Driving in Japan
If an unfortunate traffic accident happens involving injury or death, you will face severe consequences. You will have civil liability to the victim as well as criminal liability and the damages you will need to pay to the victim may be more than 100 million yen. To cover such compensation to the victim, you must obtain car insurance before driving in Japan. Specifically, it is highly recommended that you obtain car insurance which covers both unlimited bodily injury and property damage liabilities.
Obtaining driver's license in Japan can be complicated.
However, it is not very complicated as long as you know how it works.
Required process varies, so please see below flow chart to see what kind of process you need.
- Please check the list here
- Switzerland, German, France, Belgian, Slovenia, Monaco and Taiwan
- Process differs depending on the country. Please contact Resource Center for detail.
- Please check the process here. Translation can take up to 1 week.
- If you obtain your IDP after your entrance to Japan, your IDP will expire 1 year after your entrance.
- Please check the process here. You will not be able to exchange your license for a year
- You can chose either going to driving school or take test without going to driving school
- Taking test without going to school is very difficult. You might need to take few times.
- Going to driving school in Japan is very expensive. You will need to pay more than \250,000
- You will receive a letter 1 months before the expiration. Please check the process here
If you have a driver's license from your home country
International Driving Permit
If your license is from a member country of the 1949 Geneva Convention,(link) you can drive in Japan with an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) from your country, as long as both your license and the IDP are valid. The IDP is good for one year after the issue or the date of your entrance to Japan.
Official Translation of your Driver's License
Anyone holding a German, French, Slovenian, Monacan, Belgian, Taiwanese or Swiss driving license with an official Japanese translation of the license can drive a vehicle for one year in Japan (since your date of the entrance).
Translation has to be done by JAF (Japan Automobile Federation).You can either visit JAF in person or send the application and fee via post.
JAF Okinawa Branch
Open Hours： 9:00～17:30 weekday only
Address:： 〒901-2102 浦添市前田1-48-7
If you do not have drivers' license from your home country
Obtain Japanese Driver's License
If you do not have a driver's license from your home country, you have to go through the same licensing process as a Japanese national. There are two ways to get a license in Japan.
- Go to driving school and take final exam
- Take Written test and driving test at driver's licensing center.
Exchange your driver's license to Japanese one
Renewing your Driver's license
Your Driver's license will need to be renewed every 2-3 years depending on the situation.
How to check your expiration date of your license
How to renew your license
You will receive below post card from Driver's License Center at least 4 week before the expiration of your license.
You will see when you will be able to renew your drivers license inside of the post card.
Also there are instructions backside. Time Schedule and the location where you can renew your licensse.