Resource Center FAQ

Below are some commonly asked questions at the Resource Center. Hold the "control" key and the "F" key at the same time ("command" key and the "F" key on Macs) to type in a keyword.

What do I need to switch my driving license?

A. The procedure to switch a foreign license to a Japanese license varies depending on the home country.  Essentially, you will need the following:

  • your original driver’s license
  • a translation of the license
  • documents (tax returns, transcripts, etc. ) proving that you have been in the country of issuance for at least 3 months before coming to Japan. *

*Some driver’s licenses don’t have an issue date. In that case, you will need your driver’s license history as well.

For more detailed information, please see the Living in Okinawa Guide Book.

Where can I get information car insurance?

A. Please be aware that in Japan, there are two main times of automobile insurance schemes: Voluntary and Compulsory.
Compulsory Insurance
It is illegal to drive without compulsory insurance, so you will usually receive it when you purchase your vehicle, either from the individual seller or the car dealer. Additionally, when you renew your shaken/JCI, it is usually apart of the price. However, in the event of a serious accident, compulsory insurance will almost never offer sufficient protection, so it is highly advised that you buy voluntary insurance.
Voluntary Insurance
There are several options available for voluntary insurance.  There are two agencies in Okinawa that offer English assistance.
368 Sunabe Chatan-cho, Okinawa 904-0111
TEL: 098-936-2710 / FAX: 098-936-8054
1-10-9 #201 Kitamae Chatan-cho
TEL: 098-936-4700
 FAX: 098-936-4700
Nakama Insurance
Hamagawa  2-4-5 1F
Chatan, Okinawa
Tel: 098-926-1089
Other options (Japanese only) include:
AIOI Insurance
JA Insurance
Daido Insurance
You will generally need to present the following when getting voluntary insurance:
Copy of Japanese Drivers license (front and back)
Copy of Car Shaken/Inspection Certificate
Proof of Compulsory Insurance
Previous insurance card/paperwork (if you would like to change insurance companies)

How do I transfer a car title (buy/sell a car from/to an individual)?

The buyer or the seller should take all of the documents below to the Okinawa Land Transportation Office (Okinawa Riku'un Jimusho 沖縄陸運事務所)  and explain that you would like to do a Title Transfer (meigi henkō ;名義変更).  If you transfer a Kei-car, it will be at the Light Motor Vehicle Inspection Organization (軽自動車協会 kei jidousha kyoukai ), but they are located in the same area. You can also have someone (such as a mechanic at a car shop) do this for you if you both sign a letter of attorney (委任状), but they will usually charge a fee for this service.
The office is located here:
512-4 Minatogawa, Urasoe, Okinawa 〒901-2134
Necessary Documents

  1. Buyers Personal Seal (inkan or hanko)
  2. Buyers Personal Seal Certificate (inkan shomeisho) from your local public office. (Not necessary for a kei car)
  3. Deed of Transfer (joto shomeisho) ( needs to be signed by both of you)
  4. Previous Owner's Personal Seal Certificate (inkan shomeisho)
  5. Compulsory Insurance Certificate (jibaiseki hoken-sho) from the previous owner
  6. Shaken Inspection Certificate (shaken-sho) from the previous owner
  7. Proof of Payment of Automobile Tax (jidoushazei noufu shoumeisho) from previous owner (may not be needed)
  8. ※Letter of Attorney (inin-jyo)  ( Click here for a sample) If either or both can’t go, you need to submit this.

*Usually you will need proof of a parking space, but it is not necessary for Onna or Yomitan residents.
The following pages have additional information regarding buying and selling cars from dealers and individuals:

Where can I buy a car?

For general information about finding a car, please see the Relocation Team’s “Living in Okinawa Guide”.

There are many places to buy a car in Okinawa. However, not all of them offer English support.  If this will be your first car in Okinawa, the Relocation Team can offer you assistance.

Buying from an Individual Seller

There are a few ways to find individuals selling cars:

•    TIDA’s “marketplace” section often features cars from OIST members.
• has a listing of vehicles.  (Search for “kanji plate” to avoid SOFA status vehicles)
•    Simply ask! Many OIST members may be looking to sell their vehicle.

If you decide to purchase a car from an individual seller, please read “How do I transfer a car title?” for more information.

Buying a car from someone with SOFA status  (Y plate car)

If you choose to buy a car from a personal seller, please be aware that as someone with a typical residence status (Japanese National, or on a work visa from the Japanese government and sponsored by OIST) purchasing a vehicle from someone who has SOFA status (generally people working for the U.S. military, U.S. government, and their dependents), can be very complicated and expensive (due to the additional taxes and inspections that need to be performed).  

Local Dealerships:

There are many used-car dealerships in Okinawa, but be aware  of the following:

•    Warranties are often very limited or non-existent
•    Some dealers will only sell a car to someone with a Japanese interpreter.
•    Some shop owners open their dealerships at very irregular hours.

If you shop for a car using the resources below, it’s best to check these details in advance with the Resource Center or a Japanese speaking friend.

Internet Sites

Goo net (Suzuki- Kei)
This language has an English version, but it is difficult to find cars in Okinawa using the English page. Instead, you can use this Japanese page and run it through Google Translate.

Cross Road
This website is also in Japanese, but the Relocation Team has created a PDF guide that will be helpful for English speakers.

Used-Car Shops

Below are a few used-car shops near the Onna-area.

6351-3 Onna, Kunigami District,
Okinawa Prefecture 904-0411
Phone: 098-966-2450
Hours: 9:00-18:00 (Monday-Saturday)
Car Shop Koja
181 Iramina, Yomitan-son
Nakagami-gun, Okinawa-ken
904-0303, Japan
Phone: 098-957-3595
Hours: 9:00-19:00
Kina Motors
505-1 Hija, Yomitan,
Nakagami District, Okinawa, 904-0311
Phone: +81 98-982-8686
Hours: 9:00-19:30 (Open Everyday)

Where can I get my car repaired?

