Niigata City Driver's License Office
Services/Support | Avg price: ¥5000 | English Available: None (Unknown)
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Friendly and helpful staff, but still a pain of a bureaucracy
If you're a foreigner who needs to exchange your drivers license from back home to a Japanese license and you're in Niigata, you're going to have to head to this drivers license office. I'm unsure exactly why this is the only office in the prefecture where you can do this but I've come to terms with the fact that sometimes asking questions doesn't actually help you here. The staff I dealt with to get my license changed over were lovely. I had no problems there - they were very helpful and kind and I had all my paperwork in order so there were no dramas there. They only do these license conversions one day a month though, and you've got to be at the office to check in between 9 and 9.30am. As you can imagine depending on where you live in Niigata this can be a giant pain in the behind. It's also in "Niigata City" but not actually anywhere near the station, it's actually a 20 minute drive away (which is ironic when you need to get there to actually be able to drive). Thankfully my husband drove me, but if you don't have someone who can take you there then you're going to have to catch a bus...time consuming and hard to get there by the required time. I was the only foreigner getting my license changed over that day, and we were there right at the check in time. The process still took several hours. I have no idea why it took that long especially since there were five staff basically all working on my application. Long story short - they were all nice and helpful so I give them three stars for that. The location is a pain to get to and their policies for when they process license conversions are so rigid. Price for getting my license switched over was about 5000 yen. They also charge you for any photocopies of documents they make (10 yen per page). Cash only - no credit cards. If you don't speak Japanese well it pays to bring a Japanese speaker with you if you can, but you could probably fumble your way through!