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Department of the 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.
Installation commanders or their designated representative(s) may approve the issue of USFJ Form 4EJ to U.S. armed forces personnel, civilian component, and dependents, as specified in Article I of the SOFA. This includes non-command sponsored dependents. Installation commanders or their designated rep may also suspend or revoke permits they have issued. The expiration date must be annotated on the form. Once issued by the sponsoring installation commander, the operator’s permit is valid until expiration for all USFJ installations and facilities within Japan. This includes personnel who have PCS’d from one USFJ installation to another and U.S. Forces personnel traveling TDY/TAD within country. However, training in local driving conditions is necessary for personnel that PCS to another installation in Japan. U.S. Forces personnel possessing a USFJ Form 4EJ who PCS out of Japan must obtain a new USFJ Form 4EJ upon their return to Japan before being allowed to operate a motor vehicle in country.
SOFA sponsored personnel who do not possess a current, valid operator’s permit from the U.S., Japan or one of the countries listed in the preceding paragraph may be issued a USFJ Form 4EJ, if consistent with service component guidance, with approval of the installation commander, after successfully completing a written examination and road test, and verification that they resided in the country identified by their vehicle license for at least a 3 month period.
Installation commanders may authorize personnel present in Japan under Article I of the SOFA to register vehicles. U.S. Forces registrants will contact their local Provost Marshal authorities for instructions prior to effecting motor vehicle registration with the GOJ LTO or city/ward office. Upon completion of registration with GOJ authorities, all U.S. Forces personnel will ensure their vehicles are registered with the Provost Marshal authorities of their assigned installation. Privately owned vehicles on Okinawa are registered with the Joint Services Vehicle Registration Office on Camp Foster. In cases where service component registration procedures conflict, USFJ instructions will take precedence. Registrants will present Provost Marshal Authorities with proof of the following:
Vehicles with elevated front or rear ends that have been modified in a mechanically unsafe manner are unsafe and will be denied registration. 49 CFR 570.8 states that springs shall not be extended above the vehicle manufacturer’s design height (See Reference 4). Vehicle registration documents from GOJ authorities: Japan Vehicle Registration Certificate, Tonnage Tax payment decal, and GOJ Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT) inspection decal showing month and year the inspection expires (normally when GOJ registration expires). Registrants may be required to furnish GOJ authorities a copy of the document showing legal ownership of the vehicle. Usually, GOJ authorities retain this document unless the vehicle is imported into Japan. In the latter case an approved USFJ Form 380-EJ (Customs Free Import or Export of Cargo or Customs Declaration of Personal Property) (See Attachment 3) is required. Fees charged by GOJ authorities for vehicle inspection and for number plates vary.
For more information go to https://www.mcbbutler.marines.mil/Base-Information/Joint-Services-Vehicle-Registration-Office/
Joint Services Vehicle Registration Office
Camp Foster Marine Base serves all Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) personnel assigned to bases and units in Okinawa, Japan. This includes all military, Department of Defense (DoD) Civilians, DoD Contractors, and their authorized dependents. The purpose of this website: https://www.mcbbutler.marines.mil/Base-Information/Joint-Services-Vehicle-Registration-Office/ is to assist you in all matters pertaining to vehicle registration, inspection, and safety standards in accordance with Japanese laws, U.S. Forces Japan Instructions and Marine Corps Installations Pacific Orders pertaining to MCIPAC facilities and area in Okinawa, Japan.
Location: Camp Foster building 5638
Office hours: Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.Closed for Lunch 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
The Government of Japan (GOJ) services Hours: Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.Closed for lunch 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Closed Japanese holidays.Final Inspector will be closed every FridayDSN: 645-7481, 645-3963 Fax: 645-2405
On-Base and Off Base Driving Age
Juvenile applicants, age 16 to 18, may be issued a permit to operate vehicles on the installation with approval of the 18 MSG/CD, following a favorable disciplinary review from Security Forces, base legal office, KDAP, and/or DoDEA, as required. Applicants must bring proof of driving course registration/purchase (i.e. receipt from the Schilling Community Center) to Pass and Registration to be issued a "STUDENT ON BASE" or "ON-BASE ONLY" permit. All applicants below the minimum age of 18 years old will be issued permits clearly stamped "STUDENT ON BASE" or "ON-BASE ONLY." This procedure is established to ensure applicants and their sponsors are aware of this policy.
