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'Trans Cultural Education Services' in Hamamatsu: Fishiness?
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Joined: 28 Feb 2003
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2003 8:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thank you again!
i'm going to exploit your brain once again...
i know there are about three things required to get an apartment, each of which my school has said they would pay, but i want to make sure i list them all with their correct terms:

1. key money
2. deposit
3. something else i can't remember

can you remind me? thanks!
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Joined: 28 Jan 2003
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Location: Western Japan

PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2003 8:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The key money you pay before you move in consists of one months rent in advance, one month commission to the rental agent and a 1-3 month deposit. I think you said you dont have to pay key money (hoshokin) right? Key money you get back if you dont damage the place and its called "hoshokin" in Japanese.

the other one may be "reikin" which is like "gift money" i.e a glorified bribe you pay to the landlord for letting his apartment to you. Non-refundable and often paid in place of "hoshokin" or key money.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2003 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

what is shikikin then? is that the term for a security deposit?
and i noticed that hoshokin is similar to hoshonin (cosigner). are they etymologically related? combining what you said with some info i found:

key money (hoshokin)
security deposit (shikikin)
gift money (reikin)
and i will need a hoshonin, which will be my school.

does this seem right?
does 'kin' mean money?
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2003 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

the kin part means money in Japanese "hosho" means guarantee.
Another similar word is "hosho-sho" which means a warranty or guarantee certificate. The final "-sho" here means document.

the nin part means person i.e the guarantor of your apartment. If you damage the property or abscond without paying rent, they come after him, and they are the go-between you and the landlord if you dont speak Japanese or there is a problem. Virtually all Japanese apartments require a guarantor, even among Japanese.

Shikikin is the security deposit which you get back when you move out of the apartment. If you damage tatami or shoji (paper) doors they come out of the security deposit. Some landlords may not pay back the full 100% of shikikin when you leave so it varies from place to place.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2003 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

my thanks are becoming redundant... Smile

i uploaded an html version (not real html, just a 'save as' from word, so the tab stops and bullets are messed up) of the contract i wrote to here:

also, it does have page numbers but they're in the footer so they don't show up in the html format.

question: kindergarten age is 5 in japan, right? i think i was supposed to parse his phrase, "from 2-6 kindergarten age children to elementary school children" as a class with 2-6 kindergarten students and the rest elementary students. what do you think? if so, i have to raise the age of the students in the contract... phew! Wink

if you could go visit it and look it over, that would be great. I converted my chinese contract, so if you see anything in there about china, let me know. you've been an excellent help! thank you once again!
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2003 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi I checked out your contract

I see he pays your health insurance which is good. If its the national health plan its about 1500 yen in the first year but about 20,000 yen a month in the second year after that. He may ask you to pay half the premium but its better that its covered. Many schools dont and the teacher has to pay their own way or get their own insurance.

25 teaching hours is not the same as 25 working hours. Check what time you have to clock in and out and how many hours you must be in the office. are there any split shifts, do you have any 'down time' and what are you expected to do in those hours?

Japanese kids go to school in the year after they reach their sixth birthday so kindergarten (yochien) is up until they turn six.

I havent taught kids classes but in general they require more work and preparation than adults classes as they have lower levels of concentration and you have to pack more into a lesson. I would be wary of teaching a class of 2-3 year olds that has more than 5-6 kids in it. Im not sure about your background but I assume you havent any EFL training or know how to teach kids English. Thats an acquired skill so it may pay to bone up on language acquisition theory in children or techniques in teaching kids.
Playing games and singing songs is fine but you have to keep in mind whether what you are doing is the most effective in their learning development, or are you just part 'edutainer'?

Teaching two year olds IMO you are doing no more than babysitting them, really. They dont speak their mother language for the most part and all you are doing is giving them input and exposure to the language. Dont expect any miracles but you will get some pushy mothers foisting their two year olds onto you to get them to learn english and handling more than a couple at a time you will have your hands full. After all- kindergarten teachers usually receive training in teaching children. what kind of pre-training will you receive, if any?

getting them to speak and hear English and develop cognitive skills will be dependent on their age and level.

