STEP 5-1. LINEMO – Affordable SIM for foreign residents

Welcome to all foreigners living in Japan!

Internet connection is extremely important for living in Japan. We use it for work, to communicate with friends, to get information on where to go, and everything else. You would want to avoid paying too much for it.

Therefore, we would like to introduce “LINEMO,” a low-cost SIM recommended for foreign residents in Japan.

What is a low-cost SIM?

A low-cost SIM is a SIM card with low communication charges. They are cheaper than those of major carriers (telecommunications companies) and are easy to sign up for. A low-cost SIM is inserted into a smartphone or tablet for use.

We recommend “LINEMO” for foreigners living in Japan!

“LINEMO” is one of the most popular low-cost SIMs in Japan. The service started in 2021 and many people are using it now.

LINEMO is operated by “Softbank”, a world-renowned company, so you can use it with peace of mind.

LINEMO is recommended for foreigners residing in Japan because of the following features:

  • You can sign up online! The entire procedure is completed online, and there is no need to visit a branch and speak in Japanese! Don’t worry, we will explain how to sign up for it in this article.
  • You can use foreign-issued credit cards to sign up! You can pay with your credit card brought from your home country. You can sign up for the service without a Japanese bank account or credit card.
  • Rate plans are simple and inexpensive! There are only two rate plans, and you can start using the service for 990 yen a month.
  • eSIM is also available! “Permanent Resident” or “Special Permanent Resident” can choose SIM card or eSIM.

We recommend LINEMO because other low-cost SIM services often require a store visit, do not accept overseas credit cards, and/or have complicated and expensive rate plans!

LINEMO’s Rate Plans

As of August 31, 2023, there are only two rate plans with LINEMO.

Pick one based on the expected data usage.

Additional services available with LINEMO

There are five add-on services available with LINEMO.

Pick ones you would like to add based on your needs.

Free domestic calls under 5 minutes:550 JPY per month

Domestic voice calls under 5 minutes are free. Subscription is required at the time of application.

※ This option can only be added when signing up for the service.

Unlimited domestic calls:1,650 JPY per month

All domestic calls are free.

※ This option can only be added when signing up for the service.

International roaming:0 JPY per month

You can use your phone service when travelling outside of Japan.

※ Sign up is required for this option through My Menu after your service begins (or after 5 months have passed since subscribing to LINEMO in the case that you sign up with a new number).

International calls:0 JPY per month

You can make international calls from Japan.

※ No extra application is needed to use this option. (International calling rates will apply.)

Voicemail:220 JPY per month

This service allows you to check incoming voice call messages and forward calls.

Sign up required for this option through My Menu after your service begins.

Features of LINEMO

5G compatible

The high-speed, high-capacity 5G (new frequency) network is available in limited areas (Japanese Only).

Can be used in all areas of Japan

Through the 5G network of Softbank, LINEMO works everywhere in Japan.

LINE GB Unlimited

The LINE app is the most popular app for exchanging messages in Japan. Download it once you have LINEMO.

Chats, voice calls, video calls and other features of the LINE app do not count towards your data usage.

What You Need to Sign Up


You need a SIM-free or SIM-unlocked smartphone.

LINEMO can check to see if your device works with LINEMO Click on the link below for details.

See Devices that Can Be Used with LINEMO(Japanese ONLY)

How to read the Device Check results

◯ indicates that the particular feature of LINEMO works on your smartphone.

Residence Card or Special Permanent Resident Certificate

The Residence Card or Special Permanent Resident Certificate can be obtained at the airport when you arrive in Japan. If you have not yet arrived in Japan, please go to STEP 1.

Documents you need based on your residence status are as follows:

Group 1:Non-Permanent Residents

  • Residence Card
  • Passport (photo page)

Group 2:Permanent Residents

  • Residence Card

Group 3:Special Permanent Resident

  • Special Permanent Resident Certificate

※ If the last name or address on the identification documents are not up-to-date, you must also upload “Supporting Documents” with the latest information.

  • Certificate of Residence Record (original)
  • Public utility receipts such as electricity, gas, water, and NHK bills

The “subscriber’s address” required at the time of application must meet the following three criteria.

1. The address must be listed on the identification documents.

2. The address must be in Japan.

3. The address must be an address where you can receive mails and packages.

Japanese Phone Number where you can be reached

If there is an issue during the sign up process, we may call this phone number during sign up to confirm the details.

(The call will be in Japanese)

It would be the best if you can provide the phone number of a relative or other person with their approval, but if you cannot, we recommend that you first sign up for another SIM card. This is explained here.

E-mail Address where LINEMO can reach you

A one-time password will be sent to you during the process to verify your email address.

You will also receive notification emails such as the delivery of your SIM and instructions on how to start using the service will be sent to the address/

You can use gmail, Yahoo mail, etc. for this.

Credit Card

A credit card or financial institution account in the same name as the subscriber can be used as a payment method.

VISA, Mastercard, JCB, American Express, and Diners Club credit cards are accepted.

The date when the credit card payment will be processed is based on the terms of the credit card company you use.

Japanese Address that can receive Mails and Packages

The SIM card will be shipped to the address that you specify.(Free shipping)

Address Satisfying the Following Conditions is Required during Application

  1. The address must match the address listed on the identification document (residence card, etc.)
  2. The address can receive mails and packages

※ LINEMO cannot ship to addresses outside of Japan.

3 steps to sign up for LINEMO

Once you have all the necessary documents, follow the instructions below to sign up for LINEMO.


LINEMO STEP 2:Sign up for LINEMO online

LINEMO has prepared the Application Guide for foreign residents.

Follow this guide to complete the sign up process.

Application Guide|Official LINEMO|Low-cost SIM in Japan 3GB/990yen and up

Application Guide|Official LINEMO|Low-cost SIM in Japan 3GB/990yen and up
The LINEMO Application Page supports only Japanese. Please use the instructions in this guide or Google Chrome translations for help in signing up.

LINEMO STEP 3:Complete the initial setup

After you receive your SIM card, follow the Initial Setup Guide below to complete the process.

Initial Setup Guide|Official LINEMO|Low-cost SIM in Japan 3GB/990yen and up

Initial Setup Guide|Official LINEMO|Low-cost SIM in Japan 3GB/990yen and up
This guide explains the setup (initialization) process to be performed after you receive the SIM card from LINEMO.

You are now done with the LINEMO setup! Congrats!

Sign up for LINEMO and save money!

LINEMO is a low-cost SIM that you can sign up for starting at 980 yen/month.

LINEMO is worth considering, since it offers affordable SIM cards for foreigners.

The information contained in this article is based on the information available as of August 31, 2023.