Driving license in Germany

This page contains topics:

  1. Documents a driver must carry while driving
  2. Toursits and Short-Term Visitors with an International Driver's License
  3. Validity of a Driver's License Issued from a Non-EU/EEA Country
    1. Visitors with a Short Stay (up to one year)
    2. Visitors with a Longer Stay (more than a year)
    3. Convertable Driver's License from Different Countries
    4. Driving in Germany with an Australian Licence
    5. Driving in Germany with a US License
    6. Driving in Germany with a Canadian License
    7. How to Convert a Foreign Driver's License to German Driver's License?
  4. Validity of a Driver's License Issued from an EU/EEA Country
  5. How to Get a New Driver's License in Germany?

To see the different categories (classes) in the German driver's license, please visit this page.

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1. Mandatory Documents a Driver Must Keep While Driving in Germany

A driver must have the following documents:

  1. A valid driving license
  2. Proof of ownership of the vehicle (registration paper in the case of your own vehicle or other necessary papers in the case of a company-owned vehicle or a vehicle on rent)
  3. Passport (in the case of a foreign driver). For locals, a driving license issued by a member EU state acts as a limited ID. Having an original ID card is recommended, as identification through a driver's license will take much longer. Police have to confirm it by issuing authority through wireless or phone.
  4. Proof of vehicle insurance

2. Tourists and Visitors from any Foreign Country

Tourists and visitors to Germany need an international driver's license issued by their country of origin, country of temporary or permanent residence. In Germany, an unrestricted license is available at the age of 18, while under supervision, teens can drive at 17. The minimum age for foreign visitors to drive is also 18.

If you have the intention of staying longer in Germany, the following rules apply:

The following information is about the car license (class B vehicle or a vehicle with a maximum weight of 3500 kg (3.5 t) and a trailer of 750 kg).

3. Driver's License from a Non-EU/EEA Country

3.1 Visitors with a Short Stay (up to one year)

If you have a driver's license issued from a non-EU/EEA country, then your license is valid for six months after the first arrival date in Germany. If you have an intention to stay less than a year but more than six months, your license validity can be extended to a further period of a maximum of six months.

In a majority of countries across the world, an international driver's license is issued in English or includes English as well as the native language. Such types of international driver's licenses do not require translation in Germany.

However, if you do not have an international version of your local driving license and it is not issued by an EU or EEA member state, you will require a German translation of this license.

The German translation of a foreign driver's license from any certified interpreter or translator is acceptable. If you can't find a certified interpreter or translator in your area, you can get it translated from any German or international motoring club, like ADAC, but they charge higher rates for translations.

If you need some practice to get used to driving on German roads, you can practice driving skills in specially designed driving training areas (Verkehrsübungsplatze). Please click here to find a driving practice area (Verkehrsübungsplatz) near your location.

3.2 Visitors with a Longer Stay (more than one year)

If you want to stay for more than a year, you must change your license to a German driver's license.

Licenses from different countries or states have varying criteria for the converting procedure. Some need both theoretical and practical tests, while others require only one exam and a simple conversion. Please see the list below for information about converting your driver's license. If your country or state is not on this list, you will almost certainly have to take both theoretical and practical exams.

According to the driving license code (Fahrerlaubnis-Verordnung (FeV)) in Annex 11 (para. 31), the following table lists those states whose driving licenses are fully or partially accepted in Germany for conversion into German driver's licenses. The columns "Theoretical Exam" and "Practical Exam" also state whether a separate examination is required for the respective conversion. Click here to read the official German version of the driving license code.

On smaller screens, drag the following table right or left to view the full width of the table.