I think I also ought to mention that contracts written in English have no legal standing in Japan in a Japanese court or with immigration authorities. Its the Japanese one that they look at. It may be authentic but in actual fact its a pretty worthless document in the eyes of the powers that be.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2003 1:17 pm    Post subject: Japanese laws on giving notice and dismissals Reply with quote

Elizabeth, this is from the general union website which is one of the largest foreign teachers unions in Kansai.


I don't have a written contract. Isn't this illegal?
No. Both written and oral contracts are valid in Japanese law. On the other hand, the employer is legally obligated to give full-time workers a "hiring-notice" document which must include the employer's name, the period of employment, wages, and so on. In the case of part-time workers, the Labour Ministry encourages the same practice.
Oral contracts are often a source of trouble, and the union strongly recommends all employees to ask for a written contract at the time of hiring. Make sure that the starting date of the contract is correct. Some employers begrudgingly give contracts several months after you start work, without backdating the contract. This means you could lose out on paid holidays and Unemployment Insurance. The contract should be signed by the employee and the employer or his representative. If labour troubles arise later on, written contracts could become extremely important - at the Labour Standards Office, Unemployment Insurance Office, Labour Commission, and in the courts.

What is the maximum length of a labour contract?
The maximum, legally recognized length of a contract is 1 year. If you are a language teacher and you have a contract of over one year then there is an argument that on starting your second year you have become a permanent employee, which makes it hard for a company to simply not renew your contract (Article 14). This point was argued successfully in an injunction in the Osaka District Court in 1996 when a union member's contract was not renewed at the end of his two year contract. The judge ruled that the employee, due to the fact that two year contracts are not allowed was a permanent employee and that the company needed reasons for the firing.
There have been some recent changes to the Labour Standards Law which allow some "specialists" to have up to a three year contract but language industry and education workers are not included in this group.

What things should be included in my labour contract with my employer?
Your labour contract must include the following: the length of the contract, wages, and working hours. If your contract and actual working conditions differ you may cancel your contract immediately (Article 15).
The Labour Standards Law Ordinances also lay down that the methods for deciding on, calculating and paying wages, must be clearly stated in a written document delivered to the worker.
There is also a stipulation in the law that states that if you moved residence in order to start a new job and then your actual working conditions are different from the stated working conditions, you may quit and if you return home within 14 days the company is obligated to pay your way home. This would be the case for someone working at a school that recruits overseas. As far as the General Union knows, this law has never been tried with foreigners returning to their home countries. If you're in this situation, let us know (Article 15).

Outside of my contract are there any other kind of workplace rules that I should know about? (Chapter 9)
Yes. All workplaces with over 10 employees must have working rules which are available for all workers to see and must also be filed at the district Labour Standards Office. Not only must these rules exist and be made available to all workers, but the comment of either a trade union or a workers' representative must be attached and registered at the Labour Standards Office.
The things that must be included in working rules are as follows: working hours, overtime regulations, wage calculations, wage payment dates, and all procedures for discipline, fines, or firings.
Also, because working rules are to be made accessible to all employees your employer should provide the rules in English (Article 106).

Firing, Quitting, and Contract Non-Renewal

I want to quit my job. How much notice do I have to give?
This question is not covered under the Labour Standards Law but is based on precedents set in civil courts. It all depends on whether you have a limited or an unlimited term contract, and if you have a limited term contract what contract year you are in.
Unlimited Term Contract --- two weeks notice is sufficient.
First year of a one year contract --- you can quit at either the end of the contract or quit by following the procedures laid out in the contract for quitting. If you don't follow these rules your company has a theoretical claim against you but can only act on this by using civil court procedures.
Second year (plus) of a renewed one year contract --- two weeks notice is sufficient.

