Driving in Japan - The complete guide for tourists and foreigners | NICONICO Rent a Car
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Driving in Japan – The complete guide for tourists and foreigners

So you want to drive in Japan, but are still unsure about whether you can do it or not? You have come to the right place!

But before we begin, I just want to say that you are making an excellent choice!

Driving in Japan is an exciting experience that offers you the chance to visit destinations that most other travelers do not get to see. Since you are no longer bound to areas only reachable by public transportation, you can exit the large cities and enjoy things like the Japanese countryside, or hikes near some of Japan’s beautiful waterfalls, or even go on a ski trip! (Check out this article about driving and skiing in Niseko!) As an added bonus, if you travel with a group, you can also save some money on travel expenses.

Now that all sounds good and dandy, but if you are anything like I was, you are probably too worried about the difficulties of driving in Japan to fully enjoy your daydreams of your future Japanese get-away. But have no fear! I, an American, born and raised, have driven across Japan (without any prior practice) and live to tell the tale of how easy it is to drive in Japan. My hope is that this guide will give you all of the knowledge and information you need to put yourself at ease and to help you enjoy an unforgettable trip through Japan from behind the wheel.

Now let’s dive right into the details!

Driving requirements

To drive in Japan there are a couple of requirements you must meet:

  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Must have a valid Driver’s License or Translation (more on that next)

Acquiring International Driving Permits and Japanese Licenses

You will fall under one of two categories:
1. Short-term stay (tourists, people on business trips, etc.)
2. Long-term residents.

Case 1: Short-term Stay / International Driving Permit

For travelers temporarily visiting Japan, you will either be required to bring an International Driving Permit (IDP) under the Geneva Convention of 1949, or a driver’s license from your own country with a valid legal translation of your license, which can be ordered from the company Driving-Japan. The required materials will vary depending on your country of domicile, so be sure to check the lists below!

Countries requiring an International Driving Permit:

 Asia Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, Hong Kong(China), India, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand 
 Europe  Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of San Marino, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, Vatican City (Holy See)
 North America  Canada, United States of America
 South America  Argentina, Barbados,  Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Paraguay, Peru, Republic of Dominica, Trinidad and Tobago,  Venezuela
 Africa/Middle East  Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Israel, Jordan, Kingdom of Lesotho, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Republic of South Africa, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Syria, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Zimbabwe

Countries requiring Driver’s License from country of domicile + Legal Translation:

 Asia  Taiwan
 Europe  Switzerland, Germany, France, Belgium, Estonia, Monaco

The company Driving-Japan offers such translations, which are officially issued by the Japan Automobile Federation. You can conveniently order one online and it will be sent to your hotel address in Japan or even to your home address. They also offer the convenient service of printing it out within a week at a 7-Eleven store in Japan.

Case 2: Long-term Stay / Acquiring a Japanese License

For those residing in Japan and are planning to stay long-term, you get to go through the process of acquiring your very own Japanese Driver’s License! You may start out by following Case 1 (International Driving Permit), however, those are only valid for one year. It is also illegal to return to your home country to renew your IDP and then return to Japan and use it again. The IDP is not a replacement for a permanent license.

Those of you who reside in Japan will fall into an additional two different cases. If you happen to be from one of many special countries or regions, you will be exempted from taking the written and driving examinations (Luckily, I happened to be from one of these!). If you are not from one of these places however, I extend my sincerest apologies, as the road ahead of you will be a little bit more grueling.

Let’s start with Case 1: Countries and regions exempted from the Driving Examination

If you have a driver’s license from one of these areas, you are eligible for a direct exchange of your license:

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, South Korea, or USA (only Maryland [from Jan 2016] or Washington State [from Jan 2017])

What you will need:

  • 1. Your original non-expired driver’s license
  • 2. A passport or other proof that you have resided in the country that your driver’s license was issued in for over three months
  • 3. A translation of your driver’s license into Japanese (You can get this through the JAF Note that will take about a week to receive the translation after submitting your original license.)
  • 4. A 2.3cm X 3cm W X H photo of yourself (This is not the picture that will be used on your license, so don’t bother wasting time trying to look good. They will take another picture of you at the licensing center. You can often find mini photo booths in train stations that will print these for you instantly. They usually have an English setting as well.)
  • 5. Your residency certificate (Jyuuminhyo)

The process:

Once you have acquired all of the documents, locate the nearest licensing center that has jurisdiction over your area of residence. Pay special attention to the hours of operation for the counter that handles foreign license conversions. The center I went to was only open on weekdays and had a very slim time slot.

