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  #1  
Old 4 Jun 2005
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Japan international drivers license?

Hi,

I just talked to somebody from the Japanese embassy in Belgium and they told me that the interntional drivers license, as issued in Belgium, would not be allowed in Japan due to some convention bla bla...

I checked the website of the Belgian ambassy in Tokyo and indeed:

"
Can I drive in Japan with an international driver's license?



No. Japan does not recognize international driver's licenses issued on the basis of the Convention of Vienna of 1968.

The only way to drive in Japan is by obtaining a Japanese driver's license (in exchange for the Belgian one). This is a complicated procedure and implies registration with a Japanese local authority.

For more information, visit the website of the Japan Automobile Federation: www.jaf.or.jp
"

--> http://www.diplomatie.be/Tokyo/default.asp?id=28&mnu=28

Can somebody confirm this?
What about the other people that bring their car in Japan(I know at least some Dutch people did it). Or has Belgium signed a wrong treaty?

Thanks for the info!
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  #2  
Old 5 Jun 2005
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There might be some misinformation, I believe if you want to stay longer than 1 yr, your International drivers license is not valid.

Just a quick google search explains this.
try these web sites
http://www.kyutech.ac.jp/english/fps/driver.html

http://www.hiroshima-u.ac.jp/en/inte...drive-license/
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  #3  
Old 5 Jun 2005
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Quote:
Originally posted by joemamamaui:
There might be some misinformation, I believe if you want to stay longer than 1 yr, your International drivers license is not valid.

Just a quick google search explains this.
try these web sites
http://www.kyutech.ac.jp/english/fps/driver.html

http://www.hiroshima-u.ac.jp/en/inte...drive-license/

Reading these sites gives some hope :-) I still wonder why the belgian embassy specificly states that this is prohibited. Diferent sites state different rules based on different conventions. I can only presume the embassy tries to demotivate foreigners to drive in Japan by giving faulty information...

I'll try to get this information official and report back here (any help appreciated).

Thanks for the info joemamamaui


[This message has been edited by 2cvfred (edited 04 June 2005).]
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  #4  
Old 5 Jun 2005
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Actually, this is probably true.
Japan signed the 1949 treaty on road traffic, and I assume Belgium only signed the 1968 (?) treaty.

This is the same for Germany, France, and Switzerland.

Good news is the procedure is not "complicated." (at least for the three countries above). You go to the Japan Automobile Federation and they will give you a translation of your license for about $30.
Hopefully, this is the same for Belgium.

This being said, the police don't know the difference between a 1947 tready and 1968 treaty intl. license!!
So, you probably won't have a problem.

For more accurate information, contact JAF: (kokusai [aatt] jaf [dott] or [dott] jp
(change [aatt] to @ and [dott] to . )

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  #5  
Old 10 Jun 2005
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Ok, here's an update: I've talked to all possible official parties involved, and this seems to be the situation:

- International drivers licenses as issued by Belgium (convention of Vienna) are NOT recognized by Japan.
- Belgium and Japan have bileteral agreement to recognize each others drivers licenses. That is the national drivers licenses, not the international ones!
- While they do recognize the drivers licenses, as a Belgian citizen I still have to apply for a Japanese drivers license, based on my Belgian one (following the JAF procedure). This would take about half a day and requires registration in a Japanese town.

It will make a nice souvenir though, a Japanese drivers license :-)

As for my next problem, we will arrive in Japan by boat and will need to drive our car into the harbour before we can apply for a Japanese drivers license. Depending on the route we will take we would either arrive in Fushiki (from Vladivostok) or in Nagoya (from Africa). I'm pretty sure there is a drivers license exam center in Nagoya, but is there one in Fushiki?
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  #6  
Old 10 Jun 2005
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BTW Chris, thanks for the contact at JAF, they've been very helpfull (although they didn't know about the agreement between Belgium and Japan... but you can't blame them :-) )
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  #7  
Old 10 Jun 2005
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My brother, (whos British though, not Belgian and has a UK licence) recently had to get the Japanese licence after having lived there for a certain time. He did not have to sit a test but rather do a 'simple' exchange type deal at some government office. He tells me it was a 'complete mission' (his words) and unbelievably time consuming and this from someone who speaks reasonable Japanese. However, he has been driving in Japan for multiple years on a UK licence without difficulty.
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Old 10 Jun 2005
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Usually, in all countries I know of, a VISITOR can drive on their national licence and or IDP for up to one year - over that you have to get a local licence, as you are deemed resident.

