You can with an Inkan

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For the next step, I needed to:
1. Register my personal Inkan and obtain the Inkan Registration Certificate
2. Prepare the Company Inkan

Personal Inkan

In Japan, the stamp or seal (印鑑 – inkan or ハンコ – hanko) is equivalent to an individual’s signature in the Western society. In the case of starting a company, having a personal Inkan registered was critical.

I needed a visit to the local Ward Office to register and pickup the following:

  • Inkan Registration Certificate (印鑑証明書 inkan-shomeisho – 300 JPY each). The certificate issue date must be within 3 months prior to document submission date to be valid.
    – We needed 1x certificate from the Company President  (代表取締役 – daihyou-torishimari-yaku) and 1x certificate from each board members (取締役 – torishimari-yaku)
    – We also needed 1x certificate from each investor (発起人 – hokkinin).

As I am the Company President and also one of the investors, I needed 2 copies of the Inkan Registration Certificate. The certificates would be later submitted to the Notary Office (公証役場 – koushou-yakuba) and Legal Affairs Bureau (法務局 – houmu-kyoku)

Tip

A note for foreigners who are registering their personal Inkan for the first time, make sure the Inkan is engraved with your full legal name, or else you might not be able to register the Inkan if the names don’t match (i.e. missing your middle name)
For my case, I already had an Inkan with my Katakana ‘first name’ and ‘surname’ which I commonly use. My legal documents (Passport, Residence card) had my full Romaji (English) name that included by middle name.
The work-around was:

  • Register my commonly used Katakana ‘first name’ and ‘surname’ as a ‘commonly used name’, or A.K.A name (通称 – tsuushou) in my Certificate of Residence (住民票 – juumin-hyou).
  • Bring proof of my A.K.A name, which could be a utilities bill, credit card bill etc.
  • Use the updated Certificate of Residence to register my Inkan

Phew… glad that was over… hold on, there’s more.

Company Inkans

Like an individual, a company also needs an Inkan registered to represent the entity (and you should have already decided on the company name by now).
The company name is called the ‘shougou’ 商号.

The company Inkans (note the plural, I’ll explain later) should be ordered and made at the early stages as they will be used on the official documents when registering the company.
I ordered our Inkans from an online store in October, and they arrived around about a week.
Searching Google for ‘法人セット 印鑑’ – houjin-setto inkan, displays many Inkan companies that sells sets of 3 or 4 Inkans for businesses, with prices ranging from 5,000 JPY to 100,000 JPY.
The set I ordered included:

  • Registered seal (実印 – jitsu-in) – 60.0mm×18.0mm. For companies, it’s also the President’s seal (代表者印 – daihyousha-in). Used for most legal documents.
  • Bank seal (銀行印 – ginko-in) – 60.0mm×16.5mm. Used for opening bank accounts.
  • Company seal (社印 – sha-in, or 角印 – kaku-in):60.0mm×21.0mm. Usually used for quotes and invoices.

While we had the company Inkan’s made, I also went ahead and registered domains that we could use for the company website.

For professional advice, please consult a Licensed Tax Accountant (税理士 – zeirishi)