NOTE: Applicants issued "STUDENT ON BASE" or "ON-BASE ONLY" permits are restricted from driving beyond any base installation gate or from parking their vehicles in areas where they will have to re-enter through an installation gate (i.e. Visitor Center parking lots at gate-1 and gate-2). Drivers under the age of 18 years old entering through installation gates from off base with a USFJ Form 4EJ, stamped "ON-BASE ONLY" will be considered to have driven off base and will be issued a citation for the offense. Additionally, operating a vehicle off base with an on base restricted license warrants an automatic 6-month revocation of driving privileges with no exceptions to this policy.
. Upon an individual's 16th birthday and after registering for a First Time Driver's Education Course (DEC), students will be issued a temporary USFJ Form 4EJ, valid for 90 days, stamped "STUDENT ON BASE" and "Must be accompanied by parent or guardian at all times.”
Student Driving Permits allow young drivers an opportunity to practice driving on base only and under the supervision of their licensed (e.g. holder of a valid USFJ Form 4EJ) parent or guardian until they are able to successfully complete the certified course offered by the Schilling Community Center. Upon completion of the course, students are eligible to receive an unaccompanied, "ON-BASE ONLY," permit.
Stopping for Vehicle and Personnel Inspections
IAW AFI 31-101, Integrated Defense (ID), and KAB Plan 31-101, Integrated Defense Plan, the Installation Commander is responsible for protecting personnel and property under his or her jurisdiction, and maintaining good order and discipline on the installation. Although not all-inclusive, this is accomplished through aggressive programs such as:
2.3.1. Random Installation Entry/Exit Point Checks (RIEPC).
2.3.2. Sobriety checkpoints.
2.3.3. Unannounced checkpoints for the safety and security of the Wing.
2.3.4. Force protection measures, e.g. random anti-terrorism measures (RAMs).
Personnel attempting to elude or evade one of these checks or checkpoints, or those failing to submit to a check/inspection specified in paragraphs 2.3.1 through 2.3.4 will lose their driving privileges for a minimum of one year.
Installation Traffic Codes.
These provisions apply to all persons who operate properly registered motor vehicles (cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc.), bicycles (including non-motorized vehicles operated upon roadways), and all pedestrians on KAB or any area under the control and jurisdiction of the Installation Commander or as listed in USFJI 31-203, Law Enforcement Procedures in Japan, and USFJI 31-205. The goal of the installation traffic code is to outline the rules of the road for vehicle operators. The 18th Security Forces Squadron performs the missions of directing, controlling, and enforcing traffic laws and ensuring vehicles, materials, and personnel flow safely and efficiently over roadways under Air Force control or KAB jurisdictional boundaries IAW established procedures and rules of the road. Personnel violating these codes or rules may be issued a DD Form 1408, Armed Forces Traffic Ticket, by Security Forces personnel or may be apprehended as authorized.
Vehicle registration and safety procedures, requirements, and forms will be updated IAW AFI 31-218(I), USFJI 31-205, and KABI 31-218.
United States Armed Forces personnel, dependents, and members of the civilian component falling under the SOFA stationed on Okinawa will present all privately owned motor vehicles and trailers to the JSVRO for registration. The JSVRO is located on Camp Foster. Vehicle registration policies and requirements will be IAW MCIPAC-MCBBO 11240.1 or superseding instruction.
To drive in Okinawa and obtain your SOFA Driver's permit/license, you must have an original, valid, stateside driver's license or a valid international driver's license. Personnel who have never been licensed to drive must complete a certified driver's education course offered at the Schilling Community Center. However, it is recommended that a license be obtained before coming to Okinawa. The legal driving age in Japan is 18, teenagers 16-17 years old with a valid drivers license will receive a restricted license for on-base driving only until their 18th birthday.
