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Not so Fast: Acquiring a Driver's License in Germany

Drivers Licenses: a never ending story Now that you're here in Germany, you probably can't wait to take on the challenge of the Autobahn, to tour the beautiful countryside or to grind to a halt in a Stau. But to do any of these, you first need to have a valid driver's license. If you're an EU national, you don't have to worry about this, as your home country license is fully recognized in Germany. For the rest of the world, the matter is much more complicated.

Don't imagine that you can simply use one of those international driver's licenses while living here ­ they're invalid in the country where you're a legal resident. Your home license remains valid for exactly six months from the official date of your first residence permit. But this is only after it has been officially translated into German. Important exception #1: if your total stay is longer than six months, but less than one year, your home license can remain legal. You must apply for an extension at the local driver's license office (Führerscheinstelle). Although you can use this license for the first half of the year, you should definitely move to acquire a German license as soon as possible. If you miss that six-month cutoff date, you'll be required to take driver's training courses at a local driving school and then you'll have to take both written and road tests.

In getting your home license recognized in Germany, you'll have to work your way through a maze of regulations, depending on which country originally issued your license. Under bilateral agreements, a number of countries enjoy what is called Prüfungsfreiheit, which frees their license-holders from requirements for taking written and road tests. These countries include Japan, South Korea and a roster of others. Check whether the country that issued your license is included. Note that while you might be freed from taking the tests, you're not freed from paying the fee for transcribing your license. Important exception #2: if your license is from a country with a bilateral agreement, the three-year deadline for transcribing your license no longer applies.

You can get your driver's license or other motor vehicle documents translated at one of Germany's automobile clubs, at certain consulates, or by government-certified translators. ADAC, Germany's largest automobile club, charges a sliding scale for its translations, ranging from 26-36 euros. For a list of ADAC regional offices, go to www.adac.de.

U.S. citizens coming from states that deny full or partial reciprocity to German drivers are equally denied the same privileges in Germany and are therefore required to take road and/or written tests. For a current list of reciprocity agreements you can consult the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany website: www.amcham.de. Five German states (Hamburg, Hessen, Saarland, Saxony-Anhalt and Schleswig-Holstein) have in recent years introduced regulations which permit a conversion of US driver's licenses. American citizens, regardless of which US state they are from, can apply for the conversion of their US driver's license if they meet certain, albeit complicated, conditions.

If you've never had a driver's license before, you'll be required to go to a driving school. Seasoned drivers may only need a couple of lessons to demonstrate that they can navigate local roads and streets, after which instructors will approve of them taking the necessary written and road tests. New drivers and those who need longer to adjust to German driving habits will, of course, require more lessons. But be forewarned: driving lessons for beginners can cost upwards of 1,500 euros. In addition, most driving schools in Germany are focused on teaching teenagers and not adult foreigners, so they may not know all the rules about transferring licenses.

And now after all this hard work to finally get your German drivers license, you'll be happy to know that the local authorities will confiscate your original driver's license. There is a German law that no one is allowed to hold two driver's licenses at the same time in the same country. Important exception #3: there are ways to get around this, but it's too complicated to explain here...so ask your driving school.


38 Comments

can you please tell me if I should translate my driving licence before I arrive in Germany, my driving licence is Romanian, or should I wait for 3 to 6 months before translating and going that in Germany at adac.de!!Thank you in advance!

Since Romania is an EU member country then you don't have to worry about a translation. Your drivers license is valid in Germany.

hallo pliz can yu help with information of what i can do i am an african man who recently travelled to Germany and i have a drivers license from zimbabwe and am here in Germany to study what must i do before the six months lapses.

