Driving in Japan
SOFA license, vehicle registration, insurance, road tax, parking space certificates, and motorcycles at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni

SOFA License

  • To obtain a SOFA Driver’s License all personnel will:

    • Attend Welcome Aboard Brief (Mondays, 7:30 am – 11:45 am., Sakura Theater)

    • Attend SOFA license brief and pass written exam (Mondays, or Wednesdays in case Monday is a holiday, 1 -3 pm., Sakura Theater )

    • Present valid: Note: In some cases additional documentation may be requested prior to issuing a SOFA license

      • DoD ID card

      • State issued, international or approved foreign driver’s license – See Sample Form expired and requesting waiver (Word / PDF)

      • Orders and area clearance (Active Duty)

      • Letter of Employment (U.S. Government and NAF employees)

      • Letter of Authorization or Contract (U.S. Contractors Permanently Assigned)

      • SOFA verification letter (U.S. Contractors Permanently Assigned) – See the SJA page.

  • All E-5’s and below must have a letter from their respective unit CO authorizing licensing for vehicles.

  • Unaccompanied E-5’s and below must meet the minimum time on station requirements before they can apply for a license.

  • Personnel under 26 year of age on active duty must complete the driver’s improvement course on MarineNet or attend the course locally at the Base Safety Office (Bldg. 130).

  • Unite Deployed Personnel (UDP)

    • Commanding Officers at the unit level or higher, or person officially Acting due to the Unit commanding Officer's absence, must sign a letter of authorization for each individual Officer and Staff noncommissioned officer (SNCO) approved  to drive on MCAS Iwakuni; group letters and " By Direction" are not authorized.

    • E-5 and below on UDP are not authorized to obtain a SOFA License, rent, or lease a vehicle during their UDP tour of duty unless required for "Official duty" capacity and must be identified in the appropriate authorization letter from Commanding Officer.


  • Request for SOFA Driver’s License Waiver (Accompanied E-5’s and Below) (Word / PDF)

  • Request for SOFA Driver’s License (Unaccompanied E-5) (Word / PDF)

  • Request for SOFA Driver’s License (Unaccompanied E-4) (Word / PDF)

  • Request for SOFA Driver’s License (Unaccompanied E-3 and E-2) (Word / PDF)

  • Request for SOFA Driver’s License UDP (E-6 and Above) (Word / PDF)

  • Request for SOFA Driver’s License UDP (E-5 and Below) (Word / PDF)

Vehicle Registration

Note: If purchasing a second vehicle Accompanied Orders and Area Clearance must be provided.  Spouses must have Power of Attorney to process registration if Sponsor is unavailable.

  • All USFJ personnel assigned to MCAS Iwakuni must register privately owned vehicles (POV) and weapons with the Pass and Registration Office (Bldg. 608).

  • Personnel who PCS within Japan must register their POV and conduct a Prefectural change.

  • In accordance with current guidance, accompanied personnel are limited to two passenger vehicles and two motorcycles (per licensed drivers) whereas unaccompanied are limited to one passenger vehicle and one motorcycle.

  • Personnel are encouraged to register bicycles with the Pass and Registration Office.

  • All personnel must de-register all vehicles and weapons prior to Permanent Change of Station (PCS).

  • When purchasing a vehicle from another SOFA status person you will need:

    • Valid secondary insurance on the vehicle being purchased

    • A valid SOFA license

  • The current owner must provide:

    • Title

    • Current JCI

    • Current Road Tax

    • Recycling Fee Receipt

  • Powers of Attorney (POA) may be utilized for the sale or deregistration of a vehicle. Unit Commanding Officers must grant authorization for a military member E-6 and below to issue a POA in the case of a permanent change of station. A copy of the letter and POA must be presented to the Pass and Registration Office prior to out-processing. Personnel should make every attempt to sell their vehicles prior to departure.

Japanese Compulsory Insurance and Secondary Insurance

JCI - Each privately owned motor vehicle and all two-wheeled vehicles regardless of engine displacement, will have Japan Compulsory Insurance (JCI).

Secondary Insurance - Prior to registration of any vehicle the new owner must show proof of secondary insurance. Proof of secondary insurance for bodily injury and property damage in the amount of at least 30,000,000 yen bodily injury and 3,000,000 yen property damage in addition to JCI.

GOJ Road Tax (Annual)

Under an intergovernmental agreement, SOFA personnel will make payment for use of roads in Japan by motor vehicles privately owned, possessed, or in custody of SOFA personnel. Payments are collected at the local Japanese city office beginning in April for all vehicles.

In April, the annual Motor Vehicle Road Tax is paid upfront for the entire JFY (1 April to 31 March of the following year). U.S. Forces personnel who later sell their vehicle to another.

U.S. Forces member or junk their vehicle will not receive a Road Tax refund for the portion of the JFY the vehicle is not under their ownership. Likewise, U.S. Forces personnel that purchase a vehicle after the Road Tax is paid in April will not pay the tax until the following April.

GOJ Parking Space Certificates

U.S. Forces members residing more than 2 kilometers from any U.S. installation or facility must comply with the GOJ requirement to validate that their residence has a suitable vehicle parking space. This includes issuance of a parking certificate and parking sticker for the vehicle, prior to registration.

The parking certificate requirement does not apply to motorcycles or to "light" vehicles having a Yellow license plate (but a parking decal may be required for the car – local Pass and Registration offices will have more details).

For those personnel moving to a residence beyond two kilometers from an installation, the local Pass and Registration office can provide guidance on how to obtain a parking certificate from the local Japanese police station.


All personnel must have a valid SOFA license.

All personnel seeking to ride a motorcycle must have attended and successfully complete the Basic Riders Course (BRC) approved by the Motor Cycle Safety Foundation (MSF) or equivalent to qualify for a motorcycle endorsement.

If the BRC is 120-days old, the applicant shall register for appropriate refresher training in the form of a Military Sport Bike Riders Course (MSRC) or Advanced Riders Course (ARC) depending on style of Motorcycle. The appointed Base Safety representative will validate authorized licensing.

For motorcycle safety courses information please contact the MCAS Iwakuni Station Safety Office.

For questions concerning motorcycle registration and licensing contact Pass and Registration.

Additional information

(Link to the official website of National Police Agency in Japan)

Frequently Asked Questions

Pass & Registration/SOFA licensing/Vehicle Registration Quick Guide

Iwakuni Drive Safe Pamphlet