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How to get a SIM card in Japan for foreign phones

Editor's Note: This post was written before the beginning of time. The contents may no longer be relevant or accurate. Please investigate thoroughly before taking any advice or embarking on any adventures based on the information herein. 

So you’ve decided that you want to keep your original phone from your country and only get a sim card in Japan. Use this handy guide to get yourself set up!

I’ve been using IIJmio which is one of several options. You can check on your phone company’s website to see if your phone will be compatible with NTT Docomo’s network or check here! Requesting the sim card took me about 5 minutes with the help of Google translate: I don’t know any Japanese! They have data only plans, SMS + data, and a calling, SMS, data plan. I have the last where you pay per minute of call and to send text. You can tether for free. You can cancel whenever you’d like. Extra data also rolls over. The prices before tax:

What you will need:an unlocked phone
a credit card (I used my US one)
clear pictures of the front and back of your resident card
use my referral code for 10% extra data: 331 1390 5254 5764

Signing up for the sim card:This is the process for buying from the IIJmio website. You can also get the sim card via amazon or at BIC Camera.

1) Go to the IIJmio website. Click on the sim card, then select the first option for a sim with calling capability.

2) Scroll to the bottom of the page and select the green button.

3) First you must make a mio ID so select the green button on the left.

4) You haven’t bought the sim card yet so select the left, green option.

5) Scroll down and you’ll see a bunch of agreement text. Select the box, I agree, and click the green button.

6) Now you have to make your selections:

Plan – 3, 5, or 10 GB per month

Function – pink one if you want calling, blue is data only, green is data and SMS. It’ll ask if you want a new phone number or to transfer one so select the first box for a new number.

Sim card or/and phone – the pink box for just the sim card

Sim card size – My Samsung Galaxy S4 uses a microSim which most newer phones do.

No extras for me. Then select the green button.

7) Now you have to input all your personal info. I didn’t add my middle name anywhere. At the end you can click the green box to continue.

8) Next page will be an email confirmation page. They will send a four digit code to your email that you will have to input within 30 minutes back at the IIJMIO website.

9) Two minutes later, I got my mioID email titled “please confirm your mioID” but you don’t need to do anything, but keep your ID. I also got a thank you for your order email at the same time. The third email “本人確認書類画像のご提出について” was about submitting your identification documents.

10) Login here using the Login ID from that last email. A string of numbers and letters that have your mioID in it (crossed out in red in the pic) and the password: your 8-digit date of birth (example: January 1, 1980 → 19800101)

11) Upload the images of your documents on the next screen. Open the terms and agreements in the green area before being able to check the checkbox.

12) Next it’ll show what you uploaded and examples of bad photos.

The drop down box will ask you what type of evidence you uploaded. I have selected residence card. Hit next to go to your second photo, select the same residence card box, and then hit confirm, the second option at the bottom.

13) After completing the image upload, I got a confirmation email: 本人確認書類画像受付完了のご連絡. Four hours later I got the email 本人確認完了のご連絡 saying my images were confirmed and that it would take about a week to deliver.

14) Two days later I got the ready to start email with the details of my plan and tracking number for the sim card. And it was delivered the next day. The whole process took 3 days for me.

Putting in the sim card:

You should turn your phone off and put the sim card in. After turning your phone on, if your phone isn’t unlocked, it’ll ask you for your unlock code. Input that if needed.

In order to get data, I then had to configure my phone’s settings. It immediately said NTT Docomo on the top so I knew I got service. This will differ from phone to phone.

Settings – More networks – Mobile networks – Access Point Names

If IIJmio is listed, just select it, otherwise add a new APN using the plus sign and enter the following info:

User name
Authentication type

15) Then I had to restart my phone again, and ta-da, 4G LTE was working.

Note: I did this with a Samsung Galaxy S4, American AT&T model.
With different models of phones, this last step will vary quite a bit.

Reposted with permission from Another World’s Shore.

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One thought on “How to get a SIM card in Japan for foreign phones

  1. Sabrina was nice enough to help me setup my IIJmio account last year (Dec. 2015).
    I was a little skeptical at first. I thought “This is too good to be true… I pay less than $20 and get 3GB of data?!” Meanwhile, my friends had paid $600+ for their Japanese iPhone6 (or whatever it was) and then were paying $80 – $100 for service each month! And, I myself was paying MORE for an ancient, dinosaur flipphone that didnt work at all.. What a waste of money! Switch to IIJmio! >.<

    Switching to IIJmio took about 10 min… looking through the website and entering all my information. It was SO EASY! 😀

    Then, within 1 WEEK a package arrived with my SIM card. I put it in my phone (I have an Android Galaxy 5 from America). Changed a couple settings. And, INSTANTLY my phone was working. I could use LINE, FB, make calls, send texts, watch Netflix, everything! 😀 It was great!

    I've never paid more than ¥2000 in a month, even the times that my phone said I went over 3GB of data.. maybe because UNUSED DATA rolls over into the next month?..

    I have loved IIJmio and haven't had any problems. I'm so mad that I wasted my time when I first came to Japan, trying to buy a flipphone with prepaid card.. thinking it was going to be cheap.. it was a waste of time. Why didn't anyone recommend this to me before?! IIJmio is great! I really recommend you trying it!

    Also, I believe INCOMING calls/texts are FREE. You ONLY pay for OUTGOING calls/texts. And, if anyone is concerned about that.. well, I've been in Japan for over 1 year now and NEVER needed to make a call or send a text from my phone. I use LINE or FB. You really don't need to worry about the plan only being for Data, imo.

    Thank you, Sabrina for the incredibly detailed, clear, step-by-step guide!!! 🙂 And, thank you for helping me get IIJmio.


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