Hello,

The first thing to do is to translate your Drivers License into German which costs about 35 €. The ADAC office which translates Drivers License into German is located at:

ADAC
Ms. Estrella Streitberger
Wiesbadener Straße
Frankfurt (60486)
Telephone: 069-97 78 85-70
E-Mail: frankfurt.west@hth.adac.de
Opening Hours:
Mo. thru Fr.: 9am until 1pm and 2pm until 5:30pm

You may have to take a written and/or practical test and have to apply for your drivers license. They are located at:

Führerscheinstelle
Ordnungsamt
Mainzer Landstraße 315-321
60326 Frankfurt am Main
Telephone: 069 212 42334
Fax: 069 212 43230
Email: fuehrerscheinstelle@stadt-frankfurt.de

Here is a website that may answer some of your additional questions and concerns:

http://www.howtogermany.com/pages/driving.html

Also, if you have any additional questions or need any help with finding the ADAC or Driving License office in Frankfurt or need a Driving School, please do not hesitate to post a comment or contact us.

Have a great day,

Joe

Hello,can any body help please,i,am british i need to know i have a c1 on my british licence, i have passed my theory test LGV in the uk.Can now take my practical test in germany with out taking any more theory exams can i just go for a practical test?

The UK has a reciprocal agreement within the EU, so it shouldn't be a problem.

But the German driving license laws are amazingly complex, so if want to know more specifics, I would suggest that you contact Jürgen Brauer at Fahrschule Brauer in Frankfurt. He knows all the tricks of the trade and speaks English. His web address is www.fahrschule-brauer.de

David

Hi

I situation is a little bit sticky. I am currently working in Hessen and wanted to convert my license to German because my stay will be extended beyond 12 months.
I have USA driver license but not an USA citizen. (I am a New Zealand citizen living in USA and I still have a valid New Zealand license too.)

Q1. Am I under this special rule for converting US license to German?

Q2. How should I prove I have license for 5 years? My license was renewed in March and obviously it shows the issue date in March!!

Q3. What does that really mean "works for an American company "? My company in USA (ABC Inc) sent me to the German office (ABC GmbH) as exchange. I work in the German office but my salary comes from USA. Does that qualify as working for a USA company??

Thanks!

Jenny

Hi
I want to know if i got a driving licence from egypt and i want to be able to drive in germany it what shall i do
i am staying less than 6 months
Any body knows a place to translate my license in Düsseldorf ?
Thanks

Hi
There is another thing that my license it not written in english it is only in arabic!

Thank you guys and also than the egyptian authorities of making our life easier ;)

Hi,can you please let me know if there's any driving school with english-spanish or italian lessons in trieer?
Thanks in advance for your help

Hello,can any body help please,I,am Singaporean and have driving license and motorcycle license. I'm planning ride in Germany during my visit and my motor bike licence is 2A (up to 400CC). Can I ride the bike more than 400CC in Germany? Or can I upgrade my bike license in Germany? Any recommand driving school?

Hi, any advice as to whether or not South Africa has a reciprocal agreement on Driver's licences??

Hi, I want to convert my license to a german one, which form shall I fill out? can I do it online? Do I need to have my UK license translated? I know I do not need the conversion but I want to do it anyway.

Can i get the forms I need to fill out online? Tried to search for Führerscheinstelle on google but couldnt find andything and my German is poor, thanks for the help in advance.

Hi Henry,

Your UK drivers license is recognized in Germany, so you don't need to convert it.

David

HI All,

I'm an Australian citizen relocating to Frankfurt in about 1 month and I have a questions regarding my Australian drivers license.

My Australian drivers license has expired and I have not renewed it as I also have to pay a few infringement notices before I can renew.

I've been driving for 12 years now. Will I be able to just pay the license cost in frankfurt and receive a German drivers license or will I have to take the written/driving exam also ?

Thanks in advance and looking forward to your reply.

./Sasha

This is for herbet munemo! You have to convert your licence
into a german one. This whole procedure is very complex so call me: 0179/6903936 or visit our homepage:
www.fahrschule-brauer.de I'm looking foreward!

This is for JennyJJT! You have to convert your licence
into a german one. This whole procedure is very complex so call me: 0179/6903936 or visit our homepage:
www.fahrschule-brauer.de I'm looking foreward!

