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Getting A Japanese Drivers License In Ibaraki Prefecture

Author:Alvin Alami, Issue: February 2003, Topic: Cars

Foreign residents of Ibaraki Prefecture who need to obtain a Japanese Driver's license may apply for the license and, after passing a written and a road test, will be able to get their Japanese licenses. However, there are many requirements to be met and several challenges along the way. Please go through this site and get all the information you need. Please remember that they accept no substitutes for any of their requirements and that they are very strict about their policies.

Contents

Requirements

If...

  • You are a foreigner, AND...
  • You are a resident of Ibaraki Prefecture, AND...
  • You have a foreign license from your own country or another country, AND...
  • Your license has a date of issue on it or you have an official document from your government that clearly shows the date you got your license, AND...
  • You can prove that you lived in the country in which the license was issued, after you got your license, for more than 3 months AND...
  • You have a valid passport, visa and Alien Registration Card AND...
  • You have a translation of your foreign driver's license from JAF or from the embassy AND...
  • All of the above documents are valid and are originals...
  • And you can meet all of the above requirements...

Then... You may apply for a Japanese Driver's license!

Note!

Remember that if you are from country "A" and have a license from country "B", then you need to prove that you lived in country "B" for more than 3 months! Your current and or your old expired passports will be able to prove your stay in country"B". Furthermore, even if you and your license are both from the same country, you will still need to prove that you stayed in that country for more than 3 months after your obtained your license.

Depending on the country the license was issued in, you may or may not have to take a written test along with a driving test. For example, holders of Swiss licenses will not be required to take any tests. (Canadians were made exempt from the driving test in February 2003.)

It is recommended that you call the Licensing Office and ask whether or not you are exempt from the tests. Their telephone number is: 0292-93-8811 Extension: 335

Getting There

The licensing office is located at:

Ibaraki Prefectural Police Headquarters
Traffic Department, Driver's license Division
311-3197 Ibaraki Prefecture, Higashi Ibaraki Gun, Ibaraki Machi, Nagaoka 3783-3

Telephone number: 0292-93-8811 Extension: 335

There are 3 ways for you to get there...

Via Route 6
It is very easy to drive there via Route 6. There is a lot of traffic on Route 6 but it is the cheapest way to get there. Drive towards Mito on Route 6 and when you see a Home Centre called D2 on your right (in the Mito area part of Route 6), turn right! Go straight for about 1 minute and you will see the licensing office on your right. Parking is free and there are plenty of spaces avaiable at the back!

Via the Joban Expressway
You can take the highway. Take Joban Highway up to Mito and get off at Mito exit. Go towards Mito and when you get to route 50 turn right and go straight. This will take you straight to Route 6. At Route 6 turn left and you will soon be able to see a Home Centre called D2 on your right. Turn right at D2 and go straight and you will see the licensing office on your right. The highway costs 1,300 yen from Tsuchiura-Sakura to Mito exit.

By Bus
For Tsukuba area residents, it might be more convenient to take the bus from Tsukuba Centre. It costs 1,000 yen and it leaves at around 7:30 in the morning and arrives at around 8:30 in the morning, just in time for you to apply for the license. The returning buses leave the licensing office at about 12:30 pm and also at around 4 or 5 pm. For exact times of the bus, please contact Tsukuba Centre Bus Terminal.

There is a map at http://www.pref.ibaraki.jp/kenkei/menkyo/centermap.htm, but it is only in Japanese. The center is shown in red.

Caution!

One major requirement for the Japanese Drivers license application is that you must have stayed in the country which issued you a license for at least 3 months, commencing from the date of issue of the license.

CAUTION

If the date of issue on your license is less than 90 days prior to your original date of entry to Japan on your passport, then to the Japanese licensing office it means that you did not reside in the country which issued the license to you for the required 3-month period.

Also, if you renewed your license while you were in Japan or while you were visiting your country on vacation or something (for less than 3 months), and then re-entered Japan ... again, sad to say that your application for a Japanese Drivers License will not be accepted by the licensing office!!!

Solution

To overcome this date of issue problem, you will need to show the licensing office your earliest (or your original) date of issue of your foreign license. To do this, you will have to contact the Ministry of Transportation or the Department of Motor Vehicles, or whatever it may be called in the country where the license was issued to you, and ask for proof of your license's original or earliest date of issue.

