Buying a SIM Card at Tokyo Narita Airport (NRT): Travelers Guide

Arriving at Tokyo Narita Airport (NRT) can be an overwhelming experience for travelers. With signs in Japanese everywhere, buying a local SIM card for your phone can seem daunting. But it doesn’t have to be! This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about getting connected with a SIM card at Tokyo Narita Airport.

I. Should You Buy a SIM Card at Tokyo Narita Airport?

Tokyo Narita Airport

Yes, buying a SIM card at Tokyo Narita Airport is a good option to consider for the ease and mobility it provides during your travels in Japan. Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether to buy a SIM card at Tokyo Narita Airport:

  • Convenience – Buying a SIM at the airport is very convenient as you can activate it right away and have data/calls on your first day in Japan. You don’t need to search for a SIM store later.
  • Cost – SIMs at the airport may be a bit more expensive than ones purchased elsewhere. Make sure to compare prices. SoftBank and Docomo often have good airport deals though.
  • Options – Airports usually have major carriers like SoftBank, Docomo, and AU available. You’ll have lots of prepaid data/calling plans to choose from.
  • Coverage – The big three Japanese carriers all have excellent coverage nationwide so you’re covered wherever you travel in Japan.
  • Onward Travel – If you’re continuing your trip after Tokyo, a SIM bought at the airport lets you use data/calls right away rather than waiting until your next destination.
  • Savings – You may save money in the long run with a monthly postpaid SIM rather than multiple short-term prepaid SIMs throughout your trip.

So in summary – for ultimate convenience at a small premium, buying at the airport makes sense. But you can probably find slightly better deals if you don’t mind a small trip into town later. Major carriers are good options either way.

II. Where to Buy a SIM Card at Narita Airport?

Whether you’re just passing through Japan or spending extended time in the country, getting a SIM card at Tokyo Narita Airport allows you to connect right away without having to search in the city for one later.

1. Buy online before departure and pick up at the airport

You can purchase items online at various retailers offering “pre-order and pick-up” services at Narita Airport. You select and pay for products online before your flight, and then collect them at a designated counter after clearing departure procedures.

  • Pros: Convenience, Potentially wider selection, Time-saving, Duty-free benefits
  • Cons: Limited availability, Pick-up restrictions, Cancellation/return complexities, Product limitations, Inventory Concerns

2. Buy SIM Card at Tokyo Narita Airport upon arrival

If you didn’t preorder, there are plenty of SIM card kiosks and vending machines inside both domestic and international arrival areas at Narita Airport. Major providers like Mobal, TravelSIM, Japan Travel SIM, and many local SIM card companies have desks located before the customs exit or in the main halls.

2.1. SoftBank Counter 

SoftBank Counters are in both Narita Airport terminals but only Terminal 1 sells SIM cards. Look for signs directing to mobile carrier counters. Purchase prepaid data-only SIMs or phone number packages without ID, paying by credit card. Data SIMs start at around $10 for 1GB/month. Larger packages lasting 3-6 months also available.

  • Opening hours: 4:30 am – 11:00 pm
  • LocationTerminal 1: Outside customs and quarantine, before you exit into the arrivals area.
SoftBank Counter narita airport
SoftBank Counter at Tokyo Narita Airport
Softbank map store terminal 2 at Narita International Airport
Softbank map store terminal 2 at Narita International Airport
  • Opening hours: 7:00 am – 9:00 pm
  • Location: At Narita International Airport Terminal 2, after passing through baggage claim and customs, head towards the Central Exit in the arrival area. The SoftBank Counter/AnyFone JAPAN store is located near the Central Exit.

2.2. Bic Camera 

While SIM card purchases aren’t explicitly advertised on the Tokyo Narita Airport website, Bic Camera, an electronics store located near the Terminal 2 arrivals hall, offers a good selection of prepaid data SIM cards from major carriers such as SoftBank, AU, and Docomo. Travelers can easily find and purchase a SIM card here upon arriving to have connectivity set up right away as they begin exploring around Tokyo.

  • Opening hours: Daily from 7:30 AM  to 9:00 PM
  • Location: Terminal 2, Main Building, 4th Floor
BIC camera narita airport
BIC Camera at Tokyo Narita Airport
BIC Camera map store at Narita Airport
BIC Camera map store at Narita Airport

2.3. Narita Travel Service Center 

Bic Camera stores located in Terminal 1 Station (1st floor), Terminal 2 Station level 1-1, and Terminal 3 Station (1st floor) sell prepaid data SIM cards from major providers such as SoftBank, Docomo, and AU. Prices typically start around 2,000 yen for a week of coverage, providing visitors with an easy option to set up mobile data upon arrival directly at the airports. These conveniently located Bic Camera shops offer travelers a one-stop spot to purchase SIM cards near their arrival terminals.

