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