Japan has notoriously strict driving laws. People who are caught driving in Japan without the correct license have been subject to fines and even deportation from the country.
This is particularly relevant for American citizens and many European countries, who do not drive on the same side of the road as in Japan. You will require an international driving license (International Driving Permit) in order to legally drive a car in Japan.
For those who are residents of Japan, these drivers are required by law to convert to a Japanese drivers license. Even those using an international driving license who are residents of Japan could too be subject to the full wrath of Japanese law, which could also mean arrest.
It is understood that even driving for more than a year with an IDP is illegal. Therefore, in order to drive legally in Japan, make sure you understand your situation. Read our table below to identify your situation. For more information regarding an International Driving Permit in Japan, please visit this website.
Resident of Japan with an International Driving Permit
- Ensure that you only use this for 3 months. From there after, you will need to convert to a Japanese license. Once you have acquired a residents card, you must never use your IDP again.
Resident of Japan with no International Driving Permit
- Consider taking the Japanese driving test.
Non-resident of Japan with an International Driving Permit
- You should be OK to use this for the duration of your stay. As most visas in Japan should never have a length of stay greater than three months, you will be able to use your IDP the whole time you are visiting.
Those who can swap their license in their own country for a Japanese license, click here for more information.