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United States Air Force
ID and CAC Card Processing
Okinawa City Japan 96368-5134
Figuring out the best way to get around is important when you’re in a new installation. It’s useful to understand the various regulations, local laws as well as license and registration requirements. Whether you need a driver’s license, transport a car overseas or want help buying a car, there are people to assist you at your new installation. Check out the topics below to find information and regulations on vehicles and registration at your base.
State laws vary when it comes to motor vehicle insurance requirements, licensing and registration. The term vehicle generally includes automobiles, motorcycles, vans, trailers and boats regularly parked or garaged overnight. Service members and their families will want to understand their state’s laws on registration and licensing before moving to a new state. Visit the USA.gov Motor Vehicle Services page for links to state-specific websites.
Because of strict Japanese laws, no vehicles manufactured after March 31, 1976 can be shipped to Okinawa unless they obtain a special waiver from the Commander US Forces Japan or component commanders. Keep in mind that the majority of requests to ship vehicles are denied. Even if you decide to ship a vehicle, plan on retrofitting your older vehicle so it can pass the Japanese inspection process. The costs associated with this process can easily exceed $1,000. Anyone considering shipping a vehicle should contact the Traffic Management Office for detailed information. The embargo on vehicle transportation does not apply to motorcycles.
All vehicles owned by U.S. Forces personnel assigned to Okinawa must be registered. Vehicles are registered under the sponsor's name. Okinawa has a limit to the number of vehicles registered at one time - only one vehicle per licensed driver in the household is permitted.
Cell Phone Usage
It is illegal to operate a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle on all military installations and off base. Penalties will be applied for all offenses. This law applies to all military, civilian, contractor, or local national drivers.
Seat BeltsSeat Belts are mandatory on Okinawa both on and off base.
Other installation issued citations honored.
This is applicable to all military, civilian, contractor or local national drivers. Suspensions will not be subject to appeal for mission-related or personal hardship considerations. The driver will be responsible for all occupants.
All children who are younger than 5 years old or weigh less than 40 pounds must be in a car seat whether on or off base.
All vehicles entering Kadena are subject to inspection upon demand.
Parking of motor vehicles is authorized only in those areas/spaces designated for parking, both on and off base. Vehicles will be towed and are expensive to retrieve from impound.
All motor vehicle accidents, no matter how minor, must be reported to the 18th Security Forces Squadron immediately. Call DSN: 315-634-2475 or 2476 regarding on or off-base accidents.
To drive in Okinawa, you must have an original, valid, stateside driver's license, a valid international driver's license, or a valid US Forces license in order to obtain a USFJ 4, US Forces Japan operator's permit. Renewal certificates are not acceptable as a valid license.
All individuals seeking a license must attend the local conditions course which is held every Wednesday at the Schilling Community Center at 10:30 a.m. Please be advised that all who are taking the course MUST sign-up at 7:30 a.m. at the Schilling Community Center.
Personnel who have never been licensed to drive must complete a certified driver's education course at a cost of $175 in addition to this briefing. The certified driver's education course is available through Schilling Community Center. However, it is recommended that a license be obtained before coming to Okinawa.
It should also be noted that drivers under the age of 18 may drive only on base because the minimum legal driving age in Japan is 18.
If you plan to operate a motorcycle in Okinawa, you must complete a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course within the last five years and have in your possession proof of completion. It is recommended that the course be completed stateside if at all possible. For more information concerning motorcycle driving, call DSN 315-634-7233.
State and local laws regulate the operation of motor vehicles, and these laws can vary by location. Many states regulate the following:
Learn more about motor vehicle laws in your state at the Distraction.gov State Laws page.
All vehicles must pass a Government of Japan (GOJ) inspection every two years, costing an average of $300 to $800. The cost of inspection will normally include the Japanese Compulsory Insurance (JCI) which is the equivalent of liability insurance in the U.S. People can tell when a vehicle's GOJ inspection is due by looking at the window stickers. The color of the large decal in the middle with the large number in the center reveals which year and day the GOJ inspection expires.