Once you have found your nearest location, all you have to do is show up to the counter with all of your necessary documents, no appointment necessary. I would highly recommend that you show up to the licensing center early. By early, I mean over an hour before the licensing center opens. From personal experience, I can tell you that the line outside of the licensing center is very long. I arrived an hour early, and there was already a long line forming. Depending on the licensing center you go to, they may also limit the number of foreign license exchanges per day. For example, the place I went to only allowed ten people per time slot. Take this advice into heavy consideration!

Once you have reached the counter, the process is very straight-forward and the staff will walk you through everything. There are foreigners from all backgrounds that speak all kinds of languages so I found that most of the staff do not make much of an effort to communicate with you unless there is a problem. Just hand over all of the documents listed above and they will take care of all of the paperwork. All you will need to do is sign a couple of forms and have another picture taken (the one that they will actually put onto your license).

Your license will be printed out the same day, though it will require you to sit around for a little bit. Expect to spend 4-6 hours in the licensing center in total (Bringing a book or something else to entertain yourself might be a good idea).

Case 2: Countries and regions not exempted from the Driving Examination
What you will need:

  • 1. Your original non-expired driver’s license
  • 2. A passport or other proof that you have resided in the country that your driver’s license was issued in for over three months
  • 3. A translation of your driver’s license into Japanese (You can get this through the JAF Note that will take about a week to receive the translation after submitting your original license.)
  • 4. A 2.3cm X 3cm W X H photo of yourself (This is not the picture that will be used on your license, so don’t bother wasting time trying to look good. They will take another picture of you at the licensing center.)
  • 5. Your residency certificate (Jyuuminhyo)
  • 6. A good friend or translator who speaks fluent Japanese (if you can’t)

The process:

The first step in obtaining your license is to gather all of the required materials mentioned above. After you have done so, you will need to contact your local licensing center that has jurisdiction over your area of residence and make your first appointment. This is where a Japanese speaking friend or a translator will come in handy. Also, be aware that most of these centers only allow appointments on weekdays. The centers can also be very busy depending on the time of the year, so do not be surprised if your appointment is scheduled several weeks out.

The next step is to actually show up to your appointment. Your first appointment will mainly be a paperwork check. They will check your passport closely to make sure that you have lived in the country of your original license for at least three months, and verify that all of your other documents are valid.

Next you will need to schedule a second appointment. This is the practical examination, which is notoriously difficult. Do not feel bad if you fail, most people take it at least two or three times before passing. The test is not so much about your driving skill, but rather about whether you know how to take the test or not. It is highly recommended that you do a practice session before attempting to take the exam. Note however, that some instructors require you to have an examination date already determined before they practice with you.

There is an abundance of materials online, and I recommend studying up on the material as much as you can before attempting the test to boost your chances of passing on your first try.

If you pass the test, they will print out your driver’s license on the same day.

The final step is to go and reward yourself. Acquiring your Japanese license is no easy task!

Basic Traffic Rules and Unwritten Rules

Alright now that you have learned about getting licensed, it is important to know about some basic traffic rules for driving in Japan:

  • 1. In Japan you drive on the left and your steering wheel is on the right
  • 2. You may not turn on a red light.
  • 3. Motorcycles are allowed to pass you on your left. Be wary of this when changing lanes.
  • 4. On highways the passing lane is on the right. (Police actually crack down on this rule so don’t stay in the right lane too long)
  • 5. On normal roads the speed limit is usually 60km/hr, do not go over this speed even if there are no signs
  • 6. On highways the speed limit is usually 100km/hr
  • 7. Seat belts must be worn by all passengers in the vehicle.
  • 8. Children under 6 years of age are required to use child seats of appropriate size
  • 9. Driving under the influence of any drugs or alcohol is strictly prohibited.

Here are a couple of unwritten rules as well:

  • 1. If you let somebody into your lane they may respond by blinking their hazards 2 or 3 times. This simply means “Thank you.”
  • 2. If you see hazards on a highway in the distance it could mean that the traffic is coming to a sudden stop. If you see this, slow down and turn on your hazards for the person behind you.

