questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

dual citizen eligible?

Dual citizen eligible?

My son is currently in Japan, and he is a dual citizen, so he entered with his Japanese passport. We are going to visit him... can I buy him a pass? I think he may qualify under the Japanese National living in a foreign country, as his permanent residence is in the US... Is that stretching things?


Hello there,

Provided your son is a Japanese national (in addition to a US citizen) living permanently in a foreign country he should technically qualify for the Japan Rail Pass according to the official validity requirements points 2a. If your son is currently living in Japan (eg. not on a short term holiday), in addition to having a permanent residence in the states, then it's harder to give a definitive answer. I also have dual nationality and so certainly understand your situation.

The spirit of the terms of the Japan Rail Pass are to allow temporary visitors to Japan to travel around the country. If your sons situation matches this I would imagine your position is defensible. However, as the official guidelines note you will have to also provide proof of permanent residence in the US, and even then granting of the rail pass is at the ultimate discretion of the JR staff. For Japanese living overseas, this usually means providing a valid residents visa and also some documentation, such as a recent utility bill or bank statement. As your son will not have a US residents visa in his passport you may need substantial proof of permanent address in the states for the rail pass to be granted. As your son will also have a dated "kikoku" (帰国) entry stamp in his Japanese passport, if he has been in the country for a substantial amount of time it may be harder to establish his permanent residence status in the states.

If your son has only been in Japan for a short time, then the savings that are possible with a JR Pass and the fact that your son will be touring Japan with you means that it may be worth a try.

Please note that if he is unable to use it there will be a surcharge for refunding your rail pass of 10-15%. You can refund the rail pass directly at the JR ticket counter in Japan for yen (¥), or send it back to the place of purchase for a refund in the purchase currency.

Hope this helps!

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