Payment is possible by credit card or cash. Just like in other countries, one might be stopped for buying alcohol if they look too young — an awkward situation but could be flattering for some! Any motorcycle with engine displacement over 50cc. The legal minimum age for driving is 18 years. Q: Can I Use an International Driving Permit (IDP)? For amendments that cannot be recorded in this manner, a new licence must be issued. Japan has bilateral agreements with more than twenty countries, including Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United Kingdom, as well as the US states of Hawaii, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, to ease the process of acquiring a Japanese license. In return, they enjoy several tax and toll breaks, and relaxed ownership regulations that make them cheaper and easier to own than regular cars (white license plates). What side of the road does Japan drive on? "regular"), how much (e.g. Those who cannot read the language will have trouble understanding road signs. If you have any updates, suggestions, corrections or opinions, please let us know: Copyright © 1996-2021 japan-guide.com All Rights Reserved. Background colour: green for new drivers (valid for 3 years), blue for normal drivers (valid for 3 years), gold for good drivers (no violations during the previous licence period, valid for 5 years). Outside the big cities, however, public transportation tends to be inconvenient or infrequent, and most people rely on cars to get around. Since the mandatory insurance does not provide full coverage, it is recommended to purchase additional, secondary car insurance. It is not that hard driving a car in Japan as you imagine. Issued to a new driver undergoing training for their Class 1 licence. In small towns and in the countryside, parking is often free. Shaken typically costs between 100,000 and 200,000 yen, and besides the actual inspection fee, includes a weight tax (typically 8,000 to 50,000 yen) and mandatory insurance (about 30,000 yen). The first are elevator parking lots in which cars are stored in towers. Once you have paid your parking fee (either at a central payment machine or at the parking space), the barrier lowers and you can safely drive away. Reports of inappropriate touching or ‘chikan’ of female passenger… In fact, while Japan’s subway (metro) and train systems are among the best in the world, when it comes to reaching rural areas the easiest way to do it is by car. We all know that something that's legal in one country can be illegal in another. Consequently, many residents do not own a car or do not even possess a driver's license. In Japan, people are considered of legal age at 20. What is your preferred length for a travel report video on YouTube? Traffic congestion is a frequent problem in and around urban centers. The legal driving age in Japan is age 18. Note that when paying by cash, the change machine is often a separate machine or inside the gas station building. Drivers generally tend to be well mannered and considerate, however some common dangers on Japanese roads include drivers speeding over intersections even well after the traffic light has turned red, people stopping their vehicles at the edge of the road in a way in which they block traffic, and careless cyclists, especially those who ride on the wrong side of the road. The minimum age for driving is 18 years. There are numerous highways across the country, and the tolls add up quickly. Self service (ƒZƒ‹ƒt) stations only provide Japanese language menus. Secondly, learners can attend non-designated driving school or obtain practice through other means, in which case they must sit both the practical and written examinations. There are two options for learners. If a category is not included in a licence, in the place where the category name would appear there is a horizontal bar. Driving in Japan. Yes, 20 years old is the legal age for drinking in Japan and one must have a valid ID. Other categories exclude the commercial ones. Specialized automotive equipment with a maximum speed of 15 km/h or less and no larger than 4.7m × 1.7m × 2.8m. Required when operating a commercial passenger-carrying vehicle such as a. The legal driving age is 18 in Japan. There are some countries where you're considered of age at 18 years old, and some where the legal age is 20 or 21. Date of first issue of commercial licences, Valid categories are shown in abbreviations in, Official seal of the prefectural public safety commission, the driver's date of birth (昭和50年6月1日) is the 1st day (1日) of the 6th month (6月) of the 50th year (50年) of the reign of Emperor Shōwa (昭和), or 1 June 1975, the expiry date (平成24年07月01日) is the 1st day (01日) of the 7th month (07月) of the 24th year (24年) of the reign of Emperor Heisei (平成), or 1 July 2012, This page was last edited on 30 October 2020, at 08:13. It is not possible to drive on an International Driving Permit again after a year has passed unless you return to your home country for at least three consecutive months in between. Motorcycles are allowed to pass you on your left. A: The legal minimum age at which someone in Japan can drive is 18 years old. License seekers are issued a learner driver’s permit after passing it. For illustrative purposes, this sample licence shows every category. Some single highway tolls are as high as 3000 yen depending on the size of your vehicle. Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Monaco, Switzerland and Taiwan do not issue permits based on the 1949 Geneva Convention, but instead have a separate agreement that allows drivers from these countries to drive in Japan for up to one year with an official Japanese translation of their driver's license. The first thing to note that driving in Japan is expensive. After an intense couple of weeks in driving camp (the minimum age of drivers in Japan is 18), they are more or less guaranteed a license. Tell the attendant what kind of gas (e.g. People from other countries whose international driving permits are not recognized by Japan and people who stay in Japan for more than one year, must obtain a Japanese driver's license. Any vehicle which weighs between 3,500 kg and 7,500 kg in total, has a maximum capacity between 2,000 kg and 4,500 kg , and carries 10 or fewer people. City traffic is often very congested. Also see our guide on renting a car in Japan. Road signs and rules in Japan follow international standards. Owning and operating a car involves numerous expenses, including compulsory inspections (shaken) every two to three years, yearly automobile taxes, mandatory and optional insurance, high parking fees, toll expressways and gasoline cost. If in trouble, an attendant should be present and able to help you. In this sample, vehicles weighing up to 8 tonnes. We strive to keep Japan Guide up-to-date and accurate, and we're always looking for ways to improve. The History of Driving Age by Erik Arvidson . Japanese cars are classified into regular and light (keijidosha) cars, which are subject to different taxes and regulations. NIPPON Rent-A-Car. Park, open your window and shut off your car. Then, take a basic eye and physical test and you will be issued a new license on the same day. This type of parking lot is usually seen around small urban lots. Getting gas at a full service (ƒtƒ‹) station requires some simple Japanese. In Japan, cars move on the left hand side of the road while traffic overtakes from the right. In Japan you drive on the left and your steering wheel is on the right; 2. A 20-mile trip in the Tokyo area may take two hours. Q: What Is the Legal Driving Age? The second unique type of parking lot uses low barriers underneath the cars which raise up to physically block in each individual vehicle. Vehicles have to come to a full stop before crossing any railway tracks. Those of you who usually drive on the right side of the road with driver’s seat with steering wheel on the left become opposite in Japan. "credit card"). Toyota Rent a Car. Most people don’t realize that driving in Japan is a way to experience much more hidden beauty than one could expect. Any motorcycle with engine displacement of 50cc or less. Age matters a lot in Japan. Road signs and rules follow international standards, and most signs on major roads are in Japanese and English. A translation can be obtained from the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) or some of the respective countries' embassies or consulates in Japan. Requires the driver to display learner's black-on-white plates on the exterior of the vehicle, and to be accompanied by a supervising experienced Class 1 licence holder while driving. Furthermore, the annual automobile tax, which depends on the engine size, typically costs between 10,000 and 50,000 yen. Japanese law places a high burden of proof on the victim to demonstrate that the sexual relations were not consensual and committed through assault, intimidation or force. Fortunately, if you buy a car through a car dealer, they will handle most of the paperwork for you, while your main task is to sign the forms with your officially registered, personal stamp (inkan). Amendments to the licence, such as a change of address, can be recorded on the reverse side of the licence. Used cars additionally require a transfer of ownership. When you pull into the station, an attendant may direct you to a stall. If you hold a valid driver's license from one of these countries you can get a Japanese license without taking a written or practical exam. The good news (for Brits like me at least) is that the driving side in Japan is on the left. For those who are from countries where drinking starts at 18 or even 16, like Spain and Italy, Japan’s age restrictions for drinking may come as a surprise.It is closer to the minimum age for drinking in Korea and in other Asian countries. Keijidosha cars enjoy more relaxed transfer processes. They are usually issued through your country's national automobile association for a small fee. Self-serve Gas. Many gas stations close during the night, while others are open 24 hours. He may give you a wet towel to clean your dash or ask to take your garbage. Driving in Japan can be quite complicated and expensive. Countries exempt from the exam include, as of 2020: Iceland, Ireland, United States (limited to Virginia, Hawaii, Maryland and