Driving on highways and Expressways

Perhaps one of the biggest fears for new drivers in Japan is entering a highway or expressway for the first time. But don’t worry! There is nothing to be afraid of. Like in most countries, highway driving is actually easier than driving on the narrower city streets.

The main differences between the highways in Japan versus those of other countries is the ETC system (more on that next), and the passing lanes. The ETC system is a way to pay road tolls electronically. You can learn more about this in the next section. As for passing lanes, in Japan the passing lanes are on the right side. Do not stay in the right lane too long or you could be pulled over (The Japanese police actually enforce this rule).

ETC Cards and road tolls

“ETC Card” stands for Electronic Toll Collection card. Having an ETC card installed in your vehicle enables you to use the ETC toll gates (seen in Image 1 and 3 below). If you do not have an ETC Card installed in your vehicle you will have to go through the regular toll booth (Image 2). The ETC Card is very convenient because all of the tolls are automatically accrued to your card without you having to pull over and dig out exact change to pay the tolls. If you are renting a car, you will most likely pay for these accrued tolls once you have returned the vehicle, if you have your own ETC Card, it is most likely connected to your Japanese credit card and will automatically charge you through that account.

How to use the ETC Toll gates:

Whenever you enter a major highway or expressway, chances are you will come across a toll gate quite quickly. Your two or three lane road may suddenly split into 6 or more lanes and cause a sense of panic, but don’t worry! Just familiarize yourself with these three signs, and you will be completely fine.

Toll gate sign for ETC only.ETC Only
Toll gate sign for cash only.Cash Only
Toll gate sign for cash and ETC.Both Okay

As you probably have figured out by the images above, you can use an ETC cards on toll gates that have the first and third sign displayed. Here is what a toll gate looks like:

If you are paying with an ETC Card, slow down to 20Km/hr as you pass through the gate. This is to insure that you do not hit the gate arm. Also note that this gate arm usually does not rise until the very last second, so do not slam on your brakes, it is completely normal.

Save money on tolls! Use Expressway Passes!

If you plan on driving far distances, odds are you will be using a lot of expressways. These toll charges can add up quickly, and can be pretty expensive (sometimes around $10USD just to use a highway one-way!). Luckily, if you are a traveler from overseas, you are eligible for many Expressway passes. These expressways passes allow you to pay a one time flat fee and provides you with unlimited use of the expressways in the designated region. For example two of the most popular passes are the Hokkaido Expressway Pass (HEP) and the Kyushu Expressway Pass (KEP). If you have not guessed already, the HEP give you unlimited access to the freeways in Hokkaido, and the KEP in Kyushu.

If you plan on renting a vehicle be sure to check whether the rental car shop is an official distributor of the expressway pass you are interested in. Car rental companies are required to apply and meet certain requirements in order to distribute the passes. (NICONICO Rent a Car offers both the HEP & KEP)

Traffic Signs

To protect other drivers and yourself, you should familiarize yourself with Japanese traffic signs. Here are most of the common signs you will see. In addition to these signs also note that you might see large white characters written directly on the street that will look like this 止まれ. This means to stop and is sometimes used instead of the normal stop sign.

A collection of common Japanese road traffic signs.


In Japan there are two types of parking lots. Most of them will be the gate type parking, however, it is good to also know how the plate types work in case you have no other option.

A picture of directions on how to use locking-plate type parking lots in Japan.
A picture of directions on how to use the gate type parking lots in Japan.

Renting a Car

Renting a car in Japan is very simple, and there are several companies that rent cars to foreigners with International Driving Permits (Not all companies do). Here is what the rental process looks like:

  • 1. Book a car. You can use several online travel agents to rent cars in your preferred language, or visit the rental car company websites directly.
  • 2. Arrive on your pick-up day. If you are renting from an airport location, you will either go to a designated counter or a designated shuttle pick-up area. Be sure to get this information from the company you are renting from before you arrive to avoid any complications.
  • 3. Once you have reached the shop, you will be asked if you would like to add any optional items or add a safety plan. The car rentals already come with basic insurance coverage, however the safety plans will provide additional financial coverage (usually covering your deductibles). After you have confirmed your options you will sign the rental agreement and will be lead to your car.
  • 4. The shop staff will walk around the car with you and markdown any scratches or dents already on the vehicle. This is to prevent disputes over whether you have caused any damage to the vehicle during your rental period. Don’t be afraid to point out any scratches that the staff might have missed. After the inspection you will be free to go.
  • 5. Return the vehicle. Before returning your vehicle, most car rental companies require that you fill up the gas tank completely at a nearby gas station. Be sure to keep your receipt as proof that you have filled up the car properly.