The SOFA Driver's Permit/License Course can be taken anytime and more information and requirements can be found at the 18th Wing Safety SharePoint site https://usaf.dps.mil/sites/kadena/18WG/WSA/SE/SEG/SOFA%20Drivers%/Forms/AllItems.aspx
For motorcycle training/licensing questions, please contact the MCIPAC-MCBB Motorcycle Safety Office on Kadena Air Base at DSN 634- 2450.
Japanese Traffic Laws:
Okinawa offers a distinct driving experience. Unlike the United States, people drive on the left side of the road. The slow lane is on the left, and the fast lane is on the right, although there usually isn't a significant difference between either. All speed limits are marked in kilometers per hour and, except for the Okinawa Expressway, there is no authorized speed zone beyond 60 kilometers per hour, or about 37 mph. In addition, all traffic signs here conform to international standards. Many roads are much narrower than standard American roads, traffic congestion is more the rule than the exception, and coral dust-laden roads are slick when it rains. Defensive driving is an absolute necessity. Drinking and driving and illegal drugs are dealt with very severely by both Japanese and Military authorities.
The operation of privately owned vehicles (POV) within Japan is considered a privilege agreed upon between U.S. Forces Japan and the Japanese Provincial Government. Like all high-level agreements of this nature, adherence to local laws and regulations are critical to ensure the agreement remains in good standing. Driving privileges can be revoked through formal Traffic Court adjudication or simply through command administrative action based on the desires and needs of the commander.
The operation of a motor vehicle within Japan carries similar responsibilities and consequences as operating a motor vehicle in the U.S. with few exceptions. A significant difference under Japanese law involves categorizing anyone with a motor vehicle operator’s license as being a “professional driver”. While driving in the U.S. is more or less taken for granted these days for anyone 16 years of age or older, Japanese citizens must devote considerable time and money toward obtaining their license through a government approved professional driving school. As such, traffic accidents that result in personal injury or death frequently lead to criminal prosecution under article 211 of the Japanese Penal Code, “Injury or Death Through Occupational or Professional Negligence.” c. Penalties can be costly and at-fault drivers will typically be subject to the Japanese traffic law. SOFA licensed drivers are subject to steeper fines and more severe penalties for non-injury related traffic offenses such as DUI/ DWI, speeding, and illegal parking.
No person may operate or be in physical control of any motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicants, including beverages, drugs, or any combination. a. If a person’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is determined to be a level of .03 to .079 percent by weight of alcohol in the person’s blood, the person shall be considered DUI. b. If a person’s BAC is determined to be .08 percent or more by weight of alcohol in the person’s blood, or if tests reflect the presence of illegal drugs, the person shall be determined to be “Driving While Intoxicated” (DWI). (2) When a person submits to a blood test at the request of law enforcement personnel under the provisions of Implied Consent, only a physician, nurse, or other qualified person may withdraw blood for the purpose of determining the alcohol or drug content herein. This limitation shall not apply to collecting breath or urine specimens.
Japanese police determine the degree of intoxication by use of the Kitagawa Balloon Test which measures milligrams of alcohol per liter of expired breath. When reading of 0.15 mg/l (equivalent of .03% BAC) of expired breath is obtained, it shall be presumed for the purposes of prosecution in Japanese courts that the person was under the influence of alcohol.
Find additional information at https://www.mcipac.marines.mil/Staff-and-Sections/Special-Staff/Safety-Office/Okinawa-Driving/
The requirements of vehicle ownership and operation on Okinawa are substantially different from what you may be accustomed to. Shipping any U.S. made vehicle to Japan is discouraged. The current Japanese embargo law prohibits any U.S. made vehicle, 1976 or newer, from entering the country.
