How Late Can I Buy a Japan Rail Pass?


If you forgot to buy the Japan Rail Pass with all the excitement of the trip, don’t worry, you’re not alone and that happens all the time. Or maybe you came across an article that explained how useful it is and you decided that the Japan Rail Pass was worth it 2 weeks before your departure date. (By the way, I already wrote an article that can help you find out if the Japan Rail Pass is worth for your itinerary.) Maybe you just discovered that the Japan Rail Pass exists and there’s not much time left before your travel. Whatever your situation is, don’t worry because there’s a solution to every problem.

Tourists that buy the Japan Rail Pass online can buy the pass a few days before departure and have it delivered to their home address, or to their hotel’s address in Japan. Since the Japan Rail Pass can also be bought in Japan (at a higher price), it is never too late to buy the pass.

So now that you know that it is potentially never too late to get your hands on the Japan Rail Pass, let’s take a closer look at the different places you can buy it and the deadlines for each. It is not the same thing when buying comfortably online before your travel and when buying in Japan once you get there.

Deadline to Buy the Japan Rail Pass Online

The Hello Kitty Shinkansen

This is my favorite method to buy the Japan Rail Pass. First, I’m already used to buy lots of things online, but I find the online purchase simple and comfortable because you can use it at any time of the day. So if you wake up at 3 a.m. and want to absolutely buy your pass right away, you can. 😉

The online purchase can differ a little according to the seller, but, usually, they all have some sort of express delivery for you to choose in case you’re in a hurry (if you’re reading this post, that’s probably the case). Notice, however, that as in any online purchase, delays might happen due to unpredictable situations.

There are several sellers online where you can order your Japan Rail Pass from. Normally, you can pick the one you want, but some are more reliable than other. Just make sure you pick an official seller and you’ll be fine.

I usually recommend buying from Jrailpass.com because they have good delivery times. I work with them for a while now and I know that they do a great job as a company.

Depending on your location, the usual delivery time is between 24 and 48 hours which is pretty fast. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 situation, there are temporary delivery delays up to 5 business days, but all sellers experience these delays. The cool thing about Jrailpass.com is that they warn you right away in their homepage so you don’t have a bad surprise.

Another good reason to buy from Jrailpass.com is that they have a worldwide delivery in the five continents (the list of countries can be found on their delivery information page), and the orders have a tracking number so you can follow it. This way you can easily follow the delivery and take action in case of a problem.

Also, they can deliver your order to an address in Japan. This is pretty nice because if you decide to buy a Japan Rail Pass 2 days before your departure, it is possible to receive your order in Japan. It is not possible to receive it at the airport, but it’s perfectly fine to receive it at your hotel, for example.

If you want to receive your order in Europe, Jrailpass.com offers free shipping for some countries when buying products over $600. The list of countries is available at the delivery page link below.

And the last thing that makes me like Jrailpass.com, is that usually you get a free travel guide with your order. It’s not a huge thing, but it’s always nice to have a little gift when placing an order.

I’ll leave here the important links to know the delivery times of Jrailpass.com if you want to take a closer look:

You may also like:

How far in advance should I buy the Japan Rail Pass and why?
11 Not so Obvious Facts About Japan Bullet Train
Japan Rail Pass Calculator: Is The JR Pass Worth it?

Deadline to Buy the Japan Rail Pass in Your Country

If you don’t want to buy your Japan Rail Pass online, there’s the possibility of buying it at JR designated sales offices or agents, but be careful because this isn’t possible in all countries. When choosing this method to buy your pass, you have to do it before you leave your country, so plan accordingly. Allow enough time to find the closest sales office, and try not to buy the pass right before you leave because these sales offices can close without notice.

In the United States, you usually can buy the pass at JTB Corp, Nippon Travel Agency, Kintetsu International and Tobu Top Tours authorized travel agents.

You can check the full list of countries with sales offices and agents overseas on the Japan Rail Pass official page.

This is not my favorite option to buy the pass because buying it online is simpler, but I can understand that some people have the need to be sure of what they’re buying. Also, if you have some questions about the pass before buying it, the agents can certainly help you with that.

Deadline to Buy the Japan Rail Pass in Japan

I know that you probably saw in certain blog posts that it is not possible to buy the Japan Rail Pass in Japan, but that’s not longer true. Since March 8, 2017, Japan started to sell the Japan Rail Pass in Japan in some specific places. This is a trial, but each year, Japan extends the trial for another year.

At least until March 31, 2021, it will be possible to buy the Japan Rail Pass in japan.

However, this should be your last option because buying the pass in Japan costs about 10% more than buying it online at an official seller. The pass will probably be worth it for your travel, even if you buy it in Japan, but I guess you’ll agree with me that it is nicer to pay about 10% less and buy it online before your travel.

Depending on how long you’re staying in Japan, you might even buy the pass online while already in Japan (just remember that the Japan Rail Pass is available for tourists with the “Temporary Visitor” stamp on their passports).

And if you don’t know if the Japan Rail Pass is worth it for your itinerary, you can read more on this in my other post and try my Japan Rail Pass calculator.

You can buy the Japan Rail Pass in Japan at some airports:

  • Narita Airport terminal 1 (JR EAST Travel Service Center, Ticket office or Terminal 1 Travel Center)
  • Narita Airport terminal 2 and 3 (JR EAST Travel Service Center or Ticket office)
  • Haneda Airport terminal 2 (Tourist Information Center)
  • Haneda Airport terminal 3 (JR EAST Travel Service Center)
  • Kansai Airport (Ticket Office)
  • Central Japan International Airport (Central Japan Travel Center)
  • New Chitose Airport (JR Information Desk)

The Japan Rail Pass can also be bought at major stations in Japan like:

  • Tokyo Station (Japan Rail Café, JR EAST Travel Service Center, JR Tokai Tours Tokyo Office)
  • Ueno Station (JR EAST Travel Service Center)
  • Shinjuku Station (JR EAST Travel Service Center in the East and South gates)
  • Ikebukuro Station (JR EAST Travel Service Center)
  • Kyoto Station (JR-WEST Central Ticket Office, JR Tokai Tours Kyoto Office, JR Tokai Tours Kyoto Station Shinkansen Central Entrance Office or Nippon Travel Agency)
  • Shin-Osaka Station (Travel Service Center, JR-WEST East Ticket Office, Nippon Travel Agency or JR Tokai Tours)
  • Osaka Station (Central Gate n° 12/13 Ticket Office or Nippon Travel Agency)

I just listed the most used stations by tourists because these are probably the ones you will use if you decide to buy the pass in Japan. However, there’s a full list available at the Japan Rail Pass official Website if you need more options.

And that’s it, now you have all the information needed to understand that it is never too late to buy your Japan Rail Pass, but it can cost you a bit more if you wait until the last minute. 🙂

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Ana Costa

Hi everyone, my name is Ana. I'm currently living in France, but I've always been passionate about Japan and it's culture. I love drawing manga, watch anime, eat sushi and all things related to Japan ;)

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