Are you sick of visiting tourist attractions in Japan? Are you planning a trip to Japan by car? While driving, you can discover more hidden jewels and view Japan from different perspectives. It can be difficult to reach some locations without a car if you wish to travel away from the main tourist attractions. Also, if you intend to reside in the suburbs, you might consider purchasing a car. Your life will be a lot simpler! This tutorial will cover all you need to know about international driver’s licences and Japanese driver’s licences, as well as what to do in the event of an emergency.
Highly efficient public transportation systems service Japan’s large metropolitan areas around Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya. As a result, many residents lack access to a car or even a driver’s licence. However, outside of major cities, public transportation is cumbersome or infrequent, and most people rely on automobiles to get about.
An International Driving Permit (IDP) granted by your national motor association is adequate for most short-term international tourists to drive in Japan for up to 12 months.
Even if the IDP is valid for longer, foreigners with an International Driving Permit (IDP) are only allowed to drive in Japan for a maximum of one year. After the one-year period, you will not be able to use an International Driving Permit again unless you return to your native country for at least three months.
International driver’s licences are not issued in Japan and must be obtained in your home country in advance. They are usually offered by your country’s national car organisation for a low cost. Japan exclusively recognises international driving permits issued by a small number of countries and based on the Geneva Convention of 1949.
Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Monaco, Switzerland, and Taiwan do not issue permits based on the 1949 Geneva Convention; instead, they have a separate arrangement that allows them to drive in Japan for up to a year with an official Japanese translation of their driver’s licence. A translation can be obtained via the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) or any of the applicable nations’ embassies or consulates in Japan.
Anyone staying in Japan for more than a year, as well as anyone from other countries with international driving permits that Japan does not recognize, must obtain a Japanese driver’s licence.
International Driving License in Japan
Geneva Convention, 1949
You can get an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in Japan if you are only visiting for a short time. An International driver’s license can be obtained in the country where your driver’s license was issued. Furthermore, not all governments give the same kind of permits. You must determine whether your country’s international driver’s license is accepted in Japan. Also keep in mind that the Japanese are quite stringent about international standards, and driving with the improper IDP might result in a fine.
You can freely migrate to Japan if your IDP is granted by a country that is a signatory to the 1949 Geneva Convention. A list of countries that signed the 1949 Geneva Convention can be found here. It is not to be confused with the Vienna Convention of 1969. Japan is not a signatory to the Vienna Convention of 1969. As a result, the International Driver’s License issued under the Vienna Convention of 1969 is ineligible for usage in Japan.
Furthermore, starting at the age of 18, you can obtain an international driver’s licence. The International Driving Permit usually takes a few hours to a few days to process. It is dependent on the location where your IDP will be issued. You can drive to Japan for a year after receiving the document (since the issue of the form). If you plan to stay longer than a year, you should transfer your driver’s licence to a Japanese one. You will still be unable to drive if the IDP is reissued. If only you had spent more than three months overseas before returning to Japan. Furthermore, you must always carry your original driver’s license, international driver’s license, and passport. When applying for an international licensing permit, keep in mind that your license should not be expired.
Some Other Country’s Driving License
Furthermore, the issuance of an international driver’s licence is optional in several nations. Switzerland, Germany, France, Belgium, Monaco, Estonia, and Taiwan, for example, need a Japanese translation of their licenses. The translation must be obtained from the Japanese Automobile Federation (JAF) in Japan. Your local Japanese consular service may be able to provide the translation in some situations. You can look for a list of JAF offices in your area. The issue of license translation may be delayed as a result of pandemics.
You can also utilise a mailing service if you live far away from the JAF offices. The cost of the translation will be 3,000 yen. If you want to mail something, you’ll have to pay an extra 500 yen for postage. You can drive in Japan for a year after receiving the translation of your driver’s licence. You must carry your driver’s license, translation, and passport with you at all times when driving. If a cop stops you, he or she may ask for your passport to confirm the date of your entry.
You cannot drive in Japan if your driver’s licence does not comply with the 1949 Geneva Convention or another country’s driver’s licence. For more information, contact the Japanese embassy or consulate services in your area.
Driving License with Japanese Translations
Some nations have reached an agreement with Japan that allows them to utilise their licenses in Japan with official translations. Taiwan, France, Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Switzerland, and Monaco are among them. A driver’s licence with Japanese translation, like IDP, is only valid for a year. Simply carry your passport with you anytime you are subjected to a police check.
The Japan Automobile Federation can provide you with a Japanese translation of your driver’s licence (JAF). They have locations all around the United States. In Japan, certain embassies and consular offices also provide translation services. During the pandemic, you can also submit your application by mail to prevent contracting the virus.
Japanese Driver’s License
Follow these steps to obtain a Japanese driver’s licence.
Bring the original copies of the following documents together with your application form:
- Valid driver’s license.
- Proof that you have stayed in the issuing country for at least 90 days after the issuance of your license.
- Japanese translation of your driver’s license.
- Juminhyo or the Certificate of Residence.
- Two 3×2.4cm recent ID photos.
- National Health Insurance Card, Resident Card, Special Permanent Resident, and My Number card.
- Passport/s (Valid and expired. Bring them with you to prove your residency and other documents that will prove your stay in the issuing country).
- International Driving Permit.
Schedule an Appointment
A Police Department’s Driving License Center is typically open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 6 p.m. Only the Japanese language is supported by this service. If your Japanese is limited, have someone who knows the language schedule the appointment for you.
Visit the Driver’s License Centre
You have 30 minutes at the license centre, such as from 8:30 to 9:00 a.m. or from 1:00 to 1:30 p.m. You must bring the documentation you prepared for inspection with you and you can hire an interpreter if you don’t understand Japanese very well.
