The Welcome Suica for Foreigners Visiting Japan

Welcome Suica for Foreigners Visiting Japan

JR East started to sell a special IC card for visitors to Japan called Welcome Suica on September 1, 2019. Have you used it before? Where can you buy it? Where and how to charge it? How it differs from a regular Suica card? Read this article and know more about Welcome Suica!

Welcome Suica Mobile: The Convenient App Version of Welcome Suica

Red Suica「Welcome Suica」

Welcome Suica

From:JR East

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The design of the ‘Welcome Suica’ card differs from the standard green Suica card, featuring a red and white pattern. The red color symbolizes the sun, while the white represents cherry blossoms, both of which are also the colors of the Japanese flag.

In terms of functionality, there is no distinction between the red Suica card and the green Suica card. Both can be swiped to enter stations directly and used as electronic payment cards for purchases at locations where Suica cards are accepted.

To recharge, you have the option to add 1,000 yen, 2,000 yen, 3,000 yen, 4,000 yen, 5,000 yen, or 10,000 yen at ticket vending machines and other locations.

From:JR East

When applying for the Red Suica Card, unlike the Green Suica Card, there is no need to pre-deposit 500 yen. Instead, the entire amount you recharge for the first time can be used as fare or shopping money.

Additionally, the regular Suica card typically does not have an expiration date and can be used indefinitely. It only becomes invalidated if not used for ten years. In contrast, the red Suica card, known as ‘Welcome Suica,’ has a validity period of 28 days from the first swipe and will be automatically deactivated on the 28th day. Visitors can certainly take this card home as a souvenir of their visit to Japan.

 Updated on July 1st, 2024 Japan discontinued the sale of registered/unregistered Suica and registered/unregistered Pasmo cards on June 8, 2023, and August 2, 2023, respectively.
As of January 12, 2024, foreign tourists can purchase unregistered Suica cards (the green regular version) at JR East Japan Travel Service Centers (駅たびコンシェルジュ) located in Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, or Ueno stations.
Buying A Suica card in Tokyo: Suica Card Revival from 2024?
The red Welcome Suica card, exclusively for visitors to Japan, is sold at Haneda Airport Terminal 3.
Can I Use ICOCA Card in Tokyo? Is ICOCA Accepted in the Kanto Region?
Suspension of Suica and Pasmo Physical Cards: Use Mobile Suicafor Cardless Travel

Where to apply for “Welcome Suica”

Updated on Jan 12, 2024
Welcome Suica, the red-colored suica card exclusively for travelers visiting Japan, will have purchase restrictions from August 2, 2023, regarding purchase locations and quantity limits.

【Welcome Suica Purchase Locations】

Station staffed by “駅たびコンシェルジュ” at Haneda Airport Terminal 3 Station.
Dedicated machines for Welcome Suica at Haneda Airport  Terminal 3 Stations.
【Welcome Suica Purchase Restriction】
Limited to 1 card per person.

Special Note:

“Welcome Suica” cards are exclusively available for purchase at Terminal 3 of Haneda Airport in Tokyo and are not sold at the Terminal 1.

If you intend to buy a Welcome Suica card, ensure you select a route to Haneda Airport for purchase. Once you’re in the Tokyo city area, you won’t have the opportunity to purchase the Welcome Suica card. (However, you can still purchase the regular green Suica card.)

Welcome Suica Card NOT Available in Narita Airport

Unfortunately, Welcome Suica cards are not available for purchase at Narita Airport. However, travelers needing a Welcome Suica card can easily obtain one by flying into Haneda Airport instead.

If you’re landing at Narita and require a Welcome Suica card for seamless travel across Japan, consider arriving at Haneda instead. Haneda Airport offers convenient access to Welcome Suica cards, allowing travelers to quickly acquire the necessary transportation pass upon arrival. With a Welcome Suica card in hand, navigating Japan’s extensive public transportation system becomes hassle-free, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable travel experience from the moment you touch down. Whether you’re exploring Tokyo’s vibrant cityscape or venturing beyond to other regions, having a Welcome Suica card offers convenience and flexibility for your journey.

How to Charge a Welcome Suica card

Charging a Welcome Suica card is a straightforward process similar to topping up a regular Suica card. At JR stations, travelers can find automated ticket machines conveniently located throughout the station. Simply insert your Welcome Suica card into the designated slot on the machine and follow the on-screen instructions to add funds to your card. These machines provide a user-friendly interface, making it easy for travelers to navigate the charging process even if they’re unfamiliar with Japanese.

The pink machine on the right is used to recharge the both Suica and Welcome Suica card.

Alternatively, travelers can also recharge their Welcome Suica cards at station staffed ticket counters, known as “Midori no Madoguchi,” where attendants are available to assist with any inquiries or assistance needed. Additionally, many convenience stores in Japan offer Suica card charging services, providing travelers with multiple options to replenish their card balance.

Whether you opt for the automated ticket machines, station staff assistance, or convenience store charging services, topping up your Welcome Suica card is a simple and convenient task, ensuring you have sufficient funds for your travels across Japan.

Notes on the red Suica card “Welcome Suica”

No Need for Deposit but No refund of balance

The Welcome Suica does not require a 500 yen advance deposit, but it also does not refund the remaining balance. In other words, the balance of the card will not be refunded either before or after the expiration of the Red Suica Card.

Therefore, it is important to use up the remaining balance on your Red Suica Card before it expires in order not to lose out.

The recharge amount is limited to 1,000 yen

When you recharge your  Welcome Suica, you can only recharge from

  • 1,000 JPY
  • 2,000 JPY
  • 3,000 JPY
  • 4,000 JPY
  • 5,000 JPY
  • 10,000 JPY

You can choose to recharge within this thousand amount, but not for example 1,500 yen.

The balance limit is 20,000 yen

If you have more cash and wish to reload all of it to your Red Suica Card, you should note that there is a balance limit on the Red Suica Card.

Even if you have 30,000 yen, you can only load up to 20,000 yen.

Valid for 28 Days and No renewal after expiration

The Red Suica Card “Welcome Suica” is only valid for 28 days. If you stay in Japan for more than 28 days, you can only apply for a new card after the Red Suica Card expires, and you cannot renew your old card.

You must bring a Reference Paper with you when you use Welcome Suica

A Reference Paper will be delivered with the Red Suica Card.

From:JR East

You can check the validity period of your Welcome Suica card, information about your discount ticket, etc., on the Reference Paper that you receive when you purchase the card. (This information will not be displayed on the Welcome Suica card itself.)

Always carry this Reference Paper around with you, and show it to the staff if they ask to see it.

You may also want ot read: Welcome Suica vs Suica: What’s the Difference?

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