It is not possible to drive in Japan with just your driving license issued in your home country. You must have one of the following -
- A 1949 Geneva Convention International drivers license
- A recognised Japanese translation of your home drivers license!
Scenario 1: International Driving Permit + Passport + Home Country Driving License
If your driving license is issued by one of the countries in the following list It is possible to drive in Japan with an International Driving Permit (1949 Geneva Convention only) for a period of up to one year.
Japan only recognises International Driving Permits based on the 1949 Geneva Convention. International Driving Permits conforming to the model of the Vienna Convention or other conventions are not valid. Before arriving in here you must obtain your International Driving Permit from the national Automobile Association in the country which issued your license. Sorry, you can not obtain a international license once you are in Japan!
PLEASE NOTE: International Driving Permits from France, Belgium, Germany, Monaco, Slovenia, Switzerland and Taiwan, are not recognised in Japan, but drivers from these countries can obtain a translation of their home license on arrival - see below -
Scenario 2: Home Country Driving License + Passport + Official Japanese Translation of License
Drivers from France, Belgium, Germany, Monaco, Slovenia, Switzerland and Taiwan are unable to use the International Driving Permits issued from their home countries. To be able to drive in Japan (And rent a car) you must obtain an official translation in Japanese of their driving license.
Translations are done through the JAF (Japan Automobile Association). http://www.jaf.or.jp/inter/translation/index_e.htm
PLEASE NOTE: At the time of your renting your vehicle, you will be required to show your original license along with its translation or you original 1949 Geneva International License as well as your passport. Failure to do so will mean you can’t pick up the car, and no refunds!
This translation of your driving license is valid for the entire validity of the license. Keep it safe so that you can use it for next time you come to Japan.
If your country does not issue International Driving Permits based on the 1949 Geneva Convention or does not have an agreement with Japan regarding official driving licence translations then your driving license is not covered by either of the two scenarios above. We are sorry but you will not be able to rent a car or drive in Japan without obtaining a Japanese driving license.