Take the Written Test and Driving Test
The next step is to take the tests after your documents have been accepted.
Written Test: If your international driver’s license cannot be converted to a Japanese driver’s license, you must obtain a Learner’s License. This written test has a passing score of 45 out of 50 items. If you have the ability to update it, you have submitted an application for a Full License. You must get at least 90 out of a possible 100 points. In some Japanese prefectures, written English or Chinese tests are available. You can find out if the test is available in your language by contacting the local licensing centre in your area.
Driving Test: You will be required to drive a car on the road during the Drive Test. As a result, you must be familiar with Japan’s road and traffic rules in order to pass. You must also demonstrate that you are a capable driver. Someone will be checking your test later. In the car, he will accompany you. He will occasionally provide instructions in Japanese, such as turning left or right. Learning simple Japanese terms or phrases can greatly assist you in understanding him. You must additionally pay a car rental cost in addition to the test fee. It is, however, subject to the licensing center’s discretion.
Eye Test: You must also get an eye examination as part of the procedure. You must bring and use your corrected spectacles as a result of this.
PIN Code Setting
Once you pass the tests, the center will set your PIN code.
Photo and Issuance of the License
A photo booth is available at Japanese licensing centres where you can have your picture taken. Following the printing of your new driver’s license, you will receive it immediately.
Furthermore, to drive, buy, or rent a car, all drivers who have lived in Japan for more than 12 months must receive a Japanese driver’s licence. On paper, former residents of Japan who leave the country for more than three months before returning are permitted to drive in Japan with an International Driving Permit if it has been renewed within the previous year.
However, decisions about the validity of an International Driver’s Permit are made at the discretion of Japanese police, and a foreign driver suspected of committing a traffic violation while driving with an IDR is more likely to be prosecuted than a foreign driver with a Japan-issued driver’s license. As a result, only foreigners on 90-day tourist visas should utilise an IDP, while those staying in Japan for longer than 90 days should get a Japanese driver’s licence.
Drivers from a number of countries that have reciprocal agreements with Japan can easily obtain a driver’s license in Japan. Australia, Austria, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, New Zealand, South Korea, Spain, and Switzerland are among them.
Residents of these countries can obtain a Japanese driver’s licence without taking a written or practical test. Drivers from these countries must present an official translation of their driver’s licence from their embassy or the Japanese Automobile Federation (JAF), pass an eye test, and demonstrate that they have lived in the country that issued their driver’s licence for at least 3 months after receiving it.
Converting the International Driver’s License into Japanese Driving License
Obtaining a Japanese driver’s license can be difficult, but it is necessary if you wish to drive in Japan. Having a Japanese driver’s license might help you not only travel but also find work in Japan. You can obtain an International Driving License (IDP) in your home country if you are only visiting Japan for less than a year. Please keep in mind that not all countries are eligible to drive in Japan;
If you plan to stay in Japan for more than a year and your country is not on the list of Japan’s affiliated countries, you will need to obtain a Japanese driver’s licence. Your foreign driver’s licence can convert into a Japanese driver’s licence. Then you have to give driving and a written test. Before the exam, you can take driving lessons or speak with your local Driver’s License Center. I recommend that you enroll in driving classes and practice exam questions, as even a professional driver with years of experience might fail the exam.
The first step is to have your International Driver’s License officially translated. It is available via the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) or the embassy of your country. After that, you must schedule an appointment with the local Driver’s License Center. If you don’t speak Japanese, I recommend bringing a Japanese-speaking buddy or interpreter with you. You will need to bring some documents with you when you go to the Driver’s License Center to take the exam. Expect to spend between 4,000 and 5,000 yen for tests and card issuance.
Some tips for passing the exams:
Before taking the exam, take some driving lessons. Driving in Japan differs from driving in your nation. In other countries, for example, a single side checks when turning right or left is sufficient. In Japan, you must double-check everything and turn your head completely to the side. Read the Rules of the Road handbook several times.
Roads and the Rules
Automobiles travel on the left side of the road, with the driver’s seat and steering wheel on the right. The legal driving age is eighteen years old. There is a strict restriction to drinking and driving. The majority of signage on important roadways is in Japanese and English, and they follow international standards. Before crossing any railway tracks, vehicles must come to a complete stop.
On expressways, speed restrictions are often 80 to 100 km/h, 40 km/h in metropolitan areas, 30 km/h on side streets, and 50 to 60 km/h elsewhere; however, vehicles frequently exceed the posted speed limits.
With the exception of expressways, some scenic driving routes, and a small number of toll tunnels, most roads in Japan are toll-free. Although road conditions are generally adequate, side streets in cities might be tiny or even impassable to larger cars. In and around urban areas, traffic congestion is a common occurrence.
Drivers in Japan are generally courteous and considerate, but some common dangers on the road include drivers speeding through intersections long after the traffic light has turned red, people stopping their vehicles at the edge of the road in such a way that they block traffic, and careless cyclists, particularly those who ride on the wrong side of the road.
As others have discovered, obtaining a Japanese driver’s licence can be difficult and time-consuming. It is, however, required if you intend to stay in Japan for an extended period of time.
If you’re thinking about going to Japan, you should consider getting an international driver’s licence. It has the potential to change your life. You’ll be able to see beautiful sites outside of Tokyo! There are many scenic sites in Japan that are worth visiting! Do you intend to stay in Japan for an extended period of time? Get a driver’s licence in Japan! You can get a Japanese driver’s license by converting your international driver’s license or by enrolling in a Japanese driving school.