Unlocking Suica App Security Lock

Suica App is very handy but comes with serious limitations for inbound visitors:

  • Suica App is Japanese language only
  • Suica App only accepts Japanese issue cards for registration

An English version of the app is certainly coming before the Tokyo Olympics, likely arriving in tandem with the new JR East Shinkansen eTicket system in April 2020.

Fortunately we have the English language SuicaEng app for adding a virtual Suica card, and we also have direct virtual Suica card creation in iOS 13 Wallet that eliminates dealing with SuicaEng or Suica App. And if you need to purchase anything in Suica App, such as Commuter Plans or Shinkansen eTickets, it can all be done with your Apple Pay cards.

Suica App has good security, but if you forget your Mobile Suica account password or attempt to register an international issue credit card, you can get yourself security locked out of Suica App and Mobile Suica. Here’s how to unlock the Suica App security lock and get a new password issued.

The first thing you need to do is write down your Mobile Suica registration details:

  • Last name, first name in Romaji/Kanji and Katakana
  • Birthdate
  • device phone number
  • Japanese postal code number
  • Mobile Suica registration e-mail address
  • An e-mail address you want the password reset sent to, this can be the same as the Mobile Suica registration e-mail

Once you have this information ready, go to this Mobile Suica Password Reset form. Follow the screenshot example below and enter the information. After entering the information click or tap on the button to verify the information, if all looks good click or tap the send button at the bottom of the verification screen.

You will receive a Mobile Suica password reset message from info@mobilesuica.com, messages can take up to 2 hours to arrive. Be aware that Mobile Suica issues password resets daily from 9:00 to 20:00 Japan Standard Time (JST), if your request arrives outside of those hours, it will be processed the next day.

After you obtain a new password from Mobile Suica, login to Suica App using the new password. You can then change the password in Suica App, follow the screenshots below:

In the event that Mobile Suica Support requests that you contact them to remove the security lock on your account you only have 2 options, both of them require Japanese language ability:

For either option have the following pieces of information ready:

  • Last name, first name in Katakana
  • Birthdate
  • Mobile Suica registered device phone number
  • Mobile Suica account ID
  • Suica card ID number
  • Suica card ‘Shikibetsu’ ID: this is the same as your Apple ID or slightly different with an ‘_1’ or ‘_2’ appended at the end


When using the chat option you type a request such as ‘Mobile Suica account has a security lock that I want unlocked.’ The next step is passing though a few canned support responses before being connected to an online support person. They will then ask you to confirm your account with the above information. Confirm to the support person that your Mobile Suica account has a security lock that you want unlocked.

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AWS outage takes down PayPay

The Amazon Web Service outage that started around 1pm August 23 local Japan time took down some PayPay service along with it. Japanese users tweeted about payment and recharge not working. AWS service was completely restored by 8pm Japan time. Engadget JP’s Takahiro Koguchi posted a complete rundown.

Since QR Code payment systems depend on centralized processing, a cloud outage can easily bring down the system for all transactions. While this is a minor annoyance for paying at a convenience store where you can always pay on the spot using something else, it’s not the case when QR is used for transit where large numbers of people can suddenly be stranded. This is exactly what happened in Chengdu last April. It’s a risk of using QR Codes for transit.

Locally processed transactions like Suica are resilient because it was designed to avoid the trap of central processing, the stored balance is held on the card and not on the cloud. When things do go wrong with cloud services like Mobile Suica or Apple Pay, damage is limited to the credit card recharge side. Cash recharge at the convenience store, the station, the ATM is always there as a backup because it only deals with the card, not the cloud.

Reminder: JR East Suica System Downtime July 6 9pm~5am

Just a friendly reminder that the first of JR East’s major Suica system maintenance downtimes starts Saturday July 6 at 9pm and runs to 5am. Mobile Suica and JR East station Suica ticket machine services are going offline.

