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Renting Car in Japan

Renting Car in Japan

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Old Sep 22, 19, 10:59 am   -   Wikipost
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Miscellaneous points regarding car rental (for rental insurance / waiver tips, scroll further down):
- 3 items you must have when picking up the car: Passport; Driver's License; International Driving Permit.
- If you're going to waive the agency's CDW, then I highly suggest you carry with you your credit card company's Proof of Coverage letter. Call your card company's insurance/claim department and ask to email you such document.
- There are 3 types of rental car agencies in Jpn: Legacy agencies (大手 [oh-te] agencies); Budget chains (格安 [kakuyasu] agencies); independent places some of which are kakuyasu.
- In general, try to go with legacy places. Those include: Nissan; Nippon; Toyota; Times; Orix; Budget; Eki.
- Try to avoid kakuyasu places. Those include: Ones; Niconico. I have firsthand experience with Ones. They were terrible, and they gave me a jalopy with dents and rusts everywhere, >200k km on it, on the verge of breaking down. Even then, they still dared to inspect the vehicle upon return with fine tooth comb to look for any new damage they could ding me for. Even if the vehicle comes with Navi, it will probably be outdated and unreliable.
- In Sapporo / CTS, there are 3 agencies that specialize in Honda cars, and they all contain the name "Honda." But each one is actually a local independent operation. I've rented from Honda Rent-a-Lease, and they were fine. I still would've preferred renting from one of the legacy agencies. Honda Rent-a-Lease's insurance and waiver programs had a lot of restrictions, higher deductibles and loopholes not seen with companies like Orix.
- Because the 3 agencies in Sapporo/CTS featuring Honda cars have similar names, this creates much confusion. For example, Honda Rent-a-Lease (ホンダレンタレース北海道)has website www.hondarentacar.jp, while Honda Rent-a-Car (ホンダレンタカー) has website www.hondarent.com. To avoid confusion, always match the agency's phone # on your reservation with the phone # listed on the website you're looking at.
- Japanese agencies are very particular about noting any little scratches and dents. Make sure you inspect the vehicle carefully and document every little thing at the time of pick-up.

Booking rental cars in English:
- For information regarding booking rental cars in English, refer to these posts in this thread: 30, 34, 37-38, 40, 105. [This will need to be updated continuously.]
- English versions of Japanese rental car company websites will often show higher rates than Japanese versions, or Japanese OTA sites such as Rakuten Travel (Japanese version). But you can use translator tools to navigate through and book on Japanese website. Post 105 has good tips.

Car Navigation system ("Navi"):
- Ask staff to set up GPS for English interface, though not all options or display will be in English. In some cases certain options would be completely inaccessible through English interface, such as searching for the closest gas station.
- Phone look up doesn't always work with in-car system as new hotels and businesses wouldn't be in there.
- Google Maps works quite well overall, but it doesn't offer Map Code or phone lookup.
- Japanese language mapping sites and apps offers the best and most up-to-date lookup.

Important Driving Tips:
- You cannot turn on red.
- You always have to come to a complete stop before proceeding at any railroad crossing, even when the arm is up and there are no trains nearby.
- Some green lights look blue.
- Speed limits may be lower than what you're used to.
- Road signs: http://www.ajetniigata.com/wp-conten...eroadsigns.pdf

Tolls:
- Toll fees can be estimated in English using the JapanTravel app by Navitime for free. Match the route visually to Google Maps.
- Tolls can be paid in cash or with "Electronic Toll Collection" ETC Card. Some agencies offer ETC card for rent and regional ETC X-day passes. Cash vs ETC toll fee can be a little different. https://en.driveplaza.com/expressways/toll.html
- Credit cards are accepted on national toll roads but usually not city toll roads.
- There are expressway passes for foreigners (similar in concept to the JR Pass); for a fixed fee based on duration, unlimited toll usage
- for the Central tokyo area, CEP pass: https://hayatabi.c-nexco.co.jp/cep/en/ Brochure link: https://hayatabi.c-nexco.co.jp/img/c...324727528.pdf
- for Hokkaido: https://www.driveplaza.com/trip/draw...expass/en.html
- for other regions, here's a good read up: https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2354.html
- key to getting the expressway pass is that you have to reserve it direct with the car rental agency when you make your reservation, not all rental offices offers the expressway pass, so do check when making the reservation

Parking Tips:
- Pay parking lots take cash and some take IC Card.
- Parking meters which operate from XX-YY hours are closed outside those hours. It doesn't mean the parking spot is free outside those hours.

