How to Buy a Local SIM Card in Japan

A local SIM Card is useful if you are visiting Japan for business or for an extended period of time. This will save money on phone calls and data charges. Foreign visitors can purchase specific traveller SIM cards which are available throughout the larger cities. There are a number of different SIM cards for tourists which offer a variety of options. Here you will find all the information about how to buy a local SIM card in Japan.

Pre-Paid Data Only SIM Cards in Japan

How to Buy a Local SIM Card in Japan

Whilst free Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, coffee shops, and restaurants, to be connected throughout your trip a data-only SIM Card is the best option. The country has had many restrictions on local SIM cards for foreign visitors, however, those who are visiting Japan for tourism will easily be able to purchase one.

This type of SIM will only offer access to the internet rather than phone calls and text messages. These can often be ordered in advance and picked up from the airport upon arrival. The following providers, among others, offer data-only SIM cards:

Alternatively, if you’re already in the city, there are places to purchase these SIM cards in-store. The majority of Bic Camera or Yodobashi Camera stores, which are in major shopping locations, sell these prepaid data SIM cards and also offer to configure the card for an additional fee – though this is easy to do. Bic Camera shops can be found throughout the country. There are two types of prepaid data SIM cards for foreign visitors that last for either 30 days or 3 months.

Voice and Data SIM Cards in Japan

If you need to make or receive phone calls during your visit, then a prepaid voice and data SIM is the best option. It’s also the only option if you plan to use certain apps that require you to have a local phone number to use. This includes PayPay, Mobile Suica, Uber Eats, Wolt, Mercari, and Yahoo! Japan. Of course, having a way to make outgoing calls is also crucial in times of an emergency.

Currently, the only provider to offer data and voice SIM card options is Mobal. Their cheapest option costs 7,920 Japanese Yen (ca. 50 USD) and includes a Japanese phone number, free incoming calls, outgoing calls charged by the minute, and 7 GB of data. These SIMs have a limited validity period, so be sure to activate them only once you need them. Mobal offers free pick-up from various locations across the country, including the airports for those who order in advance.

Unlike the data-only card, this card requires a form of identification. Users must upload their identification online with a photograph and proof of address before the SIM card will work. Though this may sound complicated, once verified, the SIM card is simple to use and is a fantastic option for freelance travelers.

E SIMS in Japan

As one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, it only makes sense that Japan has jumped on board the exploding E-SIM trend. Numerous E-SIM companies offer a service in Japan. These virtual SIMS can be ordered online from your mobile phone before or during your trip – no small fidgety SIM required! The quick process means you’ll be updating your status and uploading your latest selfie within 5 minutes of registering! E-SIMs for Japan can be ordered from the following sites:

*Note: Make sure your phone is compatible with E-SIMS! Many older phones (pre-2019) will not work with virtual SIMS.*

Other Options for SIM cards in Japan

As Japan uses 3G as its main network, some international phones may not receive a signal. In this case, another option is to rent a Japanese phone. These can be pre-ordered online and are far cheaper than the Voice and Data SIM cards.

For those who opt for a prepaid SIM card, make sure to unlock your phone before entering Japan!

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