen a year at age 65.

    Yes. You read right. I’m not missing a digit, and I did say per year. A pitiful amount really.

    However, for those in the employee pension scheme, there is the basic part, and then the part that is calculated based on your average monthly remuneration, and both include payments for dependents, etc.

    Basically, it’s impossible to say with any accuracy what your yearly pension would be at age 65, and there is also the old-age payments made between 60 and 65 – or it is 60 at the moment. They intend to increase that age.

  42. http://www.nta.go.jp/tetsuzuki/shinsei/annai/shinkoku/pdf/07.pdf

    @jen

    Have a trusted friend or family member who is in Japan and understands Japanese download the above form, complete it, and post it to the tax office of your old ward.

    You then send that person the approval for lump sum payment letter, which they take to the tax office and complete a tax income form. The returned tax is paid into their bank account, and then you have them transfer that money to you.

    Please note that this only applies if you received the lump sum payment from Employees’ Pension. If you got it from National Pension then you didn’t pay tax on it anyway.

  43. I have a question. I was on the JET program and left after three years in July 2010. My work visa was canceled and I went on a tourist visa. I came back to Japan and received a new work visa in November of 2010. Will this effect my two year window for requesting back the pension money?

  44. @There and back again

    Since you are back in Japan working, you cannot claim for your lump sum payment anyways.

    Please note condition #3:

    “Persons who do not have a place of residence in Japan (only those that had a proper visa on or after November 9, 1994 and then left Japan)”

    Just make sure your new employer has your old pension details and they should continue the payments. When you do finally leave Japan for good, then you can claim on more than 3 years worth of pension premiums.

    Not that that would make much of a difference. 🙁

  45. @Andy

    Thank you for your reply. I think my new employer has those details but I’ll have to check.

    Another question. If I take up permanent residency here there is no chance of being able to request the pension as well unless I cancel the residency? Is that correct?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.