Your How-to Guide to Japan's Gold License Status and Merits 

Your How-to Guide to Japan's Gold License Status and Merits 

Japan's Gold License comes with perks. Find out how quickly you can get your gold license and how to make the most of it once you have it in hand.

In 1994, the Good Driver System was established to reward safe drivers with preferential treatment, as well as to raise the awareness of safe driving in Japan. 

Drivers who have maintained a clean driving record for 5 years are eligible for a gold driver's license upon renewal. 

Benefits include simplified renewal procedures, a good rate on car insurance premiums, and access to a Safe Driver's card that gives you discounts at participating locations.

What are the requirements for getting a gold license in Japan?

To be eligible for a gold license, you must have a driver's license for (1) five years, during which you have maintained (2) a clean driving record with no accidents or violations. 

Here are further details about these 2 requirements:

  1. Have a license for 5 years + 41 days. You must have had your license for at least five years before your renewal date, which is 41 days before your birthday. Your first license renewal is due on your birthday three years after the year you received your license, and your second renewal is due three years after that. If you have no accidents or violations during that time, you can get a gold license when you renew your license for the second time. Basically, the quickest you can get a gold license is 5 years + several months.

  2. No violations of Road Traffic Law for 5 years. "Violations" are traffic offenses that result in points. Certain traffic violations (such as not carrying your driver's license when driving) do not result in points and, therefore, will not hinder you from getting your gold license. However, accidents that result in bodily injury or traffic violations will result in points and will make you ineligible for a gold license when your license renewal date arrives. 

If you've managed to keep a clean record for the last five years + a few months, your license renewal postcard will note: 優良 = yuuryou, or it will state the color of your next license 金 = kinn.

Japan's Gold License

What are the benefits or perks of having a Japanese Gold License? 

Aside from bragging points, what other benefits are there to Japan's gold license? Here are the perks and merits of having achieved gold license status: 

  1. Longer license validity period. Gold licenses are valid for 5 years.  

  2. License renewal class discount and shortened class length. You will only need to pay 500 yen for your license renewal safety class. Additionally, the class is 30 minutes (instead of 1 hour for a general driver and 2 hours for a driver with violations). 

  3. Discounts on car insurance. Certain insurance companies provide discounts of up to 19% for gold license holders.

Additionally, you are eligible for a Safe Driver (silver) card. The Japan Safe Driving Center awards Safe Driver cards for maintaining a clean record, starting from your first year without any infractions. 

With this card, you can access discounts at participating locations, including gasoline stands, meals, lodging, and institutions that offer car loans (0.1 to 0.5% preferential interest rates). 

A different color card is awarded, depending on the safe driving years you have completed: 

  • Green: 1 year and up to year 2 

  • Bronze: 2 years and up to year 4 

  • Silver: 4 years and up to year 10 

  • Gold: 10 years and up to year 20 

  • Super gold: more than 20 years

How to get your Safe Driver card

Interested in the discounts available to Safe Driver cardholders? 

To get your SD card, you must apply for 

  • a no-accident/no-violation certificate 無事故・無違反証明書 = mujiko, muihan shoumeisho 

  • or a driving record certificate 運転記録証明書 = unten kiroku shoumeisho 

at your prefecture's Driver's License Center or police station (670 yen per certificate). 

You will receive a Safe Driver card together with the certificate by mail (or you can collect it yourself at the place where you applied) once they verify that you've had no accidents or violations for at least one year before the date of certification. 

The process for filing this paperwork is outlined on the Japan Safe Driving Center's official site (Japanese). 

If you prefer, you can have a proxy apply for your driving record certificate for you, in which case, you will need to download and sign this form (Japanese PDF), which your proxy will show to the Driver's License Center when filing your application. 

Note: Some designated driving schools include the fee for the application process in the graduation test fee, or they charge a separate application fee of 670 yen in the name of miscellaneous expenses, etc. In which case, the card and certificate will be automatically sent to you. Ask your driving school if this is the case for you. 

Once you have your Safe Driver card, you can look for participating locations through this portal website on JSDC. Search results can be narrowed by prefecture, financial institutions, rental car businesses, restaurants, schools, gasoline stands, leisure activities, hotel and lodging facilities, shops, etc. 

Clicking on a participating location on the JSDC site will show you the preferential discount for which you are eligible. 

 Japan's Gold License

Image: ニューオークラ・レストラン海山,

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