Monday, February 2, 2015

License to Drive

I wanted to cover what it takes to get a drivers license and buy a car. Since it's our second time here it was a little easier, but it was bewildering our first time around. What I write is from our experience. 

Getting a license is fairly easy for military under the Status of Forces Agreement

(SOFA) when compared to getting an actual Japanese license. Google it sometime if you're up for some interesting stories about passing a driving test in a country where you can't understand the language. For us, it's part of the initial check-in during the week long Area Orientation Brief/Intercultural Relations class. Make sure your U.S. driver's license is valid and current because without it you won't be able to drive here or even take the driving portion of the test. Florida has been letting Bob drive on an expired license since he's in the military, but he had to renew it before we moved here. 

docstoc.com
They passed out driving manuals on the first day of AOB so you've got the week to study for the written test. It covers signs, parking regulations and practices that are unique to Japan. If you're motivated you can find it on the CFAY website. The instructors come to the last day of the class to give the written exam. The first three hours of the day are spent teaching the book and going over some safety rules. The test took approx 35 mins and was multiple choice. The briefing covered just about everything on the test so pay close attention. People who scored 100% on the test got first dibs on scheduling their driving test for the following week. Bob did...go figure! Everyone else
made a mad dash to the front of the room to sign up after that. So you may want to sit front and center that day. Hint, hint.

Plan on the driving portion taking an hour for both the test and paperwork and bring your US license, orders and family entry approval with you. We scheduled our test together and had a third person with us along with the instructor. We drove around the base and had to back in to a parking spot. It was fairly easy but prepare yourself to turn on the wipers instead of the blinker since they're on opposite sides than we're used to. If you pass you'll be issued a SOFA license that you'll have to carry along with your stateside license and military ID.

My next post will cover the car buying process. 

2 comments:

gagbush said...

I feel getting a driving license is very difficult task. The theory test for driving license is very easy but passing in the practical test is very hard. You know I failed at the practical test in my first attempt. Now I am looking for a Port Macquarie Driving School for my training.

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