A warning to car owners - the salty air climate on Okinawa is extremely corrosive to metal. Therefore, rust can be a problem. Proper care and maintenance can prevent some rust problems.
There are quite a few expenses involved with owning a vehicle on Okinawa. First, there is the purchase of the vehicle. The prices of used cars on the island are much lower than you would expect to pay in the U.S., with a good car averaging between $2,600 and $4,000, depending on the make and year of the car. You don't see many military members driving new cars, because the used cars are dependable and inexpensive. New cars on the island are as expensive, if not more expensive, than in the U.S.
The real financial crunch comes when the inspections are due. Military members must have their vehicles undergo a Japanese inspection every two years. The Japanese inspection and any necessary repairs to your vehicle may cost an average of $300 to $500. Additional costs include two types of insurance (American and Japanese) which average about $250-300 per year and an annual road tax. The road tax ranges from $30 for small cars to $100 for larger ones.
Currently, unleaded fuel is offered at the service stations on base at a comparable cost to state-side gas prices for self service. Gasoline purchased off base is sold by the liter, prices are in yen and costs about three times as much.
While many opt for private vehicles, they are not the only form of transportation to use during your tour here. There are public transportation options, such as shuttle services, on-base and off-base taxis and island wide buses.
Sometimes shuttle transportation just isn't flexible enough to meet your personal transportation needs. If that's the case, Okinawa's vast public bus network is an excellent option worth considering. It won't cost you any insurance or other fees, except for the very reasonable fare.
Taxis are another source of public transportation. Although significantly more expensive than a bus ride, one advantage taxis have over buses, is that most will accept Japanese and American currency. They usually carry a currency exchange rate chart with them, so it's not necessary to know Japanese, and you can always look at the chart yourself if you want to confirm the fare charge.
The Auto Hobby Shop, DSN 315-966-7355, 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.
Every vehicle owner with the US Forces must carry two types of insurance that provide coverage both on and off military installations. Lack of valid insurance either liability or JCI or both will result in vehicle impoundment and driving privileges suspended.
• Liability Insurance. The minimum amount required by U.S. Military Law is ¥30,000,000 for bodily injury and ¥3,000,000 for property damage. Insurance may be purchased from an authorized Japanese agency.
• Japanese Compulsory Insurance (JCI). A mandatory basic-level insurance for motor vehicles operated in Japan. The insurance provides for liability costs associated with causing bodily injury or death to another person. JCI coverage applies to passengers in your vehicle, pedestrians, and passengers of other vehicles.
Insurance companies are located on and off base. Inside the USO near Gate 2 and inside the Schilling Community Center.
Any person involved in, witnesses, or first arrives at the scene of a motor vehicle accident will notify Security Forces BDOC at 634-2475 Comm: 098-961-2475). Contact SFS immediately for serious accidents involving injuries and within 72 hours for minor accidents (no injuries and vehicle can safely drive). Security Forces will respond to traffic accidents off base involving USFJ personnel, when requested by Japanese Police and for all major vehicle accidents, and if it appears the accident is likely to result in the apprehension of a USFJ member or when the extent or nature of the accident cannot be determined.
A frequent cause of vehicle accidents in Okinawa is, “failure to yield the right-of-way”. Other conditions are: congested roadways, slick roadway surfaces, pedestrians, roadway construction, narrow roads, tight parking lots, and driving too fast. Know what to do if you are involved in an accident, whether it is your fault or not. If you are involved in an accident, first of all, assist the injured, remain at the scene, exchange personal data and notify the local prefectural police and the Security Forces. Do not move your vehicle until told to do so by the police. Moving your vehicle will hamper the investigation and you could be automatically found at fault.
In traffic accidents involving more than minor property damage, the driver, unless incapacitated, will attend to the injured and not move the damaged vehicles or leave the scene of the accident until military or local law enforcement personnel authorize his or her departure. You are required to report all accidents (both major and minor) to the Military Police of the closest installation to the area in which the accident occurred. Japanese laws also require that a report of the accident be submitted immediately to local police authorities.