Car repair shops are located all over Okinawa. Most shops do not speak English, so if you need assistance in explaining the situation, please visit the car shop and ask them to call the Resource Center.
Below are a few shops that OIST members have had good experiences with.
2366-1 Ishikawa
Uruma-shi, Okinawa-ken 904-1106
Phone: 098-965-6390

*Towing is available and the owner is familiar with OIST. Free loaner cars.
2761 Noborikawa,
Okinawa City, Okinawa 904-2142
Phone: 098-937-4059
Hours: 8:00-18:00 (Monday-Saturday)
*Full Service in English. Free loaner cars.
Kishimoto Motors
2 Chome-33-5 Makiminato, Urasoe,
Okinawa Prefecture 901-2131
 *Performs body work and mechanical repairs. English is available. Free loaner cars.

Where can I get my shaken/JCI inspection?

Many car dealers, gas stations and car repair shops offer shaken/JCI inspections.
English Speaking Shops:

Toma’s Garage
2761 Noborikawa,
Okinawa City, Okinawa 904-2142
Phone: 098-937-4059
Hours: 8:00-18:00 (Monday-Saturday)
*Full Service in English. Free loaner cars. Credit Cards Accepted

Auto Repair Shop Toma
Google Map
Phone: 098-956-0691
Hours: 7:30-18:00 (Monday-Saturday)
*Full service in English. Free Loner cars. Free car wash. Free estimates.

B&M Motors
28 Sunabe, Chatan,
Okinawa 901-0111
Phone: 098-926-5588
Hours: 9:00-18:00 (Monday-Saturday)

Shaken Specialists (Tend to be the cheapest options for JCI/Shaken)

Miyazato Komae Vehicle Inspection Shop
2 Chome-19-25 Miyazato
Okinawa, Okinawa Prefecture 904-2165
Phone: 0800-808-0250
Hours: 9:00-19:00 (Open Daily)

Super Car Inspection
Okinawa Branch
1-1-24 Ageda, Okinawa City
Okinawa, 904-0012
Phone: 098-937-3388
Hours: 8:00-19:00; (Sunday and Holidays: 8:00-18:00)
*Online reservation (Japanese). Cards not accepted

Uruma City Branch
287-1 Maehara, Uruma City
Okinawa, 904-2235
Phone: 098-937-3388
Hours: 8:00-19:00; (Sunday and Holidays: 8:00-18:00)
*Online reservation (Japanese). Cards not accepted

Where can I get a document notarized?

The Naha Notarial Center will notarize both English language and Japanese language documents.
Naha Notarial Center      
3F Malissa Hills, 176-4 Aza-Asato,
Naha City, 902-0067
Phone:  098-862-3161
American citizens also have the option of getting documents notarized at the American Consulate. Appointments are required.

Where can I go about questions concerning taxes?

The HR Operations team can help with questions concerning income or residence tax.
For more specialized tax advice, please visit the Shiroma Getetsu Tax office which specializes in assisting foreigners with various tax issues.
1-2-7 Mashiko, Ginowan City,
Okinawa 901-2224
Phone: 098-897-2719

What do I need to know about pregnancy/ childbirth in Okinawa?

Once you are know pregnant, you need to register your pregnancy with your municipal hall.
Once your baby is born, you must register the birth at your municipal hall.

Registering Your Pregnancy

As soon as you know that you are pregnant, you must submit a Pregnancy Registration Form (妊娠届出書/ninshintodokedesho) to the village hall.

You will receive several documents meant to help educate you about pregnancy. The most important thing you will receive is the Mother-child health handbook (母子健康手帳/boshikenkoutechou).

About the Mother-Child Health Handbook

This handbook is extremely important. Everything medical about you (through your pregnancy) and your child (until they are several years old) will be recorded in here. It must be brought to any doctor/midwife appointment, hospital visit, etc. and is usually necessary for any kind of legal or official government procedure.

Birth Registration Requirements

Period of Registration
  • Within 14 days of birth
Individuals Eligible to Register
  • Father or Mother
  • Person living with the family
  • Doctor, midwife (or other) who was present at the birth
Region for Registration
  • Father and mother's permanent residential region
  • Present region of individual registering
  • Region where the birth took place
Where to Register
  • Town or village hall
  • Hospital, birthing clinic or center
Necessary Items
  • Registration of Birth Certificate* (出生届/shusseitodoke)
  • Proof of Birth (with doctor/midwife certification) (出生証明書shusseishoumeisho)**
  • Mother-child health handbook
  • Registering person's seal
  • Bank Book***
  • Health insurance card(s)
Documents for Non-Japanese Residents
  • Passports
  • Residence Cards
* This will be given to you by the hospital where your child was born. It is not a birth certificate in the usual sense. You will get copies of your child's true birth certificate from the village office (for a small price) when you need them. They don't give you the original.
** This will be given to you by your doctor/midwife with their seal on it.
*** This is needed if you want to get the monthly allowance (15,000 yen/month) from the Japanese government to help with child costs.

Pregnancy and Birthing Costs

The Japanese government will pay for many of the costs involved in pregnancy and childbirth. It is important to note that pregnancy related costs are not covered by the Japanese national healthcare system. The government treats this differently.When you register at the village hall, you will also receive a coupon book for your checkups leading up to your delivery.
The government will also cover the cost of the delivery itself up to a certain amount (~420,000 yen). If the delivery costs less, than you may keep the excess. If you choose a place to give birth before your delivery, they can register themselves with your village/town hall and the government will reimburse them directly. Otherwise, you will need to pay cash and then get reimbursed later.