New Zealand Embassy Tokyo, Japan
International Driving Permits, Obtaining a Japanese Driver Licence
Driving in Japan
To drive legally in Japan, you must hold either a valid International Driving Permit together with your New Zealand driver licence (see following limitation) or a Japanese driver licence. You cannot drive legally in Japan with a New Zealand driver licence alone.
International Driving Permits (IDPs) - only recognised for 12 months from the date you arrive in Japan
IDPs are valid for twelve months from the date of issue. However, you may only drive on an IDP for the first twelve months after you arrive in Japan. After you have been in Japan for twelve months, or the IDP period has expired, you will need to apply for a Japanese driver licence if you wish to continue driving. An IDP sent to you from overseas or issued afresh on a trip outside Japan will not be recognised after you have spent more than one year in Japan.
An IDP sent to you from overseas is still a valid form of drivers licence, but the twelve month period of validity will be from the landing date in Japan shown on your Japanese Residence Card and not the date on the IDP.
You do not need to have an IDP translated into Japanese.
Note that unless the Class A (motorcycle) category on your IDP is also validated, you cannot legally ride even a moped or scooter of any type on Japanese roads on the basis of having a Class B (car) category validation on its own.
This information is mentioned as a general guide only. For authoritative advice, please refer to the information provided on the Metropolitan Police Department's website.
For further information on IDPs, including how to have one sent to you from New Zealand, please see the New Zealand Automobile Association website.
Obtaining a Japanese Driver Licence
New Zealand driver licence holders can obtain a Japanese driver licence relatively easily without the need to undergo practical or written testing. Application will involve a visit to your local driver licence issuing centre (the International Section of your local city office should be able to inform you of the issuing centre nearest you). A simple eye test will be carried out at the issuing centre as part of the application. Basic English may be spoken at the larger issuing centres, however if you cannot speak Japanese you may wish to consider going with someone who can assist you.
You should check with the issuing centre in advance about what you will need to take with you. Generally, the following will be required:
- Completed application form (available at the issuing centre)
- Application fee
- Japanese Residence Card
- Maximum of 2 passport-sized photographs approximately 3cm high x 2.4cm wide
- Your New Zealand driver licence
- Prescription glasses/lenses if you need them, for the eye test
- An official Japanese translation of your New Zealand driver licence issued by the Japan Automobile Federation.
- Where your New Zealand licence lists two or more classes of vehicles eg car and motorcycle, an official document such as a Certificate of Particulars obtained from the New Zealand Transport Agency will be required which states not only the original issue date of the licence but also the dates you were licensed in each class.
- Evidence that you have spent at least three months in New Zealand since the original issue date of your New Zealand licence:
- Original issue date - this may not be shown on your photo licence if it was issued before 16 January 2006. If not, you can obtain a Certificate of Particulars showing the date from the New Zealand Transport Agency.
- Evidence of period spent in New Zealand since licence issue date - if you have no other documents available that are acceptable to your local driver licence centre which indicate time spent in New Zealand such as employer letters, course attendance records, tax statements, etc, you may request a listing of your New Zealand entry and departure records showing time spent in New Zealand from the Immigration New Zealand branch office in Shanghai. There is no fee for issue of this letter. To request a listing, please email the branch office on email@example.com or fax +86-21-2313-0099 requesting issue and provide a copy/scan of your passport bio-data page and your postal address to which the listing can be mailed.