Teikiken: Japan’s commuter pass

Moving around Japan’s metropolitan areas requires patience and responsibility and not to mention quite the expense. Thanks to Teikiken, the commuter pass, an average commuter can easily travel around as long as one knows how to use it. Here’s a quick guide on how to use Teikiken.

Table of Contents

  1. Moving Around Japan
  2. Teikiken: A commuter’s best friend
  3. Recognizing the Benefits of Teikiken
  4. Summary

Moving Around Japan

Japan is widely known for its transportation, and most people here prefer a train ride, especially in the major cities, rather than driving, thanks to the extensive public transportation system. Using the train is efficient whether going to work, school if you are a student, and other places you wish to visit.

However, through the economic evolution in Japan's metropolitan areas, trains gradually became more and more crowded, especially the ones carrying commuters to and from work. This requires a lot of coping for those caught in the commuter rush, but having a commuter pass at the very least can help a little with the experience.

Teikiken: A commuter’s best friend

In Japan, you can use an IC card - basically a rechargeable smart card - when using public transportation. You load money onto the card and just tap it onto the reader when passing through the gates. Recently, you can use it on buses (not all but many), and even to pay at convenience stores, some vending machines at stations, etc. You can even register the card and have your name printed onto it so if you lose it, it can be returned to you.

But you can level up your IC card and turn it into a teikiken, or a commuter pass.

Having to ride the train on a daily basis can cut an amount from your budget, especially that the country’s transportation demands a high cost. The good news is, Japan offers a commuter pass that can help you save money.

The teikiken basically offers a discount between your home station and the station where your work or school is. You pay in advance for a certain period of time, from a month, 3 months to 6 months, and you can use the pass an unlimited number of times between the two stations during that time for no additional cost. If you are going to and from the same places every day, it is beneficial to have a discount on your overall transportation costs.

There are various types of teikiken following your age bracket, whether you are a student, an adult, or a child commuter. You will need a rechargeable prepaid card for storing funds- the IC card.

How to get a Teikiken

There are two methods to secure a commuter pass through:

  1. Ticket machines in the station: Please look for the one that says 定期 (teiki) as not all machines are equipped for commuter passes. The ticket machine offers various types of commuter passes – the adult commuter pass, the child commuter pass, the student pass (there may be more options depending on the railway system). Student commuters are encouraged to bring a card identifying them. You can use the machine to renew your pass as well.

  1. Station Office: If you go to the station office, the station staff will be able to help you create a commuter pass for the first time. If you are a student, be sure to bring your student ID.

Some railway systems such as Tokyo Metro offer an online pass reservation system, where you can fill out the information for and reserve a pass from your computer or smartphone and then go pick it up at any multi-functional ticket machines for that railway system. If you are a student, the ‘’Certificate of Commuting’’ issued by your school is needed to be issued a commuter pass.

You can obtain a new card or renew an old card up to two weeks before the usage. Please note that because you are paying upfront for an entire month, or up to 3 or 6 months worth of transportation, it can be quite the cost initially, especially if your home station and destination station are far apart. Some also only accept cash payment, so you should check to see if they take credit or debit cards ahead of time.

Recognizing the Benefits of Teikiken

A commuter pass is useful and advantageous on a daily basis. Given the same benefits as the adult, schoolers are allowed to get a pass for themselves, offering three options of validity period and a discounted price as long as they present a valid ID. This investment can help students, jobholders, and tourists who will stay a little bit longer in Japan to save a little money since it covers itineraries that the service train travels through without any charges. Limitless usage times, including vast access until the commuter pass expiration, is another privilege of owning a card. And as long as your card is valid, you don’t have to worry about whether you have enough money on your card when you are rushing through the busy station during your commute.

Refundable Purchase

There are various grounds and requirements if you wish for a refund on the commuter pass. The good thing that comes with reimbursement is the visible calculation of the amount to be given back to you. You just need to bring a valid ID as evidence of ownership if you wish to get the refund by yourself; otherwise, secure a letter of attorney for the authorization, a copy of the passenger’s official proof of identity, and proof of identity of the third party. If you purchased your card online, just present your valid ID and the same credit card you used to purchase.

Commuter pass refunds are calculated monthly, so the return would approximate to a monthly basis. However, depending on how much time has passed, the amount you will receive back will vary based on when you ask for the refund.


Opportunities for convenient travel such as the operation of service trains and other transportations make the travel less stressful in Japan. People love to utilize the train on a daily basis, and the existence of commuter passes will not only help cut some of the expenses but makes living more appropriate and justifiable. This kind of privilege should not be ignored because it will make an impact on your savings in the long run while in Japan.

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