Visitors to Japan can purchase and use prepaid voice and data SIM cards in Japan. Here are all the details you need to do so.
- Note: b Mobile has stopped selling their PAY G SIM. So, for now, we recommend getting a regular data-only SIM without voice. For full details, visit our How To Buy A SIM Card In Tokyo page
- b-mobile offers a prepaid voice/data SIM for visitors to Japan.
- The SIM is called the PAYG SIM.
- You can order it online and have it delivered to your hotel in Japan OR
- You can purchase it at Yodobashi Camera shops in Japan.
- After purchase, you must submit scans of your passport photo page, proof of address and your entry stamp to Japan in order to use the SIM.
- The PAYG SIM offers 3GB of data, 60 minutes of calls and is valid for one week.
- You can also purchase a Japan SIM card online to pick up on arrival at Narita, Haneda or Osaka airports.
- Until recently, it was impossible for visitors to Japan to purchase prepaid voice SIM cards. The best way for visitors to get their own phone number was to rent a phone or use their own phone and risk exorbitant roaming charges.
- This situation changed in 2014 when b-mobile introduced the PAYG SIM prepaid voice/data SIM card. It’s a bit fiddly to purchase and use, but if you’re determined, see below for full details. If not, skip to the end of this page for links to my pages on prepaid data-only SIM cards, and pocket wifi or cellphone rental in Japan.
Where to Purchase PAYG SIM cards
There are three ways/places to purchase these PAYG SIMs:
- Directly from the b-mobile site.
- At Yodobashi Camera stores in Japan.
- At the Hyatt Regency or Kyoto Royal Hotel and Spa in Kyoto.
- If you order the SIM online, it will be sent to a physical address in Japan that you specify (usually your first night’s hotel). If you purchase it from a store or hotel in Japan, you just carry it out of the shop. After receiving the card, you must do the following:
- Login to the b-mobile user site and enter the SIM details of the card and upload a scan of your passport photo page. If your passport photo page does not show your legal address (and most don’t), you’ll have to upload another form of identification that shows your legal address (a driver’s license etc) in addition to your passport photo page.
- On the activation date (that you specify when you purchase the SIM), b-mobile will send you an email saying the card is ready to use. Insert the card into your phone and set the APN settings.
- Login to the b-mobile user site and upload the same scan of your passport and proof of address, along with a scan of your entry stamp to Japan. This must be done within 24 hours of arrival. If you purchase the card inside Japan, you must do this within 24 hours of the activation date.
Needless to say, this rather troublesome process will put off many potential purchasers. In fact, you REALLY have to want your own phone number in order to do this. For most people, it is MUCH easier to do one of the following:
- Buy a prepaid data-only SIM and make calls using Skype. For details, see my How to Buy a SIM Card in Tokyo page.
- Rent a phone and/or a pocket wifi (pocket router). For details, see my How to Buy a Prepaid iPhone SIM Card in Japan page.
Tokyo Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Tokyo guide
- Check Tokyo accommodation availability and pricing on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Tokyo
- You can buy a Japan SIM card online for collection on arrival at Tokyo Narita or Haneda airports. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Compare airline flight prices and timings for the best Japan flight deals.
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here's why it's worth it
- A prepaid Suica card makes travelling around Tokyo much easier - here's how
- Get essential travel insurance for Tokyo – World Nomads is well-regarded (and here's why)