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So I am a US Citizen, I have been living in Hong Kong now for 5 years. Being as I have no residence in the US, my license in the US has expired. I have been maintaining my license in Hong Kong, which I converted through Hong Kong's license exchange program.

Soon I will be moving to Japan, and I'm having a lot of difficulty deciphering what I can and can't do. Many references I am reading keep referring to the license as your "homeland"/"home country" license and IDP to determine validity. So essentially, would a license I obtained in Hong Kong, and an IDP I obtained in Hong Kong, despite not being a Hong Kong citizen, entitle me to being able to drive in Japan, and allow me to skip the training license and get a full license through the conversion program and test?

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would a license I obtained in Hong Kong, and an IDP I obtained in Hong Kong, despite not being a Hong Kong citizen, entitle me to being able to drive in Japan

Yes. (I'm in a similar situation; French citizen, US residence, US driving license + IDP, and had no issue to obtain the IDP with my US driving license via AAA and use it outside the US)

allow me to skip the training license and get a full license through the conversion program and test?

Some countries limit for how long one can drive without a local driving license. The max time for Japan is 1 year (mirror).


Regarding the Geneva conventions, see https://kart.st/en/drivers-license/hong-kong.html (mirror):

Japan is only affiliated with the 1949 Geneva Convention, and Hong Kong is also affiliated with the 1949 Geneva Convention.

Therefore, if Hong Kong issues a international driving permit (IDP) under the 1949 Geneva Convention in the proper format, it is valid to drive in Japan.

An international driving permit (IDP) which is not under the 1949 Geneva Convention in the proper format is not valid in Japan. Please confirm the international driving permit (IDP) is under the 1949 Geneva Convention in the proper format.

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  • Japan is 1 year max, I believe. The US embassy website has some info about it, although it does seem to shed a bit of a confusing light on it: jp.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/… – John Oct 18 at 3:03
  • Also Hong Kong IDP is valid only if it's issued based on 1949 Geneva Convention. Any other is not valid for any period of time. – Rambalac Oct 18 at 9:57
  • Good points, added, thanks! – Franck Dernoncourt Oct 18 at 17:44

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