April 2020


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Driving a car

Untenmenkyosho, a driver’s license is a document which proves you can drive a car.
To drive in Japan, you need one of the following:

  • Japanese driver's license
  • International driving license
  • Driver's license issued in Estonia, Switzerland, Germany, France, Belgium, Monaco, or Taiwan, and also a printed Japanese translation of it.
Driving a car

Driving using a foreign driver’s license

Driving with an international driver’s license

An international driver’s license is a driver’s license issued based on a foreign driver’s license.
People with international driver’s licenses issued by countries participating in the Geneva Convention can drive a car in Japan.

The rules for the length of time you can drive with an international driver’s license are as follows.

  • The period elapsed since receiving the international driver’s license in your country must be less than one year.
  • The period elapsed since your entry into Japan must be less than one year.

Driving with a foreign driver’s license

If you have a driver’s license from Estonia, Switzerland, Germany, France, Belgium, Monaco, or Taiwan, you can drive in Japan for up to 1 year with this license, provided you also carry a printed Japanese translation of it with you.

This printed Japanese translation of your license must be issued by the following organization.

  • Your country’s embassy or consulate in Japan
  • Japan Automobile Federation

Converting a foreign driver’s license to a Japanese license

If you have a foreign driver’s license, you may be able to convert it to a Japanese license at a driver’s license center.
To do this, you must satisfy the following conditions.

  • Have a valid foreign driver’s license.
  • Have proof of residence in the issuing country for at least 3 months after receiving the driver’s license.
Driving a car

Required materials for the procedure

  • A foreign driver’s license
  • Printed Japanese translation of your foreign license
  • Passport (including all old expired passports)
  • Certificate of residence: With your nationality printed on it
  • Residence Card
  • Photograph: length 3cm×width 2.4cm, taken within 6 months
  • Money for fees: The fee for the license conversion procedure is 2,550. An additional fee of 2,050 applies for issuing your Japanese license.

This printed Japanese translation of your license must be issued by the following organization.

  • Your country’s embassy or consulate in Japan
  • Japan Automobile Federation

Conversion procedure process

  1. Present the required documents.
  2. Take a “aptitude check” to verify your vision and hearing.
  3. Take a “knowledge check” to verify your knowledge of Japan’s traffic rules.
  4. Take a “skill check” to verify your practical driving skills. A reservation is required.
  5. Receive your Japanese driver’s license.

Whether or not you will be required to take the knowledge and skill checks in steps (3) and (4) varies depending on the country your foreign license was issued by. Please ask the driver’s license center.

When carrying out the procedure, you will be asked a variety of questions in Japanese.
If you cannot speak Japanese well, please bring someone who can speak Japanese with you to the driver’s license center.

To earn a Japanese driver’s license, you will be required to complete the following tests.

  1. Take a “aptitude check” to verify your vision and hearing.
  2. Take a “knowledge test” to verify your knowledge of Japan’s traffic rules. (This written test may be available in English and other foreign languages. Please ask the driver’s license center.)
  3. Take a “technical test” to verify your driving techniques. (This practical test is administered in Japanese only.)
Driving a car

Using driving schools

“Driving schools” are places for learning how to drive a car. Graduates of driving schools are not required to take the technical test in (3) above.
Graduating from one of these schools requires lesson fees of approximately 300,000 yen. However, many people earn their license by learning how to drive a car at a driving school and then taking the knowledge test in (2) above at a driver’s license center.

Tokyo International Communication Committee

Ono Bldg. 3F, 17-15 Kandamatsunagacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101-0023
TEL:03-5294-6542 FAX:03-5294-6540