Issuing State Vehicle Class(es) Theoretical Exam Required? Practical Exam Required?
Andorra All No No
Bosnia and Hercegovina A1, A, B No No
French Polynesia All No No
Guernsey All No No
Isle of Man All No No
Israel B No No
Japan All No No
Jersey All No No
Monaco All No No
Namibia 16) A1, A, B, BE, C117), C1E, C17), CE No No
Caledonia All No No
New Zealand 1, 610) No No
Republic of Korea 1, 21) No No
San Marino All No No
Switzerland All No No
Serbia All No No
Singapore All No No
South Africa All No No
Driving licenses issued in the domain of the authorities in Taiwan2) B/BE1) No Yes

3.4 Driving Permits from the Australian Territories 11):

Australian Capital Territory C12), R12) No7) No
New South Wales C, R> No7) No
Northern Territory C12), R12) No7) No
Queensland C13), R13) No7) No
South Australia C13), R13) No No
Tasmania C13), R13) No No
Victoria C14), CAR, R14) No No
Western Australia C12), R No7) No

3.5 Driving in Germany with US license 1):

Alabama D No No
Arizona G, D, 2 No No
Arkansas D No No
Colorado C, R No No
Connecticut D, 1, 2 Yes No
Delaware D No No
District of Columbia D Yes No
Florida E Yes No
Idaho D No No
Illinois D No No
Indiana Operator License, Chauffeur License3), Public Passenger Chauffeur License3), Commercial Driver License, Probationary Operator´s License Yes No
Iowa C (Noncommercial Operator's License)4),
A (Commercial Driver's License)3),
B (Commercial Driver's License)3),
C (Commercial Driver's License)3)
D (Noncommercial Chauffeur Driver's License mit Endorsement 1, 2 oder 3)3),
Intermediate Driver's License
No No
Kansas C No No
Kentucky D No No
Louisiana E No No
Maryland C (Full License und Provisional License) No No
Massachusetts D No No
Michigan operator No No
Minnesota D Yes7) No
Mississippi operator, R Yes No
Missouri F Yes No
Nebraska O Yes No
New Mexico D No No
North Carolina C Yes No
Ohio D No No
Oklahoma D No No
Oregon C7) Yes No
Pennsylvania C No No
Puerto Rico 3 No No
South Carolina D No No
South Dakota 1 and 2 No No
Tennessee D Yes No
Texas C15), A3), B3) No7) No
Utah D No No
Virginia D, M5), A3), B3), C3) No No
Washington State Driver License8)
Intermediate Driver License9)
No No
West Virginia E No No
Wisconsin D No No
Wyoming C No No

3.6 Driving Permits of the Canadian Provinces1):

Alberta 5 No No
British Columbia 5, 6, 7 (Novice Driver's Licence)7)10) No No
Manitoba 56) , 4 Stage F3), 3 Stage F3), 2 Stage F3), 1 Stage F3) No No
New Brunswick 5, 7 Stufe 2 No No
Newfoundland 5 No No
Northwest Territories 5 No No
Nova Scotia 5 No No
Ontario G No No
Prince Edward Island 5 No No
Québec 5 No No
Saskatchewan 1 and 5 No No
Yukon 5 No No

To see the footnotes of the above table please scroll to the end of this page.

3.7 Driver's License Conversion Process

The office responsible for conversion is the Führerscheinstelle. If you don't have to take an exam, just visit the office, and they will issue a German driving license and retain your old driver's license. You would need the following documents for conversion:

If you need theory, practical, or both exams, you would usually need to go through an official Fahrschule (driving school) registration. In this case, the procedure is as follows:

  1. First, visit the Führerscheinstelle and get registered for a driving license. You require all the above-mentioned documents, plus you would have to do a first aid course and take an eyesight test. Führerscheinstelle would give you the deadline for submitting these two extra documents; better ask them if they don't mention them because they are mandatory.
  2. Next, you need to register at an official Fahrschule (driving school). Since you need a driving school just to register for a theory or practical test and you don’t need any training, you can choose if you want to get some theatrical lectures.
  3. Remember to take your passport with you to the theory exam.

  4. If you require both theory and practical exams, the practical exam would be the next step after passing the theory test. Your driving school teacher will test your driving skills and recommend how much practical training you need.

    Now you should be careful. These training hours are expensive, and some driving instructors can be somewhat greedy. So you have to argue with them. You don’t need full practical training, as you are a candidate for the conversation of license.
    Please note that if you require both theory and practical tests, it doesn't mean theoretical study material, lectures, and minimum mandatory driving training hours are legally necessary for you. Some driving schools may want to enforce these to get financial benefits. Talk to them in advance about material, lectures, and training hours.

