Japan Paperwork Guide for Motorcycle Travellers

Confused about what paperwork you need to take a foreign motorcycle into Japan? This travel guide explains everything you need to know including carnets, temporary imports, driving permits and insurance for motorcycle travellers in Japan…

Paperwork guide for importing vehicles motorbikes and cars into Japan


Paperwork for foreign motorcycle travellers in Japan

Welcome to Japan! Taking a foreign registered motorcycle into Japan is not as difficult as you might think. But, Japan is strict with its paperwork so you will need to make sure everything is in order. Have a read of the below info so you’re prepared.

Japan vehicle insurance

Everyone is required to purchase Compulsory Automobile Liability Insurance (CALI), which is third party. It’s illegal to drive without it and if you have arrived by ferry, you won’t be able to leave the port without it.

Luckily, it can be pre-arranged for you so that it’s ready to pick up on arrival.

Here are some rough estimations on motorcycle insurance costs. 

Ferry from Vladivostok to Japan
Let’s say you’re flying into Japan and want to source your own insurance. There’s an excellent company we used called Apex Moto. You will need to send them your scans including registration papers, passport, drivers permit etc. Then pay for your insurance via PayPal. They will send your documents to an address of your choice in Japan, or use their shop address and pick it from them. They will also send you a PDF, which should suffice if you don’t want the originals. 
There are two types of insurance in Japan: Jibaiseki (government compulsory insurance and limited cover, not including third party) and Third Party insurance (includes damage to other people’s property). 

We didn’t take out third party insurance, but that’s your call. 

Website: apexmoto.jp
Contact: saori@apexmoto.jp
Tel055-225-5335  (10:00 – 19:00)
Closed: Tuesday and Wednesday
Expect to pay 5,260 JPY for one month’s insurance for a motorcycle over 400cc.

International Driver’s Permit for Japan 

You must have an International Driver’s Permit to drive or ride in Japan (even if you are renting a car there). You can purchase an IDP in the UK at the Post Office, it costs £4.50 and you just need to take your passport, driving licence and a passport photograph. The reason for this is that the IDP has translations inside it.

Your IDP must be based on the 1949 Genva Convention. Some countries signed up for the 1968 Convention and are not valid. In which case you must get your licence translated. The countries we are aware of that are signed onto this are France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Monaco, Slovenia and Taiwan. People from these countries may drive using the national driving permit with Japanese translation. This can be done at a local JAF office for 3,000 JPY, but it’s about an hour away and will cost an arm and a leg in a taxi (as you won’t be able to use your vehicle until it’s done).

Carnet de Passage or Temporary Import for Japan

You will need either a Carnet de Passage or a Temporary Import C5104 form to use your own vehicle in Japan. 

Using a carnet is by far the easiest method for getting in and out. If you want to use a temporary import then we have written a super comprehensive guide explaining the differences between the two and how to go about getting them. You can find the guide below. 

READ MORE: Carnet vs Temporary Import for Japan

Extra paperwork

You will need to keep a copy of your vehicle registration document with you and that’s it. No other documentation is required.

Remember, when exiting the country with a Temporary Import or a carnet, you must get it stamped out. Every port has their own customs building nearby. It doesn’t matter which port you entered the country through. When exiting the country, simply visit the customs office near the port of departure. 

If you are planning on shipping your motorcycle out of Japan – or even if you are shipping it into Japan, we recommend contacting our Japanese shipping agent for more info. You can find their details in the below link on International Motorcycle Shipping Companies. 

International Motorcycle Shipping Companies
Welcome to the Motorcycle Shipping Companies Finder. This page lists worldwide freight forwarders, companies, agents, fixers, ferry services and detailed guides. Click a country on the map to see what's on offer.
Read More

Read more on motorcycle travel in Japan

Thanks for checking out our Motorcycle Travel in Japan Guide. We hope you enjoyed it! Here’s a few more articles on motorcycling in Japan that we recommend you read next. 

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2 thoughts on “Japan Paperwork Guide for Motorcycle Travellers”

  1. Hello,
    My name is Jatin. I am willing to transfer my Indian bike to Japan (which I used).
    along with that, I am willing to buy a new one and transfer that too to Japan.
    please guide me with pricing and complete procedure.


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