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Driver's License: Home Country vs. Country of Residence

katinthehats

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Hi, I'm just asking this question here to see if anyone has information or experience.

I am planning on getting my driver's license, but I actually have two valid driver's license, one from my home country (USA) and one from another country that can get switched without a practical test (yay!). Both haven't expired, and I still have residence status in the second country. The license from the second country, much like Japan, doesn't have a license agreement with the US, so it's a full-fledged license received by taking all the written, medical, and practical tests in that country.

I want to try to switch the one from the second country. Has anyone done this?

Auxiliary question:
My license from my second country is a little over a year old, but of course, I have been driving since I was 16 and don't want to be classified as a "beginner driver" in Japan. Would this be explainable by providing my past US licenses?
(Actually, my current US license was renewed a few months ago, as well, so I would probably have the same problem even if I used my US license in the switch.)

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide. I'll probably give it a try sometime this or next month if no one has some concrete experience. I'll let you know how it works out.
 

Mike Cash

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Can you just say the name of the second country so we don't all have to say "second country" throughout the thread, please? Thank you.

The most important consideration may be whether you can show you were present in the country for a period of three months after getting your license there. If that's not a problem, I would try doing the switch with that one.
 

Majestic

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I was in a similar situation to you. I was classified as a "beginner" driver in Japan, even though I had been driving for decades (and indeed, had previously held a Japanese driver's license for 10 years).
 

katinthehats

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I was in a similar situation to you. I was classified as a "beginner" driver in Japan, even though I had been driving for decades (and indeed, had previously held a Japanese driver's license for 10 years).
How did that happen? Even though you had a license in Japan, they still made you a "beginner"?

Also, is it really a big deal to be a "beginner"? Are there restrictions? Nevermind, used google.
 
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johnnyG

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I'd offer that people who are converting their licenses (as I did in about '86 or so) should not look a gift horse in the mouth.

Instead, be glad and thankful that you are able to do that in some way and that you don't have to start from the get-go.

@ktktktkt has inquired about effectively gaming the system. I truly hope that he does not succeed.
 
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katinthehats

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I'd offer that people who are converting their licenses (as I did in about '86 or so) should not look a gift horse in the mouth.

Instead, be glad and thankful that you are able to do that in some way and that you don't have to start from the get-go.

@ktktktkt has inquired about effectively gaming the system. I truly hope that he does not succeed.
I'm not sure if you're a troll or not, but I'll answer your bait seriously.

It's not "gaming the system." I lived in my second country of residence for 6 years while driving and have a legal license there that I got from scratch. I also have a license in my country of citizenship that I also earned from scratch. As far as both countries are concerned I'm a law abiding resident with legal authority to drive and live in both.

If I have the option, I would want chose the cheaper and time-saving option of not having to take the practical test. I'm not sure how this would be gaming the system, because I would be using a legal means to obtain a license. Perhaps you didn't read my original post and just made assumptions. Obviously, I'm just asking if anyone has similar experience with this, and I'm sorry you don't have the global vision to realize some people have lived in various countries before arriving in Japan.
 

Mike Cash

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Is there some reason you're avoiding telling us what the "second country" is?
 

katinthehats

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Is there some reason you're avoiding telling us what the "second country" is?
Is there a particular reason why you keep asking for it? I wanted to avoid people skipping this thread because of the countries involved. It could be one of 20+ different countries. It doesn't matter.

Thanks guys for reminding me why I never use these forums: thread hijackers and holier-than-thou lifers giving unsolicited lectures.
 

Glenski

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What does "legal resident" mean? Do you hold a passport for country 2? If not, I suspect you can't do what you would like. A simple call to the license bureau would confirm.

As for looking like a beginner, you only have to provide proof of having had your US license for at least three months while in the US. Sounds like you can do that. Now just take the easy written test and learn what insanely simple things you have to do in the behind the wheel test. I can't fathom why so many foreigners fail on their first try. I didn't.
 

Glenski

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ktktktkt, you wanted advice. Who better to give you accurate info than a "lifer"? Don't bite the hand that feeds you.
 

katinthehats

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Unwad your knickers, Nellie. I only asked once.
That's nice. I only ignored it once before you asked twice. Thread hijack me twice, shame on me.

What does "legal resident" mean? Do you hold a passport for country 2? If not, I suspect you can't do what you would like. A simple call to the license bureau would confirm.

As for looking like a beginner, you only have to provide proof of having had your US license for at least three months while in the US. Sounds like you can do that. Now just take the easy written test and learn what insanely simple things you have to do in the behind the wheel test. I can't fathom why so many foreigners fail on their first try. I didn't.
"Legal resident" means I can legally reside there, as in I have a visa and resident card there. Just like if you're a US citizen but have legal visa status in Japan, you're legally allowed residency here. I'm not sure if a DMV will care about citizenship since they have very little to do with immigration, and they ask for the residency certificate from the local municipal office, hence the original question posed.

I can prove I lived there for 3 months after obtaining the license for both countries. Yes, I am a beginner, as in, I have never tried to get a license in Japan, so I thought I would ask here.

You're right, I could just call the bureau, but I was also looking for people with this experience so I could ask follow-up questions, but I appear to be barking up the wrong tree. So far, all responders are inexperienced in such matters of multiple drivers licenses.

ktktktkt, you wanted advice. Who better to give you accurate info than a "lifer"? Don't bite the hand that feeds you.
Of course, I originally posted here looking for advice from the experienced and lifers alike. Not all lifers are holier-than-thou, but alas, here they are. I'm biting the hand that's trying to smack me. If they would feed me, that would be nice.

(Still no one with viable experience, but I can tell you all love your idioms.)
 

