Created for expats living in Japan

Drivers License in Japan

Many foreigners appear to be interested in driving in Japan. The following is a list of things you need when driving in Japan and requirements to obtain a Japanese driver's license. 

RULES OF THE ROAD in Japan

JAF (Japan Automobile Federation) publishes and sells the foreign language versions of the "Rules of the Road" to help foreign motorists understand Japanese Traffic rules in order to prevent the occurrence of traffic accidents. Digital Format and Printed Format is available. We strongly recommend to purchase one these books in your own language and learn about the road rules in Japan. Please also refer to "Traffic Rules in Japan".

Foreign Nationals Who Drive Vehicles in Japan

To understand more about Japanese Traffic Rules and regulations, please access the link below. It is very important to know the basic rules before hitting the road for safe driving.

>> How to Drive in Japan (National Police Academy)

What You Need in order to Drive in Japan

Apart from a valid Japanese Driver's License, these licenses are permitted to drive in Japan. Please read "How to Switch your Driver's License to a Japanese License" if you are planning to convert your license to a Japanese one. If you would like to renew your driver's license, please read here.

International Driving Permit

Kindly note that International Driving Permit (IDP) is intended for short-term visitors, not middle/long-term residents who have their address registered in Japan. Those who consider driving occasionally are also encouraged to apply for this license conversion at their earliest convenience.

Valid International Driving Permit in Japan

International Driving Permits issued by signatory to the 1949 Geneva Convention

International Driving Permit English PDF

International Driving Permit is valid for up to one year on the condition that:

1) Not more than one year from the date of issue
2) Not more than one year from your date of entry to Japan
The shorter period of the above is your permitted driving period in Japan

Valid Foreign Driving License in Japan

For license issued in Switzerland, Slovenia, Germany, France, Belgium, Monaco, Taiwan

Foreign Driver's License English PDF

If you need your license to be translated into Japanese, JAF can help you.

https://english.jaf.or.jp/

Requirements for Getting a Japanese Driver's License

You need to meet the following requirements.

Visual Acuity

Visual acuity of 0.3 or better in each of the left and right eyes and 0.7 or better in both eyes. If one visual acuity does not reach 0.3, the better side of the vision must be 0.7 or better. The visual field must be 150 degrees or better (corrected vision with glasses, lenses etc. are acceptable).

Hearing

Hearing in both ears at a distance of 10 meters, the applicant must be able to hear a 90 decibel alarm (hearing compensated by a hearing aid is also acceptable).

Color Discrimination

You must be able to distinguish red, blue and yellow.

Physical Ability

The ability to operate a steering wheel or other device at will is required for the safe operation of a motor vehicle.

The Legal Driving Age in Japan

The minimum driving age is 18 years old for a car and 16 years old for a motorcycle (apart from a heavy motorcycle). Please read "Japanese Driver's License Classifications & Their Meanings" for further details.

English-Speaking Driving Schools in Tokyo

If you would like to take driving lessons in English in Tokyo, please refer to this page.

ASAHI Paper Driving School provides driving lessons for those who are preparing to get a Japanese driver's license as well as services for changing from a foreign license to a Japanese license and practicing driving in Japan. All services are provided in English. Please contact them if you would like to leran more about their services.