4 Steps for an Economical Driving Trip in Central Japan

Attention, driving tourists! If you wish to drive instead of taking public transport during your trip to central Japan, Central Nippon Expressway Pass (CEP) may be an attractive system for you. CEP reaches Tokyo Metropolitan areas and 11 prefectures in central Japan including Nagoya, providing you with unlimited access to expressways at a reasonable price. So, how can you use such a convenient and economical service? Japan.com has the answers just for you!

1. Reserve an ETC card and an ETC-supporting vehicle

ETC card for Japan cars placed on grey background

CEP can only be enjoyed through the form of an electronic toll collection (ETC) card, so you will need to reserve an ETC card along with a vehicle that is installed with ETC equipment. If you are not sure about which companies and vehicles allow you to enjoy CEP, visit CEP’s official website and reserve your car.

2. Fill in a CEP application form

passport and international driving permit placed together for Japan car tour

After arriving at the airport, head to the rental car counter of your reserved car’s company, ask for a CEP application form, fill it out and pay the fee before you get your rental car. You will also be asked to present your passport and driver’s licence with International Driving Permit, so don’t forget to take these items with you.

3. Insert the ETC card into the car’s ETC system

ETC system of a Japanese car

The ETC card works like a credit card when you cross any toll gates at the end of expressways, so make sure you have set everything up before you drive around. If the highway company detects no credit transfer from your car, someone will come to you at the gate and it’s going to take you quite some time to deal with it.

4. You are good to go!

etc gate of a Japan highway

If you have done the above steps, go and enjoy your driving trip! Just don’t forget that when you are about to cross a toll gate, drive at a speed lower than 20km/h (around 12mph), or the sensor might fail at reading your ETC card and the gate will not open.

As Tokyo Olympics draws closer, there are increasingly more tourist-friendly measures like clearer road signs with English, so just relax and enjoy your driving trip without worrying about losing your way! If you still feel unclear, take a look at CEP’s introduction video by NEXCO. And it goes without saying, remember to drive safely!