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Thread: from a UK full license to Japan full license

  1. #1
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    Aug 2015
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    Default from a UK full license to Japan full license

    Hi, this is probably covered already, maybe a redirect or any experience gratefully received.

    I have a full UK car and bike license and am running around on a one year UK international driving permit issued by the UK postoffice, which will run out several months before Im able to get back to the UK to apply for another one.

    The long term option is to get a Japanese license,
    My UK license is car, bike(no limit), 7 ton truck, tractor, towing, etc.etc.

    What are my options?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Hiroo, Tokyo
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    Default from a UK full license to Japan full license

    10 years ago the full UK bike licence transferred to a 400cc license here. But recently the law was changed and you can swap straight to unlimited bike license now. Oogata.
    Go to the license centre (in Samezu for Tokyo). Take license, gainjin card, passport and registered proof of address (certificate from local council). You will also need proof that you lived in UK for at least 3 months since you got your license. Even if you got it 20 years ago. They will be strict on this. In and out stamps for UK in your passport can prove this, but UK does not always stamp. Maybe utility bills in your name at a UK address for more than three months could be used. This is to stop Japanese people taking a two week holiday somewhere just to get a driving license. Japanese people were doing this as Japanese license is expensive and hard to get.
    Ask for a license conversion.
    Make damn sure they give you all the categories, as I have no doubt that they will try and give you a small bike license without you noticing (chuugata).


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    Some pithy saying about biking, or a quote from a self-styled guru. Take your pick.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
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    Kitakata, Japan
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    OK that's good news, no test required, I think I have an old insurance certificate kicking around as the 3 month proof. I read on here somewhere to expect it to take around half day, not the end of the world.

    Thanks.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
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    Kitakyushu
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    You should be able to simply go in and present your license and an official translation (get it translated by JAF), and walk out with your shiny new Japanese license. All endorsements you have on your UK license should transfer to the Japanese license as well, including whatever size bike you're allowed to ride in the UK.

  5. #5
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    Sep 2005
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    Kansai
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    I had a full UK car & bike license when I arrived here many years ago and the changeover to the J.car and 400cc chugata went smoothly. When I upgraded in 2009 to oogata status (soon after the J.govt changed the old 400cc restriction) I spent a morning at the prefectural licensing centre, picked up the new license and realised they'd given me a big truck driver's endorsement by mistake. I initially thought about not saying anything, but I was like a kid at Christmas waiting to ride a big bike again so I scratched that idea! It's a good idea to check everything.
    "That's a man's corner for men, that is." Guy Martin, Isle of Man

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
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    Kitakata, Japan
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    Thanks everyone, it will be a couple of weeks before I'm able to do it but I will post up whatever the result.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Hakuba Nagano
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmizer View Post
    All endorsements you have on your UK license should transfer to the Japanese license as well, i
    They didnt transfer over my heavy rigid (large truck) licence but full bike and car (Australian but same deal as you poms lol) and be prepared to spend a couple hours there bouncing between the payment area and testing a good book is a help :)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
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    Kitakata, Japan
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    Hello again. I'm going to change my License over on the 19th of Jan. I was wondering if there is an English version of the road regulations, road signs, speed limits, stopping distances, that sort of thing. I little swatting up just incase there are some obscure rules.

  9. #9
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    Mar 2012
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    Default from a UK full license to Japan full license

    Quote Originally Posted by rich 400 View Post
    Hello again. I'm going to change my License over on the 19th of Jan. I was wondering if there is an English version of the road regulations, road signs, speed limits, stopping distances, that sort of thing. I little swatting up just incase there are some obscure rules.
    Actually JAF has the English version of the book should be 1,000 or at least it use to be. Any JAF office should have it.
    Getting to the Summit is Optional, Returning home is mandatory
    Life begins at 155mph

  10. #10
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    Aug 2015
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    great stuff, will get one, thanks for that.

  11. #11
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    Default from a UK full license to Japan full license

    No worries, been there 👍
    Getting to the Summit is Optional, Returning home is mandatory
    Life begins at 155mph

  12. #12
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    Aug 2015
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    Kitakata, Japan
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    Sorry for the very late reply, the license exchange was not so straight forward but OK in the end.
    Although I passed all my driving and bike tests in the 80s and 90s, by coincidence my license was renewed one year and 3 months before I moved to Japan, (UK licenses are renewed every 10 years or we would all be forever young in the photograph.)
    I got the impression it was only kindness that stopped the license centre refusing me. Clearly all the dates are on the back of the license but this was of no relevance, and only the issue date was seen as official, and here the sticky bit, I had visited Japan for holiday one year before I moved here and that trip was within 3 months of my license renewal..... As I am in my 50s and after lots of friendly banter and photographs of previous bikes I got all my licenses.... But only with Learner plates on my car for one year, no riding my bike on the highway for one year and no pillion on my bike for 2 years. At first the license center wanted a letter from the UK embassy!
    Anyway, just means I got the bike to myself for 2 years. Unknowingly I had been driving/ riding unofficially before that.

  13. #13
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    Jul 2013
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    Kitakyushu
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    Quote Originally Posted by rich 400 View Post
    But only with Learner plates on my car for one year
    You do not have learner plates, there is no such thing here. You have a beginner license and you'll have to attach a "new driver" mark on your car (you don't have to have one for your bike). Also, everyone who converts gets a new driver license.

    Quote Originally Posted by rich 400 View Post
    no riding my bike on the highway for one year and no pillion on my bike for 2 years.
    There is no rule preventing you from riding on the highway on a new license. You can't ride with a passenger at all for 1 year, and you can't ride on the highway with a passenger for 2 years. Also be aware that your new license comes with 3 points for one year. If you get caught speeding or making some other mistake, they will take (at least) 2 points away. After one year is up, you will then have 5 points.

  14. #14
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    Aug 2015
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    Kitakata, Japan
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    By learner plates I mean this sticker that looks like a 2 leaf clover, "new driver", dread to think what the 4 leaf clover means, I always assumed deaf blind and retired civil servant. Yes, only on the car.

    OK as you say it makes more sense, a miss interpretation on my part.

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