For more information, call the Joint Service Vehicle Registration Office at DSN: 315-645-7481/3963. Joint Services Vehicle Registration Office on Camp Foster (USMC) can assist with all matters related to vehicle operations, inspections, insurance, etc.
Used cars in Okinawa cost anywhere from $500 to $4,000, depending on the age of the vehicle, its condition, what accessories it has, etc. A physical auto resale lot (lemon lot) is also located on Kadena on the corner of Kuter Blvd. and Davis Ave. Before making a purchase, you may want to have the car checked over to ensure it is mechanically sound. The Auto Hobby Shop, DSN 315-959-1156, performs such checks for approximately $30. All cars are sold as is, so you want to be sure it will be in good condition when you make your purchase.
Both Japanese Compulsory Insurance and American Insurance are required to operate a vehicle on Okinawa. Obtain a letter from your current insurance company showing no accidents and length of coverage and you can save yourself money purchasing insurance here.
When in an automobile accident, Japan assigns negligence on a comparative basis regardless which party is directly responsible for the accident. Suppose you unfortunately ran over a person crossing the street who was crossing against the traffic signal. You might think the pedestrian is responsible for the event because there was no chance of an accident had they observed the signal. Japanese police would possibly assign a certain percentage of negligence to you because of your "carelessness." This naturally means that you have to pay a considerable sum of money for the pedestrian's injury or death.
There are a number of different types of coverage that will assist you in coping with this type of scenario. For answers to your insurance questions, read 5 AF Pamphlet 31-1, Facts on Car Insurance in Japan.
Insurance firms are located on and off base. There is one is located at the USO adjacent to Gate 2 (DSN: 315-959-0458) and a second office located on Douglas Blvd in Bldg. 723 next to the HRO Office (DSN: 315-959-2887).
Bodily Injury Liability Insurance (twofold):
(a) Compulsory Automobile Liability Insurance - usually called JCI (Japanese Compulsory Insurance), this government sponsored insurance covers your legal liability to someone injured or killed in an accident caused by you or anyone driving your automobile with your permission. It pays up to 1,200,000 Yen (The rate as of July 06 was $1.00=113 yen) per person for most cases of medical expenses and up to 30,000,000 Yen per person if the accident is severe enough to kill or disable someone permanently.
(b)Bodily Injury Insurance - begins coverage where JCI stops. As of 1 January 97, U.S. military law requires personnel to carry a minimum of 30,000,000 Yen bodily injury insurance. According to recent literature, current court awards sometimes reach 100,000,000 Yen, so it is reasonable to consider purchasing additional coverage. It may be purchased from either an authorized Japanese firm or a stateside company licensed by the Japanese government to do business in Japan.
If you are responsible for the accident and have only JCI to cover bodily injury, you are required to negotiate with the victim or his/her survivor until the claim is satisfactorily concluded. Some companies provide adjusters and legal staff to negotiate for you and/or defend you in or out of court when you purchase Bodily Injury Insurance. Check before you buy.
Property Damage Liability Insurance
U.S. Forces Japan requires every person to carry at least 3,000,000 Yen property damage liability insurance with his/her automobile. This is to cover your legal liability for damages you caused to someone's property.
Comprehensive Insurance (Own Damage)
Pays for loss or damage to your automobile caused by fire, theft, glass breakage, typhoon, wind, water, falling objects, vandalism, etc. (except collision or upset).
Pays for damages to your automobile as a result of collision or upset whether or not it is your fault.
Discounts -- Some companies offer a "No Claim Discount" after one or more years without an accident/claim. This discount can amount to between 10-30%. On the other hand, an accident/claim can eliminate such a discount or even cause an increase in premiums.
You must attend a two hour class through Kadena Services to receive a boating license valid for use with government owned boats only. To operate a personally owned boat, a class is offered twice yearly through the Japanese Maritime Association and costs approximately $250-$300. Kadena Marina has a very limited space for boat docking. Additional information may be obtained by calling the Kadena Marina at DSN 315-634-6344.