Last updated: November 21, 2022

Driving in Japan

In order to drive in Japan, one of the following licenses is required.


1)Japanese Driver’s License


2)An International Driving Permit (IDP) based under the Convention on Road Traffic (the Geneva Convention)

3)A driver’s license issued from a region or country that does not issue IDPs but shares a licensing system similar to Japan’s

*Only a Japanese translation issued by the following authorities is valid:
The administrative authorities of the country that issued the license, foreign embassies or consulate offices in Japan (the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office for Taiwan), or the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF).  https://english.jaf.or.jp/


Reference website:  Immigration Services Agency of Japan.   Living and Work Guidebook for Foreigners. ② Driver’s license.  Chapter 9 Traffic

Japanese Driving License

License Types and How to Obtain Them

There are several types of driver’s licenses in Japan, and the vehicle you can operate vary depending on the license you obtain.  For example, while you can operate a regular automobile or motorbike (50cc or under) for personal use with a class 1 regular license, you are required to have a class 1 regular motorcycle license for operating a motorbike that is more than 51cc and less than 400cc.  A license can be obtained by passing an aptitude test, written test, and practical test at your nearest driving test center.  In Japan, most people attend a driving school before taking these tests.  The classes are taught in Japanese and if you successfully graduate, you will be exempt from the practical test at the driving test center.  The fee varies with schools and the contents of courses, but it normally costs about 350,000 yen.  For more information about driving schools, contact Fukuoka Driving School “Chayama Driving School” (Tel: 0120-386-455, 6-12-26 Tajima, Jonan-ku; http://www.kenjiko.or.jp/) or inquire at other schools in your area.


Reference website: Fukuoka Prefectural Police.  Driver’s license test Procedures (Japanese)


Renewal and Change of Address

A Japanese driver’s license has an expiry date (3 to 5 years in general) and must be renewed regularly.  Your license can be renewed at a driving test center within one month ahead or one month after your final birthday before the expiry date.  Please be advised that your license will become invalid if you fail to renew it within the effective period.  If you move, you are required to change the address of your license.  Bring your resident record or residence card with the new address to the police station of your new jurisdiction.


Reference website: Fukuoka Prefectural Police.  Driver’s License Information Change Procedure (Japanese)

Converting a Foreign License into a Japanese License

A foreign license can be converted into a Japanese license.  For conversion, you must prove that you have stayed in the country where your foreign license was issued for over three months.  The foreign license must be valid at the time of conversion.  You must apply with the necessary documents noted below.


Please note Fukuoka Driver’s Test Center and Kitakyushu Driver’s Test Center accept if you do not need to assess your practical skills.

You are not required to assess your practical skills if you:
・ Have a driver’s license from a country exempted from assessment of knowledge and practical skills
・ Are applying for a moped license
・ Have obtained a Japanese driver’s license in the past

If you are required to assess your practical skills, please apply at Chikuho Driver’s Test Center or Chikugo Driver’s Test Center.


Source of the information: Fukuoka Prefectural Police website – Procedure for switching from foreign license (Japanese)


Necessary Documents


Hours: Monday – Friday        13:00 – 13:30

(Except holidays, and end of the year and new year holidays)

Fukuoka :    092-565-5109  Hanahata 4-7-1, Minami-ku

Kitakyushu :  093-961-4804  Hinodemachi 2-4-1, Kokura-minami-ku

Chikuho :        0948-26-7110  Tsurumio 1518-1, Iizuka

Chikugo :     0942-53-5208  Hisatomi 1135-2, Chikugo


Venue for Driving Test, License Renewal and Conversion

“Fukuoka Driver’s License Test Center” (4-7-1 Hanahata, Minami-ku, Fukuoka)

Tel: 092-565-5010 (License Section)

Tel: 092-565-5109 (Test Section)

Telephone Service (guide for renewal procedures)

Tel: 092-565-5001, 092-565-5013

Public Transportation Access:

Please refer to the Fukuoka Prefectural Police website:  Fukuoka Automobile Driver’s License Center (Japanese)

Traffic Rules in Japan

Foreign language versions (English, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese) of the JAF-published guide to Japanese traffic rules, “Rules of the Road”, are available for purchase at the JAF Fukuoka Branch.  E-book versions (English, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese) can also be purchased from their online bookstore.

Japanese http://www.jaf.or.jp/inter/manual/index.htm

English http://www.jaf.or.jp/e/road.htm

The book is a useful resource for safe driving in Japan and will help you prepare for driving tests.

JAF Fukuoka

Kyushu Headquarters/Fukuoka Branch website (Japanese)

Tel: 092-841-7731 (5-12-27, Muromi, Sawara-ku)

http://www.jaf.or.jp/ (Japanese)

https://english.jaf.or.jp/ (English)

Auto insurance

You must enroll in auto insurance when purchasing automobiles or motorcycles in case of traffic accidents.

Compulsory Automobile Liability Insurance

In order to provide all victims of traffic accidents with minimal medical coverage, all vehicle and motorcycle owners in Japan are obligated to enroll in compulsory automobile liability insurance, or they will be legally punished.  Upon purchasing your vehicle, make arrangements to enroll in this insurance and renew it as needed.  Never operate your vehicle uninsured.

Auto insurance (Voluntary Insurance)

In the event of a traffic accident, it is not rare for your liability to greatly exceed the limit of compulsory automobile liability insurance coverage.  In order to cover such shortfalls, it is desirable to enroll in voluntary insurance in Japan.  A number of insurance companies provide various types of voluntary insurance.  You can enroll in the type that meets your needs.

Regarding Bicycle Travel/Use

There have been many bicycle-related accidents in Fukuoka in recent years, including life-threatening cases.  When riding a bicycle, you should fully understand the possibility of being injured or putting others in danger and try your best not to get into accidents.  Furthermore, bicycles are considered light vehicles in Japan and rules for their use are governed by the Road Traffic Law.  Violations of these rules will result in a penalty.  Be sure to follow “Five Regulations for Safe Bicycle Riding” as below.

Five Regulations for Safe Bicycle Riding

Reference website: Fukuoka Prefectural Police.  Five Regulations for Safe Bicycle Riding (Japanese)