During the offline period you can still use plastic Suica and Apple Pay Suica for transit and purchases as usual, but Apple Pay Suica Recharge will be limited to cash only from 1am~4am. Remember that you can always cash recharge Apple Pay Suica at any convenience store cash register or 7-Eleven ATM machine. 

All other operations such as adding Suica to Wallet and all Suica App functions, and corresponding services at JR East station Suica ticket machines, will be offline for the entire maintenance window.

Be prepared and check your Suica balance and recharge before 9pm. The next major maintenance downtime is scheduled for Saturday July 20 9pm~5am.

Reader Questions: Remove Suica from Apple Pay Wallet but not lose Suica

What’s the process if I want to remove Suica card from Apple Pay Wallet but not lose the card? I plan to sell my phone but have a commuter pass that’s still valid.

This one is super easy. Go to Wallet, tap Suica, tap “˙˙˙” in the upper right corner, scroll to the bottom of the Suica card options, tap “Remove This Card”.

Poof, Suica card is gone from Wallet, but don’t worry.

This is where the fun begins. Suica is automatically migrated from Wallet and stored on the Apple Pay iCloud & Mobile Suica Cloud where it is safe and ready to be re-added to the same iPhone, another iPhone or Apple Watch at any time with Suica Balance and Commute Plan intact.

The user does not need a Mobile Suica account to do this, for example, if you add a plastic Commuter Suica card to Apple Pay. It all works seamlessly because of an arrangement between Apple and JR East that links Apple Pay and Mobile Suica together in a special way.

If you take the time to install Suica App and look at your Suica card info, you see something like this:

Let’s say you add a 2nd plastic Suica card to Apple Pay. Look at the Suica App info for the 2nd card and you’ll see something like this:

What’s happening on the system level is that even though you do not have a Mobile Suica account, Apple Pay automatically registers your Apple ID on Mobile Suica Cloud the first time you add Suica card to Wallet, so that you never lose it. If you add a 2nd card it is also registered as Apple ID_1, a 3rd card as Apple ID_2, etc. Each and every Suica card is safe and secure no matter how many times you remove it from Wallet. The important thing to remember is that removing Suica from Wallet never deletes Suica from Apple Pay iCloud or Mobile Suica.

This is the reason why Apple Pay Suica cards cannot be migrated to Android Osaifu Keitai or Google Pay. Migrators leaving iPhone for good need to delete all of their Apple Pay Suica cards and get a refund in Suica App. This is the only way to completely delete a Suica card from Apple Pay iCloud and Mobile Suica.

Mobile Suica Shinkansen eTicket Service Ends March 2020

When you purchase Shinkansen eTickets in Suica App, you’ll see a small notice at the bottom of the menu screen: Mobile Suica Shinkansen eTicket Service ends March 2020. Does this mean we’ll have to go back to paper tickets? Not at all.

JR East has been coy about the new cloud based eTicket service they are working on to replace the current Mobile Suica one. Originally the plan was to release a product similar to JR Central’s smartEX in April 2019.

Oops, that didn’t happen and I think we are better off for it. smartEx for all of it’s backend system hocus-pocus, isn’t that smart. The basic system is designed with manually input Transit IC card numbers (Suica, PASMO, ICOCA, and all) as the center. The result is a fragile and static system that doesn’t port well. Sign up for the Express Reserve (EX Reserve) service option in Suica App and you too can experience JR Central’s oh so fugly EX system.

I don’t think JR East wants that kind of system. There are probably 2 aims: replacing the old but reliable iMode backend with a modern dynamic one that can comfortably process the full variety of regular train and Shinkansen eTickets while plugging into many different UI front-ends: Suica App, web, other transit company apps, etc. It will be properly internationalized too. The iMode backend has served us very well since 2006 but needs to go, take a look at the eTicket purchase screenshots on the Suica App page and you’ll see.

We’ll get a new eTicket service with a new name in a new version of Suica App, in English and Japanese probably, and lots more. I look forward to seeing what JR East comes up with for the big Tokyo Olympic 2020 rollout.