How to Buy and Use Suica (Prepaid contactless smart IC card)

Suica is a must-have item if you’re starting your trip from Tokyo or its suburbs. With this smart card, you can travel seamlessly on public transportation and make payments effortlessly at convenience stores and grocery stores. In this article, we will introduce how to buy and use Suica, as well as which type of Suica card you should choose.

What Is Suica?

Suica is a contactless smart IC card issued by JR East. It is also compatible with JRs in other areas, other private railways, metro (subway), and buses. All you have to do is to touch or hold the card on/over the card reader when you get on and off to complete the payment. There is no need to buy a ticket from a ticket machine. The card is useful not only for transportation but also for paying for shopping. It can be used at convenience stores, kiosks, and large shopping malls. It’s also accepted at vending machines in most stations.

4 Types of Suica

Welcome Suica

  • Special Suica available only for travelers from other countries.
  • No deposit required.
  • One Welcome Suica card—28 days of use.​
    *No refunds can be made, regardless of the validity period status or balance loaded on the card.
  • Check out the website for more information
    Welcome Suica
  • You can still purchase Welcome Suica unlike other types of Suica; however, please note that purchases are limited to one Welcome Suica per person.

Name-Inscribed Suica

  • Register your name, gender, date of birth, and phone number.
  • Your Suica can be reissued if lost.
  • A 500 yen deposit is required for the first purchase.
  • Currently, the provision of Name-Inscribed Suica cards has been temporarily suspended or partially limited due to a global semiconductor shortage. (Since August 2, 2023)

Blank Suica

  • No need to register your information
  • A 500 yen deposit is required for the first purchase.
  • Currently, the provision of blank Suica cards has been temporarily suspended due to a global semiconductor shortage. (Since June 8, 2023)

Mobile Suica App 

  • Mobile Suica is an application that allows you to create new Suica or import physical cards on your smartphone.
  • Credit card registration is required.
  • Available for devices purchased in Japan
    *iPhone devices are available no matter where you purchased them, but you must change the device region to Japan.
  • You can recharge your Suica on your phone. 
  • You can also import your physical Suica to Apple Pay / Google Pay without using Mobile Suica App.

If you are a traveler staying for 28 days or less, I recommend the Welcome Suica; if you are staying for more than 28 days but less than 3 months, I recommend the Blank Suica; and if you are staying for a longer period, I recommend the Name-Inscribed Suica or Mobile Suica.

Where Can I Buy Suica?

Welcome Suica

JR EAST Travel Service Centers located at Narita Airport, Haneda Airport, and major stations in the Tokyo Metropolitan area, JAPAN RAIL CAFE, Sendai Station, or the Welcome Suica card machines at Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station, Tokyo Monorail Haneda Airport Terminal 2 Station, or Tokyo Monorail Haneda Airport Terminal 3 Station.

See also the official website:
Welcome Suica 

Name-Inscribed Suica and Blank Suica

You can purchase it at ticket vending machines and JR Ticket Offices (Midori-no-Madoguchi) in major JR EAST stations (stations where you can use Suica).

Mobile Suica App

For iPhone users:
Mobile Suica (Japanese)
Mobile SuicaEng (English)
*Mobile SuicaEng has fewer features than the Japanese version, but it is sufficient for basic use.

For Android users:
Mobile Suica (Japanese)

How to buy Suica

At ticket vending machines

1. Find the ticket vending machine at the JR station

2. Select your language (Japanese, English, Chinese [Simplified/Traditional], Korean)

3. Select “Purchase new Suica”

4. Select Name-Inscribed Suica or Blank Suica
*If you select Blank Suica, skip to “10”

5. Select “Agree (to the next screen)”, if you agree to the personal information management policy)

6. Enter your “First name” and “Last name” and touch “Confirm”

7. Select your gender and date of birth and touch “Confirm”

8. Enter your telephone number and touch “Confirm”

9. Touch “OK” if the information displayed is correct

10. Select the amount you want to purchase

11. Insert money or credit card

At JR Ticket Offices (Midori-no-Madoguchi)

You can find JR Ticket Offices (Midori-no-Madoguchi) in major stations (stations where you can use Suica). Here, you can communicate with the staff face-to-face.

For Children From 6 to 12 years old

There is a Suica for children that applies child fares. (Valid until March 31 after the child turns 12 years old.) You will need to buy this Suica at the JR Ticket Offices (Midori-no-Madoguchi), as you must show identification showing your age (passport, NIH card, etc.). A family member on children’s IDs can purchase it on their behalf.

How to use Suica


Trains and metros

Touch the automatic ticket gate before and after you take a train.
*The remaining balance of the card will be displayed.


Touch the card reader when you get on and off.
*There are two types of buses: those you board from the front door and those from the rear. Also, on some buses, such as those with a flat fare, you may only need to touch the card reader once when you board.


  • Make sure you see the symbol above at the entrance or near the cash register. If you are unsure, you can ask in simple English, such as “Suica, OK?” 🙂
  • Say “Suica” when you make a payment. 
  • When the cashier says, “Here you go,” or in Japanese, “どうぞ (Dōzo)”, touch your Suica firmly on the card reader until you hear a beep.

Where to Recharge

  • Ticket vending machines
    • Select your language and touch “Charge (Add Value)”
  • JR Ticket Offices (Midori-no-Madoguchi)
  • Convenience stores
    • Ask the cashier to recharge your Suica
      (Suica wo chāji shitai desu.)
  • Mobile Suica App / Apple Pay / Google Pay

How to Get a Refund

You can get a refund when you finish using Suica.
(*Please note that the remaining balance cannot be refunded if you use Welcome Suica.)
You can get a refund at JR Ticket Office (Midori-no-madoguchi) at a JR EAST station (a station where you can use Suica). You will receive the remaining balance and deposit (500 yen) minus the fee (up to 220 yen).

Last but not least, here’s a useful link: JR-EAST GUIDE
This website has information on how to use Suica and other useful knowledge and FAQs for using JR. Have a safe trip!

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