How to get a driver's license for tourists in Japan - Waku Waku

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How to get a driver's license for tourists in Japan


How to get a driver's license for tourists in Japan

To those who love to have real-life experience when travelling by driving, a driver's license is a must-have item. Additionally, it is also a must to prepare and learn the driving regulations of the country carefully.



Published on 17 Nov 2020, 12:00

What things do you need to drive legally in Japan?

I have quite a lot of experience travelling by rental cars and know how to be able to drive legally in Japan. First of all, no matter where you come from, you need a passport and a driver's license issued by your home country. Moreover, another document, depending on your nationality, is required - an IDP (International Driving Permit) or a translated copy of your driver's license.

How to get a driver's license for tourists in Japan

People from most countries can legally drive a car in Japan with an International Driving Permit (IDP) which cannot be issued within Japan. Therefore, you have to get it before coming to Japan. Most people can get it in their local traffic police department. Quite simple and fast!

How to get a driver's license for tourists in Japan
If you come from Belgium, France, Germany, Monaco, Slovenia, Switzerland, or Taiwan, you CANNOT drive a car legally in Japan with an IDP!

This is because Japan only accepts international driving licenses based on the 1949 Geneva Conventions.

Don't worry, though! My friend from France encountered this problem before and he shared with me how to get a permit.

All you need is another approach. Instead of an international driving permit, you will need a Japanese-translated copy (!) of your current driver's license. That copy must be issued by your country's embassy in Japan OR the JAF (Japan Automotive Federation).

This process will be more complicated than getting an international driving permit. Therefore, if you want to drive a car in Japan, plan your trip carefully.

How long will this driving permit be valid for?

The effective date is on the IDP. Regarding the translated copy and the driving permit in Japan, they will expire until your current driver's license expires or any part of the information changes.

It means you can still use that copy the next time you come to Japan; however, you have to apply for a new IDP every time you come to Japan.

For those who are short-term residents or currently living in Japan for the purpose of study like me, immigration, etc., please take note of this!

Whether your translated copy or IDP expires or not, you can only drive with those documents in Japan no more than 1 year! After that, you must have a Japanese driver's license.

Is a driver's license easily accepted in Japan?

Let me tell you my story about renting cars in Japan, not only in big cities but also in remote little islands. When I still possessed my Japanese driver's license, it was never a problem. It took me no more than 5-10 minutes to rent a car but...

How to get a driver's license for tourists in Japan

After a while, I came back to Japan for traveling. We had to show the translated copy to the lessor who was kind of confused to be able to rent a car. They were not familiar with these translated copies since not so many countries required this document. As a result, it would take much more time and effort.

Okay, I hope the above information can be a great help to you. I would like to hear about your experience regarding this matter.

Did you encounter any difficulties when applying for a driving permit in Japan? Did you encounter any problems picking up your car at a rental car dealership because they don't want to accept your driver's license? Let me know in the comment below!



Everything in Japan is different from cultures, behaviors, people,..I admire every bit of it. So I want to tell you about my Japan experiences through my stories here. Hope you enjoy it as same as me !!! @@@


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