30 useful tips for travel in Japan
- Driving in Japan
- If one wishes to rent (or otherwise operate) a motor vehicle while visiting Japan, one should contact the local motor vehicle authority where one currently holds a valid driver's license to ask about obtaining an International Driver's Permit. It must be obtained prior to arrival in Japan.
- International Driver's Permit
- International Drivers licenses issued under the 1949 Geneva Convention are recognized in Japan. Licenses from Belgium, France, Monaco, Slovenia, Switzerland and Taiwan are not issued under the convention. But there is a separate agreement with the Japanese Government. These countries' licenses are sufficient with a translation by the embassy, the consulate, or Japan Automobile Federation (JAF). All others need to have a valid International Drivers Licence.
- Notes about the Permit
- The permit, though often referred to as an international driver's license, is actually not; it is only a temporary permit issued while in one country. For example, the U.S.-issued permit is backed as a document by the U.S. Department of State. The passport-sized permit should always be carried with your passport and preferably also with your driver's license.
However keep in mind that, as with passports, your license is an essential item to keep on hand. It should not be near expiry, as usually at least a year or more in terms of license validity is required to obtain the permit in the first place. The International Driver's Permit is strictly supplemental to the valid license, so please make sure your license will not expire any time soon.
The license is "activated" upon entry, and then only valid for up to a year. If you intend to stay longer and continue driving, you are urged to convert your home license to a Japanese one.