Q: How can I get a driver’s license in Japan?

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.

[Reference] JAF: Information on how to obtain the Japanese translation of foreign driver’s license

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