Renewing your Japanese license

Your first Japanese driving license is valid for about 3 years. It will expire on your 3rd birthday after receiving it. You will get a notice in the post about a month and a half before your birthday indicating that you can renew your driving license anytime between exactly a month before and a month after your birthday.

Overview

You can have your license renewed in either the Akita Menkyo Center or your local police station.

The Akita Menkyo Center (秋田県免許センター; 日本 〒010-1607 秋田県秋田市新屋南浜町12−1; tel 018-824-3738) (map) is located on Highway 13 in Akita City.

The whole process takes about 3 hours. The Center is open (for renewal purposes) Monday to Friday and Sunday, except public holidays, from 8:30-9:30 and 13:00-13:50.

Requirements

Akita Menkyo Center

  1. Current driving license
  2. Renewal postcard
  3. Money (indicated on the postcard you received, between ¥3,850 - ¥4,250)
  4. Glasses, hearing aid etc.

Police station

  1. Current driving license
  2. Renewal postcard
  3. Picture (taken within the last 6 months. 3cm x 2.4cm)
  4. Money (indicated on the postcard you received, about ¥4,250)
  5. Glasses, hearing aid etc.

The process

The following information is related to renewing your license at the Akita Menkyo Center.

  1. Arrive before opening time; either 8:30 or 13:00, as there will probably be a long queue.
  2. Just before opening time a person will give instructions in Japanese and then everyone will form a line.
  3. You should have your renewal letter and your current driving license.
  4. When you reach the front of the line you will be ushered to a machine.
  5. Insert your license, and you will be asked for 2 secret numbers. (They can be the same number.)
  6. Your card and a print out will be returned to you.
  7. Then a person will ask you if any information on your license has changed, name, address, etc. On the back of the print out will be a few health related questions. Answer the questions and sign the back.
  8. Proceed to the next room for an eye test.
  9. Now go to either Window #2 or Window #3 where you will pay and receive 2 forms. (At this time they will ask if you wish to signup for a subscription to their Traffic Safety Association. Cost is ¥1500 and is NOT required in order to continue, politely refuse or proceed to Window #1 to signup and receive an ID card holder, pen, and key chain as a gift for the subscription.)
  10. Fill out the 2 forms. One requires your name and address. The other requires your name, date of birth, and address.
  11. Take those forms to Window #7 and hand them in. They might also want your old ID card. You will be instructed to wait at the seats outside Window #10.
  12. Wait until your name is called and then go up and collect a new form and colored chip. Your details as will be printed on your license are on this form so you must check them. If there are any discrepancies please inform the staff immediately. You will also be told which room to have your picture taken and which room your lecture will be in, and at what time it starts. (10:00 for the 2 hour 1st renewal lecture)
  13. Get picture taken and proceed to the lecture room.
  14. The lecture rooms are on the 2nd and 3rd floor, and the colored chip helps you find your correct room. At the stairs before you head up will be a sign with corresponding room numbers to colored chips. There will be several piles of handouts when you enter the room, make sure to pick up one of each. The lecture will be 30 mins, 1 or 2 hours long (depending on your licence. First renewals take 2 hours). You will probably be asked questions about how much Japanese you can understand, and if you don't have a translator with you, why not! You may also be asked about driving laws in your home country, but it is in no way any form of test.
  15. At the end of the lecture you exchange your colored chip for your new driving licence and are free to leave.

See also


Traveling in Japan
V • T
Cars Driving DrivingWinter drivingSpeeding ticketsDrinking and drivingRoadside Station
Licenses International Driving PermitJapanese Licence Transition (Car Course Elements) • Renewing your Japanese license
Acquisition/Disposal Buying a CarDisposing of a Car
Other Transport Trains • Akita Nairiku Line • Shinkansen • Buses • Ferries
Airports Narita International Airport • Haneda Airport • Akita Airport • Odate-Noshiro Airport • Sendai Airport • Kansai Airport
Leaving the Country Residence Card • Travel insurance • Buying flights & travel agents
Other Topics Getting to Tokyo • Traveling in and out of Japan • Akita JET travel guide