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Japan police article on IDP


Date: 2007-09-13

To foreign nationals driving in Japan with an international driving permit.

Persons who hold an international driving permit approved by the 1949 Convention on Road Traffic used to be able to drive in Japan temporarily during one year from the day they entered this country.

This system was laid down for the convenience of tourists and short-term visitors, as an exception to the traffic law, which requires that all the drivers should obtain a Japanese driving license in Japan.

However, some Japanese whose driving licenses had been revoked, or some foreign nationals who stayed for long periods, kept on driving with their international driving permits, without obtaining a local Japanese license. Moreover, those persons would leave Japan just before the one-year duration finished, get a new international driving permit and then continue driving when they come back to Japan.

Then, on June 1, 2002, the Road Traffic Law was amended as follows to improve this situation:

Under the amended law, for anyone registered as a resident or as a foreign national in Japan who leaves and re-enters this country within three months, the one-year duration of their IDP will NOT start anew.

This means even if they leave and re-enter Japan with newly issued genuine international driving permit, driving with that permit will be considered to be a driving without license, if they return to Japan within three months after their departure.

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