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Converting a foreign driver’s license to a Japanese one

Jack is thinking about converting his American driver’s license to a Japanese one. He asks his friend, Linda, who is also from the U.S., about how he can obtain a Japanese driver’s license.

Jack
I have been driving in Japan with an international driving permit, but I think it’s time for me to get a Japanese license.
Linda
Well, you know I just switched my American license to a Japanese one the other day.
Jack
Was that easy to do?
Linda
You need to take various different documents with you to apply for the license. They don’t accept an insufficient application, so I checked the Metropolitan Police Department’s website in advance to make sure I got everything I needed. The site gives you detailed information about how you can switch your foreign driver’s license to a Japanese one.
Jack
I know there are three test centers in Tokyo where I can apply for the driver’s license. Can I go to any of them?
Linda
Since your license is from the U.S., you are required to take both written and driving tests to convert it to a Japanese one. People like you who need to take the tests should apply at the test centers in Fuchu or Samezu.
Jack
Do you mean that some people don’t have to take the tests to get a license?
Linda
Right. The tests are waived if your license is from certain countries. Those people can apply at any test center, including the one in Koto. Just remember that all of these test centers are open only during the daytime on weekdays. It is permissible to bring someone with you as an interpreter if you don’t feel comfortable about your Japanese.


Jack seems to be little concerned about the tests.

Jack
So, how was the written test? Was that difficult?
Linda
It wasn’t so bad at all. The test is simple, and you take it on the computer. Questions are basically about traffic rules in Japan. The test is available in 19 different languages, including English.
Jack
Am I going to take the driving test on the same day with the written test?
Linda
No, once you pass the written test, you make an appointment for the driving test and come back to the center on the day of the appointment. You are going to actually drive the course within the test center.
Jack
I see. I’m starting to get a better picture of what I am going to do. Thank you for your help.
Linda
No problem. Hope things will go well for you.

Metropolitan Police Department
“Transfer of Foreign Driver’s License to a Japanese One” (PDF file) http://www.keishicho.metro.tokyo.jp/foreign/gaimen/pdf/en.pdf
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