Mike Cash

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Your presumption that we would have some kind of prejudice toward you if it were known you're talking about Korea is rather insulting to the forum at large.

The "second time" I asked you, I asked if there were a reason, not that you name the country.

Do you always have this big a chip on your shoulder?
 

katinthehats

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Your presumption that we would have some kind of prejudice toward you if it were known you're talking about Korea is rather insulting to the forum at large.

The "second time" I asked you, I asked if there were a reason, not that you name the country.

Do you always have this big a chip on your shoulder?
I didn't presume that, nor did I imply it. I'll rephrase so you can understand. I would like this thread to be open to as many people as possible, as in people who have multiple licenses in one of the 20+ countries available. The fact that you would think I presumed such a thing is quite presumptuous.

I'm not sure why you keep hijacking my thread, honestly. You're syntax-based clarification is accepted (even though one could argue that the questioning of the reasoning is implicative of asking again), but still doesn't excuse you from the extremely tangential (thread hijacking) accusations of knickers being twisted and shoulders being chipped you're making.

I'm not sure what kind of tone you're reading my replies, but my mind's voice is writing them quite plainly.
 

mdchachi

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Unfortunately nobody here so far has directly done what you are proposing but since Japan typically follows the rules exactly as stated, it appears that you are safe to use your preferred drivers license.
http://www.keishicho.metro.tokyo.jp/multilingual/english/for_residents/index.files/en.pdf
I'm sure there are plenty of people who have had licenses from outside their home country and transferred them as you are hoping to do. If they ask you about your U.S. license you could say you don't have it with you or didn't get an official translation or it expired or something. But I doubt they will ask.

Interesting, in that file, one of the exempt regions listed is Maryland in the U.S. Anybody know the story behind that one state having an exemption??
 

WonkoTheSane

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Interesting, in that file, one of the exempt regions listed is Maryland in the U.S. Anybody know the story behind that one state having an exemption??
No, but I'm kicking myself for not switching from my Michigan license to Maryland since I could have easily done so the last half of last year.

Oh well, if I don't get my license before I visit the states I'll just switch then.

Would also love to know the reason!
 

Majestic

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So far, all responders are inexperienced in such matters of multiple drivers licenses.
I thought from my answer it was clear I was once in a similar situation as you. At any rate, Japan did not care which of my two licenses I used to convert to a Japanese license, and so I used the license which was the most convenient to use.
I had also hoped it was clear from my answer that I did have a valid Japanse licence at one point, then left Japan (permanently, or so I thought). Fate brought me back to Japan, by which time my original Japan license had expired. Rather than renew my much-expired Japanese license, it was easier to convert my foreign license to a new Japanese license. One of the consequences of doing this, was that my driver status in Japan was reset to "beginner", and so I had to have the green wakaba mark on my car despite having been a driver for well over 20 years.
 

katinthehats

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I thought from my answer it was clear I was once in a similar situation as you. At any rate, Japan did not care which of my two licenses I used to convert to a Japanese license, and so I used the license which was the most convenient to use.
I had also hoped it was clear from my answer that I did have a valid Japanse licence at one point, then left Japan (permanently, or so I thought). Fate brought me back to Japan, by which time my original Japan license had expired. Rather than renew my much-expired Japanese license, it was easier to convert my foreign license to a new Japanese license. One of the consequences of doing this, was that my driver status in Japan was reset to "beginner", and so I had to have the green wakaba mark on my car despite having been a driver for well over 20 years.
Thanks for the further explanation. The confirmation that they did not care which driver's license you use is very helpful to me.

I'm sorry that I didn't realize that the "same situation" that you were referencing was the two driver's licenses and not pertaining to my auxiliary question.

Again, thanks so much!
 

Glenski

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From a reliable site:
If your license was issued in one of these countries;
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, The United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Taiwan and South Korea.

And you can prove residency in that country for a minimum of 3 months after license issuance you are not required to take either the written test or road test to convert your license.

You must apply in person to the driver’s license center in your prefecture. A high level of Japanese ability or native Japanese speaker accompaniment is strongly recommended.
Japan Driver's License: Get your Japanese Driver's License

So, my initial guess was wrong. I guess that's good for you.

I still think it is unfair to lump me into the unhelpful category from what I provided earlier, let alone be called holier than thou. And to say anyone here is smacking you, not feeding you is pretty rude and untrue.

Best of luck to you just the same!
 

johnnyG

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Especially if you're coming from a country that drives on the opposite side from Japan (like the US, one of your licenses), there is no question--you should definitely/absolutely be classed as a "beginner" here.

And especially so if you don't have basic Japanese ability, or know what a flagman at some road work might be signaling you to do.

You're a novice at driving here, and you should be classified that way.
 

Glenski

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johnnyG, I got my license when I was in m 40s, with zero experience testing the roads in secret here and with decades of experience driving in the US on the other side of the road. I had to put the so-called beginner's sticker on my car for that first year, but it didn't bother me. I still had to take the written and behind the wheel test (and passed the first time, unlike so many).
 

johnnyG

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Besides getting to the point that driving on the left would be second nature, the US has its own quirky signage (even from state to state), turns can allowed on red, and if a police car has its lights on behind you you'd better pull over. Here, among other things, you need to know that you're supposed to stop at most RR crossings, yield to a city bus that's pulling back into traffic, and that if you do stop on yellow you could dangerously surprise the driver behind you...

Yes, I was easily able to convert my US licence, but it was a little foolish for them to let me out on the roads like that.
 

WonkoTheSane

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I'm probably odd, but I liked having the symbol when I was a driver here. People were more cautious around me and gave greater berth to allow for my mistakes.

If I get a license here I'll probably put the beginner symbol on again. I'm a rather cautious driver since I spent years doing rehab work with people who got head injuries, often from auto accidents.
 
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