Getting connected

Can I Use My Cell Phone in Japan? Here’s how to get local phone service and data with JP Smart Call

Having a local phone number is indispensable to setting up your life in Japan. This is because it’s almost impossible to look for a job or apply for an apartment in Japan without one. Landlords and real estate agents in Japan generally require that you provide a Japanese phone number on rental applications, not just an email address or Skype ID.

However, it’s not cheap or easy to get a cell phone in Japan. As we’ve discussed in other posts, some of the major Japanese carriers now offer “no contract” cell phone plans, but the price of not signing up for a two-year contract is usually an eye-popping fee for even a basic calling plan.

So how can you get a local phone number without locking yourself into a long-term contract or paying an arm and a leg?

JP Smart Call

One excellent budget-conscious option is JP Smart Call.

You may have heard of JP Smart Sim, which we discussed in a previous post. JP Smart Call, brought to you by the same company (JP Mobile), is an extension of the JP Smart Sim service.

JP Smart Call is a SIM card service that will enable you to use your cell phone to make voice calls and download data, without having to sign a long-term contract.

What makes JP Smart Call Different?

There are other companies in Japan that offer SIM cards for converting your phone into one that can access local voice and data service. So what makes JP Smart Call different?

With JP Smart Call:

  1. You do not have to sign a long-term contract.
    • Other SIM card companies usually require a 3-month minimum contract while there is no minimum contract period if you use JP Smart CALL.
    • You do not have to pay a termination fee when you stop using the service.
  1. You do not need a credit card or bank account to use the service.
    • You can pay the service fee at most convenience stores in Japan.
  1. You just need a Residence Card to apply.
    1. With a valid Residence Card (with an expiration date at least 30 days from your application date), registration can be done online and takes about one minute.
    2. Your shipping address must be the same as the address on your Residence Card.

Pricing

JP Smart Call offers very competitive pricing for its bundled voice and data plans.

With the following plans, you’ll get a local phone number, domestic calls charged at 20 JPY per 30-second call, plus data. You can also send text messages at a rate of 3 JPY per message for domestic and 100 JPY per message for international texting. International voice calls are not available.

There is a flat one-time 3000 JPY contract commission (registration) fee. The monthly basic charge depends on the amount of data usage you sign up for.

  • Voice + 3GB data: 2,480JPY per month
  • Voice + 6GB data: 3,280JPY per month
  • Voice + 12GB data: 4,480JPY per month
  • Voice + 20GB data: 5,980JPY per month

On top of the basic charge, you’ll be charged for voice calls and text messages as described above.

All prices above do not include consumption tax. Consumption tax is currently 8%.

Payment can be made with a credit card, AliPlay, WeChat, and at convenience stores, among other options.

If you go over your data limit, you can buy additional data for 800JPY per GB.

There is no minimum contract period and no termination fee.

Features

JP Smart Call offers a lot of great features and freebies.

  • FREE first-month basic charge. For example, if you apply on May 5th, the basic charge from May 5th to 31st will be zero.
  • FREE delivery. The SIM card will be delivered free of charge to your address anywhere in Japan.
  • You’ll be able to start using the service as early as the day after you submit your online application.
  • Multilingual  (English, Chinese Vietnamese) customer support.
  • NTT Docomo network coverage throughout Japan.

How to apply

Applying for the JP Smart Voice service is simple.

  1. Apply online
    • Fill in the online application and upload (front+back sides) photo of your Residence Card.
  1. Complete payment
    • Complete the first payment. The first payment includes the contract commission (registration) fee and monthly charge for the next month.
  1. Receive SIM card
    • SIM card delivery is free of charge to anywhere in Japan within 2 days after your initial payment has been completed and your residence card photo has been uploaded together with a fully correct Japanese address (with building name and room number, etc…).
  1. Starting using the service
    • Service is usable as soon as setup is completed.

For more information and to apply

For more information and to apply for the service, please visit JP Smart Voice.