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How to Get a Driver's License in Japan - iNETWORK JAPAN

Guide to Obtaining a Driver’s License in Japan

A Comprehensive Guide to Obtaining a Driver’s License in Japan

Obtaining a driver’s license in Japan can be a significant step towards independence and convenience. Whether you’re a resident or planning an extended stay, having a valid driver’s license opens up a world of opportunities for exploration. This article provides a step-by-step guide on how to acquire a driver’s license in Japan, along with the necessary requirements.

Step 1: Understand the License Types: In Japan, there are two primary categories of driver’s licenses: Regular Car License (Class 1) and Motorcycle License (Class 2). The Regular Car License further differentiates into Automatic Transmission (AT) and Manual Transmission (MT) vehicles.

Step 2: Eligibility Criteria: To apply for a driver’s license in Japan, you must meet the following requirements:

  1. Be at least 18 years old for a regular car license or 16 years old for a motorcycle license.
  2. Have a valid residence status in Japan.
  3. Hold a valid foreign driver’s license or an International Driving Permit (IDP), which is valid for one year from your date of entry into Japan.

Step 3: Gather Required Documents: Before visiting the licensing center, ensure you have the following documents in order:

  1. Residence card (Zairyu card) or a valid residency permit.
  2. Your valid foreign driver’s license or International Driving Permit (IDP).
  3. Passport or equivalent identification.

Step 4: Written and Visual Tests: Visit the nearest Driver’s License Center (Shikenjo) and undergo a written test. The test is available in multiple languages, including English, and covers road signs, rules, and driving etiquette. Upon passing the written test, you will be required to take a visual test to check your eyesight.

Step 5: Practical Driving Test: After successfully clearing the written and visual tests, you can proceed to the practical driving examination. Here, you will be assessed on your driving skills, including parking, turning, and following traffic regulations. Ensure that you bring a vehicle that meets the requirements set by the licensing center for the practical test.

Step 6: Complete the Driving Course: If you fail the practical driving test, you may need to undergo driving lessons at a driving school to enhance your skills. Lessons typically involve both theoretical and practical components, and the duration can vary depending on your progress. Once you complete the course, you will receive a certificate.

Step 7: Final Application and Fees: With the necessary certificates in hand, visit the Driver’s License Center once again to submit your application for a Japanese driver’s license. You will need to fill out an application form, provide the required documents, and pay the applicable fees. The fees differ based on the license type and the duration of validity.

Step 8: License Issuance: Upon successful completion of all the requirements, including payment of fees, you will be issued a Japanese driver’s license. It is essential to note that your foreign driver’s license or IDP will not be returned to you, and you will only hold a Japanese driver’s license.

Acquiring a driver’s license in Japan involves several steps, including written and practical tests. Understanding the requirements, preparing the necessary documents, and completing the driving course, if necessary, will greatly increase your chances of obtaining a Japanese driver’s license. Ensure that you familiarize yourself with local driving regulations and practice safe driving habits to make the most of your driving experience in Japan.

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