My Experience in Applying for a Japanese Driver License in Niigata, Japan


After completing my documents, we headed to the nearest International driver’s license and lined up to submit my documents. The complete lists of requirements were discussed on my separate blog here. It was January 24, 2020, to be exact when I forwarded my document. Arrived by 1 PM then we are in the queue at around 1:30. The Japanese national being the priority in the line then afterward when they finished calling all the Japanese applicants, foreigners called one by one. We were given a number by the officer in charge and waited for it to be called.

The front desk at Niigata International Driving license Office.
The line applying for a Japanese Driver’s license.

Foreigners will be given a number which will be called by the staff once the lines for the local Japanese emptied.

In this case, we are the only one lining up for the submission of the documents. Other foreigners in line on the day we went there are for driving exams on that day
At 1 PM Japanese Applicants started to line up.

Since I’m just 1 month old here in Japan from the day that I submitted all my requirements, I don’t talk that well in Japanese so my husband is with me to translate all the questions of the officer in charge in the driving license center. To all who are having difficulty in speaking Japanese may bring your own translator to help you communicate with the officer.

After thorough checking, we waited for 3 hours and the officer finally called us and asked us to get a 1×1 picture just inside the office for 100yen. Then the officer asked for the schedule of written exam, medical and practical exam. We told the officer that we may get the nearest available slot and it will be this coming February. He then handed over the coarse that I will be doing on the day of my driving test.

The waiting area inside the Driving License center.

It took a total of 3 hours of waiting for the result of my documents, which I guess enough for them to check if all the documents are authentic or not. While waiting for the result of my application, we witnessed two foreigners having a practical exam, one is a Filipino female in her 50s, and the other one is a male Nepali in his 20s. The first one who called out to show off driving skills is the female, together with her are two instructors observing inside the car. We watched her took the exams from the window of the office. The exam is composed of two courses. The second one being the most difficult. The female drove so slow while the next one drove in around 30-40kilometer per hour. After a while, we saw them being called one by one. The female failed to pass the exam on her second attempt while the male Napali who’s in his 6th attempt already passed the driving test. Yes, We did know how many times they took the driving exam already because we were able to talk to them for a few minutes before the announcement of the results.

The field for the actual driving test.

It was exactly 4 PM when we are called and the officer returned all the documents to me and instructed me to bring all the documents on the day of my exams. As of now, I’m still doing my best to practice very well to pass the driving exam. I will update you on the third part of my blog wherein I will be sharing the results of my actual driving test. See you. 🙂