Suspension of Pasmo and Suica Card Sales in Japan: What You Need to Know | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan
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Suspension of Pasmo and Suica Card Sales in Japan: What You Need to Know

By Margherita Aug 21, 2023

Since 2006, Pasmo and Suica cards have been integral to daily life in Japan. However, the ongoing global semiconductor shortage has led to significant disruptions in their availability.

Navigating the Pause: Pasmo and Suica Card Issuance Impact

To cope with this challenge, JR East has made the decision to suspend the issuance of new unregistered Pasmo and Suica cards from June 8th. 

Furthermore, registered card issuance will be halted from August 2nd. Unfortunately, the duration of this suspension remains uncertain, leaving many to wonder when these essential cards will return to circulation.

Suica and Pasmo are not going to disappear forever, though. Previously purchased cards will work just fine like before for train and bus rides, as well as at stores that accept electronic top-up cards at ticket machines without any issues. The Mobile Suica and Mobile PASMO options will also remain operational as usual.

What Are Suica and Pasmo Anyway?

train in japan

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Suica and Pasmo are rechargeable cards that grant access to nationwide public transportation. Suica is managed by JR East, while Pasmo is handled by non-JR lines like Tokyo Metro. However, they share interchangeable usage and functionality.

Top up as you go and you are ready to hop on the impressive Japanese transportation system.

What Are the Current Options for Foreign Visitors?

Welcome Suica

The Welcome Suica is a versatile e-money card for both travel and shopping. It eliminates the need to purchase tickets from vending machines – just tap the gate for automatic fare deduction. Accepted on JR East trains, subways, and buses, it offers seamless mobility. Beyond transportation, it serves as e-money, enabling convenient purchases like drinks and snacks from vending machines or newspapers at station kiosks without the hassle of coins.

At the moment, since it has been thought for international visitors, Welcome Suica can be purchased at Narita and Haneda airports and is valid for 28 days from the date of issue.

No deposit is required and the amount of money left in the card on the expiration date is not refundable.

Pasmo Passport

Pasmo Passport is somehow similar to a Welcome Suica: it is exclusively for foreign residents visiting Japan, it is valid for 28 days and it is rechargeable at every station. Pasmo Passport however can be also used at participating stores to redeem special discounts.

While Welcome Suica’s minimum charging amount is 1000 yen, Pasmo Passport can be purchased for 1500 yen (it used to be 2000 but recently the 500 yen deposit fee has been waived). While Welcome Suica is only available at Narita and Haneda airports, Pasmo Passport can be purchased at various locations throughout the city of Tokyo.

However, Suica will continue to be sold in Aomori, Iwate, and Akita prefectures, where the service began in May of this year for conventional train lines, and Suica for foreigners visiting Japan for a short stay will be sold in limited locations, such as stations near airports, and in a limited number of cards.

What Are the Options for Residents in Japan?

pasmo and suica card gates in Japan

Great news for Pasmo and Suica cardholders – your current cards are still good to go! No changes to how you use them. Plus, essential services like new commuter pass sales, card issuance for kids and the disabled, and card replacements are all business as usual. 

If you’re in areas like Aomori, Morioka, and Akita where Suica was launched only last May, you will continue to be able to purchase both registered and unregistered Suica cards without any hiccups. Keep traveling smoothly with your trusted cards!

Since the suspension is related to the industry of semiconductors, mobile versions of Suica and Pasmo cards can continue to be used by both old and new users.

Pasmo and Suica Card Sales Halted in Japan: When Will They Be Back?

While the duration of this suspension of Pasmo and Suica remains uncertain, existing cards will continue to function as usual, offering smooth access to transportation and purchases. Visitors and residents alike can rely on these trusted cards, while mobile versions remain unaffected. The anticipation for their eventual return continues to grow, driven by their convenience and Japan’s commitment to seamless travel.

Related reads:

Prepaid IC Cards in Japan: Pasmo or Suica