Can foreigners become taxi drivers? What residency status is required?

***"Translated by ChatGPT. Please let me know if there are any errors."

I have a foreign friend who says, "I want to become a taxi driver in Japan!" But can they actually do it?

Is it true that foreigners can become taxi drivers with the "Specified Skilled Worker" residency status? I saw it in the news!

I believe many people have similar questions.

In this article, we will explain whether foreigners living in Japan can become taxi drivers and what residency visa is required. However, before we dive into that, it's important to note that the taxi and truck industry is facing a serious shortage of drivers, exacerbated by the 2024 problem.

To address this labor shortage, in September 2023, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism began considering adding taxi, truck, and bus drivers to the list of occupations eligible for the residency status of "Specified Skilled Worker" for foreign workers.

Taking into account the labor shortage caused by the 2024 problem, we will discuss in detail whether foreigners living in Japan can become taxi drivers.

Please note that the information is current as of February 2024, and we will update it as needed.

The 2024 problem... It refers to the issue caused by the limit of 960 hours of overtime work per year for automobile driving tasks, which is a serious problem for the taxi and truck industries. This is because the traditional style of working long hours to earn high income has changed, and there is a possibility that income will be constrained by the restriction on working hours. If drivers cannot earn as much, there may be an increase in the number of drivers leaving the industry.

Can foreigners become taxi drivers?

Conclusion... Yes, foreigners can become taxi drivers.

However, there is a required residency status to become a taxi driver.

What residency status is required?

Residency status "Specified Activity 46" is required.

What is residency sttatus"Specified Activity 46?
  1. Academic background Having graduated from a 4-year university in Japan or completed a graduate school program and awarded a degree.

  2. Compensation and job content Receiving compensation equal to or greater than what Japanese nationals would receive for similar work. Engaging in work that requires smooth communication in Japanese. For taxi drivers, engaging in activities such as planning and organizing for tourists (client acquisition) or serving as a tour guide, including interpretation, in addition to regular taxi driving.

  • Engaging only in vehicle maintenance and cleaning is not allowed.
  1. Japanese language proficiency Japanese Language Proficiency Test Level N1 or BJT Business Japanese Proficiency Test score of 480 or higher. Or, having the ability to understand Japanese by majoring in Japanese at a Japanese university or graduate school, as proven by exams or other methods.

※参考:出入国在留管理庁 在留資格「特定活動(告示46号)」chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/

There is a representative residency status called "Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services" which does not allow becoming a taxi driver under this residency status. Under the residency status "Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services," it is not possible to engage in on-site work such as driving.。

Others with unrestricted work permits are also OK

Foreigners holding these four residency statuses can work in any industry or occupation regardless of employment status, just like Japanese nationals.


1.Permanent residents
Can continue to stay in Japan without changing nationality.

2.Spouse of a Japanese national
Spouse of a Japanese national or a special adoptee or a person born as a child of a Japanese national.

※参考:出入国在留管理庁 在留資格「日本人の配偶者等」

3.Spouse of a permanent resident
A person born in Japan as the spouse or child of a permanent resident, who continues to reside in Japan thereafter. Examples include spouses and children of permanent residents or special permanent residents who were born and continue to reside in Japan.

※参考:出入国在留管理庁 在留資格「永住者の配偶者等」

4.Long-term residents
Those who are allowed to reside for a certain period of time by the Minister of Justice considering special reasons. Examples include third-country refugees, third-generation Japanese Brazilians, and Chinese nationals who remained in Japan.

※参考:出入国在留管理庁 在留資格「定住者」

Can foreigners become taxi drivers with the "Specified Skilled Worker" residency status!?

Foreigners cannot become taxi drivers under the "Specified Skilled Worker" residency status.

*Information as of February 2024

As of now, it is not possible to become a taxi driver under the "Specified Skilled Worker" residency status. However, in September 2023, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism began considering adding taxi, truck, and bus drivers to the list of occupations eligible for the "Specified Skilled Worker" residency status for foreign workers.

You often hear about the "Specified Skilled Worker" residency status, but let's briefly look at what kind of work it actually entails.

