Driver's License Information
Is your International Drivers License valid?
Driving without a license is illegal!
Please read the following information carefully, even if you do not have a drivers license (see: Penalties for Driving Without a License)
1. International Drivers Licenses
International licenses which meet the following crtieria will be considered valid:
- Drivers license was issued by a country which signed the September 19, 1949 Road Traffic Convention
- International driving permits are now only valid for up to 12 months after the date of issue. After the 12 month period, you will be unable drive legally in Japan.
- If you were in your home country for more than 3 months and obtain another international license, you can drive for one year from the date of issue.
- International driving permits obtained via the Internet are not valid.
- A "Type A" International Drivers License is required for operating motor vehicles.
Member Countries of the September 19, 1949 Road traffic Convention
Only international drivers licenses from the following countries are recognized as valid in Japan. If you do not find your country on this list, you cannot drive without a Japanese license. See information on obtaining a Japanese license.
Albania/ Algeria/ Argentine/ Australia/ Austria/ Bangladesh/ Barbados/ Belgium/ Benin / Botswana/Bulgaria/ Cambodia/ Canada/ Central Africa/ Chile/ Congo/ Cote Divoire/ Cuba/ Cyprus/ Czech/ Denmark/ Dominica/ Ecuador/ Egypt/ Fiji/ Finland/ France/ Georgia/ Ghana/ Greece/ Guatemala/ Haiti/ Hungary/ Iceland/ India/ Ireland/ Israel/ Italy/ Jamaica/ Jordan/ Korea/ Kyrgyz/ Lao/ Lebanon/ Lesotho/ Luxembourg/ Madagascar/ Malawi/ Malaysia/ Mali/ Malta/ Monaco/ Morocco/ Namibia/ Netherlands/ New Zealand/ Niger/ Nis/ Norway/ Papua New Guinea/ Paraguay/ Peru/ Philippines/ Poland/ Portuguese/ Romania/ Rwanda/ San Marino/ Senegal/ Sierra Leone/ Singapore/ Slovak / South Africa/ Spain/ Sri Lanka/ Sweden/ Syria/ Thailand/ Togo/ Trinidad And Tobago/ Tunisia/ Turkey/ Uganda/ UK/ USA/ Vatican/ Venezuela/ Russian Federation/
For those from the former Soviet Union, Yugoslavian bloc or British state (Hong Kong), it will be necessary to confirm whether or not the rights of the Geneva Convention apply.
2. Changing your domestic drivers license into a Japanese license
When your international drivers license is no longer valid, you must obtain a Japanese drivers license
Obtaining a Japanese drivers license can be a difficult and time-consuming process, thus we ask that you try and obtain a Japanese driverslicense as soon as possible.
The requirements for getting a Japanese license are that you obtain a license for the type of vehicle you would like to drive and that you you remain in Japan for at least 3 months after the date of issue.
Please call or visit the 2nd floor of the Hiroshima Prefecture Drivers License Center for more details.
(1) Hiroshima Prefecture Drivers License Center
3-1-1 Ishiuchi Minami, Saeki Ward, Hiroshima City
Registration Hours: 8:30am-9:00am / 1:00pm-1:30pm Mon-Fri (holidays excluded)
(2) Documents required for application
 Valid Foreign Driver's License
 Japanese translatins of the foreign license (note: the Japanese translation of the foreign driver's license must be an official one, for example, one made by the Japan Automobile Federation or JAF, which costs around 3,000 yen, or one made by an embassy or consulate of the relevant country).
Address: 2-9-3 Kogokita, Nishi Ward, Hiroshima-city, Hiroshima
Registration Hours: 9:00am-17:00pm Mon-Fri (holidays excluded)
How to apply: submit a photocopy of the foreign driver's license at a JAF counter, or mail it to a JAF counter by Genkin Kakitome (registered mail)
Documents required: A photocopy of the foreign driver's license (JAF will not accept or keep an original license)
Translation fee: 3000 yen per license, and 290 yenn as an extra fee for return postage (delivery-recorded mail) when the application is made by mail.
 Passport (if you have more than one, all will be necessary).
 Foreign Resident Registration Card or Certificate of Foreign Resident Registration
(photocopy is not acceptable)
 One license-sized photograph (3cm x 2.4cm portrait)
 Inkan (seal)
 Handling fee (for a first class license, the application fee is 2,400 yen, the fee for using a car in the practical exam is 1,100 yen, and the cost of the license is 1,750 yen)
(3) Countrieswith partial test exemptions (Written or Aptitude test only)
Iceland, Ireland, Europe, Italy, The Netherlands, Australia, Greece, Switzerland,Sweden, Spain, Denmark, Germany, New Zealand, Norway, France, Finland, Belgium, Portugal, Luxembourg, Austria, Korea, Canada
(4) Tests (excluding the above special exception countries)
 Knowledge Test(Written Test)
 Skills Test (Practical Test)
 Aptitude Test
(5) The process from application to issuing
Submission of documents -> written test -> appointment for practical test -> partial test -> issuing of license
*You can take the written test in English, Chinese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Korean, or Farsi. Apart from the written exam, everything is conducted in Japanese, and so if you cannot communicate in Japanese, please have somebody who speaks Japanese accompany you.
*Not all foreign drivers licenses can be changed into Japanese licenses
3. Penalties for Driving Without a License
The maximum penalty for driving without a Japanese driver's license is 300,000 yen.
If you do not obtain a license in accordance with the above procedures, you will be deemed as not having a license. You cannot drive a motor (moped) bicycle without a driver's license in Japan.