Here Are Your Options If You Want to Drive in Japan

You actually don't need to buy your own car right away.

If you are living in Japan, you can almost go anywhere by using the public transportation system with its easy
navigation. But if you feel the need to go on some road trips or go shopping in outlet shops without the burden of carrying your stuff inside the train or bus, there are a few options available to you in Japan. These are car sharing, rent-a-car, and buying a car (for foreigners living in Japan).

For this article, we will be discussing the Car Sharing option.

Car Sharing
is a service that allows a specific car to be shared among members and rented any time. Unlike rent-a-car, you don’t need to go to their branch, write an application form, or listen to their usage explanation.

What you need to do is just reserve through the website, go directly to the car station, and tap your membership card to open the door. This option is cost-efficient with a variety of cars to choose from.

It is so convenient that you can use it even for just 10 or 15 minutes at a more affordable rate. The rent already includes gasoline and insurance, and you don’t need to refill the tank when returning the car. The car stations are located at convenient locations such as train stations or residential areas. And the other best thing about it is you can rent a car at any time.

What are the costs?

IC membership card issue fee + monthly basic charge + usage + additional options if any.

Monthly basic charge for most of the providers ranges around ¥1,000.

Every time you rent, you will pay the usage fee additionally,  ranges around ¥200 to ¥400 per 15 mins, or ¥3,000 to ¥10,000 per six hours depending on the type of the car and car sharing company. The best part is, gasoline and insurance are included!

*Some providers charge as distance charge, for example, ¥15 per km.

How to Apply:

Most of the above car sharing providers only accept online applications for foreigners.
Even though they accept application for foreigners, registration page is only in Japanese language.

What you need:

1 year driving experience (Depending on Car Sharing Company)
Legal age with valid driver's license
-Japanese Driver License
-International Driving Permit issued based on the 1949 Geneva Convention
-Driver’s License issued in Switzerland, Slovenia, Germany, France, Belgium, Monaco, or Taiwan       with Japanese translation attached.
Document stating your permanent address in Japan (Residence Card, insurance card, receipt of utility fee payment, and etc. Just preparing one of them is enough.)
Credit Card
Mobile phone


*Initial fees applies for some car sharing providers that ranges between ¥1,000 to ¥1,550.

Once you complete your application, which takes about one to two weeks to process, you will receive an IC membership card by Mail and you can start using the service.

How to use

Most car sharing providers have similar steps.


1. Go to their website and login.
2. Enter your starting time and return time, and pick up place to check for availability.
3. Go to the car station before your starting time.
4. Remove the signage located in front of the car
5. Hold your IC card and tap on the card reader that is usually at the rear side of the car to unlock the car.
6. Take out the key from the glove compartment.
7. Move the car out from the parking space.
8. Return the signage back in front of the parking space to avoid other vehicles parking on the designated space.
9. Have a good trip!


1. Return it on the same parking space, turn off the car, return the key into the glove compartment and double check your personal belongings. Don’t forget your trash.
2. Tap your IC card to lock the vehicle.

Things to be mindful of:

Car sharing is very convenient but please take note that other members also use the same car after you use it.

1. Smoking including e-cigarettes is not allowed
- You will get banned if discovered.
2. Don’t leave trash or eat smelly food
-You don’t want to experience the same, right?
3. If the tank is close to empty, take time to fill and return.
- Even if it is not mandatory to do so, please fill the tank because you’ll receive a discount by doing so!
* Petrol card is usually kept in the sun visor.
4. Don't be late when returning the vehicle.
- Return it on time as someone might have reservation after you.

Car Sharing is very cost-efficient for a short trip to the neighborhood. Lastly, keep in mind that only foreigners with resident visa can apply for it as of now. 

 (4 September 2019)

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