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International drivers license

Japan With Kids - Forums: Traveling to/from and in Japan: Driving a Car in Japan (License, violations, etc.) : International drivers license
By heather on Sunday, September 15, 2002 - 7:35 am:

Does anyone know if, or where, an American can obtain an international driver's license while already living in Tokyo?

Thanks! Heather

By Scott Hancock on Sunday, September 15, 2002 - 8:32 am:

There's another thread on the board about driver's license that talks about the possible reprecussions of mis-using the international license. Technically, I don't think you're supposed to be able to get them outside your home country, so if you do find a method, beware that it might not be legitimate.

By Cornelia on Sunday, September 15, 2002 - 10:08 am:

There is mention of it in the following discussion.

Shopping in Japan: Cars

I think that basically while you are on 90 day temporary/tourist visas you can use an international license but after you have a longer visa you must get down to business and apply for a local licence. You can use an international licence until you get to that task, for a maximum of one year. Now, how to get one after you've already arrived in Japan... American Automobile Association (AAA) is on entity that provides them in the USA. I don't know about other countries. Instructions for getting the permit by mail is at:

If you are not from a mid-atlantic state please find the right AAA address for your state of origin.

You might want to get someone back home to mail the application and receive the permit on your behalf and then send it on to you in Tokyo. I think Scott is right that it is something that they encourage you obtain before you leave.

Also, should you decide to pursue a Japanese licence there is an article on that subject on this web site under the FYI section (click from top menu bar once you return from this discussion board).

The date of issue will of course be after your date of entry in Japan, so it may or may not "work". It depends on how heavy the scrutiny is (how serious the traffic altercation). But you may be able to use it if you do any side trips to other countries and need to drive.

Remember that you want to stay out of an accident in this country. Even if the accident was not your fault by standards of your home country, in Japan all drivers are given a percentage of responsibility in all accidents (unless you can prove that your car was completely at a standstill at the time).

By Michael on Tuesday, September 17, 2002 - 1:53 pm:

In 1993, I obtained an International Driver's License at the Shikenjo (Motor Vehicles Department) in Fuchu (Train Station: Musashi Koganei Station on the Chuo Line. From there take bus 6 or 7 to Shikenjo Mae Station. The bus stops right in front of the Shikenjo; Hours: Monday through Friday 8:30am - 11:00am; 1:00pm - 3:00pm).

I am American, and at the time, I was on a one-year visa and did not have a Japanese Driver's License. I only had my state driver's license issued in my home state in the US.

Unless something has changed since 1993, I am certain that non-Japanese may continue to obtain International Driver's Licenses at the Shikenjo in Fuchu for use outside of Japan.

By Scott Hancock on Tuesday, September 17, 2002 - 2:08 pm:

With all due respect, a lot can change in 9 years. Even in Japanese government, but more so in the application.

I think things are much less lenient toward gaijins.

But, maybe still possible.


By Lynn Chen on Tuesday, September 17, 2002 - 3:45 pm:

My previous posting didn't make it to the website for some reason. But you can get an IDL from this website (it's exactly the same as the ones obtained from AAA)

Of course I do realize now that it is illegal to drive with IDL in Japan if you've been here for more than a year. But if you want one, this site allows you to get one without having to return to the US.

By Cornelia on Tuesday, September 17, 2002 - 9:10 pm:

Someone just sent a correction to my comment above about awarding fault in accidents in Japan. Nothing specific but here is the comment:

"...said that drivers are given some % in all cases accept where they are stopped - not exactly... Every case is different - and has a lot of nuances."

By Bigjimi on Thursday, January 17, 2008 - 2:24 am: is the perfect site to order an IDL,they even allow online ordering and shipped immediately!!

By Lorigmnp on Thursday, January 17, 2008 - 7:59 am:

If you live in the sttes just go to AAA and they do it for 15 dollars :-)

By Nightsite01 on Thursday, May 8, 2008 - 12:17 pm: is another great site with excellent customer service to obtain international drivers license.

I live in US and go a lot to Spain for business. They actually sent one to me there!

Next is Japan! :-)

By Iwbrcr on Monday, January 14, 2013 - 9:56 am:

I got mine from great service with great prices cool card

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