How to Convert an Australian Driver’s Licence to a Japanese One

Australians are fortunate that due to a bilateral agreement with Japan, we can skip any tests when converting our licence to a Japanese one. Using a process called 外免切替 [gaimen kirikae], all we need to do is procure some documents, pay the necessary fees and submit the application at a local licensing centre. Here’s a detailed rundown on what you need, as well as an account of my experience converting my Australian driver’s licence in Tokyo. Note that the experience may vary slightly depending on the city you live in Japan.

Documents needed for licence conversion

Collection area on the fourth floor of Koto Driver's License Center

Below are the documents you will need to convert your licence, and details on how to obtain them. The list is based on the information found on the Metropolitan Police Department website and personal experience.

  1. Your Australian driver’s licence. The card should show the date you obtained your licence, as well as the expiry date.
  2. Official translation of the licence from the Japan Automobile Federation. You can submit a translation order online on the JAF website. The cost is 4,000 yen, and you will receive a code to print the document at a convenience store when it is ready. The site says the maximum turnaround time is two weeks, but I got my translation in two days.  
  3. Juminhyo (certificate of residence). You can get this by going to your ward or city of residence and having one issued for 300 yen. Alternatively, if you have a My Number card, you can issue it from the printer machines at convenience stores for 200 yen. Instructions for the latter can be found here (Japanese only).
  4. Your residence card
  5. Your passport
  6. Document which proves that you have stayed in the licence-issuing country or region for a total of three months or more since you obtained your licence. Since Australian airports now use automated ticket gates and don’t stamp passports, you will need to request a copy of your international movement records from the Department of Home Affairs. This is free and can be done online, but the turnaround time is around a month. The department will email it to you when it is ready.
  7. Photograph (3cm × 2.4cm) for application form taken within the last 6 months. This photo is used only for your application. You will have another photo taken on the day for your Japanese driver’s licence.

Applying at a driver’s license centre

There are a few licensing centres in Tokyo, but I chose to go to the Koto Driver’s License Center simply because it was the most convenient for me. The centre is open Monday to Friday, as well as Sunday, but applications to convert foreign licenses can only be made on weekdays between 8:30am – 11am, or 1pm to 3pm.

Signboards at the entrance of Koto Driver's License Center

I went on a Thursday at around 10am, and there was only one person in front of me at Counter 1, which is the counter for international driving permits and converting foreign licenses. The document check was quick and took only around 5 minutes. The staff took my residence card, passport and WA driver’s licence, along with the documents above. I was handed a number and told to wait.

Waiting number for converting foreign driver's licence

I waited for around 20 minutes before my number was called. The staff returned my residence card, passport and WA driver’s licence, and told me to proceed to the next counter to pay the licence fee, get an eye test, and then return.

The license fee costs 4,600 yen and can be paid by either credit card or cash. The eye test was fairly simple and took less than a minute. I returned to Counter 1 and was told to register two pin numbers at a machine. I’m not sure what this is for, but did as told. I was then directed to get my licence photo taken.

Photograph-taking area at Koto Driver's License Center

After the photo was taken, I was told to go to the 4th floor to wait to collect my licence. At this time it was 10:55am. There were four numbers in front of mine. The nice old man at the counter told me it would likely take an hour as foreign licenses take a while to issue. He told me it was perfectly fine to leave and come back.

Fourth floor of Koto Driver's License Center

There was a cafeteria and vending machines on the 4th floor, but nothing was very appetizing to me. After waiting for a bit, I got hungry and Googled for restaurants in the area. I saw there was a gourmet burger place around 5 minutes walk away, so I decided to go get lunch.

Delicious cheeseburger for Loius Hamburgers.

I returned to the licensing centre around noon, and one number past mine was already being called. I hurried to the counter with the old man, and my newly-issued Japanese driver’s licence was already waiting for me. I collected it immediately and thanked him.

All in all, the entire process took around 2 hours. All the staff were very nice, and the experience was more pleasant than expected.

Total cost of AUS to JP licence conversion

JAF translation4,000 yen
Printing JAF translation (2 pages)40 yen
Juminhyo (issued at convenience store)200 yen
Application photo200 yen
License conversion fee4,600 yen
TOTAL9,040 yen

So less than 10,000 yen in total, and completed in two hours. Sure beats getting a Japanese driver’s licence from scratch, which can cost hundreds and thousands of yen.

Japanese road rules

Most of Japan’s road rules are pretty straightforward and similar to Australia, as we drive on the same side of the road. But for those looking to brush up, the following resources may be helpful.

4 thoughts on “How to Convert an Australian Driver’s Licence to a Japanese One

  1. Hello there, I am looking to convert my Aussie license into a Japanese one and stumbled upon your website. Thanks a bunch for the info, super helpful!

    Once question I had was whether you needed to get the international movement records document translated into Japanese? Or can we simply submit the English document?

    Thanks again!

  2. Hi, thanks for all the info about converting the licence, it’s all very useful!

    I have a question about the part which says ‘Document which proves that you have stayed in the licence-issuing country or region for a total of three months or more since you obtained your licence.’
    Does this mean since the original licence was obtained, or if it was renewed is it this time? I’ve had my licence for over a decade now but got it renewed last year and didn’t spend time in Australia after that. I wonder if that will still be ok for this process?

    Thank you for your help!

  3. Thanks for reading and glad you found it helpful!

    The three months is from the first time you ever got your license. So if you’ve stayed in Australia for at least 3 months in the past decade or so since you got your license, it’s all good!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.