The ETC (Electronic Toll Collection System) uses an ETC device equipped with an ETC card (a smart card) which wirelessly communicates with expressway toll booths upon entrance and exit in order to pay the tolls without having to stop the car (though it is necessary to drive through slowly).
There are discounts available for ETC, depending on the day of the week and the time that you use it. As of March 2016, the ETC system is not available to all foreign travelers, but some areas and car-rental companies offer rental cars equipped with ETC cards.
Renting a Car
Make a reservation via website, at the airport, or at your hotel. Indicate your start and return dates and times, rental location and return location, preferred car model, number of passengers, and preferred features.
Procedures for renting a car
Bring your passport and drivers license to the rental car office, fill out the paperwork and pay for your rental. If there is anything you are not clear on in the rental agreement or regarding the operation of the car, ask before you leave.
Important information about renting a car
Any parking or gasoline costs incurred while using a rental car are paid-for by the renter. In the event of an accident, contact the police and the rental car office and follow their instructions. If you are going to be late in returning the car, or if you won’t be able to return it to the planned location, contact the return office as soon as possible.
Fill up the car with gas at a gas station nearby before returning it to the return office. If the car isn’t full of gas when returned, a fee (which differs for each rental company) will be charged. The office staff will check the car for damage, and calculate any extra fees. Make sure you haven’t forgotten anything in the trunk or door pockets before returning the car.
Advice and Precaution
- Japanese rental cars almost always have the steering wheel on the right.
- Some car rental companies provide car navigation systems with multi-language support.
- It's also possible to use a smartphone with car navigation features while in Japan.
- Details about rental procedures are different for every rental agency, so confirm in advance.
- In case of accidents, renters are automatically enrolled in car insurance.
You may use the following cards at expressway toll booths or at SA/PA: JCB, NICOS, American Express, Diners, Visa, Mastercard and Union Pay (which can only be used at SA/PA).
Note: You may not be able to use some credit cards that have been issued outside of Japan.