Converting a foreign driver's license in Japan
As is everywhere, you must hold a valid driver's license to drive a vehicle in Japan. Keep in mind that if your license is not international, just national, your license may not be valid for Land of the Rising Sun. This is why you may need to convert your driver's license to a Japanese one.
Table of contents
- Who’s eligible to convert a foreign driver's license to a Japanese one
- The general process of converting a foreign license in Japan
- Documents needed to convert a foreign driver's license in Japan
- Have your foreign license translated
- Photo requirements to convert a foreign driver’s license in Japan
- Get a photo to convert a foreign driver’s license in Japan online
Who’s eligible to convert a foreign driver's license to a Japanese one
To be eligible to convert your alien license in Japan, your document must be valid, and you must have stayed in the issuing country of your license for at least three months after obtaining it.
Then, here are the age eligibility requirements:
- You must be aged 16 or older to obtain a license for a regular motorcycle or moped;
- You must be aged 18 or older to obtain a license for a semi medium-size vehicle, regular vehicle, large motorcycle, large special vehicle or towing vehicle;
- You must be aged 20 or older to obtain a license for a medium-size vehicle;
- You must be aged 21 or older to obtain a license for a large-size vehicle.
The general process of converting a foreign license in Japan
Here are the general steps of applying to convert your license:
- Submission of application documents;
- Aptitude test;
- Traffic rule knowledge test;
- Driving skill test;
- Issuance of the Japanese driver’s license.
Documents needed to convert a foreign driver's license in Japan
Here are the documents you will need to convert your foreign driver's license:
- Your valid license;
- Japanese translation of your foreign driver's license;
- Your Japanese driver's license (if you hold one);
- Your valid passport;
- A photo fulfilling requirements;
- Your residence card;
- Certificate of Residence showing your nationality. It must fulfil the following requirements:
- A certificate must be issued within six months. Photocopies are not allowed;
- Address on the family register must be written in the Certificate;
- Foreign residents are required to bring a certificate of residence on which nationality, visa status and length of stay are written. The certificate is not acceptable if the period of stay is expired;
- Those foreign residents who don't fall under the Basic Resident Registration law are kindly asked to inquire about the Driver's License Examination Center;
- The certificate is not acceptable in principle if the identification number is written.
- Additional documents:
- Driving record (Certificate of Driver's License), if your foreign driver's license does not show the original date of issue, or if this is unclear;
- Official Receipt, Malacanan (Red Ribbon) if you are a holder of Phillippine Driver's license;
- Chinese National Identification and Basic information (kihon shinsoku) if you are a holder of Chinese Driver's license;
- Certificate of Driver's License according to each state, if you are a holder of Australian driver's license;
- According to the result of document screening, you may be requested to present certificate issued by your consulate or the authorities concerned.
Have your foreign license translated
As stated above, you will have to get your foreign driver’s license translated to Japanese. The translation must be official and done by the assigned authorities. These authorities are:
- Embassies and consulates of the issuing country in Japan;
- The Japan Automobile Federation (JAF);
- ZIPLUS Co.Ltd.;
- Other officially designated authorities.
Photo requirements to convert a foreign driver’s license in Japan
Make sure your application photo fulfils the following requirements:
- The driver’s license photo size must be 40mm wide and 50mm high;
- The picture may not be older than six months;
- The photo must be in colour;
- The image must show your entire face;
- The height of your face in the photo should be 75% of the height of the photo frame;
- The photo background must be plain and light;
- The photo lighting and contrast must be even;
- Headgear is not allowed except for religious or racial reasons. However, the headgear must not hide your facial features. It should also contrast the white background;
- Your facial expression in the photo must be neutral with your mouth closed and eyes looking straight into the camera;
- Your head must be centred in the picture, and your whole head and hair, as well as shoulder, must be visible;
- Coloured contact lenses are not allowed, and make sure your photo does not have red eyes;
- Eyeglasses are allowed, but they may not obscure the face by frame or have reflective glare or coloured lenses.
Here is an example:
Get a photo to convert a foreign driver’s license in Japan online
While the process is not as long as applying for a new license for the first time, you’ll still want to ensure that your license conversion process goes without a hitch. So, make sure your photo fulfils all the specifications required as explained above.
Visafoto can help you get your photo just right, down to the subtler parameters like head proportions. Just take a picture of yourself following the required posing and dress code and upload it to our tool below.
Take an image with a smartphone or camera against any background, upload it here, and instantly get a professional photo for your visa, passport, or ID.
You will not only get a digital file of your single photo but also a template of photos ready for printing, so you can just print your pictures and have them used for your application.