How to convert Foreign Licence to Japanese driving Licence | ജാപ്പനീസ് ലൈസെൻസും എൻ്റെ ലൂസിഫർ ലുക്കും!

There are 3 ways to drive in Japan for foreigners.

1) IDP (International Driving Permit)
2) Convert foreign licence to Japanese driving licence
3) Join a Japanese driving school and get a regular Japanese driving licence

1&2 will be detailed here. 3 will be detailed in another post.

1) IDP (International Driving Permit)
Indians can apply for an IDP in each state's Motor Vehicle Department. It may cost upto 3,000 INR. We can use IDP in Japan for 1 year and only once. IDP cannot be used a second time. Also, to drive using IDP, before coming to Japan, one should have stayed in home country at least for 3 months.

Another point to note is that, if IDP does not have any reference to 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, car rental shops may not be ready to rent out the cars for you.

2) Convert foreign/Indian licence to Japanese driving licence
Following are the steps to convert a foreign/Indian licence to Japanese driving licence. (Please note that these steps are mainly for India and similar group of countries. Citizens of some countries may not have to attend written and driving tests. Just application and successful screening will entitle them to attain a Japanese licence.)

- Translate foreign/Indian licence to Japanese
- Visit licence centre in your prefecture and apply with required documents
- Attend eye test
- Attend written examination
- Attend driving test in course of licence centre

Translate foreign/Indian licence to Japanese
We can request JAF (Japan Automobile Federation) to translate our licence to Japanese. One can directly visit nearest JAF branch office and apply with

- filled in application form (can be downloaded from JAF website)
- copy of driving licence
- copy of residence card/certificate

Translation will cost 3,000 JPY and may be able to collect on the same day, if you are lucky. Otherwise, JAF will send the translated document to an address registered by you and an additional cost of 500 JPY have to be paid for postage charges. Another option is to apply by post in which case all documents are sent by post along with service charges (3,500 JPY, including return postage charge). Translation will be received within 1~2 weeks.

Find out JAF branch near to you from below link:-
JAF branches

Find out details of Japanese translation request process from below link:-
Translation request process

Visit licence centre in your prefecture and apply with required documents
Now, we have to find out the licence centre in our prefecture, visit the centre and apply with required documents. List of licence centres can be referred in following link:-
Driving Licence centres in Japan

Following documents are required to apply for foreign driving licence conversion to Japanese driving licence.

- Valid foreign driver’s license
- Japanese translation of foreign license
- Passport
- Residence (Zairyu) Card
- Resident Certificate (Juminhyo)
- Photo (3 x 2.4 cm)
- Previous Japanese license (if any)

Please refer following link for details:-
Details of required documents

Eligibility for application will be verified by the officers. Cost of application is around ~4,500 JPY.
If eligible, based on document review, we will be attending eye test.
If no issues were found in the eye test, we can attend written test on the same day and the test can be taken in English. There will be 10 questions out of which 7 answers should be correct to pass the examination.
After passing the written test, we need to take an appointment on another date, to take driving test.

Attend driving test in course of licence centre
On the day of driving test, an orientation will be given to those who attend the test. Course in which the test is planned, will be assigned. Attendees will be allowed to walk through the course to familiarize. Generally, tests are strict and tough. If driving test is passed, licence will be issued on the same day.

If we fail the driving test, we can take another appointment for driving test and attend on that day. No need to attend written test for another 6 months.

We can take practice sessions for driving tests in private schools before appearing for tests. For example, please check below link:-
Driving test practice centre

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