My employer fired me suddenly. Am I entitled to anything?
This is a very difficult question to answer and includes many different factors; the Labour Standards Law, civil court precedents, Ministry of Labour guidelines on firings, and Japanese unions' perspectives on firings. Before we try to answer this question it is important for you to understand one important piece of advice. If you feel that you have been unfairly fired, don't sign anything (it may be a statement saying that you quit) and call the union immediately.
The Labour Standards Law states very simply that except in the most extreme of circumstances (you punch your boss, an earthquake destroys your workplace), an employer must give 30 days' notice or thirty days pay in lieu of notice. If you are fired, it is relatively easy to get this (Articles 19, 20).
The part of the law that is difficult are the many Japanese court rulings and Ministry of Labour guidelines on the propriety of firing someone. In Japan it is very difficult to fire someone in the middle of their contract (or workers who have an unlimited term contract) or someone with a one year contract which has already been renewed many times. 'Very difficult' means that in a civil court, unless the firing is done for "socially acceptable reasons" (which is up to a judge to decide), a firing could be overruled.
The problem with these precedents and guidelines is that the Labour Standards Office either won't enforce them or in many cases is powerless to do so. So unless you are prepared to go to civil court there is very little an individual can do to stop an unfair firing.
If you are fired call the union immediately and we can examine your situation. As stated in the Trade Union Law Q & A, a union can negotiate anything with an employer even if you are the only union member at your company.
On the other hand if you believe you have been fired for your union activity, we have many other ways to help you outside of the Labour Standards Law. Please see the General Union Q & A on the Trade Union Law.
If you are fired, remember one very important thing: tell the company that you don't accept their decision, offer to continue working, and make it clear that you are willing to work. Don't sign anything and don't try to one up your company by stating that you quit. The reasoning for this is that if you accept your firing or if you say that you quit, legally you are accepting it and it will make it more difficult to deal with this in the future.

Last week my boss fired me and told me to leave. He said he would pay the 30 days' dismissal allowance. Today he called me and ordered me back to work from tomorrow for the remainder of the 30-day period. He said I'm still an employee, and that I must obey him. Is he right?
No. If he wants you back to work, he must withdraw the firing completely. The employer-employee relationship ended on the day he fired you; the 30-day dismissal allowance is not a month's salary, it is an allowance which must be paid within 7 days of the firing (Article 23). The only problem here is proving that he really told you not to come to work again. He may claim later that he simply gave you 30 days' notice of dismissal. If you have documentary evidence, or a tape-recording, you will almost certainly win your case through the Labour Standards Office or in a Small Claims case at court.

I want to quit my job before the end of my contract and now my employer won't pay me this month's wages. He also wants me to pay a fine of one month's salary. Is this allowed?
No. Your employer cannot set a predetermined fine for quitting during your contract (Article 16). Furthermore your employer must provide you with all outstanding wages, tax forms and a certificate of employment within seven days of you leaving your job (Article 23).
If this happens, it is very easy to retrieve both the fine and the back wages using union's expertise and the Labour Standards Office.
If you do quit your job without the proper notice you are liable for damages, but the company must actually prove business damage in a civil court for you to have to pay any damages regarding your quitting. We have never actually seen a language company sue an employee for quitting a contract without proper notice.

It is stipulated in my contract that I can be fired without notice during a three month probation period. What does the Labour Standards Law say about this?
Regardless of the length of probation written into your contract your employer cannot fire you without notice (see section regarding firings) after you have completed 14 days of your contract. During the first 14 days your employer may fire you without notice (Article 21).

Can my employer not renew my contract without offering me any reasons?
Sadly enough, the issue of contract non-renewal is not dealt with in the Labour Standards Law. Once again we would advise that any worker in this situation call the union immediately and not sign anything from the employer.
Civil Law does deal with this issue but the only way to use this law for an individual is to sue the employer. Past civil rulings have said that a one year contract worker who has been renewed several times should be treated like a worker on an unlimited term contract and therefore an employer must have proper reasons for dismissal (non-renewal). In the past the General Union has been able to deal with this issue inside and outside of courts especially against companies who use non-renewal to fire union members for union activity.
The same with firings; if you're told that your contract is not being renewed, try to get the company to give you reasons (they don't have a legal obligation to give you any) and tell the company that you don't accept this and are willing to work at any time (see the question on firings).


