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Steps to Getting a Driver’s Licence in Japan. Things You Must Know as a Foreigner

By Guidable Writers Apr 13, 2020


Before heading to your local driver’s license issuing center to convert your license into a Japanese license, it is better to know if you actually need to convert your document to drive a vehicle in Japan. If you are from one of the following countries, you can actually directly convert your driver’s license without examinations:

Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, The United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Taiwan, South Korea, and the USA.

! However, keep in mind that you need to prove a minimum residency period of three months in your home country after the driver’s license issuance.

Individuals from the countries not listed above are required to take both a written test and the driving test.

As it is fairly clear what group you belong to, we can directly go ahead and head on to the first step, which is to gather required documents;

  • Valid foreign driver’s license – has to show the issuance date, in case the document was renewed recently then additional documents will be required as proof.
  • Translation of the valid foreign driver’s license – translation services is available in Japan Automobile Federation (JAF), or at the embassy of the driver’s license issued country.
  • Residence Certificate – can be obtained from the local City Hall
  • Passport -0fficial document required
  • Photo – 3 x 2.4 sm – taken within the last 6 months


Applying at the Driving License Center 

Once you arrive at the driving license center, you need to meet the consultation desk. They will have all the documents arranged and help fill out the application to take the exam. Some driver’s license centers require additional documents, which is why contacting them before visiting is recommended.


Eye Check 

After getting the documents ready, you need to get your eye tested. The test will be conducted with the help of a machine and you will be asked to identify colors and directions displayed by the instructor.


Written Test

Group one: (those from the aforementioned countries), the procedure ends here and you can immediately receive the license.

Group two: will be asked to take a written test. The test includes 10 basic questions about the driving rules in a preferred language (Japanese, English, Russia, Chinese, Portuguese, Hiragana and Katakana)

To those who failed the test, they are asked to come again to take the test.

To those who pass the test, they are then allowed to proceed to the next test which is the driving exam.


Driving Test 

The driving test is the final step to get a Japanese driving license for those from Group Two. Before the start of the exam, the instructor gives a short presentation about basic traffic rules. They provide the test takers with maps of the test-route to make sure test takers know which way to go. Although the instructor will also indicate where to drive to during the exam, as such, knowing some basic Japanese makes it easier to pass the exam.


That’s all, good luck on getting your driver’s license!