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Driving license in Japan

During studying in Japan, you may want to drive a car occasionally. For example, if you have a trip in Hokkaido, it is quite convenient and comfortable to drive all over the region. There are three ways to get permissions to drive. Firstly, you can drive by having a Japanese driver license. Secondly, you can drive with an international driver permit based on the convention on road traffic (Geneva Convention). Thirdly, you can drive with a driving license issued by the specific 6 countries.

If you want to get a Japanese driving license, you need to enroll in a driving school in Japan. It will cost thousands of dollars and take several weeks to get the license, but people who have a driving license issued by some countries may be exempt from some exams. If you want to get an international driving permit, you need to have your driving license issued in your country and apply for an international driving permit in advance. Even If your country doesn’t belong to Geneva Convention, it is possible to use driving license issued in Taiwan, Switzerland, Germany, France, Belgium, Slovenia and Monaco with the authorized translation of Japan.

In general, international driving permits may be convenient for many international students. In my case, I applied for my international driving permit at the local police office and it takes only for several hours. However, I didn’t use the license during my studying abroad, eventually. To survive abroad, it is better for “paper drivers” to take a train or bus.


National Police Agency 2014, for people who have foreign driving licenses, viewed 27th January 2017, <>

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