Driving Tips for the Beginner

Driving in Japan can be a terrifying experience, so here are some useful tips to stay safe on the road:

  • 1. If your car comes with a built in Navigation system, use it. Japanese roads are not always simple. You will find highway entrances in weird places, intersections that split into five different directions, and so on. The Japanese navigation systems provide useful visuals that make navigating busy streets very easy.
  • 2. Drive around some quiet streets or neighborhood for about 5-10 minutes before beginning your journey. That should be enough time to get used to driving with the wheel on the right and the position of the blinker (In the US the blinker and windshield wiper were in opposite positions. Let me tell you, my windshield was squeaky clean during our entire trip.)
  • 3. Drive very slowly in small neighborhoods. Japan has a lot of foot traffic and cyclists. The last thing you want is to run anybody over.
  • 4. If you are renting a vehicle, try to rent a smaller car if possible. Japanese streets are very narrow and having a smaller car makes it a lot easier to turn and park in tight spaces.
  • 5. Have someone sit shotgun with you to point out signs you may have missed and to help you with navigation. This will take off a lot of stress, allowing you to relax and focus on safe driving.
  • 6. This is not really a tip, but do not be scared. Driving in Japan is probably not very different from driving in your home country. After getting behind the wheel for a few minutes you will begin wondering why you were even stressing in the first place.

Have fun driving!

Thank you for reading my guide! I hope it gives you the confidence to go out and explore Japan from behind the wheel. Like I’ve said many times throughout this article, driving in Japan is easy! With the basic knowledge provided in this guide, you will be fully prepared to drive in Japan. You will not regret making the decision to explore Japan in this exciting and unique way. Happy travels!

More Tips / Post for driveing in Japan

1.【International Driving Permit – Japan】

2.【Renting a Car in Japan】

3.【What to when driving during an earthquake】

4. 【Insurance Plans Introduction】

5.【Tips for Driving in Tokyo】

6. 【Tips for Driving in Kanagawa】

7.【Tips for Driving in Fukuoka】

8.【Tips for Driving in Osaka】

9.【Tips for Driving in Nagasaki】

66 thoughts on “Driving in Japan – The complete guide for tourists and foreigners

  1. On a Japanese news channel this morning, my husband heard the announcer say that, ahead on the highway, (in Japan) there are two TN signs — or perhaps it was NT. What would such a sign mean?
    Thank you.

    1. Hello Marie,
      Thank you for your comment.

      I believe the signs you are referring to are the ones labeled “TN.”

      The TN stands for “Tunnel.”

      Other similar signs are:
      JCT – Junction
      SA – Service Area
      PA – Parking Area

      Hope this helps!

  2. Had booked a car from your company, may i ask how many drivers are allowed to drive my rented car ?

    1. Hello Jack,

      Thank you for a booking a car with us.

      You are allowed to have as many drivers as you would like at no additional cost. Just be sure that everyone has the proper driver’s license and shows it to the staff when picking up the vehicle.

      Hope this helps!

    1. Hello Mamat,

      Thank you for your comment!

      All of our vehicles are automatic transmission. Hope this helped!
      Please let us know if you have any other questions.

      Best regards,


  3. Hi, I vave booked a car from your company, pick up in Fukuoka, can I use an American Express credit card as deposit?

  4. I’m visiting Japan in a few days from Pakistan and I’m planning to get a car on rent. Please guide if Pakistan’s International Driving Permit is acceptable in Japan or not? I’m confused getting mixed information on the internet

    1. Hello Usama,

      Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately only countries that are signatories of the 1949 Geneva Convention are authorized to use an IDP in Japan.

      An IDP issued in Pakistan is not valid to drive in Japan.

      Thank you for your understanding.

    1. Hello Jeffrey,

      Thank you for the comment.

      Unfortunately we do not offer the JEP. We only have the Hokkaido Expressway Pass (HEP) and the Kyushu Expressway Pass (KEP).

