Driving Cars and Motorbikes
If you purchase a car or a motorbike for your own driving, please read the following content and consult with a KUT staff member before you begin.
To drive a vehicle in Japan, you need to have one of the following driver's licenses:
- Japanese driver's license
- International Driving Permit (under the 1949 Geneva convention on road traffic)
See the details below.
- Driver's license from a country or region that does not issue international driving permits and is recognized as having a licensing system of a standard equivalent to that of Japan. A Japanese translation of that license, created by a legally qualified translator, must accompany the license.
International driving permit issued in your home country
An international driving permit alone does not qualify as a driver's license: it must be accompanied by the driver's original license, i.e. drivers must have both a driver's license issued by their home country and an international permit. The term of validity of international permits is one year, and there is no way to renew them outside the home country, so if a person wishes to extend the term of the permit, it is necessary to return the old license and obtain a new one in one's home country. A further requirement is that the person be outside Japan for three months or longer.
An international driving permit is a temporary permit for tourists or short-term visitors driving in Japan for a short period of time. It is NOT valid for regular students who will stay in Japan for longer than one year. Such students are allowed to drive with an international driving permit from the date they arrive in Japan for a maximum period of one year. Even if you go back to your home country and get a new international driving permit, it is not permissible to drive in Japan with the new permit. Doing so could be considered as driving without a license. Please obtain a Japanese driver's license before your first international driving permit expires.
Kochi Prefecture Driver's License Center
200 Edagawa, Ino Town, Agawa-gun
When you start driving in Japan (car or motorbike)
What to submit
When you start driving, please submit all of the documents listed below to KUT staff. When you renew your license, please resubmit that documentation.
- A photocopy of your driver's license
- A photocopy of your vehicle inspection certificate
- A photocopy of your compulsory automobile liability insurance contract (See the details below)
- A photocopy of your voluntary insurance contract (See the details below)
Automobile liability insurance
This is compulsory insurance stipulated by law to provide a minimum of compensation for victims of car accidents. This is bodily injury liability insurance: it does not cover damage to other parties' vehicles or property, the insured driver's own injuries, or the insured driver's vehicle or property.
Under this kind of supplementary insurance, if the amount of compensation for injury exceeds the amount covered by your automobile liability insurance, the insurer will cover the excess compensation, up to the limit of the value of the insurance policy. This voluntary supplementary insurance also covers damage not covered by the automobile liability insurance (e.g., damage to the other parties' vehicles or property, injury to the insured person, or damage to the insured person's vehicle or property).
Please remember that as a driver, you are responsible not just for your own safety, but for the safety of everyone on the road, including your passengers, other drivers and their passengers, and other people such as pedestrians and cyclists. Careless driving could have very serious effects, and could in fact ruin your life.
Be sure to take out voluntary insurance that covers the items listed below.
Insurance requirements for cars
- Personal and property damage: unlimited coverage (essential)
- The amount of compensation cannot be predicted for many cases, e.g., crashing into a train.
- Personal injury: 30 million yen or more per person (essential)
- All the persons who are in the car must be covered. It is absolutely essential to have this coverage, as anybody in the car could be injured.
- Special clause for lawyer's fees (essential)
- In the case of accidents for which the insured driver is not responsible (e.g. being hit from behind while waiting at a traffic signal), the insurance company cannot negotiate with the other party. This special clause covers lawyer's fees for such situations.
- Special coverage for excess property damage (recommended)
- If the cost of repairing the other party's vehicle exceeds the actual value of the vehicle, this kind of insurance typically covers excess costs up to 500,000 yen.
If you take out automobile physical damage coverage, you can claim the cost of repairing your car as well.
Insurance requirements for motorcycles and scooters
- Personal and property damages: unlimited coverage (essential)
- Personal injury: 30 million yen or more per person (essential)
- This would include the case where a person you lent your motorbike is injured.
If it is difficult to accurately determine the content of the insurance you are considering, please bring the application form to KUT staff and get some advice.
Note: Please bear in mind that owning a vehicle involves the following expenses: fuel, maintenance, automobile tax, automobile weight tax, parking, insurance, and automobile inspection. Even for the smallest car these expenses will likely be 200,000 to 400,000 yen per year.
KUT does not have free parking for students, so if you wish to commute to KUT by car, you need to make a contract with a nearby parking lot. Please ask KUT staff for advice.
- If you are taking over somebody's car or motorbike, you absolutely must change the ownership. When you change the ownership of a car or purchase a car, you must present a certificate that you have a parking space for the car.
- Please do not forget to renew your automobile liability insurance and voluntary insurance BEFORE THEY EXPIRE.
- In the case of small motor vehicles that do not require automobile inspection, the garage or insurance company does not renew the automobile liability insurance for you, please be absolutely sure to renew your insurance before it expires.
- Do not forget to get automobile inspection, which is compulsory under Japanese law. For cars and motorbikes of 250 cc or larger, the first inspection will be three years after purchase, and every two years after that.
- If you ride a new motorbike, you need to register it at KUT. Please put the KUT sticker issued by the university on the motorbike in an easy to see place.
If you have an accident
Call the police immediately. If anyone is injured, call an ambulance immediately. If you cannot call yourself, ask somebody nearby to call. Even for minor accidents, make sure to call the police and explain the nature of the accident. Under the Road Traffic Act you must report any accident to the police. Without the confirmation of the accident details by a policeman, a traffic accident certificate cannot be issued, and as a result you will not be able to claim insurance coverage.
Reporting an accident to the police
Calling the police
Dial 110 and say, "Koutsuu jiko desu. Basho wa ○○ desu. Watashi no namae wa ○○desu." (There has been a traffic accident. The location is ___. My name is ___.)
Calling an ambulance
Dial 119 and say "Kyukyu desu. Koutsu jiko de keganin ga imasu. Basho wa ○○desu." (It's an emergency. A person has been injured in a traffic accident. The location is ___.)
Calling your insurance company
You must contact your insurance company as soon as possible. In some cases, the company will make the initial response to the accident for you.