Insurance / Waiver:
General issues - Japanese car rental insurance/waiver
- Jpn car rentals generally automatically comes with insurances included.
- Those coverages include:
a).Third-party injury/death (対人補償; Jpn rental agencies seem to translate it as "bodily injury/damage")
b).Third-party damage (対物補償; Jpn rental agencies seem to translate it as "property damage")
c).Rental car damage (車両補償; Jpn rental agencies seem to translate it as "car damage" or "rented vehicle damage")
d).Renter's injury/death (人身障害補償; "personal injury", "physical injury", etc)
- The word 補償 literally means compensation but, in this case, it means insurance coverage.
- From my experiences, usually (a) coverage has no limit and (c) coverage is up to the value of the car at the time.
- Coverage amounts for (b) and (d) tend to vary amongst different agencies.
- From my experiences, usually (b) & (c) have deductibles, whereas (a) & (d) do not. Deductibles (=excess) are called 免責 (menseki) in Jpnese.
- CDW (免責保証制度) in Jpn actually waives any deductibles associated with above coverages (including what is essentially liability coverage in US). This is different from US where CDW only applies to rental car damage.
- In addition, there is what's called NOC (non-operation charge), which is the penalty assessed to you for the loss of rental car agency's revenue associated with the time that the car needs to be taken out of service for repair.
- Expect that any damage, no matter how minor, will invariably result in some type of NOC.
- NOC fee schedule/policies vary greatly by agencies.
- Most car agencies also offer NOC waiver for a fee.
- Many rental car companies stipulate that you must contact both the rental car agency and the police immediately upon any incident (including even minor damages to the rental car) that might invoke insurance coverage; failure to do may make the coverage null and void. In addition, some even stipulate that the rental is terminated at the point of the incident/accident. Some even go on to stipulate that you will not get any money back from the remaining portion of the rental.

Understanding your credit card coverage
- US credit card coverage is almost always only for your rented vehicle and does not apply to third-party damages (liability).
- Make sure you call and talk to your credit card company's insurance/claim specialist.
- Some of the key questions to ask:
* Any restrictions as to the country, car type, length of rental?
* Any limit on coverage, or does it cover up to the entire value of the car?
* Is the coverage primary, or secondary to your personal auto insurance?
* Any deductible?
* Does it cover NOC?
* If you have to file a claim, what's the required time frame and do you have to file a police report?
* Is it okay if the rental contract is not in English?
- In addition, it may be helpful to understand what your personal auto insurance covers in terms of liability (3rd party property/vehicle damage) in Jpn.

Example 1:
My credit card coverage: Primary full coverage of rental car damage with zero deductible; NOC included; all coverages null & void if I accept any relevant coverage waiver from the rental car.
My Japanese rental car policy:
* (a) unlimited coverage w/ no deductible
* (b) 30mill yen coverage w/ 150k yen deductible
* (c) up to full value of car w/ 100k yen deductible
* (d) 20mill yen per person coverage w/ no deductible
* coverages void for any windshield or tire/hubcap damage and any damage involving animal
* NOC 50k yen regardless of extent of damage
* CDW 1300y per day
* NOCW (NOC waiver): 600y per day
Decision-making:
1). Decline both CDW & NOCW --> risk responsibility for 3rd party damage deductible (150k yen).
2). Buy CDW & NOCW (1900y/day) --> risk responsibility for rental vehicle damage in case of windshield/tire/hubcap damage or animal collision (these would have been covered by my credit card).
3). Buy CDW only (1300y/day) --> risk responsibility for all items under (2) + NOC.
For me, (1) is almost the no-brainer choice, as it meant saving 1900y / day without measurable net loss of benefits.

