Japanese Drivers License Conversion

traffic lights

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.

eye test

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.