Foreigners who want an iPhone face severe limitations

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    Live in Japan and want an iPhone? If you’re a foreigner, you’ll probably have to pay a huge sum of money. Blogger w00kie has translated the terms on Softbank’s website (Update: Some have said that they were able to get phones using a Japanese drivers’ license/health insurance ID, but others claim to have been turned down because of visa status. The situation could depend on the helpfulness of staff members at individual Softbank store locations.):

    1. Bring your Gaikokujin Torokusho (Alien Card) + Passport. It seems they now require the passport too.
    2. Check your visa expiration date, the following rules apply:

    1. If you’re on a 90 days tourist visa, no soup (or iPhone) for you!
    2. If you have less than 15 months left on your visa, you wont be able to make a contract, but they’ll sell the phone to you without a plan for ¥80.000
    3. Between 15 and 27 months left on your visa, you can either pay it cash for ¥80.000 or negotiate take a 12 months contract (instead of the normal 24) possibly at the discounted ¥20.000 price-tag, but whether the discount applies or not is not clear in the document
    4. Over 27 months and you’re clear, you can buy the phone like any native

    Japan’s other major mobile phone service companies do not have similar rules for foreigners that sign up for higher end phone plans.

    Update: A revision from Ponta:

    It might be a good idea that this blog will inform foreigners of the appropriate procedure to apply for iphone.
    If you have Japanese driver’s license, all you need as ID is to present it. If you are asked more ID by any chance , tell them you have seen the SoftBank’s website and tell the staff to call the headquarter etc*.

    I’ve called the Soft Bank now, and it confirmed that you don’t need to show Alien Card and passport if you bring Japanese Driver’s license or insurance certificate plus required documents.
    I recommended Soft Bank to ask foreigners if they have other IDs, she complied. And I asked if the above procedure(*) is right, she confirmed it.

    If you’d like to contact Softbank and complain:

    Corporate Public relations:

    SoftBank Customer Center (only within Japan)
    (General Information) Business hours: 9:00-20:00
    From SoftBank handset: 157(toll-free) – press “8” for English support
    From fixed-line phone: 0088-21-2000(toll-free) – press “8” for English support

    SoftBank Global Call Center
    From your host country: +81-3-5351-3491(charged)

    And Apple’s public relations representative in Japan, Takashi Takebayashi, can be contacted at:


    Update: While we’re on the topic of foreigners and iPhones, what’s the deal with the headline on Nikkei’s Trendy Net referring to the iPhone as being similar to a foreigner that speaks really good Japanese?
    [hat tip to Darin]

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