      Please let me know if you have any other questions.

    1. Hello Mark,

      Thank you for your comment. It is legal to drive a pick-up in Japan, however it is very difficult to find a pick-up in Japan as most companies have stopped producing them for the Japanese market.

  5. I’m going too be in a rather unique situation soon. I live and work in Japan under US SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) as a contractor. As a result, I have a US SOFA issued license, that when paired up with my US drivers license, allows me to drive in Japan. My vehicle has SOFA license plates. Soon this will all come to an end as my SOFA status will expire due to my contract ending. However, I will remain in Japan for a brief period afterwards, and would like to continue to drive here (either my own vehicle, which I probably won’t be able to due to the SOFA status expiring, or a rental vehicle). I’m guessing I’ll have to obtain an IDP to drive here for the period after my SOFA License expires. Anyone have any thoughts in this regard? Thanks in advance.

    1. Hello Chris,

      Thank you for your comment.

      If you lose your SOFA status you will need to obtain an IDP or a regular Japanese license.

      If you hold a Washington State or Virginia Driving License the process is as simple as filling out some paper work. If you are from any other state it is probably easier to apply for an IDP and have a friend or family member send it you by mail.

      Please let us know if you have any other questions.

  6. Got another Japanese license question. I’m in the process of applying for the certificate of eligibility and then the visa so I am still a non resident or tourist at the moment. I have an international drivers permit at the moment which I got in June. Does the 1 year rule apply to me as a tourist? Also there is some condition which states that you must leave the country for 3 month if you want to renew the international permit. Does this only apply to Japanese residents or tourists as well?


    1. Hello Yoshi,

      Thank you very much for your comment.

      Since you are a non-resident you should be able to use International Driving Permit for up to one year.
      Once you have your Visa approved, and officially become a resident in Japan, you should work towards acquiring a Japanese Driver’s License.

      The IDP is not meant to be used as a Driver’s License replacement.

      Hope this helps!

      Please let me know if you have any other questions.

  7. Hi! I am Karl Barcelona from the Philippines. My husband and I are planning to visit Nagoya this coming February 2020 and we intend to rent a car during our 5 days stay. My husband Ron already has an IDP (international driver’s permit/license) issued in the Philippines. As Philippines is one of the signatories in the 1949 Geneva convention, would it be enough for him to drive in Japan? I understand that it would be one of the requirements together with the passport and the locally issued driver’s license. However, what confuses me is IF on top of the IDP + local license + passport, is a Japanese translation of the local driver’s license still required? Kindly advise. Thanks!

    1. Hello Karl,

      Thank you for your comment!
      The IDP + Passport will be enough for you.

      Please let me know if you have any other questions!

  8. Hi,

    do you have any idea i have IDP from philippines my wife is a permanent resident here in Japan and i have 1 year visa my wife bought a car and i was planning to use it using my IDP at the same time im applying for a Japanese Lisence actually i already took the test passed the written exam but failed the actual diriving test one of acquatances told us that icannot use any more my IDP for driving because im in the process of applying a Japanes drivers lisence please if you have any idea if this is true i would really appreciate it


    1. Hello Muhammed,

      Unfortunately IDPs issued from Pakistan are not valid to drive in Japan. Only signatories of the 1949 Geneva Convention are valid to drive in Japan.

      Hope this helps!

    1. Hello Alfonso,

      Unfortunately IDPs issued in Mexico are not valid to drive in Japan. Only signatories of the 1949 Geneva Convention are valid to drive in Japan.

      Hope this helps!

    2. Hi
      I was in Japan from july to August 2022 on a tourist visa and had got my IDP which i used to drive in Japan. I came back to my country in August. Now I will be returning back to Japan in October 2022 as a dependent resident. My old IDP is still valid as only 2.5 months have passed.
      Now do i need to get a new IDP or the old one which is still valid would be enough?

      Also 3 month rule will be applicable to me if I get a new IDP, that time i was not a resident but on visitors visa and now I will be going on a resident visa?

      1. Hi Dhiraj!

        IDPs are intended to be used by temporary visitors of Japan. If you are a permanent resident you must acquire a Japanese driver’s license.

        Hope this helps!

