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Japanese Driver's License

Whether it's strictly for work, or for exploring the countryside, getting a driver's license in Japan can be an interesting road trip.

An International Driving Permit (IDP) can be used for a maximum of twelve (12) months after entry into Japan. After twelve (12) months, all foreign residents must obtain a Japanese Driver's License at their prefectural driver's license centre. JETs from some countries are required to take a written and driving test. Driving test difficulty varies among prefectures, so check with your local sempai JETs for tips. JETs from other countries are not required to take any tests but still must convert their home-country license to a Japanese license. Go to Japan Driver's License for general information, practice tests, road sign explanations, and a really nice flowchart of the whole process.

Every country treats speeding violations a little differently, but the website Speedgo offers a table dictating exactly what the fines and penalties are for speeding (in Japanese). Please note that this is not a governmental site, therefore this table may not reflect local regulations or recent changes. A translated version is below.

To read a Fukushima JET's experience getting a Japanese driver's license, click here. The printable testimonial ('How to Pass the Japanese Drivers License Test or How to Save Yourself a Hell of a  lot of Time, Frustration, and Money') comes from via The post is old, but it contains information some drivers may still find relevant today.

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