Can’t buy “Suica/PASMO” due to lack of stock – What’s happening to the Tokyo Railways?

Because supply of IC cards is unstable due to the global shortage of semiconductors, most of the transportation IC cards “Suica” and “PASMO” have not been on sale in the Tokyo metropolitan and the eastern Japan area.

Notice of suspension of Suica card sales posted at JR East ticket vending machines (Katsumi/TOKYO STUDIO)
Notice of suspension of Suica card sales posted at JR East ticket vending machines (Katsumi/TOKYO STUDIO)

Expanded types of IC cards not on sale

The shortage of semiconductors is said to have been caused by multiple factors such as changes in the world situation and the spread of the COVID-19. It affects not only automobiles and electronic devices, but also the production of familiar transportation IC cards.

“Suica” and “PASMO” cards are equipped with an IC chip that applies the “Felica” technology originally developed by Sony. Currently, it is difficult for card manufacturers to obtain the necessary chips, and transportation operators are unlikely to be able to secure a sufficient number of cards for the time being.

In addition to JR East, the PASMO Association, which consists of private railways and subways in the Tokyo metropolitan area, first took measures on June 8, 2023 (Thu). New sales of “non-personalized” Suica and PASMO, which do not require registration of personal information at the time of purchase, have been temporarily suspended from this day. “Monorail Suica” issued by Tokyo Monorail and “Rinkai Suica” of Tokyo Rinkai Rapid Transit have also stopped selling non-personalized cards.

Furthermore, from August 2 (Wed), Suica and PASMO have been also not on sale, which are purchased by registering one’s name and phone number. Although each operators continues to discuss with the manufacturer, it seems that the card manufacturing plan is still unclear at this time.

New sales of Suica and PASMO commuter passes, children’s cards and cards for persons with disabilities, and a reissue service in the event of card failure or loss will continue. Additional measures were unavoidably taken due to the need to prioritize the allocation of the secured card inventory to these services.

(See the chart below for details such as types of “Suica” and “PASMO” cards to be discontinued, and cards that will continue to be sold.)

[Chart] Types of “Suica” and “PASMO” cards to be discontinued, and cards that will continue to be sold

Travelers from overseas can buy limited card!

The Suica/PASMO card you already have can be used as usual for riding trains / buses, and shopping at stores that accept electronic money. In addition, smartphone services “Mobile Suica” and “Mobile PASMO” do not involve card issuance, so they are unaffected by the current shortage of semiconductors. Each transportation operator is asking passengers to continue using the cards with them, and to choose a mobile service if people want to purchase a new one.

The PASMO Association is going on a “Get up to 2,000 JPY Campaign” by using “Apple Pay Mobile PASMO”, and they will extend the target period to promote usage.

As an exception, in the areas of Aomori, Morioka, and Akita, where Suica can be used from May 27 (Sat) by area expansion, since the service has just started, you can continue to purchase non-personalized / personalized Suica cards. In addition, among non-personalized PASMO cards, “Special PASMO Passes” and “PASMO Bus Commuter Passes” issued by some operators can be purchased continuously.

They also continue to sell IC cards “Welcome Suica” and “PASMO PASSPORT” for short-term visitors traveling to Japan from overseas. However, considering the inventory situation, “Welcome Suica” will be sold only at the “JR East Travel Service Centers” and special ticket vending machines at each station of Narita and Haneda Airports from August 2 (Wed). The number of cards that can be purchased is limited to one ticket per person.

On the other hand, the PASMO PASSPORT with Sanrio Characters printed on the face of the pass is currently in sufficient stock and will continue to be sold at Narita / Haneda Airports and major stations in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Starting June 8 (Thu), the 500 yen issuance fee will be waived for a limited time so that tourists from overseas will actively choose this product.

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