Acquiring a Driver’s License
Those without a driver’s license, who wish to obtain one inJapan, are required to take the same test as a Japanese person. The written test is in Japanese but study books are available in English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese and Persian. The majority of questions on the test come from these manuals.
Normally, you should go to a driving school, learn the basic traffic rules, learn how to drive and then sit a final exam at a test facility (shikenjyō).
Exchanging your International Driver’s License for a Japanese License
If you have a foreign driving license and satisfy the following conditions, you can apply to change your license. You will receive a Japanese license after passing a screening test.
◆Must have stayed in the country where the driver’s license was acquired for at least three months after passing your driving test
◆Must have a valid license
● Items need during application:
◆Original and photocopy of your driver’s license
◆Original and photocopy of your passport
◆Original and photocopy of your alien registration card
◆A translation of your foreign license (drawn up by your national embassy, consulate or Japanese Automobile Federation (JAF))
◆Photo taken within six months (no background, no headwear, showing full head and shoulders. Size: 3cm by 2.4cm)
◆Writing materials (black or blue ink)
● Knowledge and skills test
If you have acquired your license from any of the following twenty-two countries, then you are exempt from the written and skill exams. (Except for 2nd category vehicles i.e., large vehicles or motorcycles over 4000cc)
List of exempt countries
Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Tests for changing your home country license to a Japanese license can be taken either in English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese or Persian.
Japan Automobile Federation (JAF)
Rules of the Road in Six Languages
JAF publishes and sells translations of the Rules of the Road in the six languages listed below. All translations are ¥1028 each, including sales tax, not including postage and handling.
Languages available: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Persian, Chinese, Korean
Translating a Foreign Driver’s License
JAF issues an official translation of your home country license for a fee, which is required when applying to transfer your license to a Japanese license.
For the latest information, check the website of JAF http://www.jaf.or.jp/e/index.htm or enquire at the JAF Nagasaki branch.
Road Rules for Bicycles and Motorcycles
Bicycles are a convenient means of transportation. However, you still need to pay attention to the rules of the road.
◆Obey traffic lights
◆No bicycles in pedestrian-only areas (e.g. shopping malls)
◆Riding abreast is prohibited
◆Use lights at night
◆No passengers (except children under six)
◆Do not cycle under the influence of alcohol
◆Keep both hands on the handlebars (no umbrellas)
Exercise extreme caution when cycling with children in child seats, as the bicycle becomes unstable due to the extra weight. Do not park your bicycle in prohibited areas, for example around the station. Illegally parked bicycles will be removed by municipal government ordinance, so ensure to use assigned bicycle parking lots.
Motorcycles and mopeds
A license is required for motorcycles and mopeds. A moped (gentsuki) license can be acquired from 16 years of age and covers motorcycles with an engine size of up to 50cc. A motorcycle license can be acquired from the age of 18, and covers motorcycles up to 400cc. Scooters are not allowed on expressways and must not carry passengers.
* See ‘Reference Material 6’ for a list of common traffic signs.