How to get a Japanese Licence

This is how to get your Canadian Driver’s Licence changed over to a Japanese Licence.

What you need:

  1. Canadian licence (Must have proof of 3 months on the licence in Canada)*
  2. Translation of your Canadian Licence from JAF. ( About 3500 yen.)
  3. Provincial Letter of Declaration (Example,an original ICBC letter clearly stating when you passed your test in Canada, signed.)
  4. Gaijin Card
  5. Passport
  6. Recent Photo to specific requirements.  (700 yen at the Driver’s Licence Center.)

* I made the mistake of renewing my licence before coming to Japan.  I thought i would come with a five year fresh licence.  This did not go in my favor.  I had to accumulate 3 months on my Canadian licence before they would allow me to have my big bike ogata motorbike licence.  This meant that I went to Canada every summer for 3 years to get my 3 months.  I was going to Canada anyway; nevertheless, it was a hassle i could have avoided.


Tokyo 105-8562 2-2-17 Shiba Minato-ku Tokyo 03-6833-9100
Tokyo Tama, 206-0025 6-24-2 Nagayama Tama-shi Tokyo 042-339-2811

Driving Licence Centers

Fuchu Driver’s License Center
3-1-1, Tama-cho, Fuchu-shi
Phone 042-362-3591

Samezu Driver’s License Center
1-12-5, Higashi-Oi, Shinagawa-ku
Phone 03-3474-1374

Koto Driver’s License Center
1-7-24, Shin-Suna, Koto-ku
Phone 03-3699-1151

Driving Licence Center Procedure

  1. Head to the Foreigners Licence window and hand all the information to the assistant.
  2. Providing the documents are in order, you will then have to line up at another window and pay roughly 5120 yen for a stamp and admin fees.
  3. Then head to the Eye Test area. (You will have to state where the “C” is facing: up, down, right left, etc… you will then have to state which colors you see: red, green, Yellow, Blue.)
  4. Then you’ll have to get a stamp and head back up to the original Foreigners Licence window and hand back the approved form.
  5. The assistant will collect you and bring you to another area to have your picture taken.
  6. Wait in the waiting room for your licence.
  7. Done

The whole procedure can take around 2.5 – 4 hours depending on how busy they are.

Useful Hints

  1. In Japan, you are guilty until proven innocent.  These means some staff will think you`re lying about your licence credentials, dates, times, etc..  If this happens, be nice, smile, and be patient and humble.  Don`t question them.  This will go in your favor and can turn things around if the meeting goes sour.
  2. Arrive early and bring a book and snacks.
  3. Think of it as a cultural experience, no matter how many times you may have to return.
  4. Bring originals of everything, no faxes or internet PDF documents.
  5. The staff are generally computer illiterate, don`t boggle them down with computer terms like pdf, word doc, etc…
  6. The staff take their job very seriously.  It`s almost the equivalent of customs at the airport.  Therefore, never speak until spoken to.  When questioned, use short simple answers.

Useful words

  1. sumimasen – excuse me, i`m sorry
  2. gomennasai – I`m sorry
  3. wakarimasu – i understand
  4. arigato gozaimasu – thank you

Happy driving!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: