While a signature is all you need to authorize a contract in most countries outside East Asia, in Japan—as well as Korea and to a lesser extent China—a personal seal, known as inkan or hanko in Japanese, is what you’ll need.
What exactly is a hanko?
A hanko/inkan (used interchangeably) is a carved stamp that can be used in any situation where an individual, or an individual on behalf of a company, might otherwise use a signature or initials. Signing contracts, doing your banking (at a bank) or receiving a parcel are just three such cases. The necessity for a hanko and even the type of hanko may vary depending on the situation.
There are three common types used by both individuals and corporations. The jitsu-in (実印),
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