Japanese Driver’s License

How do I get a Japanese Driver’s license?

Converting your license is less time consuming if you hold a license from any of the following countries: Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Korea Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, United Kingdom.

You will need:

  • an official translation of your driver’s license from the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF).
  • your driver’s license. 
  • a juminhyo or zairyu card (document certifying you’re a legal resident).
  • a passport sized photo.
  • your passport.
  • 4,150 yen for the fee, to your jurisdiction’s main licensing office. 
  • A document that proves you were in the issuing country for at least three months after the issuing date on your license.

If you’re not from one of the above countries, on top of the steps above, you have to take the Japanese driving test. The test consists of two parts:

  • a written exam – consisting of 10 true or false questions, the answers to which are common sense. English copies are available.
  • The driving exam – There are a certain number of moves that you must make around a driving course – signaling, looking, accelerating, braking, navigating in tight quarters. 

How do I get an official translation of my license?

You have two options when obtaining a translation of your drivers’ licence; in person or post.

Step 1: Download and fill out the application form found at https://english.jaf.or.jp/use-jaf-more/drive-in-japan/foreign-nationals-license

Step 2: Bring your original licence to one of JAFs international branches with the completed application form. If you are applying via post, a clear, legible and color photocopy of both the back and front of your licence will be needed.

**JAF has international branches in:

  • Sapporo
  • Hakodate
  • Asahikawa
  • Kushiro
  • Obihiro
  • Kitami

Step 3: Include a photocopy of your residential record for licences written in Arabic or Russian, or licences issued in the Kingdom of Thailand, The Republic of Korea or the Union of Myanmar.

Step 4: The fee for translation is 3000 yen. For postal applicants visit your post office to register for a postal cash service. You will also need to include 500 yen for return postage which includes two translations. If you need three or more the fee will be 600 yen.

Step 5: Allow 2 – 3 weeks for this process as same day translations are no longer available.