If you go to Japan and decide to stay there for no more than a year (with a tourist visa or a working holiday visa for example), you are allowed to drive in Japan using your own driver’s licence. All you need to do is to get a certified translation of your licence at the Japan Automobile Federation.
Important Note! This article is only applicable for the citizens of the following countries:
Drive in Japan – JAF Tokyo
Get your driver’s licence and go straight to one of the JAF’s offices, the list of which can be checked here. They are open from 9 AM to 5.30 PM and you can get your licence translated the same day if you go and ask for it in the morning. I went to the office near the Hamamatsu-cho subway station (exact address here) but I was there a little bit late (around 3 PM) so I went back the next day to get my translated licence.
Getting Your Licence Translated
When you get there, you’ll have to fill a very basic form (see picture below). Just remember to get the address you’re staying at in Japan right; you’ll be asked to provide it. It could be the address of the hotel you’re staying in or that of the person accommodating you for example.
Once that’s done, you’ll have to pay a 3000 yen fee (around $28) for the translation service. When you get back your licence, make sure to keep the translated and the original version on hand in case you’re asked to provide them.
You’re now ready to start driving in Japan for a whole year even if you leave the country during that time. The licence translation also covers two-wheeled vehicles under 125cc. It couldn’t get easier!
Of course if you decide to move to Japan, things will be a little bit different and you’ll have to exchange your driver’s licence for a Japanese one. I think there’s a test you need to do to check your vision but that’s it, no more paperwork to do.
Don’t forget that driving in Japan is not like driving in mostly every other country in the world. Your steering wheel will be on the right and you’ll be driving on the left, much like in the UK. So you’ll have to do the opposite of what you were used to, so be careful but don’t worry, you’ll eventually get used to it.
By the way, if I got my licence translated, it was mainly because I wanted to rent a scooter in Okinawa and go for a real-life Mario Kart ride in the streets of Tokyo. 😀
I hope this article was useful and that you have now a better on how to drive in Japan with your European driver’s licence. As always, don’t forget to subscribe to my social media to never miss a blog post on Asian Wanderlust: Facebook Page, Facebook Group, Instagram, Youtube and Twitter.
Talk to you all very soon and drive safe!