  • Opening hours: All Days: 8:30-19:00
  • Location: There are 2 locations:
    • JR EAST Travel Service Center – Narita Airport Terminal 1
    • JR EAST Travel Service Center – Narita Airport Terminal 2·3
Narita Travel Service Center
Narita Travel Service Center

2.4. 7-Eleven 

For a more budget-friendly option, the 24-hour 7-Eleven convenience stores located within Narita Airport Terminals 1, 2, and 3 also offer prepaid SIM cards from SoftBank, Docomo, and AU. SIMs providing 7 days of data can be purchased for around 3,000 yen. The ubiquitous 7-Eleven stores provide affordable SIM access on-site near each terminal.

  • Opening hours: 24 hours
  • Location: 
    • Terminal 1: Landside on the 1st floor, near the arrivals exits. Follow signs for “Bus Terminal”.
    • Terminal 2: Landside on the 1st floor, near the West exits and bus stop area.

Buying airside upon arrival means you can use the SIM card at Tokyo Narita Airport right after exiting customs. No need to clear immigration, recheck luggage, and exit the airport first. Just decide how much data you need, pick up a card from the closest provider kiosk, and stay connected.

Narita Airport 7-11
Narita Airport 7-11

2.5. Vending Machine

Near arrivals at Narita Airport terminals 1 and 2, Bic Camera vending machines sell prepaid SIM cards from SoftBank, AU, and Docomo. 7-Eleven and Lawson outside have basic SIM cards. Standalone vending machines by information offer options from the big 3 carriers. Other coin/bill machines are inside shopping areas. Vending machine prices match stores offering convenient self-service SIM purchases if stores have lines, but Japanese cash is needed.

  • Opening hours: 24 hours
  • Location:
    • Terminal 1: Central Building, 1st Floor – South Wing, 1st Floor – Central Building, Basement 1
    • Terminal 2: Main Building, 1st Floor
    • Terminal 3: Main Building, 1st Floor
Narita airport vending machines
Tokyo Narita Airport SIM card vending machines

III. What to Prepare for Getting a SIM Card at Tokyo Narita Airport – Registration Process

To purchase any SIM card at Tokyo Narita Airport, you will need:

  • Have your passport ready. You will need to show your passport for ID verification. Make sure it’s valid for the duration of your stay.
  • Know which carrier you want. The major carriers at Narita Airport are Docomo, SoftBank, and au. Do some research beforehand on coverage, plans, and features.
  • Check carrier website for required documents. Some carriers may require additional documents like your address in Japan or a copy of your residence card/visa. Have these ready if needed.
  • Know which SIM plan you want. Carriers offer various data, call, and message plans. Pick one that fits your budget and needs. Monthly plans are common.
  • Bring a pen and set aside time. The registration process may take 15-30 minutes as they input your details. Be prepared to fill out forms.
  • Know which payment methods are accepted. Major credit cards are usually accepted but check if your carrier accepts cash as well.
  • Get instructions translated into your language if needed. Staff may not speak English fluently. Scan translated instruction pages beforehand.
  • Consider buying a pocket WiFi. These allow multiple device connections and are more convenient than SIM cards.
  • Test the SIM card at Tokyo Narita Airport as soon as it’s registered to confirm setup and network connectivity.

In all, expect the SIM registration process to take 10-15 minutes if buying airside. If all goes smoothly, you’ll have working mobile data shortly after touchdown in Japan!

IV. Best Tourist Tokyo Narita Airport SIM Card Options and Price

Here are the top recommended SIM card at Tokyo Narita Airport for short-term tourists:

SIM Card Data Allotment Validity Period Price (USD)
B-Mobile International SIM 5-7GB 10-30 days ~$15
eConnect Tourist SIM 5-10GB 30 days ~$32-$46
Rakuten Mobile SIM 3GB 30 days ~¥2980/$22
Sakura Mobile  Unlimited 8-90 days ~$33-$178
SoftBank 5GB 14 days ~¥3480/$26
Mineo 5-20GB Depends on package ~$8-$13

In summary, the most common SIM card options for tourists arriving at Tokyo airports provide 1-3GB of data valid for 7 days, ranging in price from 1,500-3,000 yen. They run on the major networks of Docomo, au, and SoftBank to ensure reliable nationwide coverage during your stay in Japan. Purchasing is convenient at airports or tourist centers.