The company I work for claims that they are having financial problems and therefore can't pay our salaries on time. Is this allowed?
No it isn't. The law states that salaries must be paid at a predetermined time each and every month (Article 24). The problem again is that the Labour Standards Office will do very little about this especially if the company offers another date for payment.
You should never take the late payment of wages lightly. Most workers try to be understanding about their employers' financial state but our experience shows that late payment of wages is a most often a sign that your employer is not experiencing a minor problem but rather a very big problem that may lead to bankruptcy.
It is very important that the Labour Standards Office be informed of such a problem even if you only report it without asking for action regarding the problem. This is so that if you return to the Labour Standards Office in the future for a consultation over the matter in the future, the case will already be documented and the Labour Standards Office won't deal with this as a first time case (which means they may treat the issue lightly).

My employer sent us home early from work the other day because there wasn't any work to do and now he won't pay us for this time. Is the employer obligated to pay my wages during this period?
Your employer is obligated to pay 60% of your wages if they close the enterprise or do not allow you to work during your scheduled time (Article 26). In some cases, such as your school being destroyed in an earthquake, the law does not apply.

Overtime, Lateness, Rest Periods, and Days Off

What are the maximum number of working hours I can be made to work, and is there any kind of premium if I work over these hours?
(Articles 32, 36, 37, 3Cool
The maximum hours of work that you can be made to work is 40 over six days. Anything over this must be voluntary and even voluntary overtime work has a limit which is set by ordinance. This ordinance allows for overtime of up to 5 hours per week.
Work over forty hours must be paid at a rate of 125% of your basic salary and all work between 10pm and 5am must be paid at 135%. Work on your designated rest day (one day per week) must also be paid at the rate of 135%. Employers must also have what is called an "Article 36 Agreement" which is signed by either a trade union or a workers' representative. Without this agreement, which must be signed by either a trade union representing over 50% of the work force or a workers' representative, overtime, even voluntary, is not allowed. This agreement not only sets the amount of overtime but also sets how overtime is calculated (i.e. monthly, weekly, yearly). Please see the section on workers' representatives.

Can I be fined for being late?
First we must clarify what a fine is. For example, if you came to work 5 minutes late and your employer didn't pay you for those 5 minutes, this would not be a fine. A fine is the amount subtracted from your pay over and above the deduction for the time you were late.
Even though the General Union considers fines to be unfair, they are legal if they fall within certain limits. The fine for one instance of lateness cannot exceed half a day's pay, and the total fines in a month cannot exceed 10% of your monthly salary (Article 91).
One important factor when deciding if your company has the right to fine you (or suspend you without pay) is whether your company has properly registered working rules (please see the question on working rules). If your company doesn't have working rules then they cannot fine you for lateness. Moreover, courts have ruled that procedural fairness is also necessary. A minimum condition is that the penalized person be given the opportunity to defend himself or herself. If this is not allowed, the fine could be ruled an "abuse of the right to impose discipline".

How many hours can I be made to work without a break?
Japanese law does legislate break time which a company must give their employees (even though it is unpaid). On a six hour shift you must be given a forty-five minute break and on an eight hour shift you must be allowed a one hour break (Article 34). Therefore if you work from 12:00 - 9:00 and you have an hour for lunch, your company is meeting its legal obligations.

What are the laws about sick days, days off, and national holidays in Japan?
Regarding sick days and national holidays there is no law (though having national holidays off is the norm), and you must have at least one day off per week (Article 35).
Your company is required by law to offer you a set number of flexible holidays based on the number of years service (days to be used at your discretion). Part timers are also covered by this law and their paid holidays are based on the number of days worked per week and the length of service (Article 39). See the Paid Holidays Chart for further information.
The paid holidays owed to you by your company are separate from the set holidays offered by the company (Obon, New Years). In most cases, days set by the company cannot be subtracted from your own personal holidays but there are exceptions (look at the section on workers' representative).


