Foreign Driver’s License Conversion

Full, accompanied conversion assistance through Lease Japan is available only as an optional service to our real estate, relocation, leasing, and serviced apartment clients. We are committed to providing up-to-date information, for everyone, on converting your driver’s license through this site but regret that we are not able to answer inquiries on the topic except as a part of our services to our real estate, relocation, leasing, and serviced apartment clients. 

Foreign license conversion in Japan can be divided generally into two groups, depending on what country issued the foreign license. The first group includes license holders able to convert their foreign licenses directly to a Japanese license, while the second requires both a written and a driving skills test.

Each prefecture in Japan has different rules and requirements for driver licensing. For the most accurate information please contact the licensing center in your area directly.

The best preparation for driving in Japan is knowing the laws of Japan, most of which can be found in the book “Rules of the Road”.  The Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) publishes and sells foreign-language versions of the Rules of the Road to help foreign motorists understand Japanese traffic rules.

SOFA status drivers: We have no affiliation with US Government licensing agencies in Japan. Please speak to your command for assistance in obtaining a SOFA status license. 

Which Group am I in?

For Group 1 conversion is a shorter bureaucratic paperwork process that takes a couple of weeks and one to two visits to the License Center.

You are a member of "Group 1" if you meet all of the following criteria:

Your license was issued in one of these countries:

 Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, The United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Taiwan, South Korea, Hawaii (USA), Maryland (USA), Virginia (USA), Washington (USA ), Ohio (USA), Oregon (USA), Colorado (USA), Indiana (USA, Indiana licenses will still take the written test but are exempt from the driving test).

  1. The license is valid (not expired, etc.)
  2. You can prove residency in that country for a minimum of 3 months after license issuance
  3. Hold a valid visa to stay in Japan
  4. Be registered as a foreign resident at your local city, town, or ward office

If you are a member of Group 1, you are not required to take either the written test or road test to convert your license.

If you are in group 1, you can find out whats next by clicking here.

Group 2 includes license holders who require both a written and a driving test in order to get a Japanese driver’s license.

Valid foreign license holders from countries not listed in Group 1 who can prove a minimum of 3 months residency in the country that issued the license, after it was issued, may be allowed to convert their license only after filing paperwork, taking a short written test, and passing a driving test on an enclosed course at the Testing Center in your prefecture.

If you are a member of Group 2, you are required to take the written and road test to convert your license.

If you are in group 2, you can find out whats next by clicking here.