Driving licences – Applications and Renewals

Driving when on holiday

When you want to drive in Japan for a period of a year or less, you will be required to use an international license. Car rentals will often ask for passport too when renting so be have it with you. International drivers licenses must be obtained from your home country before coming to Japan. Japan recognises only international driving liceinses which are based on the Geneva Convention of 1949.

Living and driving in Japan

One thing to be careful about is knowing whe you have to change your international licence over to a Japanese one. If in your first year in Japan, you can use your international licence for up to a year. If you leave Japan for more than 3 consecutive months after the1 year, you may re-enter with a new International license. However, once a year passes and you have not Japan, you will need to apply for a Japanese drivers licence.

The Japanese Drivers License

Japan has made agreements with more than twenty countries around the world to ease up the process of converting a valid foreign driver’s license into a Japanese one. Among these countries are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

If you hold a valid driver’s license from any one of these countries, you will be able to get a Japanese license without taking a written or practical exam. All that you need to do is get to the local license center with an official translation of your license, fill out appropriate documents, take an eye test and prove that you lived at least three months in the license issuing country after receiving your license.

If you hold a driver’s license from a country which does not have an agreement with Japan yet, such as the United States, China or Brazil, you will have to take a written and practical exam in order to obtain a Japanese driver’s license. This process typically takes several attempts, even for experienced drivers.

Getting a License in Nagoya

The first thing you will need to get done, is have your driving license translated. You will need all parts (card and paper) of a valid license with you to get the License translated at a local JAF (Japan Automobile Federation) office. The process can be done within an hour and costs 3000 yen. The closest and most convenient for those Nagoya is located about 15 minutes walk from Kanayama station. (see map below)

Once you have your translated license in hand, the next stop is the Aichi Driving Test Centre. Even if you will not actually be taking the test, you will need to take all documents here to have a license processed. The documents you need to take with you to the test centre are as followed.

1 Your foreign driver’s license (Both card and paper parts).
2 An official Japanese translation of your foreign drivers license – see above
3 An official Japanese translation of your foreign driver’s license – see above
4 Passport ( All passports, including any old passports with stamps indicating entry and departure dates to Japan ).
5 A copy of your passport ( the pages showing your photo, the visa and its duration )
6 Your alien registration card plus a copy of both sides of the card (or a certificate of alien registration).
7 One photograph, measuring 3cm by 2.4cm, taken within 6 months black and white or color. (May not need as they now take digital pictures)
8 >If you have a current or expired Japanese license, take it with you to the licensing center.

Map of Hirabari Test Centre