Car Accidents

3 Steps on how can you drive a car in Japan

(1)Get a drivers license in Japan

You can get a drivers license by getting lessons at a driving school, but it is not a realistic way for an exchange student. You will need high level Japanese to understand the textbooks, the lessons and the exams. The fees are normally between 200,000 yen and 300,000 yen.
Also, if the lessons extend it will cost even more. However, nowadays there’s some schools where you can learn it in English.

(2)Turn the driving license you got at your country and turning it into a Japanese drivers license

You will need to take an exam and they will inspect your documents at the Drivers License Center. We think that’s the most common way to get a license.

Principal conditions:

  • Be more than 18 years old.
  • After taking your drivers license in your country, having lived in that country for more than 3 months.
  • Having 0.7 of vision with both eyes, and having 0.3 of visibility with each eye.

Conditions needed:

  • A valid drivers license in your country
  • A Japanese traduction of the same drivers license
  • Residence card
  • Passport (or something that can prove you stayed for more than 3 months in the country you took the license)
  • Photo
  • The application form

Where to apply for the drivers license exchange

  • Each provincy, local police station, Drivers License

Center examination topics:

  • Vision test
  • Color Blindness test
  • Testing the people’s knowledgment of Japan’s traffic rules

(3)Use an International Drivers License

Issued by the Contracting Party of the Convention on Road Traffic (Geneva Conventions), and if you have a drivers license with the same style as the same convention, you can drive with it.
However, if you live in Japan and you’re trying to get an international drivers license outside of Japan, you will not be able to return after 3 months consecutives.

Automobile’s insurance

When you drive a car, you need to enter a “automobile damages liability insurance”.
※”Automobile damages liability insurance” will cover you in case you hurt/kill someone in a car accident and they ask you for a compensation.

Apply for the optional insurance too

The “automobile damages liability insurance” will pay for a compensation in case you hurt someone (human).
The amount of money the insurance covers varies according to the damages. If it is an injury they can pay 1 million 200,000 yen total, if it caused a death it is 30 millions yen in total, if it is a injury that may leave sequels is 40 millions yen in total. However, if the compensation custs more, the person who caused the accident will have to pay for it.

Also, things that were broken (people’s property, people’s car, buildings, telegraph poles, guardrails) cannot be covered by the insurance.

The things that cannot be covered by the insurance can be covered by the “Optional Insurance”.
When you cause an accident, the compensation value can exceed your imagination.
If you injured the person and they can’t work because of the injury, they will have the take some days off of work and you will have to pay his salary, pay for the car and their building (in case it’s destroyed), and if it’s a business location and it was affected because of the accident you will also have to pay for it and already will exceed the amount of money the insurance can cover.

You don’t have to apply for the “optional insurance” but don’t think that you will be waisting money on this and be satisfied with the liability insurance. If you will drive a car, please apply for the optional insurance.

In case you caused an accident


  1. Help the injured.
    Help any possible way to first-aid their injuries. If they are not conscious, or have serious injuries, don’t move them and call an ambulance. (Disk 199)
  2. Move your car somewhere safe. To prevent second hand accidents, move your car to a safe place.
  3. Contact the police.
    Call the police as soon as possible (Disk 110). If you don’t call them, the “Accident Certificate” necessary for the insurance won’t be issued.
  4. Contact the insurance company.
    Contact the insurance company you applied for. They will handle the negotiations for the compensation money with the victim. Don’t say anything like “I will pay the hospital bills and the car’s repair” without your insurance company saying so. The insurance will not cover the accident in case that happens.
    You may panic because you don’t know Japanese and you end up saying “Yes” to everything, but stay calm and say that you will be confirming the damages payment with your insurance company, or tell them that the responsible personnel in the insurance company will contact them.
    Take a memo on the victim’s name, their telephone number and car number.
    If you don’t enter the optional insurance, you will have to deal with this part of the accident.
    To prevent that the accident’s victim takes advantage of you, please enter the optional insurance.