The conditions to drive a vehicle in Japan

Valid Driver’s license

Driver’s license with its Japanese translation

If you have a driver’s lisence issued in either of Estonia, Taiwan, Monaco, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, France, you don’t need to apply for an international driver’s licnese but you need a Japanese translation of your driver’s licnese. Those countries embassies and consulates will translate your driver’s licnese in Japanese.

JAF (Japan Automobile Foundation) will help you translate your driver’s license in Japanese.
Translation fee is 3000 yen per document.

Things you do when booking

What you are asked by a car rental offie

For example…

About yourself Your name, phone number, visa status, if you have a resident card
Date of use and car rental shop What date you use a car. Which car rental shop you rent a car from
  • Car Navigation
  • ETC (Electronic Toll Collection System)
  • ETC (Electronic Toll Collection System) card
  • Child sheet
Credit card information Nominee of credit card, expiry date, credit card company (if you pay by cash, you directly pay charge at a car rental office after booking.)

Things you do when you visit a car rental office

You must come to a car rental office until the booking time

Things you need to bring

  • International driver’s license, or Japanese driver’s license, or driver’s license with Japanese translation
  • Credit card (if you want to pay by cash, prepare cash in advance)
  • Resident card or passport (documents which identify yourself)

If you don’t have passport or resident card

If you don’t have passport or resident card, bring the following documents, which a car rental shop mostly accept as an identification document.

  • Reciept of utility charges, landline charges, NHK charges
  • Reciept of social insurance charges
  • Recipt of national or regional and municipal tax payment
  • Taxiation certificate
  • Resident certificate
  • Inkan registration certificate
  • National health insurance
  • Pension book
  • Employee ID card with photo
  • Student ID card with photo

Things you need to do at a car rental shop

Confirm a contract content and sign on it. Then, you receive a duplicate contract and make a payment

After that, you will inspect outside and inside car condition with staff to check if there are scratches on it.

When you should book a car

If there is a specific car model you want to rent, you should book at least a week before you make a contract. Don’t forget to ask if the car model you want to rent is available in advance.

Manners for a car renter

You have to fill petrol up before returning a car back

When you return a car, you need to fill up petrol before returning. Then, you keep the receipt of refueling, which is needed when you return a car back.

If you return a car without filling up petrol, a car rental office will claim you to pay the amount of petrol you should have fueled by calculating the total length you drove. In this case, the petrol charge claimed by a car rental office is a bit more expensive than that of a petrol station.

Park in reverse

Japanese parking lot is very narrow. Except that you are indicated to park forward, you park a car in reverse.

Car rental rate

Normal model

6 hours 5,000 yen〜7,000 yen
12 hours 5,000 yen〜7,000 yen
24 hours 7,000 yen〜10,000 yen

Luxuary model

6 hours 10,000 yen〜12,000 yen
12 hours 10,000 yen〜12,000 yen
24 hours 15,000 yen〜20,000 yen

What is ETC

ETC stands for Electronic Toll Collection System, which is a system to pass through the toll gate without stopping for payment. Toll charge will be claimed later. To use ETC, you need to have a credit card with an ETC function.

Some car rental shops will lend ETC card and settle toll charge when you return a car back.


Car accident insurance is already included in a basic plan. However, depending on the car accident, basic insurance sometimes doesn’t cover it. In that case, you may have to pay compensation additionally around 100,000 yen if you cause a car accident. Don’t miss hearing about compensation when you cause an accident from a person in charge.

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