Japan Rail Pass English FAQ

Important Note!

From October 2023, the JR company has announced a significant price increase of about ~65%. If you will be in Japan to claim your JR Pass in October, November, or December, we highly recommend purchasing an exchange voucher 90 days prior to the date you can exchange your voucher.

For example: You are departing for Japan on December 20th, set to arrive on December 21st. Once you arrive, you plan to go to the JR station and get your JR Pass on the same day. 90 days before is September 22nd, so that is the earliest your exchange voucher can be dated.

September Order Deadline
❏ Online Orders ー 12:00 PM Pacific on Thursday, September 28th

It’s my first time going to Japan and planning is so overwhelming!

Don’t worry! All of the preparations beforehand will be stressful, but it is fairly straight-forward to navigate once you’re in Japan. For a good overview, the Japanese government has an agency just for tourists, the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), which provides basic information along with information about specific destinations.

JNTO - Official Tourism Guide for Japan Travel
Japan Travel Planning | Travel Japan
Airport Access | Plan | Travel Japan
Transportation in Japan | Plan | Travel Japan

What are the ways a JR Pass can be purchased?

Authorized vendors outside of Japan issue JR Pass exchange vouchers. These are physical papers which must be presented to the JR office after arriving in Japan, so please make sure to order it with time to spare. Shipping delays or printing errors may occur, so please allow extra time for shipping.

The Japan Rail Company is based in Japan and are the only ones that can issue the actual JR Pass. Non-Japanese passport holders are able to purchase directly with the JR company online or in Japan (currently available until March 31, 2024). Japanese passport holders must purchase from authorized vendors outside of Japan.

What is the official website of the JR company?

Please be careful as there are many “official” looking websites for the JR company! It is not uncommon for people to mistake the official website. Make sure wherever you are buying from is located within the United States and not internationally-based. This will greatly affect the shipping time for exchange vouchers. The company’s actual site for JR Pass purchase is shown below:

JAPAN RAIL PASS | ジャパン・レール・パス (日本語)

What are the benefits of purchasing through IACE Travel versus the JR Company directly?

Purchase through IACE Travel
Discounted rate (Cheaper)

Purchase through Japan Rail Company
Those who purchase online can get seat assignments through the online account before arriving in Japan.

With the JR Pass, do I need to pay to reserve a seat on the bullet train?

The JR Pass covers all reserved seat fees. Be sure to get a seat assignment if you are bringing oversized luggage with you. Seat reservations can be made at the kiosk or at the “Midori no Madoguchi” window either right before you board or up to a month in advance. The “Midori no Madoguchi” or “green window” will have a symbol of a person reclining in a seat.

How long does it take to receive JR Pass exchange vouchers by mail from IACE Travel?

Shipped from our headquarters in New York City, two shipping methods are available and both include tracking:

$10 ー USPS ー 5-10 business days
$35 ー FedEx ー Next Day, Up to 4 business days

Once the order is placed, we will begin processing your order on the next business day.

When should I think about purchasing the JR Pass exchange vouchers if I am buying it outside of Japan?

Consider purchasing exchange vouchers about 2.5 months to 1 month before your trip’s departure date. The voucher must be exchanged within 90 days of your arrival in Japan, so give yourself extra time to receive them and time to make corrections if the vouchers need to be re-issued.

Can I go to a local IACE Travel office to purchase the JR Pass vouchers in person?

Unfortunately, the travel industry is still recovering from the impacts of the COVID pandemic. We are currently unable to accommodate customers in person with the exception of very special cases.

Could I order through IACE Travel’s website and come pick-up the pass in person at my local IACE Travel office?

A live agent must coordinate office schedules and contact staff at the local office. This is possible for urgent cases as a last resort, but additional handling and pick-up fees will be charged.

Important Note: Non-Japanese passport holders who are departing soon should purchase directly with the JR company (currently available until March 31, 2024).

Can the JR Pass be used to travel from the airport?

From Haneda Airport (HND), the Tokyo Monorail can be used.
From Narita Airport (NRT), the JR Narita Express train can be used.
From Kansai Airport (KIX), the Haruka Express train can be used.

When I exchange the voucher, do I need to activate it immediately?

When exchanging the voucher, a future activation date may be set. Before the pass is issued, let the JR company staff know what date you want to start using the pass.

Is the JR Pass the only thing I will need to get around in Japan?

The Japan Rail company has shinkansen (bullet trains) and local trains running throughout all of Japan! However, other non-JR trains and modes of transportation are also available. If everything you want to see is centered around JR train stations, then it won’t be an issue.

Non-JR local lines or subways will require an IC card, such as Suica or Pasmo which may also be accepted as payment at some retail shops, convenience stores, and restaurants. IC cards may only be issued within Japan and can be issued and recharged from train station kiosks.

Aside from the JR Pass, what else would I need to easily navigate through Japan?

Rental wi-fi is highly recommended and will definitely make life easier! The free wi-fi available in larger cities is limited and may be difficult to continuously access.