Example 2:
My credit card coverage: Primary full coverage of rental car damage with zero deductible; NOC included; all coverages null & void if I accept any relevant coverage waiver from the rental car.
Toyota Rental car policy:
* (a) unlimited coverage w/ no deductible
* (b) unlimited coverage w/ 50k yen deductible
* (c) up to full value of car w/ 50k yen deductible
* (d) 30mill yen per person coverage w/ no deductible
* NOC 20~50k yen
* CDW 1080y per day
* DPP (Double Protection Package) = CDW + NOCW: 1620y per day
* Coverages void for any tire/hubcap damage, but such repair will be covered if you enroll in their DPP.
Decision-making:
1). Decline CDW/DPP --> risk responsibility for 3rd party damage deductible (50k yen).
2). Buy DPP --> eliminates virtually all risks, plus gain benefit of free roadside service for flats, etc.
3). Buy CDW only --> risk responsibility for rental vehicle damage in case of tire/hubcap damage (these would have been covered by my credit card or DPP) + NOC.
In this instance, I'd probably go with (2).
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Old Mar 28, 18, 9:15 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Feb 2013
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Renting Car in Japan

Addendum (4 June 2019): I've created a wiki, so that other Jpn forum regulars can add useful info and edit as needed. The first version of wiki is essentially my original post (which I'm keeping here) copied and pasted over. I appreciate your contribution.


Although there has been a lot of discussions in this other thread about car rentals in Jpn, I thought it'd be a better idea to start a new thread dedicated to rental car policies in Jpn.

Having now rented a car half-dozen times over the past 3 years in Jpn, I'd like to share what I've learned thus far:

Insurance / Waiver:
General issues - Japanese car rental insurance/waiver
- Jpn car rentals generally automatically comes with insurances included.
- Those coverages include:
a).Third-party injury/death (対人補償; Jpn rental agencies seem to translate it as "bodily injury/damage")
b).Third-party damage (対物補償; Jpn rental agencies seem to translate it as "property damage")
c).Rental car damage (車両補償; Jpn rental agencies seem to translate it as "car damage" or "rented vehicle damage")
d).Renter's injury/death (人身障害補償; "personal injury", "physical injury", etc)
- The word 補償 literally means compensation but, in this case, it means insurance coverage.
- From my experiences, usually (a) coverage has no limit and (c) coverage is up to the value of the car at the time.
- Coverage amounts for (b) and (d) tend to vary amongst different agencies.
- From my experiences, usually (b) & (c) have deductibles, whereas (a) & (d) do not. Deductibles (=excess) are called 免責 (menseki) in Jpnese.
- CDW (免責保証制度) in Jpn actually waives any deductibles associated with above coverages (including what is essentially liability coverage in US). This is different from US where CDW only applies to rental car damage.
- In addition, there is what's called NOC (non-operation charge), which is the penalty assessed to you for the loss of rental car agency's revenue associated with the time that the car needs to be taken out of service for repair.
- Expect that any damage, no matter how minor, will invariably result in some type of NOC.
- NOC fee schedule/policies vary greatly by agencies.
- Most car agencies also offer NOC waiver for a fee.
- Many rental car companies stipulate that you must contact both the rental car agency and the police immediately upon any incident (including even minor damages to the rental car) that might invoke insurance coverage; failure to do may make the coverage null and void. In addition, some even stipulate that the rental is terminated at the point of the incident/accident. Some even go on to stipulate that you will not get any money back from the remaining portion of the rental.

Understanding your credit card coverage
- US credit card coverage is almost always only for your rented vehicle and does not apply to third-party damages (liability).
- Make sure you call and talk to your credit card company's insurance/claim specialist.
- Some of the key questions to ask:
* Any restrictions as to the country, car type, length of rental?
* Any limit on coverage, or does it cover up to the entire value of the car?
* Is the coverage primary, or secondary to your personal auto insurance?
* Any deductible?
* Does it cover NOC?
* If you have to file a claim, what's the required time frame and do you have to file a police report?
* Is it okay if the rental contract is not in English?
- In addition, it may be helpful to understand what your personal auto insurance covers in terms of liability (3rd party property/vehicle damage) in Jpn.

