International Student Support

Driver's License Information

Is your International Driver's License valid?

Driving without a license is illegal!
Please read the following information carefully, even if you do not have a driver's license.
(see: 4. Penalties for Driving Without a License)


1. In order to drive in Japan, you must possess one of the following licenses.
1) A Japanese driver's license
2) An International Driving Permit pursuant to the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic 
   Licences from non-Geneva Convention Countries are not valid in Japan. Only international
   driver's Licenses from the following countries are recognized as valid in Japan.
   List of the contracting states
   License holders must have stayed in a country or region for a period of three months
   or longer in total after they were granted a driver's license of the country or region.
 3) A license issued by Belgium, France, Germany, Monaco, Swiss, Estonia or Taiwan (limited
   to driver's licenses that are accompanied by Japanese translations prepared by persons
prescribed by the Cabinet Order)
★Please refer to the following websites for a clear explanation.★
National Police Agency: For Holders of Foreign Driver's Licenses

 Hiroshima Prefectural Police: Information on Driver's License Formalities

2. Please check the following points regarding international licenses.

(1) Expiration Date
 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 to 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.
(2) Driver's license issued by a country or region which signed the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Trafic
 Only international drivers licenses from the following countries are recognized as valid in Japan. If you do not
 find your country on the list, you cannot drive without a Japanese license.
 See information on obtaining a Japanese License.
 ★List of the contracting states of the Convention at Geneva 1949★
(3) International driving permits obtained via the Internet are not valid.

(4) A "Type A" International Drivers License is required for operating motor vehicles.

3. Changing to a Japanese driver's 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When your international drivers license is no longer valid, you must obtain a Japanese drivers license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
Tel: 082-228-0110
Registration Hours: 8:30am-9:00am / 1:00pm-1:30pm Mon-Fri (holidays excluded)

(2) Documents required for application

[1] Valid Foreign Driver's License

[2] 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).

[JAF Hiroshima]

Address: 2-9-3 Kogokita, Nishi Ward, Hiroshima-city, Hiroshima
Tel: 082-272-9967

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.

[3] Passport (if you have more than one, all will be necessary).

[4] Certificate of Residence stating nationality (photocopy is not acceptable)

[5] Residence Card 

[6] One license-sized photograph (3cm x 2.4cm portrait)

[7] 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)

[1] Knowledge Test(Written Test)
[2] Skills Test (Practical Test)
[3] 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

4. Penalties for Driving Without a License


Up to one year imprisonment or a fine of up to 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.