Must check before visiting Japan! Driving in Japan

To drive in Japan, you must possess any of the following documents:

Without the required documents, you will not be able to drive in Japan as you will be treated as “driving without license” and will be penalized accordingly if you are caught driving w⁄o valid documents. Should you wish to rent a vehicle with OTS Rent-a-car, your documents must be all VALID and ORIGINAL (Photocopy and expired documents will not be recognized).

Driving with International Driving Permit

The following three documents must be presented:

①International Driving Permit

Only international driving permit based on the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic of September 19, 1949 is accepted.
※Your international driving permit is valid 1 year from the date of issue. Make sure that your car rental date is within your permit’s validity period.

②Local Driver’s License

①Must be issued in a country signatory to Geneva Convention.
※Not applicable for license issued in selected countries such as France, Belgium etc.,

③Passport

Regardless of your nationality.

International Driving Permit + Local Driver’s License + Passport
Points to check to ensure that your permit is based on the Geneva Convention

[ Front Cover ]

Front Cover

①Issuing country is described on the front cover.

Please check the below chart if your country is listed as one of the country signatory to the Geneva Convention.

②The text “Convention on Road Traffic of September 19,1949” is stated.

※Permits based on other conventions are not valid in Japan. Likewise, permits based on the Geneva convention together with other conventions. treaties are not valid.

③Permit’s validity period is one year from the date of issue.

Car rental date must be within the permit’s validity period.

[ Photo Page ]

Photo Page

①Personal information such as name, address, place and date of birth are written on the photo page.

②There are 5 license classes under the 1949 convention classified as A,B,C,D and E. A stamp is placed on the category you are allowed to drive.

③I.D. picture of the driver is pasted.

[ List of countries signatory to Geneva Convention of 1949 ]

  • Philippines
  • India
  • Thailand
  • Bangladesh
  • Malaysia
  • Singapore
  • Sri Lanka
  • Cambodia
  • Laos
  • Republic of Korea
  • Hong Kong
  • Macao
  • United States
  • Canada
  • Peru
  • Cuba
  • Ecuador
  • Argentine
  • Chile
  • Paraguay
  • Barbados
  • Commonwealth of Dominica
  • Guatemala
  • Haiti
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Venezuela
  • Jamaica
  • U.K.
  • Greece
  • Norway
  • Denmark
  • Sweden
  • Netherlands
  • France
  • Italy
  • Russia
  • Serbia
  • Montenegro
  • Spain
  • Finland
  • Portugal
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Poland
  • Ireland
  • Hungary
  • Romania
  • Iceland
  • Bulgaria
  • Malta
  • Albania
  • Luxembourg
  • Monaco
  • San Marino
  • Vatican
  • Kyrgyz Republic
  • Georgia
  • Czech Republic
  • Slovak Republic
  • Slovenia
  • Estonia
  • Turkey
  • Israel
  • Syria
  • Cyprus
  • Jordan
  • Lebanon
  • United Arab Emirates
  • New Zealand
  • Fiji
  • Australia
  • Papua New Guinea
  • South Africa
  • Central African Republic
  • Egypt
  • Ghana
  • Algeria
  • Morocco
  • Botswana
  • Republic of the Congo
  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Benin
  • Cote d’Ivoire
  • Lesotho
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Mali
  • Niger
  • Rwanda
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone
  • Togo
  • Tunisia
  • Uganda
  • Zimbabwe
  • Namibia
  • Burkina Faso
  • Nigeria

[ ! ]International driving permits that are NOT valid in Japan. [ ! ]

  • International driving permits based on Vienna Convention (1968), Paris Convention (1926), Washington Convention (1943) and others that come with different format (regardless if it’s issued in a country signatory to the Geneva Convention) are NOT valid.
  • International driving permits issued by unauthorized agencies or private entities (ex. IDL, IAA, KIDA, IDD, IADA, ITDL, etc.)
  • International driving permits issued in a country NOT party to the Geneva Convention (even those permits that resembles/ have the same format with permit based on the Geneva convention).
  • Issuing country of local driver’s license and international driving permit are different regardless if it was issued in a country signatory to the Geneva convention (ex. local driver’s license issued in America and international driving permit issued in Canada).
Vehicles you are permitted to drive
Types of vehicle

Types of vehicle you are allowed to drive differs depending on your license.

B : Normal cars: Up to 8-seater cars

C : Large goods vehicle: weight of 3.5 tons and above

D : Large passenger cars: 10-seater or more (WD class)

Driving with your international driving permit

On the photo page shown in the image, there are 5 license classes classified as A, B, C, D and E. For passengers renting a 10-seater car (WD class), make sure that a stamp is placed on the class D otherwise, you will be treated as “driving without license” if you are caught driving a 10-seater car despite of not having a D stamp on your permit.※With license as shown in the sample image, 10-seater car cannot be driven as there is a stamp only on the class B.

Driving With Foreign Driver’s License & Official Japanese Translation

The following three documents must be presented:

①Foreign Driver’s License of Respective Countries

Driver’s license issued in Taiwan, Switzerland, Germany, France, Belgium, Monaco.

②Official Japanese Translation

①Only translations obtained from the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) or from the respective countries’ embassies/consulates in Japan are acknowledged as official. Official translation`s expiry date is the same with your local driver’s license, make sure that your car rental date is within the validity period of your license. Please note that regardless of your license validity period, you are only allowed to drive 1 year starting from the date you landed in Japan.
※If there are any changes on the driver’s license. (e.g. address, etc.), please reapply for a new Japanese translation document.
※For Taiwan driver’s license, only Japanese translation issued by East Asia Relations Commission or Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) are acknowledged.

③Passport

Regardless of your nationality.

Foreign Driver’s License of Respective Countries + Official Japanese Translation + Passport

[ ! ] Attention to customers who possess a Taiwan local driver’s license [ ! ]

  • If your license has expiry date, make sure that your car rental date is within its validity period.
  • Taiwan local driver’s licenses do not have expiration however, if your license indicates an expiry date and already due, make sure to renew your license (into one with no expiration) first before having it translated.
  • Having it translated. Expired license is invalid and will not be accepted.
Japanese Translation of Driver’s License

You can have your driver’s license translated at Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) or your country’s embassy or consulates in Japan.
※For Taiwan driver’s license, Japanese translation either from East Asia Relations Commission or Japan Automobile Federation is required.
JAF Global Support page 》

Vehicles you are permitted to drive

Driving with your foreign driver’s license with official Japanese translation.

If you intend to drive a 10-seater car (WD class), make sure that the following applies to your driver’s license.
※If your driver`s license doesn’t apply with license class for large passenger car, you are not allowed to drive a 10-seater car as it is treated as “driving without license”.

Up to 8-seater (WB class, etc)10-seater (WD class)
Respective countries other than TaiwanB | CD | D1
Taiwan小客車 小客車・両用車内大客車 大客車・両用車

Driving With License Issued in Japan (Japanese Driver’s License)

Japanese driver’s license

Only your Japanese driver’s license is required.

Vehicles you are permitted to drive.

Using your Japanese Driver’s License

You are allowed to drive a 10-seater vehicle (WD class)

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