Example 1:
My credit card coverage: Primary full coverage of rental car damage with zero deductible; NOC included; all coverages null & void if I accept any relevant coverage waiver from the rental car.
My Japanese rental car policy:
* (a) unlimited coverage w/ no deductible
* (b) 30mill yen coverage w/ 150k yen deductible
* (c) up to full value of car w/ 100k yen deductible
* (d) 20mill yen per person coverage w/ no deductible
* coverages void for any windshield or tire/hubcap damage and any damage involving animal
* NOC 50k yen regardless of extent of damage
* CDW 1300y per day
* NOCW (NOC waiver): 600y per day
Decision-making:
1). Decline both CDW & NOCW --> risk responsibility for 3rd party damage deductible (150k yen).
2). Buy CDW & NOCW (1900y/day) --> risk responsibility for rental vehicle damage in case of windshield/tire/hubcap damage or animal collision (these would have been covered by my credit card).
3). Buy CDW only (1300y/day) --> risk responsibility for all items under (2) + NOC.
For me, (1) is almost the no-brainer choice, as it meant saving 1900y / day without measurable net loss of benefits.

Example 2:
My credit card coverage: Primary full coverage of rental car damage with zero deductible; NOC included; all coverages null & void if I accept any relevant coverage waiver from the rental car.
Toyota Rental car policy:
* (a) unlimited coverage w/ no deductible
* (b) unlimited coverage w/ 50k yen deductible
* (c) up to full value of car w/ 50k yen deductible
* (d) 30mill yen per person coverage w/ no deductible
* NOC 20~50k yen
* CDW 1080y per day
* DPP (Double Protection Package) = CDW + NOCW: 1620y per day
* Coverages void for any tire/hubcap damage, but such repair will be covered if you enroll in their DPP.
Decision-making:
1). Decline CDW/DPP --> risk responsibility for 3rd party damage deductible (50k yen).
2). Buy DPP --> eliminates virtually all risks, plus gain benefit of free roadside service for flats, etc.
3). Buy CDW only --> risk responsibility for rental vehicle damage in case of tire/hubcap damage (these would have been covered by my credit card or DPP) + NOC.
In this instance, I'd probably go with (2).


