カテゴリーのアイコン Life in Japan
Steps to Obtain a SIM Card in Japan for Foreign Nationals
Nov 27, 2023
6 min read
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Foreigners looking to obtain a SIM card in Japan can follow these steps for a seamless experience:

Step 1. Research Available Options

Start by researching and comparing different mobile network providers in Japan to find the one that best suits your needs. In addition to popular options like NTT Docomo, SoftBank, and KDDI, consider lesser-known providers like Sakura Mobile, Mobal, IIJmio, Docomo World SIM, and Rakuten Mobile, which cater specifically to foreigners.

Step 2. Choose SIM Card Provider

When comparing SIM cards in terms of suitability for foreigner users in Japan, here is a breakdown of these providers:

NTT Docomo: NTT Docomo is one of the largest mobile network providers in Japan. While they primarily cater to domestic users, they also offer services for foreign visitors. Docomo has a range of SIM card options, including the Docomo World SIM specifically designed for short and long-term foreign visitors.

SoftBank: SoftBank is another major mobile network provider that offers SIM card options for foreign visitors. They have various voice and data plans tailored to the needs of travelers and residents. SoftBank provides English-language support and their SIM cards come with simple activation procedures.

KDDI: KDDI, operating under the brand name au, is known for its comprehensive coverage and services. While they primarily serve the domestic market, they offer SIM card options for foreign visitors as well. KDDI provides English customer support and offers various plans suitable for short and long-term stays.

Sakura Mobile: Sakura Mobile is a popular choice among foreigners in Japan. They offer flexible SIM card options for both short-term and long-term stays. Sakura Mobile provides reliable coverage, English customer support, and offers data-only plans as well as voice + data plans.

Mobal: Mobal is known for its SIM cards with voice and data services tailored to the needs of both short-term visitors and long-term residents. They offer plans with unlimited data and calling options, making it convenient for users with extensive usage requirements. Mobal provides English customer support for foreign customers.

IIJmio: IIJmio is a favorable option for foreigners in Japan due to their affordable prepaid SIM card offerings. They have various data allowances and durations suitable for short-term and long-term visitors. IIJmio offers competitive rates, extensive coverage, and additional services such as English customer support.

Rakuten Mobile: Rakuten Mobile provides SIM cards with voice and data services for both short-term travelers and long-term residents. They offer affordable plans with generous data allowances. While they primarily serve the domestic market, their SIM cards are suitable for foreign users as well.

Step 3. Short-Term vs. Long-Term

Determine the duration of your stay in Japan and choose a SIM card type accordingly. Prepaid SIM cards are an excellent choice for shorter stays or if you're uncertain about your usage. They offer flexibility with top-up options and no long-term commitments. If you plan to stay in Japan long-term, consider postpaid plans that often offer better rates and additional services.

Step 4. Visit a Mobile Network Provider Store


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Once you've identified the provider and SIM card type you prefer, visit one of their stores. These stores are typically located in major cities and tourist areas for easy access.

Step 5. Required Documents

When purchasing a SIM card in Japan, foreigners typically need to provide both their passport and their residence card (or resident card, also known as "zairyu card").

The passport is required for identification purposes and to verify your immigration status in Japan. It serves as proof of your identity and shows that you are legally present in the country.

The residence card is necessary to confirm your residential address in Japan. It contains important information such as your name, address, and visa status. Mobile network providers may require this card as part of their registration process to ensure compliance with local regulations.

It's important to note that specific requirements may vary among providers, so it's always recommended to check with your chosen provider in advance to confirm the necessary documents needed for purchasing a SIM card.

In some cases, such as for short-term visitors or tourists, a residence card may not be required when purchasing a SIM card in Japan. Only a passport may be sufficient as identification. However, requirements can vary depending on the mobile network provider and the type of SIM card chosen, so it's best to check with the specific provider for their requirements.

Step 6. Select a Plan and Sign a Contract

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Engage with a representative at the store who will assist you in selecting a plan that best suits your requirements. Discuss your preferences for data allowances, calling options, and any other specific needs you may have. The representative will guide you through the available options and help you choose the most appropriate plan. Be prepared to sign a contract for the selected plan.

Step 7. Set Up Your SIM Card

The store representative will assist you in setting up and activating your SIM card. They will insert the SIM card into your phone and configure the necessary settings for you. If you have any questions or face any difficulties during this process, feel free to ask for assistance.

Step 8. Verify Functionality

Once the setup is complete, ensure that your newly installed SIM card is working correctly. Test the ability to make calls, send messages, and access the internet to confirm that everything is functioning as expected.

Ready to Get Sim Card in Japan?

By following these steps, foreigners can easily obtain a SIM card in Japan and enjoy seamless connectivity throughout their time in the country. Remember to explore different providers, consider your specific requirements, and ask for assistance when needed to make the best choice for your needs.

When choosing SIM card provider as a foreigner in Japan, consider aspects such as coverage, pricing, data allowances, customer support, and additional features.


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