Q: I currently live and work in Japan, but I will soon retire in the United States. I have purchased music and iBooks for my iPhone 4S and my iPad 2 (owned by my Japanese university). How can I ensure that my music and iBooks will be transferred to my new iPhone and iPad that I plan to purchase in the U.S.?

– James

A: Restrictions on content purchased from the iTunes Store are based on the account with which the content was purchased, and have nothing to do with where your devices were purchased, or your actual physical location.

Apple enforces country-based restrictions for an iTunes Store account when you first setup the account simply by ensuring that you have a billing address in the appropriate country. An iTunes Store account, however, can be setup and used from anywhere in the world; you need to have a credit card with a billing address in the appropriate country in order to purchase new items, but your account can be used for any items you’ve already purchased regardless of where you are physically located.

Note that music you’ve purchased from the iTunes Store after 2009 won’t be DRM-protected anyway, and you can actually use this content on any device that supports the AAC audio file format regardless of iTunes Store authorization. Other content such as iBooks, movies, TV shows and apps, as well as older music purchased from the iTunes Store, require iTunes Store authorization and you will therefore need to ensure that your device is associated with the appropriate iTunes Store account.

Assuming that you have purchased these items yourself, with your own Japanese iTunes Store account, you should have no problem loading them onto your U.S. purchased iPad and iPhone. If you’re using a laptop or desktop computer with iTunes installed and these items are already in your iTunes library, you can simply load them onto your new devices directly from there; the authorization to use the items is added to your device when the items are transferred over.

If the purchased items are only on your existing devices, then we recommend that you transfer them back to your iTunes library on your computer by using the “Transfer Purchases” option found in iTunes. See our iPod 201 article, Copying Content from your iPod to your Computer for more information on how to do this. Once in your library, they will be available for transfer to any new devices that you purchase in the future.

Alternatively, you could rely on simply re-downloading them to your new devices via iTunes in the Cloud, however one limitation to be aware of is that a given iOS device can only re-download previously purchased content from one account per 90 days, so if you plan to setup a new iTunes Store account in the U.S., you may want to avoid tying your iOS device(s) into your Japanese iTunes Store account in this manner. Further, it’s always a good idea to have your own copy of any purchased items as you can only re-download items from the iTunes Store if they are still actually available on the iTunes Store. See Secrets & Features of iCloud for more information on iTunes in the Cloud.

An iPod or iOS device can be authorized to play content from up to five different iTunes Store accounts, so you shouldn’t have any problem using content purchased with your Japanese iTunes Store account alongside any content you purchase with your U.S. iTunes Store account on the same devices.



Jesse Hollington was a Senior Editor at iLounge. He's written about Apple technology for nearly a decade and had been covering the industry since the early days of iLounge. In his role at iLounge, he provided daily news coverage, wrote and edited features and reviews, and was responsible for the overall quality of the site's content.