Created for expats living in Japan

Lost Your Phone in Japan? Here’s How to Get it Back

Losing your phone is a stressful experience at any time, but if it happens in a foreign country, this stress is compounded by language barriers, different or complicated procedures for lost items, and general travel stress. The worry of losing personal information and potentially financial information just makes the situation worse. Luckily there are a number of measures you can take, both as precautionary measures and after losing it to minimize risk and help find your phone. Here are some actions to take if you have lost your phone in Japan, whether you live here or are just traveling.

Preliminary Measures to Take

No one wants to lose their phone or even wants to think about it, yet it happens every day to so many people. Because of this, it is best to prepare for the possibility. There are a number of preliminary measures you can take to help avoid losing it and avoid complications after the fact.

One of the biggest issues surrounding the loss of a phone is fraud, or other problems involving your personal information. It is best to ensure that your phone has either a strong password or face/fingerprint recognition to unlock it. This can help avoid or delay the misuse of your personal data. You should also make sure data encryption is enabled—this is automatically enabled on iPhones but must be manually enabled for Android phones.

Another issue is the loss of data—photos, files, messages, contacts, and the like. Regularly back up your phone to minimize the loss of your data (and the pain that comes with it).

Finally, one of the best things to do in order to help find your phone if you lose it is to enable the Find My Phone function. Test it before traveling to ensure accuracy.

Track Your Lost Phone: Enable Phone Search

If you have already lost your phone, one of the first actions should be to attempt to use the Find My Phone function. This function is called Find My iPhone on Apple devices and Find My Device on Android phones. As long as this is enabled, you should be able to track your phone from a computer or other device.

If you are able to narrow down the location of your phone to a business, train station, or police box, you can then visit the location and explain the situation to staff or authorities so you can retrieve your phone.

If you don’t have it enabled, you can also try calling the phone in the hope that someone answers and tells you where it is, but the Find My Phone function is much more accurate and reliable.

Report it to the Lost & Found

If you can’t locate your phone, you can also report it lost. Depending on where you lost it and how specific you can be about the location, there may be a number of places to report it (train station office, restaurant or shop staff, etc.). For more information about various lost and found procedures in Japan, you can see our guide here. The most general place to report it is to a police box or koban. If you know the general area you lost it, you can visit a police box there, explain the situation, and describe your phone. If it has been turned in. The police will check their lost and found and if it has been turned in and you can confirm it is yours, you can move on.

If it hasn’t been turned in, you will be given a case number, and you can leave a contact number with the police—if someone turns it in they will contact you. This procedure is similar when reporting a lost item at train stations and businesses.

Pause the Service on Your Phone

If you have taken all these steps and are no closer to finding your phone, it is best to disable the phone as much as possible remotely. This will hinder any possible misuse of your private information or the phone itself. You should stop or change permissions on any apps or services that use your personal data. Try to contact your carrier and suspend your service if possible. This is more relevant if you live in Japan and have a Japanese carrier or if you are using remote service from your home country while traveling. If you use cashless apps, disable them—disconnect your cards or suspend the apps.

The next step is to protect your messaging and social media accounts. Log in from another device and change the passwords or remove your phone as a ‘trusted device.’ These steps are especially important to take if the chances of getting your phone back are low or if it has already been missing for a considerable amount of time. If you do get your phone back, most of these steps are reversible.

Protect & Prepare Yourself for Lost Phones in Japan

There are a number of things to worry about when losing a phone—loss of personal information, contacts, financial information, and of course, an expensive device. This can all be made more difficult when losing a phone in a foreign country like Japan. While most items are often returned in Japan, it is still important to take precautions to minimize risk if and when it happens. You can use the steps outlined here as a general guideline to protect yourself in case the worst happens—best of luck to you in your quest to find your lost phone!

Learn more about life in Japan, from getting utilities set up, to figuring out the power outlets, and many more articles on the subject here.