Does the Labour Standards Law say anything about menstrual leave?
The law states that if a woman is unable to work during menstrual periods an employer must grant a request for time off (Article 64).

Does the law provide any time off for maternity leave?
Yes. A company, if requested, must grant pregnant women six weeks of leave before giving birth (ten weeks in the case of twins) and eight weeks after childbirth (Article 65). Also, there are stipulations in the law which do not allow companies to designate heavy work or work that is injurious to the pregnancy, childbirth or nursing (Article 64-5).
A woman with a child under the age of one year is also allowed two thirty minute breaks (outside of regular break time) to nurse her child (Article 67).


Copyright ゥ 2001 General Union
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2003 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And thank you again...
here's the latest update...

he wrote:
Kids class in downtown can be categorized into 2 types.
Those classes are being held in downtown, out side of TCES School, driving the car from
The apartment and back home.
One is from 2 years old children to 6 years old children (those are kindergarten age kids) class. Those aged kids are mixed in the same class, being different from elementary school children class. Another is elementary school aged kids (10 years old and 11 years old children) class.
1 class consists of from 10 kids to 15 kids. (It means maximum number of student-kids of each class is 15 kids.) There are averagely 10 kids to 14 kids in one class.

As you say, many toys or games, pictures, songs, videos are needed to teach them. In TCES school, there are many those materials. The teachers are using those materials to teach those classes.
And I am going to prepare the time (about a week) for new teacher to observe those classes, going there with current working full time teachers and you can learn how to teach those kids and learn a knack of it, you are an experienced teacher, though.

And i responded:

I am concerned because working with 2-4 year olds is very different from working with 5-6 year olds. 2-4 year olds usually do not have much speech or language concepts even in Japanese, and although I am happy to play with them and speak English around them so they absorb it, there will be no clear way to evaluate their progress or keep them safe while I’m working with the older children. Also, 6 of these children are a whole class by themselves if I am to give them enough attention. If the class also has children ages 5-6 in it, it will be very difficult to keep everyone occupied, entertained and learning. Is there a way to split the “kindergarten” class into two smaller classes by age? Or can you explain what your clients want their 2-4 year olds to achieve while working with me? Are they content with only having their children exposed to English, or do they have more specific expectations?
The elementary class sounds fine. I look forward to the observation time with the current teacher to see how they handle the mixed class. Maybe there is a trick I do not know! Smile It would be a great help to me to speak with your current kindergarten teacher to find out how they manage the different age levels. Could you ask them if they would mind being contacted by me? I will talk with some people about the kindergarten class today and will see if they have any ideas. Thank you for the information! I will send out the contract later on.

what do parents expect when sending their 2 year olds to an english class?
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Location: Western Japan

PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2003 1:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

what do parents expect when sending their 2 year olds to an english class?

This is an educated guess, but you may not know but as of April last year the Japanese Ministry of Education Culture and Science and technology has introduced a new curriculum in Japanese public elementary schools (about 99% of the elementary schools in japan).

Under this new policy schools can teacher kids from 1st grade English for communicative purposes. Many japanese teachers do not speak English nor know anything about teaching English communicatively or about language acquisition. They now employ foreign native speakers to teach the classes. I could write a book on this (I am now in the middle of a 10,000 word/ 20 -page essay on this very topic)

The parents want their kids to learn English for a variety of reasons

1. They lived overseas for a time, the kids were born overseas and they want their kids to keep up the language

2. They know foreigner couples and maybe the kids have English speaking playmates

3. believe it or not kids here take entrance tests to get into a good kindergarten ro an elementary school. I dont think it has happened yet but some schools are in the process of testing 4-5 year olds on English words etc to get into kindergarten and elementary school. My wife is Japanese and when my daughter started at international school her first language was Japanese. She was kept back a term until she caught up in her English ability. Before that she showed little interest in learning English because everything in her world was found in Japanese.

