FAQs


Q1.
How long is an International Driving Permit valid for?
A1.
An International Driving Permit (IDP) can be used for a maximum of twelve (12) months after entry into Japan. A renewed IDP is legal, only if the individual can prove that they resided outside of Japan for at least three (3) consecutive months.
Q2.
Who requires a Japanese driver’s license?
A2.
Individuals who are planning to live in Japan for a period of more than twelve (12) months require a Japanese driver’s license to drive legally on the road.
Q3.
Can Individuals who do not have an International Driving Permit obtain one during a short business trip home?
A3.
Regardless of the length of time spent in Japan, individuals who leave Japan on short business trips can not validate an International Driving Permit on their return to Japan. In such cases, individuals need to reside outside of Japan for three (3) months or more.
Q4.
Are individuals with International Driving Permits allowed to rent vehicles in Japan?
A4.
Yes, they may. Providing the permit is still valid there are no restrictions against renting a vehicle.
Q5.
Is it true that individuals do not need to apply for a license until the International Driving Permit expires?
A5.
We strongly advise individuals to obtain a Japanese drivers license well before their International Driver’s Permit expires. Individuals who use their International Driving Permit after the expiration date, will be driving illegally. The penalties for driving without a license are severe and strictly enforced. In addition, insurance cover will be invalidated.
Q6.
Is it possible to convert licenses at any of the License Centers nationwide?
A6.
All applicants must apply for their license, and take their tests, within the prefecture, or city, that the individuals reside in.
Q7.
How long does the license conversion process take from start to finish?
A7.
The conversion process differs depending on whether an individual is required to take a written test and a driving test. For individuals who are not required to take the tests, we estimate two to three weeks. For individuals who are required to take the written test and the driving test we estimate around four to six weeks, providing that individuals pass the driving test at their first attempt.
Q8.
Who is required to take the driving test?
A8.
The requirement to take the written and driving test is based on where the license was issued, not on an individual's nationality. Individuals holding licenses issued in the following places are not required to take either a written test or a road test: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, The United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Taiwan, South Korea, or USA (only Maryland (from Jan 2016) or Washington (from Jan 2017)).
Q9.
Why do U.S. license holders need to take the tests, when their European counterparts do not?
A9.
Most EU countries have reciprocal agreements with Japan allowing individuals in possession of a valid license to convert without the need for taking a test. It is also worth noting that most US states require Japanese license holders to take a test when relocating to the U.S.
Q10.
Will an individual’s foreign license be surrendered upon obtaining a Japanese Driver’s License?
A10.
No.