Japanese Drivers License Conversion
For expatriates or long-term foreign residents wishing to drive legally in Japan, it is necessary to convert foreign licenses to a Japanese license before the twelve month expiry period of an international driving permit.
The process involved to convert a foreign license depends on the country of issue. A simple conversion is applicable to licenses issued in the twenty-five countries, and one principality listed below. Alternatively, all other issued license holders are required to take a written and practical test.
In order to clarify for eligibility, license holders must prove they were resident in the country of issue for a minimum period of 90 days. Producing either/or an original passport with entry/exit stamps, a college/university certificate or tax bill will normally suffice. License holders who can prove they were resident for over a year do not require the yellow & green beginner plates. If in doubt, it is wise to check with the license centre for eligibility before proceeding.
License holders should first obtain a translation of their license through JAF. Once the translation has been received, license holders need to make an application at their local license centre with the following documents:
- 1. Original Driver’s License (incl. Counterpart for UK license holders)
- 2. Updated Residence Card
- 3. Translation of Drivers Licence (from JAF)
- 4. Passport or other documents proving eligibility.
- 5. 1x Colour Photo (3cm x 2.4cm).
- 6. Application Fee of 4,450
- NB: Other documentation may be required depending on the circumstances of each individual.
At the time of application, license holders will also be required to take a simple eye test. While the easiest way to convey your thoughts is to point, below are the commands for communicating in Japanese.
Those who are not required to take a practical test can wait for a short time to obtain their Japanese license the same day, or have it delivered by registered post for a small fee. License holders who require taking the test will need to make a booking on the day of application.
In preparation for the test, license holders can practise on the actual test course with a driving instructor for a reasonable fee. For those who lack confidence, this may be a wise investment as the test is carried out entirely in Japanese with a high fail rate. Note before the test, the instructor will go over key points he/she is expecting from applicants, in Japanese, with the use of print-outs. It is wise to pay attention.
Motovique does not directly assist with the application process itself, however are happy to answer any questions you may have on the matter.