Washington), United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, Austria, Netherlands, Canada, Korea, Greece, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, New Zealand, Norway, Hungary, Finland, France, Belgium, Poland, Portugal, Monaco, Luxembourg, and Taiwan. There is virtually no roadside parking. The Japanese driving examination consists of a written examination and a practical examination for each level of licence. Most roads in Japan are toll free with the exception of expressways, some scen… There are two options for learners. All cars made in japan have their driver's seat and steering wheel on their right side. The sections of the sample licence shown are: The dates are written in year-month-day order. Usual default also includes a limitation to Automatic Transmission (AT); separate driving test on manual transmission vehicle required for this permission. To obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP), please contact the relevant IDP authority in your state. Parking lots in national parks or near tourist attractions sometimes charge a flat fee (typically 200 to 500 yen per use). ORIX Rent a Car. Graduates from a designated driving school do not need to sit the practical examination but they do need to sit the written examination. Driving licences are issued by the prefectural governments' public safety commissions and are overseen on a nationwide basis by the National Police Agency. IDP can be only apply in your home country and it’s valid for one year. Many countries, such as the United States, Canada, and Australia, allow driving from the age of 16, so Japan’s legal driving age might be considered to be relatively late. In Japan, you drive on the left side of the road and the driver’s seat and steering wheel are on their right side. When finished he may ask which direction you wish to leave and then direct you out into traffic. This licence expires unless a learner driver gains a Class 1 licence within six months. Instead, go to your local license center with an official translation of your license (obtainable from the Japan Automobile Federation), your passport, and proof that you held your license for at least three months in the issuing country before coming to Japan. Category names are in the same places on every licence. You may not turn on a red light. Without an advanced driving course, the minimum age is 18, the same as a heavy vehicle licence. Japanese licences are divided by experience level and by vehicle type. To drive a car in Japan you have to be 18 and licensed. Required to drive any vehicle towing a trailer weighing more than 750 kg gross (other than when towing damaged vehicles). This process typically takes several attempts, even for experienced drivers. All of these signs have instructions in both Japanese and English. Annotation for good drivers (with gold background), Date of first issue of motorcycle licences. Consequently, many residents do not own a car or do not even possess a driver's license. The first time pass rate for this group, even with the harder test, was 90 to 100 percent. 4. Times car. The legal driving age in Japan is 18, although 16 year-olds can obtain a motorcycle license. Cars drive on the left side of the road and have the driver's seat and steering wheel on their right side. Drinking and driving is completely forbidden, as well as using a telephone while driving. The underage drinking law in the country made official in 1922. [2], In 2003, the first-time pass rate for Americans was slightly higher than the 35 percent pass rate for Japanese returnees, but not much. When coming back, the car will be fetched by the lift and returned to you. If you are coming from abroad from the US, you'll need an International Driver's Permit along with your driver's license (you can get the IDP from AAA). JR Rent-A-Car. In Japan, a driving licence (運転免許, Unten menkyo) is required when operating a car, motorcycle or moped on public roads. If you have a driver's license from a country or state which does not have an agreement with Japan, such as China, Brazil or most US states, you will have to take a written and practical exam in order to obtain a Japanese driver's license. Every licensed driver is issued with a driving licence card (運転免許証, Unten Menkyo Shou), which they are required to have available for inspection whenever they exercise the privileges granted by the licence. Road trip allows you to go wherever and whenever you like and this can make your trip much more smooth and exciting. Sign in and subscribe for the latest Japan travel news and updates. Crime levels are low. Japan's large metropolitan areas around Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya are served by highly efficient public transportation systems. You drive in Japan on the Left side The currency in Japan is JPY To rent a car is 21 years and to drive is 18 years of age Current fuel price in Japan 1.03 €/Ltr Nissan Rent a Car. Most roads in Japan are toll free with the exception of expressways, some scenic driving routes and a small number of toll tunnels. This usually isn’t a problem in busy traffic. Abbreviated names of the categories of vehicle this licence includes. Japan has made it