CAUTION

Again, if you can't prove that you resided in the country that issued you a license for more than 3 months, or you did not reside in that country for more than 3 months, then you will NOT be able to apply for a Japanese license.

Faxed documents are not accepted by the licensing office. Only original documents are accepted. However, documents other than the foreign license do not need to be translated by JAF or the embassy. They will accept translations done by anyone, including you.

Written Test

Once all of your documents are checked by the officials, and everything is in order, then you will be asked to go into a room after 10am where you will be given a written test.

  • This test will be in English. They may have the test in a language other than Japanese or English, but it is better to call and ask them about it.
  • There will be a question folder. There is a question or a situation described on each page with a simple black and white drawing. The descriptions are in English and Japanese for the English test.
  • You will be given an answer sheet. The answer sheet will have numbers 1 to more than 20 on it. However, only about 10 or 12 numbers are circled. These circled numbers represent page numbers in the question folder. Those circled numbers are the ones that you need to answer.
  • You must answer all of the circled questions. If you get 7 or more questions right, then you can pass the test. However, if you make 3 or more mistakes, then you will fail!!!
  • Take your time and read the questions at least twice. There is no time limit, but it shouldn't take you more than 15 minutes to do the written test.
  • The answer sheet will have two choices for you to choose from for each question. You must choose either "TRUE" or "FALSE".

Driving Test

The road test is the most difficult part of this licensing process. It is not easy to pass it, but very easy to do! Anyone with a few days of driving experience should be able to pass it and yet fail it for an insignificant reason! The test is filled with little details and if you make the smallest mistake, then it is a good excuse for the examiner to fail you. Take this test very seriously and concentrate.

Have a look at the test courses. Note: This file may take a while to open if you have a slow connection to the internet.

Test Course A
Test Course B

How to Pass

Once you pass the written test, you will be instructed to wait in the waiting area by the driving course. In the waiting area, you will find the course maps on the wall. If you have some free time it is a good idea to look at them and have a mental image before the test. Also, if you are not first in line, then you will have a good chance to watch the others take the test and see what and how they do.

Below you will find a lot of things that you need to do in order to pass this simple test. A lot of the things mentioned are just common sense, but they are mentioned here for you since failure to do them or failure to do them correctly WILL result in failing.

This is not a joke!

Before getting into the car...

1. Look to your right and left before you approach the car. Look under the car.
2. Walk to the front of the car and look under the car.
3. Walk to the driver's side of the car and look under the car.
4. Walk to the rear of the car and look under the car.
5. Walk to the driver's side again and stand by the door.
6. Look to your right and left before you open the door.

Once inside the car...

7. Open the door and get into the car.

Note: DO NOT mix the order of the following!

8. Lock the door.
9. Adjust your seat. Move the seat a little, even if it fits. You must show that you are "Checking"!
10. Sit up straight and look straight ahead and then adjust your mirrors.
11. Put on your seatbelt.
12. Make sure the parking brake is applied. If it isn't, then apply it.
13. Make sure the car is in Park or in Neutral.
14. Press the brake pedal and or the clutch and then start the car.

Driving...

15. Signal to your right, check for clearance and drive ahead.
16. Stop before you get on the main road. Signal to your left.
17. You will be asked to drive upto 40Km/h. Do not go over 40.
18. Down the road before a triangular road sign in KANJI, you MUST slow down to LESS than 10Km/h! Driving at 10Km/h at the curves is not acceptable!
19. Go very slowly and continue forward.
20. Change lanes after the upcoming intersection.
21. Pass the road obstruction and GO BACK to the left lane again. The right lane is reserved for passing only!
22. Go SLOWLY around the upcoming curve.
23. Change lanes again and get ready to turn right!
24. Turn into the left-most lane!!!
25. You will be asked to turn left. CHECK YOUR LEFT before turning!
26. Go halfway up the hill and stop! Then HONK!
27. GO down the hill and prepare to turn right.
28. This time, turn into the RIGHT-MOST lane (since you will be turning right again very soon).
29. Turn right. Go into the left-most lane!
30. Continue to go where you are instructed to go by the examiner.
31. Remember to go slowly through the "S" and the "ELBOW" curves.
32. Don't hit anything in those curves.
33. While you are driving in those curves, if you go off the road, you may back up and continue. However, you may be failed!!!

