To drive in Japan, you need a Japanese driver’s license or an international driver’s license obtained in a country signatory to the Geneva Convention. However, if you are a holder of a driver’s license from countries considered to have an equal standard of licensing system, which currently applies to Estonia, Switzerland, Germany, France, Belgium, Monaco, and Taiwan, you can drive in Japan once you have an official Japanese translation of your license issued by the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF), or the respective countries’ embassies or consulates in Japan.
With your international driver’s license, you can only drive for a year from the date of your arrival, or until the expiry date of your driver’s license (whichever is sooner). If you intend to reside in Japan and drive longer than these periods, for either business or for other purposes, you are required to obtain a Japanese license at your local licensing office, by applying for a conversion of the existing driver’s license issued in your home country.
You need a valid driver’s license and have to prepare documents that prove you have resided in the issuing country for at least 3 months before coming to Japan. The general process is followed by submission of application papers, an eye exam, a written exam for basic traffic rules, and a practical exam. Some of these steps, however, could be omitted depending on the issuing country of your license.
It is recommended to contact your local licensing office about the application process that you are required to follow, and also about the availability of a shorter process, as it solely depends on the issuing country of your license.
If you wish to apply for a foreign license conversion, you get more information, organize help with translating your license, and download the application form on the website below.
The list of Frequently Asked Questions
Questions about studying abroad
Questions about a visa and status of residence
- Q: What is a visa?
- Q: What do the “status of residence” and “period of stay” mean?
- Q: What is the Certificate of Eligibility?
- Q: What kind of procedure is expected for a foreign national who wishes to invite relatives to Japan during summer vacation?
- Q: How many months in advance should one apply for a renewal of status of residence?
- Q: Currently I live in Japan with a Dependent visa. What are the necessary procedures to visit my home country?
- Q: I am currently outside of Japan and my permitted period of stay is expiring soon. Is it possible to apply for an extension at a local Japanese embassy?
- Q: Could I still keep my passport while I am applying for an extension of the period of stay? Also, am I allowed to travel outside of Japan?
- Q: My visa as a Specialist in Humanities/International Services is about to expire and I am changing jobs soon. What is the required visa procedure?
- Q: I am changing jobs and need to prove that I am eligible to keep my current status of residence. What are the necessary procedures?
- Q: With the expiration of my visa, when do I need to get a job offer by?
- Q: I am illegally staying Japan beyond the period of stay and wish to leave Japan. What do I need to prepare?