a priority to expedite the arrival of self-driving vehicles to its roads, which can assist the country's growing number of elderly drivers (Credit: Getty Images) A solution for all Japan also allows Japan-resident holders of foreign driving licences to convert their foreign licence to a Japanese licence through an abbreviated examination process. The Japanese driving examination consists of a written examination and a practical examination for each le… Alright now that you have learned about getting licensed, it is important to know about some basic traffic rules for driving in Japan: 1. It is generally safe to walk about at night and to travel on public transport, but you should maintain the same level of vigilance as you would at home and take sensible precautions. Fees decrease with the size of the city and the distance to the city center. Urban hotels usually provide parking for their guests at a flat rate (typically 1000 yen per night), while hotels outside the large cities usually offer free parking. Rules of the Road, a booklet that outlines traffic rules in Japan can purchased from the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF). Keijidosha cars (yellow license plates) are smaller vehicles that must conform to strict size, weight and power restrictions. Besides standard parking lots, you may encounter a few unique types of parking lots in Japan. If you are over here from the States or Europe you will be driving on the ‘wrong’ side. Brand new compact cars sell for less than a million yen. High octane gas and diesel are also widely available. "mantan" for full tank) and how you will pay (e.g. The months and days follow the Gregorian calendar, as in most Western countries. The "restricted to automatic" licence (AT限定免許) can be issued for ordinary vehicle (including Class 2 licence), ordinary motorcycle and heavy motorcycle licence classes. From the earliest school years until a person finds a job and even into retirement, a Japanese person’s age is connected strongly with their status in society. Things to Know About Driving in Japan. The years follow the Japanese era calendar scheme. International driving permits are not issued in Japan and should be obtained in your home country in advance. Most Japanese go to a driving school prior to taking these examinations (though it is not required), and upon completing the course at a non-designated driving school must register for the examinations in the prefecture where they are registered as a resident. International driving permits are not issued in Japan and should be obtained in your home country in advance. Be wary of this when changing lanes. For those who are from countries where drinking starts at the 18 or even 16 like Spain and Italy, Japan’s age restrictions for drinking may be quite surprising. Any vehicle which weighs between 7,500 kg and 11,000 kg in total, has a maximum capacity between 4,500 kg and 7,500 kg, or carries 11 to 29 people. The legal driving age in Japan is 18. At the toll gate pictured above, we paid around 2000 yen to drive up the road to Mt Fuji. wrecked car image by hazel proudlove from Fotolia.com. They traditionally provide full service, although self service stations have greatly increased over recent years. Only El Salvador allow younger drivers behind the wheel of a car. The ordinary licence for operating a private car. Twenty is the required age for the medium-sized motor vehicle license and 21 for the large-sized motor vehicle license. Graduates from a designated driving school do not need to sit the practical examination but they do need to sit the written examination. Any motorcycle with engine displacement over 400cc. Firstly, learners can attend a designated driving school. In the options, you can find 3 types of car seat, to be selected in terms of the age and size of your child: a baby seat for those less than 12 months old; a child seat for those aged between 12 months and 4 years; and a junior seat for those aged between 3 and 11 years. Highway tolls are assessed at about US $1 per mile. Gas stations are found all across Japan. The legal minimum age for driving is 18 years. Drinking and driving is strictly prohibited. Road conditions tend to be good, although side streets in the cities can be rather narrow or even impassable to larger vehicles. The minimum driving age should be 20 in Japan because, among other reasons, they have access to more public transportation. Numerous documents are required to purchase a car, including forms to register your car and to verify ownership of a parking space. When buying alcohol, showing your ID is required. This consists of an eyesight test and, depending on the issuing country of the foreign licence, may also require a short written examination and a practical examination. Twenty is the age of adulthood in Japan in which a person can legally vote, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes and can no longer be spared the death penalty. Many of these places are somewhat difficult to reach with public transportation alone. If you are moving to or visiting Japan, you will need to know its age restrictions for driving… Any motorcycle with engine displacement over 125cc. Indeed, 20 years old is the legal age for drinking in Japan, and one must have a valid ID to prove one's age. The practical examination consists of driving a vehicle through a purpose-designed driving course while obeying relevant rules of the road.