Miscellaneous points regarding car rental:
- 3 items you must have when picking up the car: Passport; Driver's License; International Driving Permit.
- For information regarding booking rental cars in English, refer to these posts in this thread: 30, 34, 37-38, 40. [This will need to be updated continuously.]
- If you're going to waive the agency's CDW, then I highly suggest you carry with you your credit card company's Proof of Coverage letter. Call your card company's insurance/claim department and ask to email you such document.
- There are 3 types of rental car agencies in Jpn: Legacy agencies (大手 [oh-te] agencies); Budget chains (格安 [kakuyasu] agencies); independent places some of which are kakuyasu.
- In general, try to go with legacy places. Those include: Nissan; Nippon; Toyota; Times; Orix; Budget.
- Try to avoid kakuyasu places. Those include: Ones; Niconico. I have firsthand experience with Ones. They were terrible, and they gave me a jalopy with dents and rusts everywhere, >200k km on it, on the verge of breaking down. Even then, they still dared to inspect the vehicle upon return with fine tooth comb to look for any new damage they could ding me for. Even if the vehicle comes with Navi, it will probably be outdated and unreliable.
- In Sapporo / CTS, there are 3 agencies that specialize in Honda cars, and they all contain the name "Honda." But each one is actually a local independent operation. I've rented from Honda Rent-a-Lease, and they were fine. I still would've preferred renting from one of the legacy agencies. Honda Rent-a-Lease's insurance and waiver programs had a lot of restrictions, higher deductibles and loopholes not seen with companies like Orix.
- Because the 3 agencies in Sapporo/CTS featuring Honda cars have similar names, this creates much confusion. For example, Honda Rent-a-Lease (ホンダレンタレース北海道)has website www.hondarentacar.jp, while Honda Rent-a-Car (ホンダレンタカー) has website www.hondarent.com. To avoid confusion, always match the agency's phone # on your reservation with the phone # listed on the website you're looking at.
- Japanese agencies are very particular about noting any little scratches and dents. Make sure you inspect the vehicle carefully and document every little thing at the time of pick-up.
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Last edited by evergrn; Jun 4, 19 at 7:52 pm
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Old Apr 5, 18, 12:24 am
  #2  
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I've never used them but JR also has an associated rental car company with offices at some train stations. I'd certainly consider them if it worked out for a trip.
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Old Apr 5, 18, 1:36 am
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Originally Posted by RichardInSF View Post
I've never used them but JR also has an associated rental car company with offices at some train stations. I'd certainly consider them if it worked out for a trip.
I've used them. They're called Eki Rent-a-Car. When I used them, I thought they were good. Nice newish car with up-to-date Navi. But, as I became more concerned about fine-print stuff over the past year or two, I noticed last year when I was considering them that their insurance coverage is quite inadequate compared to legacy agencies.
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Old Apr 5, 18, 7:54 am
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Originally Posted by evergrn View Post
I noticed last year when I was considering them that their insurance coverage is quite inadequate compared to legacy agencies.
Do you remember what aspect of the insurance coverage was different - what made you feel that it was inadequate? I've been happy to rent cars from them but I can't say that I've ever compared insurance coverage from one agency to another.
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Old Apr 5, 18, 6:32 pm
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Originally Posted by jib71 View Post
Do you remember what aspect of the insurance coverage was different - what made you feel that it was inadequate? I've been happy to rent cars from them but I can't say that I've ever compared insurance coverage from one agency to another.
I don't quite remember the details since this was a year ago or more. I just remember it being significant. Therefore, I just looked up their current policies and, of course, now everything looks solid. On par with Toyota Rent-a-Car's. I swear they must've upgraded their coverage between then and now.
https://www.ekiren.co.jp/info/hoken.html
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Old Apr 30, 18, 6:14 pm
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Thanks for this - very helpful. I am off to Okinawa in a couple of weeks and want to rent a car when I get there. I would never have thought of asking my CC company what cover they provide - always thought the coverage was on the insurance policy you bought when renting the car.

Has anyone rented a car in Japan using an old UK paper licence? I am concerned even with an international drivers licence they might not accept it as it has no photo.
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Old May 1, 18, 12:12 am
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Originally Posted by duo View Post
I would never have thought of asking my CC company what cover they provide - always thought the coverage was on the insurance policy you bought when renting the car.
The discussion above concerning credit card coverage is admittedly very US-centric. Are you from UK? If so, I'm not sure that UK credit cards come with these types of perks. But it's worth finding out. Also, when you rent a car in Jpn, the rental automatically comes with insurance coverages. What you have the option to purchase from a Jpanese rental car agency is not the insurance (which again is already included in the rental fee) but rather the exemption from having to pay the excess/deductible in case something happens.
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Old May 1, 18, 5:45 am
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Originally Posted by duo View Post
Has anyone rented a car in Japan using an old UK paper licence? I am concerned even with an international drivers licence they might not accept it as it has no photo.
I'm sure I did this in the early 1990s, when there were no UK photo-card licenses and I did not yet have a Japanese license. The IDP (International Driving Permit) has your photo, so the rental company should accept it, together with your paper license. That said, it might be viewed as an oddity by the employee who handles your reservation, so you should be ready to patiently explain it and wait for them to verify it with their superiors if they're suspicious.

