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日本で生活するための情報 / Information for living in Japan

Driver's license

Revised: March 29th, 2013

1) To switch to a Japanese driver’s license from your country’s one

If you have your own country’s driver’s license and want to drive in Japan, you need to switch that driver’s license to a Japanese one.
You can make the switch in the prefecture where you have registered your residence.

1. Reminders when you make the switch

  • Your country’s drivers license is still valid.
  • If you obtained your driver’s license outside of your country, you need to prove that you stayed in that country for more than 3 months after getting the license.
  • Your age must be 18 or over 18 to be able to drive in Japan. Therefore, you cannot switch over to a Japanese driver’s license if you are under 18.

2. Documentation required to switch over to a Japanese driver’s license

  • Your country’s driver’s license which is still valid.
  • Translation of your country’s driver’s license.

The translation of your country’s driver’s license must be made by either your country’s embassy located in Japan or Japan Automobile Federation (JAF). Many refugees ask JAF for translation.
If you use JAF for your translation, it costs 3,290 yen (the fee includes the postage fee).
For detailed information of JAF’s translation service, go to their website (http://www.jaf.or.jp/e/) and read “Translation for Switch Overseas Driver’s License to Japanese License” section in “For Overseas Drivers in Japan”. JAF’s website is also available in English.

  • Passport
  • Copy of your Resident Card
  • 4,150 yen (2,400 yen for examination fee for a driver’s license + 1,750 yen for the license issuance)
  • 1 or 2 of your picture(s) (3cm×2.4cm, black-and-white picture is also acceptable)

* Different Public Safety Commissions require different documentation for a switch-over to a Japanese driver’s license. Please inquire the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre located in your prefecture.

3. Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centers in Kanto area

Tokyo
Futyuu(府中) Driving Test Center
3-1-1 Tama-chou, Fuchuu-shi, Tokyo / Tel: 042-362-3591
Samezu(鮫洲) Driving Test Center
1-12-5 Higashi-Ooi, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo / Tel: 03-3474-1374
Koto(江東) Driving Tests Center
1-7-24 Shin-Suna, Koto-ku, Tokyo / Tel: 03-3699-1151
Ibaraki Prefecture
Ibaraki-ken(茨城県) Driving Test Center
3787-3 Nagaoka, Ibaraki-machi, Ibaraki-Ken / Tel: 029-293-8811
Gunma Prefecture
Gunma(群馬) General Driving Traffic Bureau
80-4 Motosoja-machi Maebashi-shi, Gunma-ken / Tel: 027-253-9300
Tochigi Prefecture
Tochigi-ken(栃木県) Driving Test Center
681 Shimoishikawa Kanuma-shi, Tochigi-ken / Tel: 028-976-1551
Saitama Prefecture
Saitama-ken(埼玉県) Driving Test Center
405-4 Oaza Konosu, Konosu-shi, Saitama-ken / Tel: 0485-43-2001
Chiba Prefecture
Chiba-ken(千葉県) Driving Test Center
2-1 Hamada Mihama-ku, Chiba-ken / Tel: 043-274-2000
Nagareyama(流山) Driving Test Center
217 Maegasaki Nagareyama-shi, Chiba-ken / Tel: 0471-47-2000
Kanagawa Prefecture
Kanagawa-ken(神奈川県) Driving Test Center
2-3-1 Nakao Asahi-ku Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa-ken / Tel: 045-365-3111

2) Car Insurance

There are two types for car insurance: compulsory one and voluntary one.

1. Compulsory Insurance

Japanese law requires that all the cars be covered by the compulsory insurance and that you always have the certificate of the compulsory insurance in your car. If you fail to do that, you can be fined for less than 300,000 yen.
The purpose of the compulsory insurance is to help the victim of car accidents. It requires different amounts of compensation to be paid to the victim, depending on the gravity of the car accident: 1. if the victim is killed, the maximum amount of compensation is 30 million yen; 2. if the victim is left with a serious disability, the maximum compensation 40 million yen; 3. if the victim is injured, the maximum compensation is 1.2 million yen.
The compulsory insurance is for the victim of car accidents, thus it does not apply when:

  • you get insured by the car accident that you caused yourself
  • you have broken other cars and things (such as a wall of somebody’s house) by the car accident you caused

2. Voluntary Insurance

Voluntary insurance covers what the compulsory insurance does not. For example, voluntary insurances can apply when:

  • the amount of compensation you have to pay exceeds the maximum amount covered by the compulsory insurance.
  • you get insured by the car accident that you caused yourself.
  • you have broken other cars and things (such as a wall of somebody’s house) by the car accident you caused.

There are different types of voluntary insurances. Also, the amount of insurance fee differs depending on your sex, age, whether you have caused a car accident before, and so on.
To find the voluntary insurance that fits you best, you are advised to collect as much information as possible by asking your friends and calling various insurance companies.

Unlike the compulsory insurance, voluntary insurances are voluntary, and you do not have to pay for one if you do not want to. However, It is recommended you use voluntary insurances, because they come with various merits; for instance, your insurance company negotiates for you with the other party involved.

3) When you get involved with a car accident

You need to call the police (Tel: 110) and have them come to the scene of the accident. Even if the damage is not serious, it is necessary for you to call the police. If you do not call the police, you might not be able to get a “proof of the accident”, which is needed to request the insurance benefit from your insurance company.

If you get injured as a result of the car accident, you need to call an ambulance (Tel: 119).
If you do not know the procedure of calling an ambulance, take a look at the section “(3) How to call an ambulance” in “Medical Service”. It is possible that you are not feeling the pain from the accident because you are being agitated after what happened. Even if you think that the injury is light and that you can do without medical treatment, if you are injured, get in the ambulance to get medical attention. It does not cost you anything to go to the hospital