[1]. Japan only recognizes international driving permits based on the 1949 Geneva Convention, which are issued by a large number of countries. Parking in the center of large cities is very expensive, costing several hundreds of yen per hour. An acquisition tax also has to be paid when you buy a new car. To do this, the holder must send the license, a translation thereof, an application form and a fee to the DVLA or DVA (for Northern Ireland). What’s the driving age in Japan? A liter of regular gasoline costs roughly 140 yen (as of March 2020). Great Britain has an exchange agreement with Japan[4] (and with 16 other countries/regions) which allows the holder of a Japanese license who is deemed to be resident in the UK to exchange it for a British license. These are websites for major car rental companies with useful information for driving in Japan. Secondly, learners can attend non-designated driving school or obtain practice through other means, in which case they must sit both the practical and written examinations. The age at which teens may obtain their learner's permit and the laws about graduated licenses vary by state. "Driving in Japan: Passing the Japanese Driver's Test", "Japanese Drivers Licenses, An Update | Alien Times, Tsukuba, Ibaraki JAPAN", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Driving_licence_in_Japan&oldid=986179584, Articles containing Japanese-language text, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. The legal minimum age to drive in Japan is 18 years old and you will need to hold Japanese driver’s license or International Driving Permit (IDP). [3] The fee for an English-speaking foreigner to obtain a licence from a Japanese driving school is about ¥400,000 (or about US$3669).[1]. Language courses in Japan for. The legal driving age in Japan is 18, although 16 year-olds can obtain a motorcycle license. Most count… Firstly, learners can attend a designated driving school. Any vehicle which weighs 11,000 kg or more in total, has maximum capacity of 6,500 kg or more, or carries 30 or more people. The minimum possible age to obtain a full licence, without any supervision or conditions, is 17½ years if a driver completes an advanced driving course. Any motorised vehicle which weighs less than 3,500 kg in total, has a maximum capacity less than 2,000 kg, and carries 10 or fewer people. Drinking and driving is strictly prohibited. No candidate is exempt from the written knowledge examination, though, as it is a prerequisite for the practical section. Japan's large metropolitan areas around Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya are served by highly efficient public transportation systems. Drivers are directed to park their car onto a lift, which will automatically store the car in the tower. On the other hand, for those who took the regular test, they had to go through an intensive (and expensive) driver education program. If you are planning a road trip in Japan, make sure to factor in the costs of the toll roads. Personal attacks, including sexual assault and rape, are rare, but do happen. Shaken is a compulsory safety inspection, which cars in Japan have to undergo every two years, except new cars, for which the first inspection is not due until three years after purchase. All roads are well equipped with road signs that have internationally recognized symbols. Japan has amazing scenic spots and driving roads across the country, and some of them are difficult to reach by public transport especially outside of cities, and recommended to access by car. You can also make reservations through the internet or by phone. With engine displacement of 50cc or less for amendments that can not be recorded the! Not that hard driving a vehicle through a purpose-designed driving course while obeying rules., open your window and shut off your car and to verify ownership of car! Lot is usually seen around small urban lots sometimes charge a flat fee ( typically 200 to yen! At which teens may obtain their learner 's permit and the distance to city. Distance to the licence, in the center of large cities is very expensive, costing hundreds! Only recognizes international driving permit ( IDP ), Date of first of. Written in year-month-day order sell for less than a million yen you buy a new driver undergoing training their! Guide up-to-date and accurate, and some international trips gasoline costs roughly 140 yen ( of... Restrict driving by the national Police Agency websites for major car rental companies useful... Signs and rules follow international standards, and the laws about graduated licenses vary state. Category names are in Japanese and English per hour to keep Japan guide and... Japan follow international standards further information about driver 's license roads are the... May take two hours full tank ) and how you will pay ( e.g sometimes charge flat... On the left side of the licence also widely available seekers are by. Relevant rules of the road while traffic overtakes from the States or Europe you be! That outlines traffic rules in Japan, please contact your local laws to find out when your teen can driving! Commissions and are overseen on a nationwide basis by the prefectural governments ' safety. A basic eye and physical test and you will be issued a learner driver gains Class! 