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Sim Free Phone Question


I few questions. I have read related posts but did not see an answer. So I am planning to buy a sim free iPhone 7 plus at the apple store in Fukuoka. I am probably going to go with IIJmio so a few questions about them. I plan on living in Japan for a few years so looking for a long term sim.

  1. Is it possible to get my phone set up through IIJmio with no residence card, only my passport? I do have a bank account and an address (should be getting my residence card in a few weeks).

  2. Is getting the IIJmio sim card as easy as going to Yodobashi Camera or I think it’s called Bic Camera to purchase the card and getting help from a worker there to set it up?

  3. If I do the set up myself, do I have to do it online in Japanese only?

  4. Will I need a Japanese credit card or will my American Visa or Master Card work?

  5. If I do end up using my American credit card, will future payments have to be deducted from there or will I be able to pay locally with cash?

  6. I checked prices posted on the article here that compares prices and was a bit confused so I went on their website and was unsure of the prices there too because it’s all in Japanese. I believe, according to their website, they are charging 2,250 yen per month for 24 month contract, talk and data. For 25 months and up, it goes down to 1,600 yen per month. Can someone confirm this? And what is the cancellation fee?

  1. No. Unless you want a prepaid SIM - which are mostly designed for tourists. An alternative is Mobal who will give you a SIM without a residence card - the monthly prices are a little higher though
  2. Yes. And Yodobashi/Bic Camera are separate chains :slight_smile:
  3. Yes. Alternatives are Mobal or Sakura Mobile if you want English
  4. Try it. I’ve used non-Japanese credit cards without any issues for Japanese SIM contracts. Others have reported problems.
  5. You can change your payment method later, but they will likely want either credit card or direct debit from your bank account. Some of the other providers (not IIJmio I think) have more flexible payment options - such as convenience store payment.
  6. On the MVNO sites there are lots more options than what we have on the Tokyo Cheapo article - but most of those are free phone + SIM contracts so they need to tie you in for 24 months. I would recommend strongly not to get locked into a 24 month contract - especially with Softbank, Docomo, AU et al. - the penalties for cancelling are severe and the contracts renew a month after they finish and so do the cancellation fees. The market is changing quite quickly so if you have a relatively short term contract you can easily switch to a better deal. Exact cancellation fees vary by carrier but can be up to 24,000yen. Usually this reduces by 1,000yen for each month that you have the contract - so after 6 months, you pay 18,000yen to end your contract. I personally prefer the providers that have a zero to 6 months cancellation period.


Thanks CheapoGreg. For #1, It can be done without a residence card with Sakura Mobile as well, but they will initially give you a complimentary data only sim card while you wait for your documents, and then switch over to data plus voice