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Changing yen into dollars

I’ve mentioned before the best ways to convert dollars into yen, but what if you need to go the other way? If you only have a few hundred dollars worth of yen, you may as well change them in Japan at the airport on your way out. The cost will be about 3%.

However, if you have more than about $1,000 worth of yen to convert, or if you need to send your yen overseas and have it magically turn into dollars on the other side, there are a number of options, each with different costs.

1. You can wire the money. You will need to set up a bank account in Japan. The cost will likely be 4,000 yen or 5,000 yen per transaction plus about 1%. Your bank outside of Japan may also charge a fee. There are few situations where this is the easiest or cheapest way to go.
2. You can convert all of your yen at the airport or a bank. While this is easy to do, at about 3%, it isn’t cheap. Nor is it very safe to carry thousands of dollars into the U.S. or many other countries.
3. You can go to a post office in Japan and get the equivalent of an International Postal Money Order. In Japan it is called “International Payment Application and Declaration Form” (国際送金請求書兼告知書). The Japanese postal employees probably won’t speak English so you’ll want to print this out and show them what you want. Fill out the form. The charge is 2,000 yen plus about 1% on the exchange rate, not cheap but better than the other alternatives if you are converting more than 100,000 yen. Also, it is much safer than converting and carrying cash. You can safely mail the money to someone else in another country and in another currency as well with this method.

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