So, if you imagined that obtaining a driving license in Japan is hard; you’ll be surprised to hear that renewing a license is actually more difficult!
Three years after you receive your first driving license in Japan, you are required by law to go and renew at the centre. This is no easy process. You normally have around one month prior to the expiry date on your license to begin the process and this can normally be completed in one day.
When you first arrive at the centre to renew, of which there are only three within Tokyo and each is open on a different day, the best idea is to head over to the information kiosk. Once there, you should first go and pay your fee at the counter. After that, you are required to have your documents checked at one of the stations. Once your documents have been stamped and paid for, you will then need to have an eye test, before going through and having your details updated/added to the database. This process is remarkably manual, with one person actually adding this into the database.
After that, you’ll head to a photo booth and will need to tap in a four digit number. Don’t forget this, you’ll need it later on.
From there, you’ll be then assigned a time slot. You’ll then need to drop off all of your documents at the counter and someone will prepare your license for you. After this is where the fun begins.
You will then be sent into a classroom with a bunch of other people, given a practice theory test (to supposedly remind yourself of your theory test – which you probably didn’t even have!), then sit there for two hours as a lecturer explains the risks of driving and the new rules that are in place in the last year or so. There is also a short video you’ll need to watch.
After you’ve gone through this two hour session, you’ll then receive a stamp from the teacher. You’ll then head upstairs to obtain your license. You will receive your new card license and then after that will need to punch in your four digit pin code in order to activate the license.
Then, that’s about it!
The hardest part of this process is actually getting to the centre. With all three of them in relatively obscure places, you might end up being on a train for an hour at least.
Once finished, you’ll be upgraded to a “blue” license, one step above the green one.