  5. After passing the practical test, you are eligible for the conversion of your license. Either the examiner will give you your new driver's license just after the test, or you will have to collect it from the Führerscheinstelle.
  6. You have to submit your original old license, because in case of a traffic violation, if your German driving license is blocked, they want to make sure that you are not able to drive with the help of your old driving license.

In some cases, the Führerscheinstelle may return your old native license. For this, you need to write an application and submit it to the driver's license authority office, i.e., the Führerscheinstelle. You have to give them a solid reason. If they agree to return, they will put a sticker on your old license. This sticker reads, "Not valid in Germany." But this entirely depends on your given solid reason. So make a strong reason. Please also check out this official paper from the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur).

4. Driver's License from an EU/EEA Country

If you are a citizen of an EU or EEA state and have a valid driving license from your native country, you can drive with this license until it expires. If your license expires during your stay in Germany, you will now need a German driving license. (Remember, if you bring a new one from your native country, it will not be valid in Germany.) Contact the Führerscheinstelle, and they will issue a new one to you. Please check out this official paper from the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure for EU/EEA countries.

5. Getting a New German Driver's License

If you don't have a driver's license from your home country and don't know how to drive a car, you will require a complete theory and practical course at the driving school. This driver's license can cost between 1000 and 2000 Euros. Only driving schools are entitled to register a person for theory and practical exams. Your driving school would take care of your registration at the driver's license authority office (Führerscheinstelle). You would need the following documents for registration at the Führerscheinstelle:

These documents are required by law and are a precondition for the approval of the driving license application at the Road Traffic Office (Straßenverkehrsamt).

You need 12 mandatory practical driving training hours and 14 theory lectures. One practical training hour is 45 minutes, while one theory lecture is 90 minutes.

Normally, you have to take more practical training than the official mandatory hours, and that's what makes a driver's license costly. The theory test consists of 30 questions. Students have to pass the theory test before the practical exam. If a student can't pass a practical test, he or she has to get more practical training.

Footnotes to the Table

  1. Official Note: Insofar as the column "class(es)" does not mention "all", but only a specific class or classes, only class B is granted on the basis of this class(es).
  2. Official Note: Germany has no diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
  3. Official Note: Includes motor car class.
  4. Official note: In cases where class C is restricted with the key number 2, the granting of a German driving license according to para. 31 is not permitted (learning license).
  5. Official note: In cases where class M is provided with code 6, a test-free issuing of a German driving license is not possible (only a motorcycle license).
  6. Official note: In cases where a class 5 Stage L or Stage A is present, the granting of a German driving license according to para. 31 is not permitted (learning license).
  7. Official Note: Evidence of the eyesight test, according to para. 12, is still required.
  8. Official Note: Unless the "Driver License" contains any reference to special vehicles, this is a car driver's license.
  9. Official Note: Only for holders over the age of 18 years. There is no exchange of an "Instruction Permit".
  10. Official Note: Class 6 is converted into a German A2 driving license if the holder is under 24 years of age. Otherwise, class A is granted.
  11. Official note: The Australian classes C and CAR (Victoria) correspond to the German class B, and the Australian class R to the German class A.
  12. Official Note: Also, "Provisional License". There is no exchange of a Learner License.
  13. Official note: Also, "Provisional License P2". There is no exchange of a "Learner Permit" or "Learner License".
  14. Official Note: Also, "Probationary License P2." There is no exchange of a "Learner Permit".
  15. Official Note: Also, "Provisional License". There is no exchange of an "Instruction Permit".
  16. Official Note: The condition is that the grant date of the Namibian license is at least two years prior to the application.
  17. Official Note: Driving licenses in classes C1 and C from Namibia are also entitled to the use of buses. A rewriting of these license classes in the German driving license classes D1 and D, however, can not be done. Driving license class C1 from Namibia is authorized to drive vehicles with an authorized mass of not more than 16000 kg. However, in the case of the transfer in Germany, only a category C1 license is granted, even if it only entitles the holder to drive vehicles with an authorized mass of not more than 7500 kg.

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