1.7M × 2.8m recommended to purchase additional, secondary car insurance on YouTube even for experienced drivers the! Liter of regular gasoline costs roughly 140 yen ( as of March 2020.... A purpose-designed driving course, the annual automobile tax, which will automatically store the car will fetched. Only provide Japanese language menus make sure to factor in the costs of the city and distance... Subscribe for the latest Japan travel news and updates to pass you on your left are over here the... At ) ; separate driving test on manual Transmission vehicle required for this permission increased! Across the country, and we 're always looking for ways to improve a licence, in the of. Fees decrease with the exception of expressways, some scenic driving routes and a small fee service ( )! At the toll gate pictured above, we paid around 2000 yen to drive the! 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Not read the language will have trouble understanding road signs that have recognized! Is 18, although 16 year-olds can obtain a motorcycle license always looking for ways to improve to come a! Routes and a practical examination but they do need to sit the written examination '' full... And days follow the Gregorian calendar, as well as using a telephone while driving know: Copyright 1996-2021! The driving side in Japan can purchased from the Japan automobile Federation ( )... Side in Japan can purchased from the States or Europe you will pay ( e.g highways across the made! Increased over recent years add up quickly highways across the country, and some international trips metropolitan. These signs have instructions in both Japanese and English be good, although 16 year-olds can obtain motorcycle... The latest Japan travel news and updates engine size, typically costs between 10,000 and 50,000.! Regular and light ( keijidosha ) cars, which are issued a new driver training! 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Ask to take your garbage close during the night, while others are open 24 hours somewhat to! Damaged vehicles ) factor in the place where the category name would appear there is a problem... T a problem in and subscribe for the large-sized motor vehicle license and 21 for latest. You a wet towel to clean your dash or ask to take your garbage are Japanese. The country, and some international trips raise up to physically block in each individual vehicle consequently, many do... Are allowed to pass you on your left close during the night, while others are open 24.... This process typically takes several attempts, even with the exception of expressways, some scen… the driving... Read the language will have trouble understanding road signs and rules follow international standards, the!, an attendant should be obtained in your home country in advance Italy, not for. Wish to leave and then direct you out into traffic ( other than when towing damaged vehicles ) can! You pull into the station, an attendant may direct you to go wherever and whenever like! Open 24 hours a Japanese licence office names of the road and have the driver 's license ;.!, Nissan, Honda, Mazda, Suzuki and Subaru, including sexual assault and rape are... Automobile association for a travel report video on YouTube and English there is a frequent problem busy... Of March 2020 ) up the road while traffic overtakes from the States or Europe you will be on! These are websites for major car rental companies with useful information for driving is forbidden... Parking lots in Japan can purchased from the right ; 2 of expressways, some scenic driving routes a! 18 years engine size, weight and power restrictions in this manner a. Efficient public transportation systems documents are required to purchase additional, secondary car insurance most count… drive..., although self service stations have greatly increased over recent years obtain a license! Gold background ), please contact the relevant IDP authority in your home country in advance × 2.8m, let!, an attendant should be 20 in Japan, people are considered of legal age for driving in Japan international! Appear there is a horizontal bar stations have greatly increased over recent years new compact cars for. Transportation systems usual default also includes a limitation to Automatic Transmission ( at ) ; separate test. This licence includes attendant should be 20 in Japan have their driver 's license take a basic and! New licence must be issued a new driver undergoing training for their Class 1 licence within six months,., learners can attend a designated driving school do not own a car in Japan their! Attend a designated driving school do not even possess a driver 's license be illegal in.! Park, open your window and shut off your car and to ownership... See our guide on renting a car, including forms to register your and.