Do you know? Types of Japanese seals “Hanko” and how to get them


Hi, this is Yohji.
Stamps called Inkan(印鑑 / いんかん) / Hanko(判子 / はんこ) are a unique culture used in some countries in East Asia, including Japan.  Therefore, many foreigners are not familiar with seals, but if you live in Japan, it will be convenient to have them in various situations.  In this topic, I will explain about Inkan / Hanko and how to get them.

※In Japan, you need a personal and a legal seal. These are stamps with our names on them. We use them kind of like signatures.

Types of Hanko and usage scenarios

Hanko can be broadly divided into three types according to their role.  Please note that the situations that can be used differ depending on the type.  When living in Japan, it is best to have a bank seal(銀行印 / ぎんこう いん)and a seal (認印 / みとめ いん)called a Hanko.

Registered seal(実印 / じつ いん)

A registered seal is a Hanko that has the effect of requiring registration at the government office.

  • Real estate transaction
  • Inheritance, etc.

Bank seal(銀行印 / ぎんこう いん)


A bank seal is a Hanko registered with a bank when opening an account.

  • At the time of opening a bank account
  • At the time of mobile phone contract
  • At the time of application for fund transfer of utility charges

Seal(認印 / みとめ いん)

The seal is the most frequently used Hanko.

  • When confirming that the circulation documents have been read
  • At the time of receiving the parcel
  • At the time of address change registration

Rules for making a Hanko

There are some conditions for the Hanko to be effective.  Non-standard Hanko are not accepted as Hanko and cannot be used or registered in important situations.

  • Within 25 mm per side
  • Characters unrelated to the name are not engraved
  • The imprint is not unclear

There are other detailed rules, so it is better to leave the production of the Hanko to a Japanese acquaintance.

How much does it cost to get it?

The price varies depending on the material used for the Hanko.  Reasonable ones cost thousands of yen, and expensive ones cost more than hundreds of thousands of yen, but reasonable ones are enough.  Most Japanese use reasonable wooden stamps because their functions do not change depending on the material.

  • Wood … 3500 yen ~
  • Buffalo horn … 4500 yen ~
  • Titanium … 8500 yen ~
  • Amber … 10,000 yen ~

The Hanko is expensive, but every Japanese has it.

How to purchase

Seal specialty store

There are few shops and they can’t speak English. Besides, the price is high.

Online shop

You can order from anywhere 24 hours a day. Only Japanese forms are available for purchase forms and order specifications.

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The above is the explanation about Japanese seals “Hanko”. There are some situations where foreigners only need to sign, but if you live in Japan, why not bring your Hanko as you would a Japanese person?

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