Skip to main content

Getting A Japanese Driving Licence

This page details what is necessary in order to receive a Japanese driving licence if you already have one in your home country.

When switching your driver's licence to a Japanese one, certain countries are exempt from needing the written and practical exam. You can find the list of these countries, and more useful information, on this document. This document is written by the Tokyo prefectural police department. Please check the website of your prefectural police department for details related to where you are.

Regardless of whether you need to take the test or not, there's a list of documents that you need to prepare before being able to book an appointment to switch your licence. The list can be found on the police website in your prefecture.

One thing to note, is that you need to prove you were in your native country for more than 3 months after obtaining your driver's licence. This can usually be done by showing them your passport, but if your passport does not include your departure date (due to more up to date technology as opposed to immigration stamps) or has been renewed recently, then you will need to use other official documents to prove this. University graduation certificates, tax records, or even credit card receipts can be used to prove that you were residing in your country for more than 3 months since your "first issue date". It is ideal to provide 4-5 months worth of proof, even better if it is more than a year as this will allow you to drive in Japan without a beginner's mark.

Another thing to be careful about is the 住民票 (juuminhyou), which is proof of residence. This can be issued at your local city office, and they will ask you what information you need this document to include. Make sure to say that your nationality needs to be on there (this will not be included unless requested!)

Other documents necessary for switching your licence include an official Japanese translation of your driver's licence. This can be issued by JAF. Follow the steps outlines in this website in order to order a translation.

They will also test your eye sight on the day, so make sure to take your glasses or contact lenses if you use any!