| Hanko (Signature / Seal)
A Hanko, called "In-Kan", is a personal seal that is used in lieu of your signature when receiving postal packages or authorizing important paperwork. A Hanko is usually designed with your last name in Japanese Kanji characters. If you have a common last name you can purchase a ready-made Hanko in stationary stores. You can always order a custom-made Hanko if you have an uncommon last name, or would like to use your first name.
Registered Hanko and Seal Certificate (Inkan sho-mei)
A registered Hanko is required for important documents regarding automobile and mortgage loans. For security reasons, a Hanko is recommended for other transactions, such as opening a bank account. A registered Hanko is unique because it is custom designed. It is also possible to register your hand-written signature as your Hanko.
To register your Hanko, you must be over 15 years old and have a resident address in Japan. You can register your Hanko at your local government office and are required to bring the Hanko that is to be registered and your alien registration card.
Seal (Hanko) registration can be completed in one day. Once your Hanko is registered, a seal registration card will be issued to you. By presenting this card to your local government office you can obtain your seal registration certificate, without having to present your Hanko.