Reciprocal Partial Exemption of Driver License Examination in Japan and Washington State

A memorandum of cooperation signed between the Government of Japan and the State of Washington exempts knowledge and skill examinations in accordance with each side’s respective laws for:
  • A person possessing a valid Japanese driver license when applying for a Washington State driver license;
  • A person possessing a valid Washington State driver license when applying for a Japanese driver license.
*Document submission, vision tests, the collection of application fees and other requirements are not exempted.
This arrangement is planned to take effect starting from January 4, 2017. Please refer to the guidelines below for more information.
 
1. Applying for a Washington State driver license
  1. Please refer to the following website and inquire directly to the Washington State Department of Licensing for information about the documents, procedures and other requirements for applying for a Washington State driver’s license. http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/moving.html
  2. Per Washington State law, the license examination exemption applies only to non-commercial licenses for four-wheeled vehicles and two-wheeled vehicles if combined with a four-wheeled vehicle license.
  3. When applying for a Washington State driver license, a Japanese driver license must be presented together with the English “Motor Vehicle Driver’s License Excerpt Certification” (自動車運転免許証抜粋証明) issued by a Japanese foreign diplomatic mission. Please refer to the section below for more information about obtaining this certification.**
  4. Even though knowledge and skill examinations are exempted, it is important to ensure safe driving and follow Washington State laws and rules of the road. Please download and read Washington State Department of Licensing’s Driver Guide at the following website.
                     Driver Guide: http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/guide.html
                     Motorcycle guide: http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/motoguides.html
 
** Motor Vehicle Driver’s License Excerpt Certification (自動車運転免許証抜粋証明)
This is an English document issued by the Consulate and Japan’s other diplomatic missions certifying possession of a valid Japanese driver license.
  1. Applicability
          Persons possessing a valid motor vehicle license issued in Japan.
  1. Required Documents
  • A valid passport or government-issued picture identification.
  • A valid motor vehicle license from Japan.
  1. US$19.00 Processing fee (cash only)
  2. Notes
  • Expired driver licenses will not be accepted.
  • In addition to the required documents listed above, a representative of the applicant must also submit a proxy authorization letter or power of attorney (format optional) along with their own valid picture identification.
  • Applications can be made at the Consular Service window during office hours (9:00~11:30AM & 1:00~4:30PM, Monday through Friday expect during scheduled holidays). Advance appointments are not necessary.
  • Normally, it takes 1 to 2 business days to issue the certificate once an application is made.
     
    For additional questions, please contact Consular Services at 206-682-9107, extension 120.
 
2. Applying for a Japanese Driver License
 
  1. When applying for a Japanese driver license, the holder of a valid Washington State driver license can receive exemption from knowledge and skills examinations. Per Japanese law, this exemption is limited to Washington State driver licenses that are equivalent to the First Class driver license issued in Japan. For information about documents, fees, appointment times, and other application details, please inquiry with the Driver License Test Center or the Driver License Center in the Prefecture at the point of application in advance.
    For your reference, the application procedure in Tokyo is as follows:
    http://www.keishicho.metro.tokyo.jp/multilingual/english/traffic_safety/e_transfer/index.html
  2. Per Japanese law, the partial exemption of examination requirements applies to foreign driver license holders who have spent a total of at least three months in that country after the license was issued. Please be prepared to provide a passport or another document that proves time spent outside of Japan.
  3. When applying for a Japanese driver license, a Washington State driver license must be presented together with a Japanese translation of that license. The Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) provides Japanese translation of foreign driver licenses for a fee (available to non-members). Please refer to the following website for more information about this service. http://www.jaf.or.jp/inter/translation/index_e.htm
  4. Even though knowledge and skill examinations are exempted, it is important to ensure safe driving and follow Japanese laws and rules of the road.
    The foreign language version of “Rule of the Road” which explains Japanese traffic rules in detail is available at JAF offices and through the following website:
    http://www.jaf.or.jp/e/road.htm
    Also, you can learn important points of Japanese traffic rules from the following websites:
    [National Police Agency website]
    https://www.npa.go.jp/annai/license_renewal/english.pdf
    [JAF]
    http://www.jaf.or.jp/e/for-overseas-drivers/driving-in-japan.htm