License and other requirements
What do I need to drive in Japan with Moto Tours Japan？
Be at least 20 years of age.
Credit card (we recommend bringing more than one just in case).
Have a valid motorcycle driving license from Japan or from one of the following countries, plus an international driving permit stamped on “A” for motorcycles or an Official Japanese Translation, depending on the country. For more details please continue reading:* To drive motorcycles of over 50cc you must check that the IDP has the stamp on the A section for motorcycles. For 50cc motorcycles a stamp on B, C, D or E is enough. Note that 50cc are not allowed to carry a passenger by law. The IDP should be a small booklet form, not a card type or paper type.
The 3 Fundamental Items to ride in Japan
The first, fundamental, item to safely ride in Japan is your domestic license.
Also, it must be not expired and valid for riding the vehicle of your choice in Japan.
Second important item to ride in Japan for people not resident in this country is the Passport. Bring it with you as a personal document and also as a proof of your legal stay in Japan.
*The time limit for a tourist visa in Japan vary from country to country, so please check your maximum permitted length of stay with the Japan Embassy in your country.
International Driving Permit or Official Japanese Translation
Third Item: International Driving Permit or Official Japanese Translation
Basing on your driving license issuing country, to drive in Japan you will need an International Driving Permit based on the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic or an Official Translation of your Driving License made by the Japanese Automobile Federation (JAF). Make sure the International Driving Permit is the one based on the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic. There is another one based on the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic which is not valid in Japan.
To check which one of these two documents you will need based on your country, please check below.
*People owning a Japanese driving license and with Japanese residence do not need any other documents. However we suggest to always keep with you your Visa and your Passport.
Let's check which license you need!
GROUP 1 ｜Countries which need an International Driving Permit
Special notes:If your driving license was issued in a country not listed above, you cannot drive in Japan except special case below.
The International Driving Permit (or IDP) is a document allowing its holder to drive a vehicle in all the countries officially recognizing it. To be considered valid, the IDP must be accompanied by a valid driving license issued by the same country, which must be the IDP applicant's country of residence too, and by a valid passport.The riders coming from the countries included in this group have to make sure to prepare in advance their IDP by the issuing authorities in their country before their departure and set it with their passport and driving license.Japan only accept IDP based on 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, therefore to make sure you will get the right IDP, check the front of your IDP, which must have CONVENTION ON ROAD TRAFFIC 1949 written on its front.
Important notes regarding the International Driving Permit (IDP):
・Moto Tours JAPAN only accepts documents into the due date. *the due date of a IDP is one year from its issue date.
・To drive motorcycles of over 50cc you must check that the IDP has the stamp on the A section for motorcycles. For 50cc motorcycles a stamp on B, C, D or E is enough. Note that 50cc are not allowed to carry a passenger by law. The IDP should be a small booklet form, not a card type or paper type.
・Every time you ride on the road, please bring with you your IDP, domestic driving license and passport, as the IDP has no validity on its own.
・U.S. military forces or in case of driver‘s license or permit recognized under the U.S. - Japan Status of Forces Agreement, are recognized as valid permit to drive in Japan.
・Driver permits recognized under U.S. - Japan Status of Forces Agreement are
-license for US Armed Force official vehicles
-US Stateside license
Special Case: Countries signing both Vienna and Geneva Convention
Italy, Poland and Russia signed both the:
1949 Geneva Convention on road traffic.
1968 Vienna Convention on road traffic.
Therefore authorities of these countries have rights to issue IDPs based on both conventions, but they usually issue IDPs based on the 1968 Vienna Convention. However Japan only recognizes IDPs issued based on the 1949 Convention. If you can obtain an IDP based on the 1949 Geneva Convention (“1949 Convention” is written on the front cover) then you can drive in Japan. But with an IDP based on the 1968 Vienna Convention you cannot drive in Japan.
In the USA, only two organizations are allowed to sell real, legal IDPs: the American Automobile Association, and the American Automobile Touring Alliance, which offers IDPs through the National Automobile Club.
GROUP 2｜Countries which need an official Japanese translation
To drive in Japan you will need to obtain an official Japanese translation of your home country driving license. You can request the translation at Japanese Automobile Federation （JAF). Requests may be sent to JAF when being already in Japan, but the procedures may take more than expected so please make sure to send your request in a proper amount of time to get your translation before your rental.
Special Case: Countries which can ride with either an IDP or a Translation
License holders from Belgium, France and Monaco have two options:
Obtain a 1949 Geneva Convention based IDP, as the “Group 1” countries mentioned above.
Obtain an official Japanese translation of their driving license, as the “Group 2” countries mentioned above.
GROUP 3｜Japanese driving license
People with a Japanese driving license do not need any additional document. However, we suggest to bring with you your passport and your visa or other id valid in Japan. Also, make sure that your Japanese license is still valid by checking the expiration date and, when driving with Moto Tours Japan, not to book a vehicle out of your license's eventual restriction.
Notes regarding foreign driving licenses:
That Driving License, Passport and (for countries needing it) International Driving Permit are not expired.
That the vehicle you are going to book is not excluded by eventual restrictions into your license.
You must have spent 3 months in the country where your motorcycle license was issued after obtaining the license. This is a requirement by Japanese law.For more details, please check this "Foreign Driver’s Licenses and International Driving Permits. (Jumping to a page of Tokyo Metropolitan Government)
- For countries needing the IDP, that the IDP has been issued with the stamp on the A section for motorcycles, if you would like to drive a motorcycle over than 50cc. For less than 50cc motorcycles a stamp on B, C, D or E is enough.
- That your stay in Japan will not be exceeding your visa permitted length of stay.