Getting a Driver's License
From Mie Guidebook
Steps to getting a Japanese driver's license
Translating your license
The first step is to get a translated version of your driver's license from home. Only a translation by the JAF (Japan Automotive Federation) will be accepted as valid, which will set you back ¥3000.
Things to bring
- Completed application form. An English app can be downloaded online at the JAF English site (application link as at the bottom).
- Photocopy of the foreign driver’s license - both sides. (original license cannot be accepted)
- If you are from Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, or Russia; you'll need a copy of your gaijin card as well
- ¥3000 for the translation fee
- (If application is made by mail) ¥290 for return postage - delivery-recorded mail
Applying for a translation
You can apply for a license translation either by mailing the form and fees (in cash) to the Mie JAF in a registered cash envelope (現金書留 genkin kakitome), don't forget the ¥380 for return postage, the mail takes about two-three weeks.
Alternatively, you can apply directly at a JAF counter. They also have practice permit tests and road sign rules as well. The only JAF location in Mie that will now do a license translation:
- No refunds
- The Japanese translation will not be reissued, and even if it is you'll have to pay the ¥3000 again.
- The period of validity of the Japanese translated version is the same as that of the original license.
Armed with your translated license, you head to the Mie Prefectural Driver's License Center to start all the paperwork and booking your exams. You'll need to book an appointment before you show up (phone number here). Make sure to book well in advance. Depending on the time of year, you will have to wait up to a month before an appointment is available. This applies even if you are from a country that does not require the driving test.
Things to bring
- Driver’s License Application Form - available at the Examination Center
- Foreign driver’s license. If expiration date is not stated, proof of expiration date is required.
- A Japanese translation of the foreign driver’s license (see above), only translations made by JAF or by a national embassy will be accpeted.
- Gaijin card (or Resident card if issued after July 9, 2012).
- Jūminhyō (住民票). You may or may not be asked to bring this document which can be obtained from your local government office for ¥200.
- Passport, with record of entry and departure from relevant countries.
- 1 Photograph (3cm high X 2.4cm wide). Can be taken at the application office for a fee.
- Some cash - fees vary depending on the type of license.
For further details on what documents are required to be presented, inquire at the Driver’s License Center / Driver’s License Examination Center
- Make application for a license exchange (外免切替 gaimen kirikae)
- Take aptitude test (適性検査 tekisei kensa), it's like an interview
- Take an Eye test - which way is the "C" pointing? What color is this?
- (US only) Take Written Test - check of one’s knowledge of the rules of the road
- (US only) Take Driving Test - "practical" driving test at the License Center course
- Obtain a Japanese license (よーっっっしゃ～)
Note: You must prove that the license you obtained in your country (abroad) is valid (a license that is out of date cannot be exchanged), and prove that you stayed in the country where the license was obtained for more than 3 three months after obtaining the license.
This isn't so much a "test" as it is an interview. They are basically trying to understand your driving history and record. They may ask some questions that you might not know the answers to if you don't check/refresh your memory beforehand.
Things like: how many hours of driving school did you complete before getting your license, how many questions were on the written section of your test, what was the exact date on which you got each level of your license(learners permit, full license, any graduation/probation dates), the make, model and displacement in ccs of the car you learned on.
The answers don't seem to matter much, there were a few questions I didn't know the answers to, the person just smiled and said "OK", but, it's probably better to prepare beforehand and have that kind of information available.
Depending on your level of Japanese, you may wish to bring an interpreter with you for this portion of the application process.
- See Written Test
- See Driving Test
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