Knowledge of English here is a status symbol for many parents, and they will do ANYTHING to get Taro into a good private kindergarten. Once they are in sometimes they can stay at the same school until high school or an attached university (called the escalator system)

4. Another not so obvious reason, is many many japanese have a hangup about the fact they spend 6 years at high school, 4 years at university and can not still speak English. They dont want the same for their kids and the parents can get the kids learning English becuase they can afford it. When my daughte was 2 I had Japanese salesmen ringing me up trying to get me to spend $1000 on Disney videos for my daughter. Many Japanese do spend this kind of money on their kids.

One mother at my daughters school takes her kids to Hawaii twice a year during vacations and puts them in an elementary school in Honolulu, while she rents out a condo at $1000 a month. The 8 year old is now fully bilingual in japanese and English and speaks with an American accent, though she wasnt born there.

Its well known that the younger you expose children to a language, the better they will pick it up and acquire a native or natuarl accent. My four year just copies his sister and blurts out works he picks up on TV or in conversation. hes like a sponge when it comes to learning English.
Parents want the same for their kids, they impose their own failings on their children and want them to succeed where they failed when learning English.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2003 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Update from the school:
I gave you the wrong information.
The following is correct.
*Kindergarten age kids classes are separated into 2 types of class being
differnt from elementary school age kids class. So three types of classes are there.
One is the class mixed with from 2 years old kids to 4 years olds kids.
And another is the class mixed with from 4 years old kids to 6 old years old kids class.
They are not together in the same class.
And in the class from 2 years old to 4 years old kids classes, their mothers
are in the same class room learning English with their chirldren together and check their own children in case kids talk Japanese a lot or hooling around preventing from class-teaching flow is obstracted. In such case happened, mothers tell their kids not to do it or take them into another room or outside class until they become quiet.
In the class from 4 years old to 6 years old, mothers are there but they are just out side of the class room, and mothers have to take care of their own kids in the case kids become obstacle for class in progress.
The purpose or what claient wants to achieve thorough the class is the
*2-4 years old kids class: Children Learn English with mothers and the
purpose is kids get accustomed to English and imitating what teachers say, kids learn English pronunciation and basic vocaburaly.
*4-6 years old kids class:Narturing the spirit by being independent from
their mother and spending enjoyable time together through English learning with playing games,pictures and songs and get accustomed to English. Teacher is teaching basic alphabet writing too in this class.

This sounds a lot better. Do you think that the parents will actually be a help? Or have you heard horror stories from this sort of class?
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2003 6:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


I think you are asking the wrong guy here- I teach 1st and 2nd years at a Japanese university and my sum total of teaching kids is about a week or two in the late 80's and a few at a language school I used to teach in.

Generally the parents would sit at the back of the room and watch, scold their kids if they were noisy or took them out for toilet breaks etc. Some would take part in the lesson if they wanted to learn English as well or translate directions for the kids etc.

If its any help I can give you the emails of a couple of experts in Japan- Tom Merner works goes around the country for the Education Ministry training Japanese school teachers to teach English for the new elementary curriculum and Curtis is writing a doctorate on elementary teacher education and is currently developing a website to train teachers. If you contact them (Curtis is back in the US this month) they will be able to help you. I also have a mail somewhere from a Japanese woman teaching pre-K kids somewhere too.

Tom Merner [email protected]

Curtis Kelly [email protected]

I have your email address from your contract so i will send you some relevant articles that will be helpful for you.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2003 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Everything seems to be working out great with this job. I haven't had a chance to read through your emails since I've been trying to finalize a contract in China for next week. *eek* I will definitely use the resources you sent me when I have a chance to grok anything, tho! Thanks so much!
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2003 3:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How do i go about getting an international drivers licence? i found this site, but they do not look very professional. any thoughts/ suggestions?
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Paul G

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Location: China & USA

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2003 3:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In California, IDL's are issued by the Auto Club (AAA). I'm sure they have an office near you that you can call for specific information.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2003 3:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You can apply by mail.
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