Why do some foreign nationals not have to take the Japanese driving test to get a license?

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Passing the Japanese driving test can be difficult, especially for foreign nationals not confident in their Japanese ability. However, some lucky foreign nationals will never have to take the Japanese driving test as long as they have a driver’s license from their home country. Japan allows citizens of 21 countries to drive legally in Japan without applying for a Japanese driver’s license. The United States is not one of the exempt countries. Therefore, United States citizens need to pass a Japanese driving test before receiving a Japanese driver’s license. Since 2003, Canada has been recognized as an exempt country and Canadian citizens, who can meet certain requirements and pass an eye exam, will be legally qualified to drive in Japan without ever having to pass a Japanese driving test.

If you have any questions about traffic laws in Japan, please contact our office for a legal consultation.