Other language of this page

What Expats Should Know About Driving in Japan

Post: 04-18-17

Driving in a foreign country may be challenging. In Japan, the traffic flows on the left and many foreigners might have the impression that the roads are extremely narrow. Road signs in Japanese can be confusing which could make you nervous while driving.

The following information will help you become more confident before getting on the road in Japan.


rules of the road

JAF (Japan Automobile Federation) publishes and sells the foreign language versions of the “Rules of the Road” to help foreign motorists understand Japanese Traffic rules in order to prevent the occurrence of traffic accidents. Digital Format and Printed Format is available. We strongly recommend to purchase one these books in your own language and learn about the road rules in Japan.


To Foreign Nationals Who Drive Vehicles in Japan

  • To understand more about Japanese Traffic Rules and regulations, please access the link below.
  • It is very important to know the basic rules before hitting the road for safe driving.


How to Drive in Japan

International Driving Permit

Kindly note that International Driving Permit (IDP) is intended for short-term visitors, not middle/long-term residents who have their address registered in Japan. Those who consider driving occasionally are also encouraged to apply for this license conversion at their earliest convenience.

IDP is valid for up to one year on the condition that:

1) Not more than one year from the date of issue

2) Not more than one year from your date of entry to Japan

The shorter period of the above is your permitted driving period in Japan

Valid International Driving Permit in Japan

(International Driving Permits issued by signatory to the 1949 Geneva Convention)


Valid Foreign Driving License in Japan

(For license issued in Switzerland, Slovenia, Germany, France, Belgium, Monaco, Taiwan)


JAF Global Support

(Please access here for Japanese Translation for your foreign license)


Japanese Drivers License

Foreign residents in Japan are expected to convert to a Japanese driver’s license.

Japanese driving license

There are two country groups where your license has been issued; exam-exempt countries and others that have to go through all the tests.

No tests required (eye test only) if your license was issued in one of the following countries:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, The Netherlands, U.K., U.S.A. (Maryland and Washington only)

Written, driving and eye test required if your license was issued in one of the following countires:
All the other countries that are not listed above. For example, U.S.A (except Maryland and Washington), Hong Kong, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia etc.

How to Exchange Your Foreign Driver’s License for a Japanese One

License Offices in Tokyo

Samezu Driver’s License Testing and Issuing Center

  • Address: 1-12-5 Higashi-Oi Shinagawa-ku Tokyo
  • English Tel. Line: 03-5463-6000

Fuchu Driver’s License Testing and Issuing Center

  • Address: 3-1-1 Tama-Cho Fuchu-shi Tokyo
  • English Tel. Line: 042-334-6000

Koto Driver’s License Testing and Issuing Center

  • Address: 1-7-24 Shinsuna Koto-ku Tokyo
  • Tel. Line: 03-3699-1151

Driving schools that offer English-speaking services in Tokyo

driving course

If you are unfamiliar with Japanese driving rules or are otherwise unable to pass the practical driving test, you may want to attend one of the many driving schools in Tokyo. There are several that offer English language instruction, which are detailed below.

Kiki Driving School has staff dedicated to helping you get your Japanese license, whether you are exchanging your home license for a Japanese one or applying for one as a new driver. They offer instruction at the actual driving exam centers so you will be prepared for the exact test you will take to get your license.

Koyama Driving School supports students from registration through the receipt of a driver’s license. They are registered with the Public Safety Commission. As such, if you graduate from their driving school, they will issue you a diploma that exempts you from needing to take the driving test at the licensing center when you go to apply for your license.

FCA Driving School offers driving instruction in English, Chinese, and Korean. They have a 96.8% pass rate for driver’s licenses so you can have confidence that they will be able to assist you with acquiring your license.

Related Posts

Posted category: Living Guide - Japan


Relocation Services

Living support assistance for foreigners relocating to Japan. Flexible service fit for each customer.

Relocation Services

Japan Destination Guide

Area guide of major cities in Japan. Introducing brief overview of each city, the facilities related to foreign residents.

Guide of Major Cities in Japan

Expat Living Guide

Information covering expat friendly bilingual facilities, international schools and useful living information, etc. 

Living in Japan: A Guide for Expats