can I use the Japan Rail Pass?

Japan Rail Pass eligibility

Eligibility banner big 1

Notice for Japanese Passport Holders: As of March 31 2017, JR has updated the eligibility information for Japanese nationals. Please read the information below carefully.

The sale of the Japan Rail Pass to non-Japanese passport holders remains unaffected.

Non-Japanese passport holders

To use the Japan Rail Pass passengers must enter Japan with a temporary sightseeing visitor visa single entry of 15 or 90 days duration. Passport holders from 67 countries will automatically receive this visa on arrival into Japan if entering for 90 days or less of non-paid activity. Other nationalities must apply for the temporary visitor visa before they arrive in Japan. Please see the visa guide at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs for more information on the visa applications procedure.

Who is NOT eligible?

  • Long term visas which allow to stay in Japan more than 90 days
  • Student visa
  • Permanent residency visa
  • Tokubetsu Eijuken holders (Special permanent residency visa)
  • Entertainer visa
  • Working holiday visa
  • Military entry status
  • Any other visas which are not temporary visitor single entry visa for sightseeing
If you are unsure or would like confirmation of eligibility status, please contact us.

Japanese passport holders

The following instructions only apply to Exchange Orders purchased before the 31st of March.

Japanese nationals are eligible for the Japan Rail Pass if they are living overseas and are either:

  • Officially qualified to permanently reside in that country
  • Married to a non-Japanese residing permanently in that country

The Japanese nationals must provide the following documentary proof when activating the Japan Rail Pass in Japan:

  • If officially qualified to permanently reside in that country
    1. Proof of official permanent resident status, e.g. green card or permanent visa.
    2. Proof of residence outside Japan, documents issued by an official institution with name and address of passenger. E.g. tax documents, national insurance or address registration document.
  • If married to a non-Japanese residing permanently in that country
    1. Proof of residence outside Japan. E.g. letter issued by an official institution with name and address of passenger.
    2. Proof of marriage to a non-Japanese individual: marriage certificate.
    3. Proof of residence of their non-Japanese spouse outside Japan. E.g. letter issued by an official institution with name and address of spouse.

Note: If you are a Japanese national, a non-Japanese passport, driving license, temporary resident card or work permit are not acceptable forms of proof of permanent residence abroad. Even if in possession of multiple passports, the passenger must provide the applicable documentation listed above on exchange of the Japan Rail Pass in Japan. Japan Rail (JR) will not authorize the Japan Rail Pass unless the passenger is able to provide the correct documentation at the point of activation in Japan.

Dual nationality holders

If the passenger holds dual nationality with Japan and another country they must enter Japan as a 'Temporary Visitor' using their non-Japanese passport in order to be eligible for the Japan Rail Pass. If they enter Japan using their Japanese passport, they will NOT be able to use the Japan Rail Pass.

This rule also applies to children of all ages holding dual nationality. If you are entering Japan as Japanese national with children of dual nationality and intend to use the Japan Rail Pass we recommend you contact airport staff on arrival and ask that your children be chaperoned while waiting for passport clearance as 'Temporary Visitors' using their non-Japanese passport.

Note: Presenting a non-Japanese passport, Birth certificate or any other documentary evidence that the dual national is a permanent resident outside Japan is not sufficient to use Japan Rail Pass. The dual national passenger must enter Japan under their non-Japanese passport with 'Temporary Visitor' (15 or 90 day) entry status.

For Japanese nationals living outside of Japan:

As of June 1st 2017, Japanese nationals who have lived outside of Japan for 10 years or more can qualify for the Japan Rail Pass as long as the following conditions are met:

Before purchase:

You will need to provide one of following documents that proves foreign residence outside of Japan for at least 10 years at the time of purchase. This must be:

(1) Copy of your Overseas Residential Registration (在留届の写し) issued by the embassy or legation of Japan in the foreign country where you live.

(2) Certificate of Overseas Residence (在留証明書) issued by the embassy or legation of Japan in the foreign country where you live.

[USA, Brazil and Canada only]
(3) Permanent Resident Card (永住カード) issued by your country of residence. This is only a special case and limited to the USA, Brazil, and Canada. The date of recorded residence on the card should be at least 10 years.

For Japanese children below the age of 12.

Japanese children under 12 years old can only use the Japan Rail Pass if they are accompanied with an adult Japanese Japan Rail Pass holder. They must conform to the following rules: 1. The Overseas Residential Registration verifies that he/she lives with the child applicant and whose stay in the country is *10 consecutive years or more. 2. The child must also use the JAPAN RAIL PASS with the adult applicant.

*In case that “the date of arrival” in the overseas country is at least 10 years earlier, but “the date of acceptance“ by Japanese embassy for the Zairyutodoke is less than 10 years, than such a case does not meet the eligibility requirements.

The full regulations can be found here in English and here in Japanese.

We cannot issue any Japan Rail Pass exchange order unless the above conditions are met.

Exchanging in Japan: At the time of exchange in Japan, you must bring your passport, proof (as outlined above) that you have lived outside of Japan for at least 10 years, and your exchange order. Failing to bring any of these will result in the Japan Rail Pass not being issued.

If you are unsure about eligibility

If you are unsure or would like confirmation of eligibility status, please contact us directly and we will be happy to advise. You should also check the current full eligibility criteria for Japanese passport holders at the official JR website.

The final decision to authorize the Japan Rail Pass will be made by JR. If a passenger does not match the eligibility requirements or if the JR clerk is unable to verify passenger compliance with the criteria it will not be possible to exchange and use the Japan Rail Pass. We kindly ask you to check the above points carefully before your purchase.