How to get a Japanese phone number with SMS (for non-residents)

Last updated: 2024-01-20

To sign up for many Japanese event ticketing sites (and increasingly, other websites too), you will need a Japanese phone number to use for SMS or call verification. Unfortunately, it is difficult if you are not a resident or citizen of Japan.

Where do I get a number?

If you know a resident/citizen of Japan that's willing to help you...


  1. They can let you use their own phone number and help with the verification process. Or,
  2. They can sign up for a SIM, activate it, and then do the phone number verification with it.

In either case, the phone number is theirs, so it may be troublesome to coordinate if you have to use it again later on—for example, Ticket Pia sometimes makes users call to verify upon logging in.

(One alternative to this process that people have thought of is that you can get your friend to mail the SIM to you. But this is technically illegal, since you're not supposed to buy these SIMs for other people...)

If you can go to Japan...

You can obtain a long-term Japanese phone plan that will work for SMS and call verification—a Hanacell or Mobal SIM. (They're issued from the same provider.) You don't need to be a resident to use them, but you will only be able to receive calls or SMS messages while you're in Japan.

If you get the Hanacell SIM, make sure you are getting the correct SIM by following the link above. Their home page mainly advertises their US SIMs for Japanese people in the US.

To receive the SIM, you have the following options:

  • Get the SIM shipped to your overseas address
  • Pick up the SIM in Japan—both can be picked up at airports, and Mobal offers more pickup points
  • Use Mobal's eSIM option (this is new and I haven't tried it, but it seems like it may work)

These SIMs will not work outside of Japan. So get to work on making those accounts while you are still in Japan. (You should be able to get signal at airports, so if you have a layover in Japan, this might work too.)


Unfortunately, I don't have any further alternatives for you if you're not a resident/citizen of Japan and not in Japan. Let me know if you do find any!

Tips and warnings

Getting your SIM to work

You may have to fiddle with APN settings to get it to work:

The best way to figure out whether it works, of course, is to...

Calling while overseas or with SMS-only numbers

If your phone number won't work overseas or if it only has SMS without calling, you can still make calls, even overseas, using Viber Out.

I highly recommend setting it up while you are in Japan, even if you think you won't need it, since in order to activate it you will need to verify via SMS.

For people using phone numbers for event tickets

Ticketing guides

These may be relevant to your journey!

You might not want to cancel your plan...

After you've gotten your phone number and your account(s) sorted out, you might want to cancel your plan.

But there are reasons you might not want to do that:

  1. Ticket Pia is known to ask for call verification on login, and it's not clear what conditions cause it to do so.
  2. Digital tickets are increasingly popular, with many events only having digital tickets, and several ticket apps are known to require SMS verification (e.g. Rakuten, L-tike). If you go to events in Japan, you might end up having to use one of these at some point.
  3. If the phone number is released to someone else and they sign up for a new account using that number, your account may become un-verified. This can cause problems when you try to use the ticket. For example, some tickets make you receive an SMS at your original phone number to download them. (To some extent, you can ask for help from support, but if you are constantly asking, they will probably notice you are trying to game the system.)


Temporary visitor SIMs

You can get time-limited SIMs as a temporary visitor to Japan and get SMS messages this way.

For event-goers, this can work if you just need it for event(s) while you're there and can buy tickets after you land in Japan. But for ticketing on a longer-term scale, this is not so great. See the "You might not want to cancel your plan..." section above.

VoIP numbers (e.g. Skype numbers)

Most Japanese sites I've used that require SMS/phone verification don't allow VoIP phone numbers.

Japanese cellular service plans aimed towards domestic users

They'll likely ask for a Japanese ID and possibly proof of residence. They might also only accept Japan-based payment methods.

In the past, there were providers in this category that did not require a Japanese ID, like b-mobile and Linksmate, but enforcement is more widespread now—both of them currently require ID.

If you do have such a valid ID, b-mobile still takes foreign credit cards and offers SIMs (e.g. the 190PadSIM) which let you receive SMS outside of Japan.

(The original version of this page, published in August 2020, had directions on how to apply for a b-mobile SIM, back when it did not require a Japanese ID. But since this page is aimed towards non-residents/citizens, and it is likely the information will become outdated, I decided to remove that section.)