Driving in Japan

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If you posses an International Driving Permit or have a driving license from a certain country, provided you meet certain conditions you can legally drive on the roads in Japan. If you don’t meet the conditions, you will need to get a Japanese driving license – either converting a valid foreign license or applying from scratch. The maximum penalty of driving without a valid driving license in Japan is a 300,000 Yen fine or up to 1 year imprisonment.

This article was made with the cooperation of the Aichi Prefectural Police

Driving in Japan with an International Driving Permit 国際運転免許証での運転

You can drive in Japan with an International Driving Permit (IDP) under the following conditions:

  • The IDP must be issued by a signatory country to the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic ** and in accordance with the convention’s provisions (size, colour, shape, etc.).
  • The IDP is valid until it’s expiry date or one year from the date of your entry* to Japan, whichever is shorter.
  • The IDP is valid only for the vehicle category (A – E) stated on the permit.

Note that in Japan you cannot renew an IDP issued in another country. For US IDP’s – only those issued by the AAA and AATA are recognized in Japan.

Driving in Japan with a Foreign License日本国内で運転できる外国免許

You can drive in Japan with a foreign driving license under the following conditions:

  • The license has been issued in Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, or Taiwan (Japan Traffic Act Article 39 Provision 4).
  • A Japanese translation, issued by JAF (Japan Automobile Federation) or a foreign embassy / consulate office in Japan, it attached to the foreign license (Japan Traffic Act Article 39 Provision 5).
  • Less than 1 year has passed since your date of your entry* to Japan

*Entry to Japan - If you leave Japan on a re-entry permit for a period of less than 3 months, your re-entry date will not be accepted as your date of entry. (Japan Traffic Act Article 107 Provision 2)
**IDP
1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic Members – 95 countries & 2 regions (as of March 5, 2011); notable exceptions include Brazil, China, Mexico, Russia, and Vietnam

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