Foreign Driver’s License Conversion

Japan is known for its meticulous regulations and procedures, which extends to converting a foreign driver’s license into a Japanese one here in Nagoya. Understanding whether you fall into Group 1 or Group 2 of the license conversion process is crucial for expatriates. This article provides a guide on what each group entails and the specific requirements for each.

Group 1: No Tests Required

Group 1 offers a streamlined process for license holders from specific countries. This process is relatively straightforward and doesn’t require applicants to take a written or road test.

Eligibility Criteria:
  • Issuing Country: The license must be issued by countries including but not limited to Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Spain, the UK, USA (specific states), Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, South Korea, and others. (As of January 2023)
  • License Validity: The foreign driver’s license should be valid.
  • Residency Proof: Proof of residency for at least 90 days (can be non-consecutive) in the country where the license was issued post-issuance.
  • Visa and Registration in Japan: A valid visa and registration as a foreign resident in Japan are required.
Required Documents:
  • Foreign Driver’s License: Including previous licenses if available.
  • Japanese Translation of the License: Obtainable from the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) or respective embassies/consulates.
  • Residence (Zairyu) Card and Resident Certificate (Juminhyo).
  • Passport: To prove the required residency period in the issuing country.
  • Photograph: A recent passport-size photo.
Examination Process:
  • Document Inspection: Verification of all required documents.
  • Vision Test: A basic eye test to ensure the applicant meets the visual requirements for driving.

Group 2: Tests Required

Group 2 is for license holders from countries not covered under Group 1. This process is more comprehensive and includes both written and practical tests.

Eligibility Criteria:
  • Valid Overseas Driver’s License: Must be currently valid.
  • Residency Proof: At least three months of residency in the issuing country after the license issuance.
  • Age Requirement: Applicants must be at least 18 years old.
  • Registration as a Foreign Resident in Japan.
Required Documents:

The document requirements are similar to Group 1, with the addition of preparing for the written and practical driving tests.

Examination Process:
  • Document Inspection and Vision Test: As in Group 1.
  • Knowledge Test: A written test (usually true/false format) to assess knowledge of Japanese traffic rules.
  • Driving Test: A practical test on an enclosed course to evaluate driving skills.

Preparation and Resources

For both groups, thorough preparation is key. Resources such as the Written Test Guide, Guide to Japanese Road Signs, and Driving Test Guide are invaluable. The Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) provides translations and other essential resources.


Understanding which group you fall into is the first step in the license conversion process in Japan. While Group 1 enjoys a more straightforward process, Group 2 requires more preparation and testing. Regardless, both processes are well-structured and aim to ensure that all drivers on Japanese roads are well-versed in local driving laws and practices. With the proper preparation and understanding of the requirements, navigating this process can be straightforward, leading you to explore Japan’s roads with confidence and legality.

More and better information is available at


The Hirabari, also known as the Aichi Prefectural Police Driver’s License Center, is an important facility for individuals seeking to obtain or renew their driver’s license in Aichi Prefecture, Japan. This center provides various services related to driver licensing and is essential for local residents and foreigners residing in the area.

Aichi Prefectural Police Driver’s License Center: “Hirabari”

3 Chome-605 Hirabariminami, Tempaku Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 468-8513 (map)

ja:User:321keiHIKARI, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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