Don't know which part of that is applicable to you, or if the "usual" rule holds in Japan in your case - but I'd check to be sure, you could save a lot of hassle.

Many travellers have passed through Japan from many countries, and I've never heard of anyone having to get a Japanese licence. Doesn't mean someone didn't!

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  #9  
Old 10 Jun 2005
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Quote:
Originally posted by 2cvfred:
I'm pretty sure there is a drivers license exam center in Nagoya, but is there one in Fushiki?
There is sure to be one in Toyama, the nearest 'big' city.
However, this wil require registering a residence for you first. That means you have to be 'living' somewhere.
And with no Japanese ability, it will take you days to get all the procedures done.

While I usually recommend people to follow the law here, I would say just use your Belgian Intl. License. Even if you were stopped by the police, they probably wouldn't know.
A German friend of mine has been stopped by the police for speeding, and his Intl. License was no problem.
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  #10  
Old 16 Jul 2005
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I've been stopped a couple times here in Japan; gave the police an expired Int. license from the BCAA, and never had a problem...

Now I have a j-license however; an easy swap for a Canadian one.

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  #11  
Old 27 Mar 2007
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Thumbs up International licence in Japan

Hello,
I live in Japan and used my international licence (legally) before I exchanged my UK licence for a Japanese licence. As far as I am aware, an International licence is quite valid as long as it is backed up by a driving licence issued in your own country. This was my experience in Japan and it also applied in other countries to. After 12 months it expires anyway but by that time you should have obtained a Japanese licence. Just for the record, I now have a Japanese international licence for use in other countries I may wish to travel in.


Quote:
Originally Posted by 2cvfred View Post
Hi,

I just talked to somebody from the Japanese embassy in Belgium and they told me that the interntional drivers license, as issued in Belgium, would not be allowed in Japan due to some convention bla bla...

I checked the website of the Belgian ambassy in Tokyo and indeed:

"
Can I drive in Japan with an international driver's license?



No. Japan does not recognize international driver's licenses issued on the basis of the Convention of Vienna of 1968.

The only way to drive in Japan is by obtaining a Japanese driver's license (in exchange for the Belgian one). This is a complicated procedure and implies registration with a Japanese local authority.

For more information, visit the website of the Japan Automobile Federation: JAPAN AUTOMOBILE FEDERATION b “ú–{Ž©“®ŽÔ˜A–¿(ƒWƒƒƒt)
"

--> http://www.diplomatie.be/Tokyo/default.asp?id=28&mnu=28

Can somebody confirm this?
What about the other people that bring their car in Japan(I know at least some Dutch people did it). Or has Belgium signed a wrong treaty?

Thanks for the info!
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  #12  
Old 28 Mar 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by popeye View Post
Hello,
an International licence is quite valid as long as it is backed up by a driving licence issued in your own country.
Welcome to the HUBB, Popeye.
Just to set things straight,
There is a 1949 treaty on road traffic, and a 1968 treaty.
Japan signed the 1949 treaty only. Therefore, only IDP issued based on that treaty are valid here. IDP from countries that are part of the 1986 treaty only are NOT valid in Japan.
This is "the letter of the law," but in practice the average traffic police officer is not aware that there are two treaties. An IDP from "1968 countries" Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, or France will most likely not be a problem unless you are in an accident.
Don't mean to nitpick, but I felt it would help if everyone knows the facts.
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  #13  
Old 18 May 2007
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Finally made it to Japan. Using the international drivers license which is actually not valid here, but had no problems (touch wood) thus far. Have been stopped a few times but they are more concerned with our numberplates then with our license.
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  #14  
Old 18 May 2007
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I got stopped twice in Japan and if my International licence wasn't valid, the police didn't know that. I wouldn't worry about it.
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  #15  
Old 10 Jun 2011
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Dear all,
I'm from Ukraine and Ukraine did not sign 1949 convention as well. Situation with license is more or less clear for me, however according to JAF website they also don't recognize registration certificate for vehicle registered in "not 1949 country". They say: " If a temporarily imported vehicle is registered in a country that is not a party to the aforementioned Convention, it must be inspected and registered in Japan on arrival, even if imported under cover of CPD".
Could somebody explain what does it mean in practice and how long and difficult is that "inspection and registration" procedure?
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