Getting Japan Driving License

*I followed the procedures as a Malaysian in Sapporo, different citizenship or place might follow the different procedures.
** please bring together someone who can speak Japanese to reduce problems.

Step 1 – JPJ confirmation letter. [For Malaysian]

If you have renewed your driving license once, please ask JPJ to issue a letter which describes when your license was first issued. You will have to pay RM10 for the letter. (I asked my sister in Malaysia to do that and mailed me the letter)

Make sure that
– your license is still valid at the time you want to take the Japanese driving test.
– for the new driver, you obtained your first driving license 3 months in your country before coming to Japan.

** Some of my Malaysian friends did not apply for the JPJ lettter and still they passed the Step 3 below. So, it depends on your luck! Sometimes the officer does not request this document. But make sure that the issued or renewed date on your current license is 3 months prior to your arrival to Japan.

Step 2 – License Translation to Japanese.

Go to any Japan Automobile Federation.
For Sapporians, take the subway Touho line (blue line) to the last station named Fukuzumi. At the station, there will be the signboard to go to JAF, Sapporo Branch. Here you don’t need someone to speak Japanese with the officer. You can go by your own.

Click JAF for the required documents for the translation.
Please bring together all your previous expired license slits (if you still have them) and the JPJ letter (from Step 1) to support you application.

The process takes about 30 minutes only.

Step 3 – Registering test. [In case of Teine Driving Test Center, Hokkaido]

Here is the place –> (in Japanese)

Go to counter 6 to register your test. Pass all the following documents to the officer.
a- your passport and your previous expired passport(s)
b- alien registration card
c- 1 photo (taken within 6 months)
d- the translation from JFA (from Step 2)

The officer will ask you to wait. In my case, she asked me to wait for an hour. After an hour, I went back to the counter again and she asked several questions about our driving experience and documentation. If you don’t have complete supporting documents such as previous expired password(s), please be prepared to cheat :). But if you are could not convince the officer, you may have to involved your country embassy to support your application later on.

After the officer satisfied with the documents, she will askyou to pay about Y2,800 at cashier, taking vision test and return back to the counter.

For vision test, you are tested for 4 symbols (up, down, right, left) and colours (blue, red, yellow) which takes only 1 minute.

Then, she will bring you the test room. you will be asked 10 pictured-objective question which are extremely easy. But make sure you read the question properly. I think the pass point is 7/10. Mark “O” for correct answer and “X” for wrong answer.

She will tell you your result immediately. If you passed, you have to book for the driving test schedule. You can choose to have a test with Automatic Transmission (AT) or Manual Transmission (MT). If you choose MT, you can drive both AT and MT in Japan.

Step 3 process takes about 2 hours.

Step 4 – Training

I recommend you to try and practice at the test circuit. In Teine Driving Test Center, the circuit is open for Y1,000 per hour using your own car. The opening schedule is

6.00 am – 8 am (weekdays from April to October)
5.00 pm – 7 pm (weekdays whole year)

Step 5 – Be idiot

At first the test officer will explain you how to drive, where to give signal and so on theoretically on the map on his table. If you think your Japanese is not strong enough, please bring someone who can translate for you.

Then, he will bring you to the car. At first, he will drive and show several important points and place on the actual circuit.

Now, it is your turn to start the test. You can read other websites to get tips how to pass the test. But for me, I suggest that you are better to be the most idiot as you can. Exaggerate all of your action. Don’t show your F1 driving skills and your confidence. Show him that you are always alert when driving.

When the test is over, the officer will comment your driving but does not telling the result yet. You have to go to counter 6 again to wait for the result.

If you passed, you have to pay another Y1,800 for getting the Japan driving license. The license will be ready in the same day. If you failed, please repeat Step 3 (without vision test and objective test). Yes! you have to pay again for the next driving test schedule.

Step 5 process takes about 5 hours.

Useful links
Japan Automotif Federation

ganbatte kudasai!

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