  9. People from other countries whose international driving permits are not recognized by Japan, must obtain a Japanese driver’s license in order to drive in Japan.

  10. I am wondering if anyone knows… If I have the visa status of permanent resident, but am not living in the country (Japan) and have not for years, but travel back and forth, whether I will be able to rent a car with my valid U.S. drivers license (with at least 6 months on it) and IDP? I will be renting from the airport, during this COVID time in order to get to my residence where I need to return to. Thank you.

  11. Foreigners can drive in Japan with an International Driving Permit (IDP) for a maximum of one year, even if the IDP is valid for a longer period. … International driving permits are not issued in Japan and should be obtained in your home country in advance. They offer same information here Evolvetraining.ac.nz one must check them also.

  12. Hello.
    I am from Mexico and we are not on the “approved” list of the IDP. I was wondering if there is any other way to be able to drive when visiting Japan or are we excluded forever.

    1. Hello Hilda,

      Unfortunately it is probably not possible for you to drive.
      Your best bet is to hire a driver or find a friend who is legally able to drive in Japan.
      Also you can look at buses, trains, and taxis as alternatives.

      Hope this helps!

  13. hi, such a helpful page!

    Ive driven in japan before on an idp, and just today got my uk licence exchanged for a Japanese one. I have 2 questions:
    1. I got a leaflet that says in broken english, ‘if your regular car license is beginners licence, then you have to use the beginners mark for one year’. My uk license was full so i assume i dont need to, however my wife reading the the kanji thinks it means, anyone who has exchanged their license need to use the beginners mark for a year from when they received the japanese one. Any idea about this?
    2. I NEVER speed, always staying within the limit. However I was driving in Okinawa and my wife told me i should go faster (10-20km beyond speed limit on the open road) as ‘everybody does, and theyll get frustrated if you’re too slow’. I refused, which stressed her out so pulled over and googled about it. Apparently it is an unwritten rule? Do you have any knowledge of this?

    1. Hello Jack,

      Thank you for your comment.

      1. I think your wife is correct in that any one who exchanges their license must display the beginner mark. (I personally exchanged my license from the USA to a Japanese license and had to do the same.)

      2. Similarly to driving in your home country, I am sure there are local “unwritten rules.” I won’t tell you to speed on this car rental website, but I will say there are areas in Japan where it is generally accepted to go slightly over the speed limit. Please drive safely. 🙂

  14. Ditto Jack’s comment on helpful page.

    We are contemplating visiting the Biei Hokkaido region and will likely fly into Sapporo. Should we anticipate using our U.S. IDP and ease of renting as described here within?

    What other first-time-Japan-driver information resources can you recommend?

    1. Hello David,

      Thank you for your question! Yes the information here is still accurate for renting in Sapporo.

      As far as resources, I would just recommend familiarizing yourself with some road signs, as that is the main difference between driving in the U.S. and in Japan.
      Here is a helpful website I found with great images https://www.rhinocarhire.com/Drive-Smart-Blog/Drive-Smart-Japan/Japan-Road-Signs.aspx.

      Just double check that the car rental company you choose to rent from accepts IDPs and be sure to have your passport in hand when at the car rental counter. Other than that, I think it best not to overthink it too much as driving in Japan is not very difficult, especially in the more rural areas like Hokkaido.

      Safe travels!

  15. Good day
    I live near Higashi Ojima metro station at Komatsugawa.
    I like to rent your cars but your pick up and drop off points as per the website seems to be only airports.
    As airport is quite far from my place of residence, is there a car pick up and drop off point, closer to my home?
    I have my Indian drivers license converted to Japanese drivers license. I have rented and driven in Japan but from other companies.

    Thank you and awaiting yours.

    1. Hello Ranjan,

      Sorry for the confusion. These airport locations are the only locations that accept International Driving Permits (IDPs). Since you have a Japanese license, you may rent from any Niconico Rent a Car location. To find their locations you can look at https://www.2525r.com/. Unfortunately, this site is only in Japanese.

      I hope this helps!

  16. I am an Indian planning to come japan for close to one year less than 2 years. Is my IDP atleast valid for one year?

  17. Hello ,

    i have a valid Thailand license and a Thailand issued International driving license ( based on 1968 convention , that is what you get here ) .
    Can I drive and rent a car in Japan with that license .

