Mobile Phone in Japan(1) How to Apply for A Cell Phone Number in Japan? Can I Use My own Cell Phone in Japan?

I believe that after the Covid-19 epidemic, there are many of you who are coming to Japan to study or work. If you have a cell phone, it is very convenient to communicate with others or share your life on SNS. Various software on your cell phone, such as maps or payment tools like paypay, which are commonly used in Japan, also bring a lot of convenience to our life.

So how to apply for a cell phone number in Japan? Will foreigners encounter any trouble when applying? Next, we will give you an introduction.

Types of SIM cards in Japan

First of all, we need to understand the types of SIM cards in Japan.

Generally speaking, there are the following types of SIM cards in Japan.

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  • SIM with data only (音声通話付きSIM)
  • SIM with data,SMS (SMS機能付きSIM)
  • SIM with data,SMS,voice (データ通信専用SIM)

Not all cell phone cards (SIM cards) in Japan have a cell phone number on them. Some SIM cards are written as data-only SIM, which usually have no phone number and can only be used to access the Internet and communicate with others via email, but not to make phone calls or send SMS messages. It is relatively cheaper than a SIM card with a phone number and available to make phone calls.

SIM with data and SMS is a SIM card that supports Internet access through mobile data traffic and can also send/receive SMS messages. This kind of SIM does not have a voice call function, but it comes with a phone number, which is more suitable for people who need a phone number for registration and SMS verification but do not need voice call function. If you still need to chat with friends by voice, you can do so for free with other calling software.

The most expensive of the three types of SIMs is the card that has both a cell phone number and a phone call function. In Japanese, phone call is called “音声通話(onsei tsuwa)” and the usual price is 20 yen per 30 seconds. Some cell phone plans offer free calls for 3-5 minutes per call, while others offer a discounted rate of 10 yen per 30 seconds.

Once you know which SIM card you want to apply for, how do you start the application process?

How to apply for a cell phone number

What you need to prepare

You need to prepare the following items.

  • Identification (such as a resident card, Japanese passport, etc.)
  • A Japanese bank account (deposit slip) or credit card (not limited to Japan)
  • Stamp (can be replaced by signature)
  • Parental consent form (required if under 20 years old)

Do you need to purchase a cell phone together with a SIM card?

Until a few years ago, Japanese cell phone companies usually required the phone and SIM card to be purchased together, and some companies offered a one-yen purchase campaign, but the price was a two-year contract with the phone company, and the phone could only be used with that company’s SIM card in the future. If you need to cancel the phone within two years, you may also face a high termination fee.

But recently, with a series of government policies, Japanese cell phone companies have gradually started to abolish this kind of bullying clause and reduce the monthly cost of cell phones. The company is now able to purchase a phone and a SIM card separately, but if you purchase both a phone and a SIM card from the same provider, you can get certain discounts, so if you have a need to purchase a new phone, you can also consider looking at it.

How to apply for a cell phone number

Generally, there are two processes: going to a store and applying online.

If you go to a store, you can directly tell the staff at the store that you want to apply for a cell phone card, and then they will provide some forms, and after filling them out, you can receive your SIM card and cell phone number on the spot, which is very convenient.

However, it is important to note that sometimes the staff at the store will promote some additional options that are not needed, so you will need to determine which ones are needed and which ones are not.

If you want to apply online, you can go to the official website of each telecommunication company. The advantage is that you can choose the additional options you need, but the disadvantage is that you need to take a picture of your ID and upload it, and you need to wait for the cell phone card to be sent to your home after applying.

Recently, Japan’s three largest cell phone companies DOCOMO, AU and SOFTBANK have launched ONLINE special plans, which are much cheaper than their previous packages, with an average price of 2700-2980 yen and 20GB of high-speed data per month, which is recommended. However, there is only one way to apply for these plans: online. For those who are interested, please refer to this article:

DOCOMO: ahamo
AU/KDDI: povo
ahamo, povo, linemo: When do they start? What are the features? Read before Apply


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CDJapan Rental has a great deal on pocket wifi, with a range of flexible plans starting at ¥187/day.
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