Welcome Suica IC Card

How to Get a Suica IC Card in 2024

For now, JR is issuing Suica IC cards at Narita and some major stations in Tokyo. You can also get a Welcome Suica card at Haneda, but those days are numbered. We’ll tell you how to get an IC card for your next trip to Japan.


Suica IC Card Suspension

The physical Suica IC card is dead! Well, it was in 2023 and its days are probably limited.

In August 2023, JR stopped issuing physical Suica cards. The cards still exist and work, but new ones weren’t being issued.

Welcome Suica IC Card

Welcome Suica IC Card

Sales of the Welcome Suica card were halted at Narita Airport in December 2023. As of the date of writing this article, you can still get a Welcome Suica card at Haneda Airport, but I’m confident that this will end in the very near future. The Pasmo Passport cards will be discontinued from August 2024.

Chip Shortage

If you’re a frequent Japan visitor, like us, then you probably have a Suica IC card or two. You most likely even have a Pasmo, an Icoca, a Manaca, or any of the other IC card variations tucked away in your travel pouch.

Before COVID-19 turned the world on its head, we could stop at any designated ticket machine, throw in a small sum of money and walk away with a brand new IC card. It was even possible to get it with your very own name written on it.

Unfortunately, those days are long gone. JR, and many of the other IC card distributors, have stopped issuing new cards due to a chip shortage.

If you have an old IC card, great! You can go to a ticket machine and recharge it, and use it to your heart’s content.

Suica IC Card Tourist Loophole

Japan Rail currently sells regular Suica cards to individuals entering Japan on a tourist visa. They limit it to one card per person, and you can purchase it only at select stations.

Where to Get Your Suica IC Card

You can pick up your IC card at the JR East Travel Service Centers at Narita Airport Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. If the airport isn’t convenient for you, you can also get it at Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, and Ueno stations.

JR East Travel Service Center at Ueno Station

JR East Travel Service Center at Ueno Station

You can get a card for 1,000 or 2,000 yen, only in cash. Keep in mind that 500 yen goes toward a deposit for the card. So, if you start your card with an initial payment of 2,000 yen, then your card will have 1,500 yen available for use. Naturally, you can put more money on the card at any designated JR ticket machine.

Document Presented by Staff Upon Purchase

Document Presented by Staff Upon Purchase

Card and Deposit Return

The IC card is valid for 10 years, so you can use again and again every time you come back to Japan. However, if you know you’ll never be back, and you have no friends or family that will venture to Japan, you can turn the card in at a JR Ticket office and get your deposit back.

If your card has more than 220 yen on it, JR will charge a 220 yen fee to get any money back. For example, if you have 1000 yen on the card when you return it, you’ll get 780 yen + your 500 yen deposit for a total of 1,280 yen.

Suica Return Deposit Machine at Narita Airport Terminal 2

Suica Return Deposit Machine at Narita Airport Terminal 2

We spotted a Suica return deposit machine at Narita Airport Terminal 2 this past spring.

Remember that JR limits you to one card per person, and numbers are limited. It’s my understanding that this program will end once they sell out of IC cards.

Skip the Lines

For those of you traveling to Japan for the first time, you may have read that it’s a good idea to get a Suica, or Welcome Suica, card upon arrival. And it is a good idea, if you don’t have an iPhone.

The whole process of getting the card at Haneda Airport can be a bit of a hassle. The only place to get one is at a kiosk in Terminal 3, and the line is always extremely long.

Welcome Suica Machine at Haneda Airport

Welcome Suica Machine at Haneda Airport

So, if you’ve got an iPhone, then I recommend skipping that line and activating a Suica IC card right on your phone. It’s so much easier, and you can do it before you even step foot in Japan.

Having the Suica on your iPhone means no fumbling around for a physical card and no worry of misplacing it, or even worse, losing it. Just tap and go with your trusty smartphone. Plus, you can load it up with funds ahead of time, so you’re good to go the moment you touch down.

Having a Suica card on your iPhone will save you time and hassle. You’ll enjoy smooth, seamless transit from the moment you arrive.

Advantages of a Suica on Your iPhone

The advantages of having a Suica IC card on your iPhone are clear and compelling.

The biggest advantage is that you’re far less likely to lose your Suica card when it’s stored securely on your phone. No more frantically searching for a misplaced card or worrying about it falling out of your pocket or wallet.

Suica On iPhone and Apple Watch

Suica on iPhone and Apple Watch

Another great benefit is that you can easily keep track of your usage and balance through Apple Wallet. No more guessing how much is left on your card or having to check at a ticket kiosk. With a tap, you can easily top up, and you’ll always know exactly how much you have to spend.

The biggest drawback, with both the Welcome Suica and the digital Suica, is that you can’t get any unused funds back. So, you’ll need to spend all the funds you put on the card, or save it for your next trip to Japan.

How to Add a Suica to Your iPhone


Adding a Suica card to your iPhone is a relatively seamless process. To get started, ensure your phone meets these key requirements.

First and foremost, you’ll need an Apple ID that you’ve used to sign in on your device.

Next, your device must be an iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus (or later model) running the latest version of iOS.

Step by Step Instructions

  1. Open the Wallet app and tap the add (+) button.
  2. Tap Transit Card.
  3. Choose the Suica Card.
  4. Tap Continue.
  5. Select an amount to put on the card and tap Add.
  6. Follow the steps on the screen to confirm your purchase and add your Suica card.

If you need help, visit the Apple Support website for more information.

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