You should also carry an up-to-date print-out of your driving license information from the UK government website, just in case someone wants to do things by the book. If I were you, I would not present this last document unless requested. In my experience, it has never been required.
https://www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence
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Old May 1, 18, 3:17 pm
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Originally Posted by duo View Post

Has anyone rented a car in Japan using an old UK paper licence? I am concerned even with an international drivers licence they might not accept it as it has no photo.
No one ever asked for, or photocopied the home licence. They photocopied passport and IDP. One time I mistakenly gave the clerk my health insurance card instead of my own driver licence. They didn't notice or care.
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Old May 1, 18, 3:21 pm
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Originally Posted by beep88 View Post
No one ever asked for, or photocopied the home licence. They photocopied passport and IDP. One time I mistakenly gave the clerk my health insurance card instead of my own driver licence. They didn't notice or care.
LOL ^

Thanks - am so looking forward to driving there - been several time to Japan but never driven so be a new experience.
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Old May 1, 18, 6:25 pm
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Originally Posted by beep88 View Post
No one ever asked for, or photocopied the home licence. They photocopied passport and IDP. One time I mistakenly gave the clerk my health insurance card instead of my own driver licence. They didn't notice or care.
I think what they ask for can be variable (although they consistently ask for IDP) and sometimes they may not even know what they're looking at. Nonetheless, I've definitely been asked for my US license before.
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Old May 3, 18, 1:09 am
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Originally Posted by jib71 View Post
I'm sure I did this in the early 1990s, when there were no UK photo-card licenses and I did not yet have a Japanese license. The IDP (International Driving Permit) has your photo, so the rental company should accept it, together with your paper license. That said, it might be viewed as an oddity by the employee who handles your reservation, so you should be ready to patiently explain it and wait for them to verify it with their superiors if they're suspicious.

You should also carry an up-to-date print-out of your driving license information from the UK government website, just in case someone wants to do things by the book. If I were you, I would not present this last document unless requested. In my experience, it has never been required.
https://www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence
hk DP has no photos either - just the IDP and the passport.
i usually give them the 3 items plus my credit card on the side. and it had never been a problem (except for the one time i rented from a small company and they dont cater for foreigners)
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Old May 3, 18, 5:42 pm
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I went to the post office today to get my International Drivers Permit (UK) and what a farce !! On the front of the IDP it has a 'Valid from' date and they insisted that the date 'had' to be stamped on - trouble is their stamp was useless - date stamped was completely illegible. I complained and they re-did the permit but even after three attempts the year still isn't readable. Now they stamp the back also which clearly states 2018 but the from the front, which is what really matters you can't clearly see 2018.

Has anyone else had this problem? I accepted the IDP as I didn't know what else to do but I am tempted to try another Post Office. Which isn't that easy to be fair as only three Post Offices in my region issue these permits. But my fear is going all the way to Japan only to have them reject the permit because the validation date is illegible.

Honestly it beggars belief - I paid for a service and they don't even have a working stamp. Felt like buying them one myself.

Last edited by duo; May 3, 18 at 5:43 pm Reason: typo
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Old May 3, 18, 9:09 pm
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Originally Posted by duo View Post
I went to the post office today to get my International Drivers Permit (UK) and what a farce !! On the front of the IDP it has a 'Valid from' date and they insisted that the date 'had' to be stamped on - trouble is their stamp was useless - date stamped was completely illegible. I complained and they re-did the permit but even after three attempts the year still isn't readable. Now they stamp the back also which clearly states 2018 but the from the front, which is what really matters you can't clearly see 2018.
:
Thats ridiculous. No one can say whether or not the rental car agency will accept it. They may not even notice it, they may be flexible, or they may raise a fuss. To be honest, Iíve never understood why the IDP has to expire in a year.

anyways, I think itís baloney that they insist on stamping the date. The agency that does this in America (AAA) just writes it in. And Iíve never had any problems renting cars in Jpn on that. I would suggest that you go back to the place and insist that they write in the date or rectify the stamp situation.
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Old May 4, 18, 6:09 am
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Go back to the same post office. Return the IDP and demand a refund because the last thing you need is a dodgy looking IDP. Then send off to the AA for an IDP
https://www.theaa.com/driving-advice...an-idp-by-post

If they won't refund it, submit a complaint.
https://www.postoffice.co.uk/contact-us-complaint
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