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Report on converting foreign drivers license to Japanese license

May 6, 2015
Hi All,

I recently converted my foreign (Australian) drivers license to a Japanese one, so I'm leaving this report of the process here.

Firstly, it all depends on the country you come from, agreements between that country and Japan, as well as the side of the road you drive on in that country. For some countries, you cannot convert your home license, and will have to take a full driving test just like other Japanese people.

For some other countries, you can do a smaller test which basically assumes you have driving ability but checks you can follow Japanese road rules. In this case, you have to do a small 10 question road rules written test, and then drive on the testing center course.

And if you're lucky, Japan and your home country will have a direct conversion agreement. For Australia, no written test or driving check is needed. You simply present your license plus other items, and they give you an equivalent Japanese license.

When I converted it, I was required to provide the following:
- My passport (used to confirm I resided in my home country for longer than 3 months after getting my license there)
- My residence card (you can only convert if you have a residence card)
- My home driving license
- A translation of the license (can be obtained at JAF offices in Japan)
- A certificate of residence (available at your ward office)
- A filled-in license conversion form and questionnaire (they provide this)
- My inkan
- Two 3cm x 2.4cm photos
- Money

On the first day I went, I just got a copy of all the forms I needed to fill in, plus an info page on what I had to do.

I then had to arrive at the license center on another day, within the fixed half-hour foreign license conversion application period (explained on the info page). Following that, after submitting all the above, they did a very quick eye test. They then took a another photo, and gave me my Japanese license card.

Overall time on second day, from arrival to getting the license card, was 3 to 4 hours.