The 12 occupations covered by the "Specified Skilled Worker" residency status
  • Nursing care
  • Building cleaning
  • Precast concrete industry
  • Industrial machinery manufacturing
  • Electrical and electronic information-related industries
  • Construction
  • Shipbuilding and marine industries
  • Automobile maintenance
  • Aviation
  • Accommodation
  • Agriculture
  • Fisheries
  • Food and beverage manufacturing
  • Food service industry

Consideration is being given to adding taxi, truck, and bus drivers to this list.

※参考:外務省 新たな外国人材の受入れ在留資格特定技能

What foreigners need to prepare to join a taxi company

So far, we have discussed the necessary residency status, and from here, we will explain what foreigners need to prepare when joining a taxi company.

Is a Class 2 license required? How much does it cost?

Worried about the cost of obtaining a Class 2 license... Can I obtain it?

To become a taxi driver, a Class 2 license is required. To obtain a Class 2 license, you need to have a regular driver's license in Japan, be 19 years old or older, and have a cumulative period of at least one year since obtaining the regular license. There used to be a requirement of three years, but it was revised in May 2022 due to the shortage of personnel in the taxi industry.

※参考:警察庁 第二種免許等の受験資格の見直しについて(令和4年5月13日)

The cost of a Class 2 license is often covered entirely by the taxi company, and the actual cost ranges from 250,000 to 450,000 yen. There is a strong desire among companies to hire drivers even if it means bearing this high cost. However, many companies set conditions such as refunding all or part of the cost if the driver resigns within two years. (* Legal aspects are temporarily disregarded in this article) Therefore, it may be difficult for drivers to resign midway or it may be difficult to resign, making it financially challenging for those who have the means to obtain a Class 2 license on their own before joining the company.

Is the examination content only in Japanese? What about other languages?

The written exam for the Class 2 license is only available in Japanese.

*As of February 2024

Since the written exam is only in Japanese, it is difficult for foreigners to pass. Especially for foreigners, passing the written exam is too difficult, as Japanese-specific nuances can be challenging even for Japanese people.

Therefore, in December 2023, the National Police Agency decided to allow taking the written exam for the Class 2 license in 20 languages including English and Korean. It is scheduled to be implemented within the year 2023.

This is also one of the measures to alleviate the shortage of personnel in the taxi industry.

Will the geography test also be abolished?

The "geography test" is mandatory in 12 prefectures with heavy traffic such as Tokyo, Kanagawa, and Osaka. The test content includes paper-based questions about major roads, intersections, famous buildings, and expressways, with a pass rate of about 50%. There is also data showing that on average, candidates take the test five times before passing.

※参考:公益財団法人東京タクシーセンター地理試験過去問題No.1 chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/

In October 2023, Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Saito revealed that they are considering abolishing the geography test, among other measures.

The background to abolishing the geography test is the increasing shortage of drivers, and with the development of maps, dispatch apps, and car navigation systems, they are considering revising the methods to suit the times, including abolishing the test.

Can foreigners increase sales? What is the daily schedule?


Foreigners can increase sales significantly.

This is because in recent years, taxi dispatch apps have been appearing one after another, causing a stir in society. In the era before dispatch apps, taxi drivers had a tough time making a living with methods like "cruising," "waiting," and "reservation/radio," which were harsh for beginners and often favored veterans.

owadays, with dispatch apps, even foreigners can efficiently increase sales. Unlike cruising, dispatch apps find customers for you, so you can make sales efficiently even without experience or local knowledge.

Additionally, some dispatch apps support multiple languages, providing peace of mind for foreigners who can speak but cannot write or read Japanese.

What is the daily schedule?

Taxis running a lot in the city Taxi drivers are not absent 24 hours a day, but what kind of day do they spend?

They work in three types of shifts: "day shift," "night shift," and "alternate day shift." Here, we explain in detail the day of a driver working an "alternate day shift," so please refer to this article.


タクシードライバーの1日スケジュール 街中をたくさん走っているタクシータクシードライバーは24時間いなくなることは無いですがどのような1日を送っているのでしょうか。…


As mentioned above, the shortage of taxi drivers is a serious problem. The situation is changing rapidly to enable wide-ranging recruitment of personnel, so the situation is changing daily.

At Driver's Job Change, we support foreigners in finding taxi companies where they can work with peace of mind. Please feel free to consult with our advisors if you have any questions. The service is completely free of charge!

We look forward to hearing from you.

Driver jobs in Japan(Japanese page)

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