V. Japan eSIM for Tokyo – an Alternative to Prepaid SIM Card at Tokyo Narita Airport

Japan eSIM
Japan eSIM

If you have an eSIM compatible phone like newer iPhone or Android models, there’s an emerging alternative to physical SIM cards for Japan travel connectivity. Japan eSIMs provide data plans delivered remotely over-the-air to your phone’s built-in eSIM chip. No SIM card pickup required.

Top providers like GIGAGO offer prepaid Japan eSIMs with high-speed data over 30 days. After online purchase, your eSIM plan is instantly downloadable to your phone via app.

Benefits of eSIM for Japan include:

  • No airport pickup logistics
  • Activation any time after arrival
  • Share plans across devices
  • Flexible top-up if you need more data

Downsides are limited provider and device options for now. But as more carriers launch eSIM support, it’s a promising future alternative to physical SIMs cards when visiting Japan.

For most travelers today though, ditch roaming fees in Japan with Japan eSIM from GIGAGO. Get 1GB per day from just $7.50. Purchase online, receive the QR instantly – stay connected everywhere with no SIM swapping.

VI. Where to Buy a SIM Card Outside Tokyo Narita Airport?

If you decide to shop for SIM cards in Tokyo city instead, here are some good options:

1. BIC Camera / Yodobashi Camera

Major electronics retail chains like BIC and Yodobashi Camera have SIM counters located inside many Tokyo stores. You’ll find competitive Japan travel SIM packages from various mobile carriers.

Benefits include browsing many providers in one place and potentially better prices than the airport. Just remember to bring passport and inbound ticket for registration.

BIC Camera Tokyo

2. Mobile Carrier Stores

Shopping at SoftBank, AU, Rakuten Mobile or Docomo official stores lets you buy SIMs directly from Japan’s major phone networks. Though geared at residents, some have English assistance and short-term tourist SIMs too. Expect thorough service.

Rakuten Mobile

3. Don Quijote Discount Stores

At the iconic 24-hour Don Quijote shops found across Tokyo, you can pick up local SIM cards along with everything from souvenirs to snacks. They stock major provider SIMs at low prices.

Wherever you choose to buy in the city, allocate at least 30 minutes for the registration process and be sure to activate your SIM before leaving the store. Then you can connect worry-free.

Don Quijote Discount Store


Can I buy a Japan SIM Card duty-free at Narita Airport?

No duty-free SIM card shopping is available at Narita terminals. All providers are located past customs exit inside arrival halls, not airside shops. You must enter Japan before purchasing voice/data SIM service as a foreign tourist.

How much do SIM cards cost at Narita Airport?

Prepaid mobile data SIM cards at Narita range from around 2,000 to over 5,000 JPY depending on data amounts and validity. With exchange rates, visitors can expect to spend $15 to $50 USD for airport pickup.

Can I use Japan SIM card at Tokyo Narita Airport on iPhone or Android?

Most tourist SIM card providers at Narita Airport offer nano-SIMs compatible with iPhones and Android smartphones. Be sure your device is unlocked to use foreign SIMs. Some stands may also sell adapters to fit different SIM sizes if needed.

Does SIM Card at Tokyo Narita Airport work in Tokyo and nationwide?

Major provider SIM cards purchased at Narita provide coverage throughout Tokyo and Japan. However, some budget picks may only work in eastern Japan around Tokyo. Ask the staff about network coverage if planning to travel far across Japan.

Can I have mobile data right after landing at Narita?

Yes – providers like Mobal and TravelSIM enable you to use data as soon as you finish SIM registration and activate it airside. No need to exit customs and re-enter the airport. Other picks may require exiting and coming landside to complete signup.

VII. Conclusion

Getting a SIM card at Tokyo Narita Airport (NRT) makes staying connected easy after landing. Trusted providers like Mobal, TravelSIM, and Japan Travel SIM offer airport SIM pickup with prepaid data plans. Look for their desks in the arrival halls, and bring your passport and ticket. Choose a data package and you’ll be set within 10-15 minutes. While rates may be slightly higher than in Tokyo, the convenience is worth it for short visits. Get mobile data on arrival rather than wasting time finding stores in the city. Review SIM options in advance for seamless connectivity to explore incredible Tokyo from the start.