Region Setting and Apple Pay

If you see this when iPhone Region is not set to Japan, it means you have a Suica card in Wallet or parked on iCloud ready to add to Wallet

The iOS Region Setting and Apple Pay are linked together in interesting ways that has changed with iOS versions. Up through iOS 10, devices needed to have the region match the country they wanted to add and use cards in: iPhone had to be set to Japan to add and use Japanese credit cards in Apple Pay, and so on.

This changed in iOS 11 with global FeliCa iPhone and NFC switching. Region setting only needed to be changed to add a card for any particular country and had nothing to do with using it. This is because Apple Pay Wallet only displays the card options that match the Region setting and acts like a filter. The Wallet animation cycle shows what’s available:

After adding a card, the Region setting can be anything, as Apple Pay ignores it and takes care of the rest. Many inbound users don’t realize this and have avoided adding Suica to Apple Pay under the misconception that the iPhone/Apple Watch Region has to be set to Japan to use it.

Wallet behavior is the same in iOS 12, even with the iOS 12.2 UI tweaks, but the region setting can be ignored when adding cards to Apple Pay with an app like Suica. Another small change from iOS 11 is that if you have a Suica card deleted from Wallet that is parked on Apple Pay iCloud, Wallet will show you the Add Suica option no matter what the iPhone Region setting is. It’s a nice touch and reminder in case you ever forgot you had one.

I hope Apple continues to streamline Apple Pay Wallet so that users don’t have to think about or deal with Region settings to add cards. A location aware region setting that shows all cards options for the current user location would be a helpful ‘it just works’ feature for iPhone users on the go.

UPDATE 2019-10-15
Wallet now has region prompts for Suica and PASMO iOS 13~14. The prompt appears under the following conditions: (1) iPhone location is Japan, (2) the Apple ID account has never added a Suica or PASMO to Wallet. Suica and PASMO are then added without changing the device region.

UPDATE 2021-09-26
iOS 15 now has a region free Wallet UI for creating new transit cards and re-adding transit cards that were removed from Wallet but are saved on iCloud. Add Suica or PASMO regardless of your device setting. See Suica • PASMO Guide for details.