How to Buy a car on Okinawa.

To buy a car on Okinawa is not difficult at all. If you want to make the process really quick here is a check list for US service members to get before you want to make your purchase.

1. Military ID

2. Drivers Permit (for driving on Okinawa)

3. Letter of Attorney ( Fill this out and go get it notarized at the legal office )

4. Military Orders

So once you’ve acquired these documents you are ready to roll up to a car dealer and buy a car out right with cash in hand. It’s done. The car dealer needs to then transfer the titles and get plates for the car. This will take a least a full working day or more depending on their schedule.

One thing that should be taken into account is the “Shaken =車検 ” or JCI ( Japanese Compulsory Insurance ) When you are buying the car, take note of when the expiry date for the JCI to be inspected again. You should know that you are going to pay roughly 200-400 dollars for the inspection every 2 years depending on the type of car you own.

When in Rome, do as the Romans. Buy a Japanese car! They are nimble, fuel efficient, and made for the type of slow speed, stop and go, driving conditions here on Okinawa. When you need to get it fixed, getting the parts for a Japanese car are going to be a lot easier than parts for a BMW.


David Higgins is a full time Japanese/English translation company owner located in Okinawa, Japan. David, his wife Hazuki and four employees and various freelancers of other languages run Okinawa Translator. They specialize in translation of all kinds of documents, technical manuals and on site interpreting for instructional safety classes with the military to family reunions. They have expanded they’re business all over Japan and overseas to serve customers in any location.

5 Comments on “How to Buy a car on Okinawa.

  1. How many cars can we own? Is it based solely on my husband pecan I purchase a vehicle without him using my government job and sofa?

    • I believe you can only have two cars. You will have to further investigate at the legal services office or the car registration department to confirm this, I hope this helps, – Dave

    • You may own 1 vehicle per sofa license. My husband has a car and a motorcycle but it’s because a motorcycle license in Oki is another sofa license so he technically has 2 sofa licenses. I have 1 sofa license and can only have 1 car.

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