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How to Purchase a Car in Japan

Japanese Drivers' License (Menkyosho)

If you’re not getting a Japanese Driver’s License, you can drive in Japan with your current Driver’s License and an International Drivers’ License issued by your national automobile association. If you are going to get a License in Japan, you will need to visit your local Police Drivers’ License Center and bring with you: your current Driver’s License, current Passport, previous/expired Passports, Visa/Residence Card (unless you have a Japanese Passport), Proof of Residence (Juuminhyo) – issued by your local Town Hall, and a headshot photograph for the application form – you can use one of the many photo booths around Japan and sometimes even at the Drivers’ License Centers, that are especially for taking license, resume, and Passport photographs. If you have your International Movement Records or secondary/tertiary education certificates from your home country then you should bring these with you.You will also need to bring an official translation of your current Driver’s License at JAF (Japan Automobile Federation). This can be done in person at a JAF branch in Japan or can be done via mail - The issuance fee is 3,000 yen.

Once your application has been submitted and approved, you will need to complete a vision and color recognition test, written and driving test. However, the following 28 countries and regions are exempt from examination other than vision test: Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Canada, United State of America (exclusive to Washington, Maryland, and States of Hawaii), Ireland, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Iceland, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Finland, France, Italy, Kingdom of Spain, Greece, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Portugal, Monaco, Korea, and Taiwan. License holders who are not from any of the above stated countries, must complete all examinations. The application fee for an ordinary motor vehicle license is 2,550 yen and the issuance fee is 2,050 yen.

Proof of Parking (Shako Shoumeisho)

Before you purchase a car in Japan you will need to rent (monthly) a car park within two kilometers of your residence. Some apartments in Japan have parking slots available (usually one per room), otherwise there are usually parking blocks close by which will have a phone number displayed on a sign out front. You must have an official proof of parking certificate to provide to your car dealer/seller, this is called a Shako Shoumeisho. In order to obtain a Shako Shoumei, you will need to visit your local police station with your Drivers’ License and any identification you may have, as well as the documents attached below, filled out in Japanese or Romaji. It will take around three business days for the police department to physically check and approve your car park and for it to be processed.

  1. Vehicle Storage Location Certificate Application Form (This link is specifically for the Kanagawa prefecture. If you are residing in a different city, you will need to obtain this document from your car dealer, local police department, or online)
  2. Map of storage location relative to residence
  3. Documents that clarify the right to use storage location – select one of the following that applies to you:
    a) The parking space is your property
    b) The storage location is a rental parking lot

  4. If you do not have access to a printer, these documents will be available at your local police station.

Sourcing your vehicle

We would love to help you find your car – you can have a look at our stock or we would be happy to source your ideal vehicle from the car auctions. We understand how important it is to get exactly the car you want without compromise so we are determined to give you that opportunity. Whether you know exactly what you want or need advice on what car is best suited for you, we would be thrilled to be of assistance.

Car Auctions

All over Japan, from Monday to Saturday auto auctions are held with over 50,000 used vehicles ready to be bid on per day, each selling within 10-20 seconds. These cars all go through inspection and the condition of the car is detailed on an auction inspection sheet which comes with every vehicle – this makes it very simple to eliminate the vehicles that do not meet your criteria and identify the ones that do.

Shaken (Roadworthy)

All vehicles must undergo vehicle inspection (Shaken) every 2 years to prove roadworthiness. If you’re lucky, the vehicle you purchase will already come with vehicle inspection, however if it does not, your vehicle will need to be taken to a test center and undergo the inspection. This inspection will check basic functions and the condition of the vehicle to ensure that it is roadworthy. Shaken can cost between ¥120,000 to ¥300,000 depending on the vehicle and its condition.

    Documents you will need to provide:
  • Vehicle Inspection Certificate (Shaken Sho)
  • Vehicle Tax Receipt (Jidoushazei nouzei shoumeisho)
  • Certificate of Compulsory Insurance (Hoken sho)
  • Your personal stamp (Inkan) – If you haven’t already, you will need to get your stamp registered at your local town hall. This process is called Inkan Shoumeisho.

Transferring the ownership of a car (Meigi Henko)

Ownership transfer must be completed as soon as possible once you have purchased your vehicle -usually within the month of purchase. Meigi Henko generally takes about four business days to be processed. This service is usually offered by the car dealer/seller, however, if you choose to do this on your own, you will need to visit your districts’ Land Transport Office with the following documentation (the required documentation will differ depending on your situation so you will need to double check with your local Land Transport Office):

  • Vehicle Inspection Certificate (Shaken Sho) – Comes with the car
  • Bill of Sale (Joutoshoumeisho) – Must be stamped by the seller and yourself
  • Power of Attorney (Ininjo) – If the previous owner of the car does not come with you to the Land
    Transport Office, you will need to receive this document from them
  • Parking Space Certificate (shako shoumei) – Issued by your local Police Department
  • Vehicle Tax Receipt (Jidoushazei nouzei shoumeisho)

Car Insurance (Niihoken)

Everyone who owns a car in Japan must be covered by Compulsory Vehicle Liability Insurance (Jibaiseki) which is a third-party insurance cover. If you prefer comprehensive cover, you can choose to get Voluntary Car Insurance instead. You can either have a car dealer set up your car insurance with the insurance company they are partnered with or you can organize an insurance plan with the company of your choice.

Car Rental

If you’re planning a short stay in Japan where renting a car may be a better option for you, we have vehicles for rent for a minimum of one week starting at ¥28,000 (including insurance) up to one year. This is definitely a very economical method of commuting around Japan at your own pace. For further information or to make a booking please contact us or visit our rental website:

Exporting Your Vehicle

If you are purchasing a vehicle in Japan to export overseas, it is a good idea to have a look at the import options of the country you are importing to and find out which option best fits your situation and vehicle of choice. We recommend doing this as soon as possible so you are informed about what requirements your vehicle will need to meet in order to be eligible for import. As procedures will vary depending on which country you are importing to, please do not hesitate to ask for advice, we are happy to help.

Selling your Vehicle

If you decide you want to sell your car before you leave Japan, we will gladly take it off your hands, regardless of where you are in Japan. You will need to provide the following:

  • All keys for the vehicle
  • Original Roadworthy Certificate (Shaken Sho)
  • Vehicle Insurance Document (Niihoken)
  • Your registered personal stamp (Inkan) must be the same one used when you purchased the vehicle
  • Certificate of Authenticity for your Inkan (Inkan Shoumei Sho)

We hope you found this page helpful. If you have any questions or would like advice or clarification on any of the procedures please do not hesitate to ask us.

Contact Us

Within our company we have staff that speak English, Japanese, French, Arabic, and Tagalog. Our advice is free and our door is always open.
E-mail address:

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