How to Fail

Realistically speaking, EXPECT TO FAIL at least once or twice. However, always have a positive attitude towards the tests and believe in yourself.

Things that may lead to your failing the driving test:

  • Driving over 40Km/h during the test.
  • Driving over 9km/h at the curves on the course!
  • When turning left, failing to check your left.
  • When turning right, going into the right-most lane instead of the left-most lane!!!
  • Going over white or yellow lines on the roads.
  • Failing to signal.
  • Failing to stop long enough at a stop sign! Stop. Look left, right and then left again...then move on!
  • Driving in the right lane!!! The right lane is reserved for PASSING!!! Go back to the left lane as soon as you have finished passing.
  • Making wide left turns. Stay close to the left part of the lane without going over the lines when turning left.
  • Doing the things you have to do before you get into the car in the WRONG ORDER!!!

Eye Exam

Once you have passed the written and the driving tests, you will be asked to take an eye exam. It is a very simple procedure. You will be asked to look into an "eye tester" and then you must tell the examiner what colour lights you see, where you see them and or which way they point. Once that is done you will be asked to wait again.

Costs

Each time you take a written test it will cost you 2,400 yen. If you happen to fail the written test, you will need to purchase 2,400 yen worth of revenue stamps again. They conveniently sell them in the same building.

If you should happen to pass the written test and then fail the driving test, you will need to pay another 2,400 yen the next time you try for the driving test.

If you are very lucky, and happen to pass the driving test as well as the written test, you will be asked to pay another 1,500 yen or so for the actual license and the picture.

Passing

If you should happen to pass the written test, you can take the driving test on that same day.

If you happen to pass the driving test as well, then you will be asked to wait in the eye exam area. If you happen to pass the driving test at 11:30 am, for example, then you can get your license after your eye exam and go home by around noon.

However, if you happen to pass the driving test at 1:30 pm, then you will have to wait until the examiner finishes with all of the other applicants. Then he will come and give you an eye exam. So you will be waiting until around 4 pm.

After the eye exam, your picture will be taken and your license, your passport, your Alien Registration card and your foreign license will be returned to you.

A word of advice... be patient.

Failing

If you fail the written part of the test, you may try again the next day. You will have to pay again, however.

If you pass the written test and move on to the driving test and then fail the driving test, then you MAY NOT try again the next day.

Once you fail the driving test the examiner will return your papers to you and will ask you to go to counter (window) 12 and make an appointment. Appointments are usually a month away.

You will need to pay the 2,400 yen fee again the next time you return for the driving test.

Application Times

Applications are accepted ONLY during the following hours:

Mondays to Fridays from 9 am to 10 am (excluding national holidays) at Window #14

The licensing office's signs and information sheets will tell you that they start accepting applications from 9:30 to 10 am only. It is not true, however.

If you are there at 10:01 you will most probably be turned away. If you get there by around 8:30 am, you will have a good chance of being first in line. However, it doesn't mean that you will be the first to take the driving test. There are many others ahead of you with appointments. These people are the ones who have failed the driving test before and are allowed to make appointments.

Further Information

Information from Embassies

Canada
http://www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/asia/main/japan/Japanese_driver_license-en.asp [E]

United Kingdom
http://www.uknow.or.jp/be_e/consular/life/life02.htm [E]

United States
http://tokyo.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-drive.html [E]

Articles from Newspapers

October 11, 2002. Japan Times. Rich Freeman.
Motorists Driven Round the Bend by License Laws: Regular license renewal is a real trial
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?fl20021011zg.htm [E]

August 24, 2002. Japan Times. Hiroshi Matsubara.
Cops Cashing in on Driver Licenses: Lawsuit. Renewal fees said used to keep retired officers employed at affiliates
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?nn20020824c1.htm [E]

May 12, 2000. Japan Times.
Panel Wants Driver License Rules Relaxed
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?nn20000512a4.htm [E]

March 3, 1999. Japan Times. Jean Pearce.
Sorry About That
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?fl19990303j [E]

Links

Ibaraki Licensing Center
http://www.pref.ibaraki.jp/kenkei/menkyo/ [J]

Japan Drivers License.com
http://www.japandriverslicense.com/ [E]

Livetalk Tsukuba FAQ: Cars
http://www.alientimes.org/groups/livetalktsukuba/archive/FAQs-cars.htm [E]

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