    I called the embassy and they said is OK , but I am confused since some website said only 1949 issued is valid

    thank you kindly

  18. I’ve been living in japan for a few years, but never needed to drive. My idp is expired and now so is my Canadian drivers license. (I really should have looked into this earlier). If my Canadian license is expired, will I have to take a driving test in Japan if I want to drive ?

    1. Hello Justin! Thank you for your comment. The IDP is not to be used as a substitute as a Japanese Driver’s license, especially as a resident. Unfortunately, you will have to take the Japanese Driver’s license test and obtain a Japanese Driver’s license. Best of luck to you!

  19. Hello! Is there a 10 seats van available for rental for self driving in Osaka? We have bus driving license that permit to drive a minibus in Japan but could not find a shop that has minibus available for rent. Mush appreciated if you can help? Thanks Sally

  20. Last time I was in Japan in the summer of 2018, I still have the translation from the JAF of my Belgian driving license (that expires in 2027) . Can I still use this translation to rent a car in Japan? Or do I need to apply for a new one?

    Kinds regards Yip Henk

    1. Hello Yip, and thank you for your comment!

      As long as the translation is not expired you are fine. No need to apply for a new one.

      Hope this helps!

  21. May I rent a car from the shop nearby 宮地駅 with the International Driving Permits? Thank you.

    1. Hello Louise!

      Thank you for the question. Unfortunately, the shops not listed on our website do not yet support IDPs. The shops that do are Narita Airport, New Chitose Airport, Kagoshima Airport, Shin-Yokohama Station, Nagasaki Airport, Center-Minami (Kanagawa), and Fukuoka Airport.

      Hope this helps!

  22. Hi, I have a question. In 2021, I successfully passed my driving test in Kyoto and obtained a Japanese driver’s license valid until 2024. However, in 2022, I had to return to my home country and leave Japan. Now, I plan to go back to Japan this year. Is my Japanese driving license still valid and can it be used until it expires?

    Kind regards,

    1. Hi Mike!

      Generally, if you obtained a Japanese driver’s license that is valid until 2024, it should still be valid when you return to Japan, provided it has not expired. Japanese driver’s licenses have a validity period, usually for a certain number of years, and as long as the license is within its validity period, it should be usable.

      Hope this helps!

  23. May I check if there is age limitation to drive in Japan for senior citizens? I was told that foreigners above 65 is not allowed to rent a car or drive in Japan. Thank you

    1. Hello Aliz,

      Thank you for your comment! At NICONICO Rent a Car, we do not have an age limit and you are legal to drive as long as you have your driver’s license and IDP.

      Hope this helps!

  24. Hi, I was wondering but is there a minimum amount of driving experience you need to obtain a international driving permit? I just passed my test and I’m not sure I’ll be eligible.

    Many thanks,

    1. Hello Ed,

      Thank you for your question. There is no restriction regarding hours of experience. If you have a valid driver’s license in your home country, then you should be able to obtain an International Driving Permit.

      Hope this helps!

  25. Hi, I’m a traveller from Indonesia and have an International Driving Permit issued in Indonesia. Am I allowed to rent a car in Japan? If not, what alternatives are there to allow me to rent a car? Thank you

    1. Hello Andy,

      Unfortunately Indonesia Drivers Licenses are not valid for driving in Japan.

      Here are some alternatives:

      1. (Most expensive) Find a hired driver. They will be able to take you anywhere you would like to go.
      2. Public transportation is great in Japan. Plan your trip along major train lines. If you want to go more to the country side check with your hotel, as they probably will have a shuttle bus from the nearest train station.

      Hope this helps!

      1. Hi Chris,

        What if I’m an Indonesian but have a valid US driver license? will I still be able to rent a car in Japan?

        1. Hello Rayun,

          Yes you will be able to drive in Japan. Since you are using a US Driver’s license you will be required to get an IDP from the US before arriving in Japan.

          I hope this helps! Please do let me know if you have anymore questions.

  26. I have a Canadian driving license and I want to book translate. When I filled out the form but no issuing country for Canada.

    1. Hello Lucy,

      From Canada you do not need a translation, you just need an International Driving Permit.

      I hope this helps!

    1. Hello Steve,

      Yes you can purchase a KEP online or at the counter before you leave. The KEP rate already includes the ETC Card.

      I hope this helps!

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