This is for Sasha/Australia! You have to convert your licence into a german one.
Urgent! Write me an e-mail before you leave Australia, or
you will have trouble!!

e-mail: brauer@arcor.de

This is for Aung! You are only allowed to ride until 400 cc.
For an upgrade you are treated like a total beginner!!!

J.Brauer

This is for Cam!
South-Africa is the only african country with a reciprocal agreement. No tests!! But you have to convert your licence.
This is a formal act and it costs you money (app. € 100.00)

J.Brauer

I may be moving to Germany soon. I'm confused on the cost of driver license in Germany. I'm from the US and if I applied for an international driver license then go to Germany, how much does it cost to get an actual driver license? One site mentioned it costing $1500-$2000??

Hi Linda,

Read the article at the top of the page carefully and your questions should be answered. Basically, it depends on which state you are from in the US. In some cases you can transfer your license. Don't get an international drivers license in the States...it's no good if you also have a residency permit here.

David

I have a valid south african drivers license. We will be moving to Germany next year. Would you be able to tell me if my license will be valid in germany -can it be converted into a german one?

Thank you.

According to my research, you should be able to convert your South African license into a German one, without having to taking a theorhetical or practical test.

David

Hi I am from Australia and am living in Bonn Germany. Can anyone inform me on where I must go to convert my Australian driving license to a german license. many thanks Chris

hallo to all the Aussies,

Earlier this year most German states adopted a new rule of accepting Australian drivers licences for immediate conversion.

So depending on in which state you reside, you may not have to go through all of the rigmarole of tests and driving lessons etc. I simply went into the Führerscheinamt (in Frankfurt am Main the Ordnungsamt) with passport photos and evidence that I had done a first aid course plus verification from ADAC that my Aussie licence was genuine, paid the fee and got a letter 3 weeks later asking me to come in and pick up my new German Drivers licence.

I would recommend finding out from your local Führerscheinamt whether the direct exchange is possible in your state and verifying the documents you need.

Good luck!

Hi!
I am an EU citizen and I have driving licence for a car but I am interested to get a driving licence for motorbike. Does anybody of you know some good school which has classes in English?

Many thanks,
Marta

Hi Marta, I am also thinking about getting a driving license for a bike so if by chance someone has already told you where is the school with English language classes please let me know! Many thanks in advance.

Hello, Rabie. Did you get answer?
or any body have answer to Rabie?
I'm holding a Egyptian License also planning to travel to Germany for long term stay.

Hello, i am from Malaysia. Currently studying at Bonn. Is it possible for me to convert my license from Malaysia or international license issued by my country to German's license without having to taking a theorhetical or practical test.

Thank you in advance.

Hello, i am from Malaysia. Currently working at Zweibrucken.

Is it possible for me to convert my license from Malaysia or international license issued by my country to German's license without having to taking a theorhetical or practical test.

Thank you in advance.

Hi,
I am from India and I have an Indian license since 2002. I have been staying in Germany since the last 1 year 8 months. I got an International driving license from India when I went for 15 days vacations in October. Can I drive now with this International license. And how can I get a German driving license.

Hi, i have a question regarding obataining drivers Licenses in Germany. I have a dual citzenship (German/Australian and am looking to move to germany in a couple of Years. How would i go about obtaining a German License straight off with my german Citizenship? Would any of the instructions be in English? If not it's still fine because i can speak moderate German. Cheers, Ben!

Hi Vishal

I hope your licence query got answered. I am moving to Germany in June 1st week on Job Seeker Visa. Do I need to translate my international driving licence in German before I land or after I come to Germany? Is it mandatory to have Indian Internation licence translated to German for getting Germany Driving Licence? Please clarify.

Thanks!

Hi Vishal

I hope your licence query got answered. I am moving to Germany in June 1st week on Job Seeker Visa. Do I need to translate my international driving licence in German before I land or after I come to Germany? Is it mandatory to have Indian Internation licence translated to German for getting Germany Driving Licence? Please clarify.

Thanks!

Hi my name is chris, my drivers license is currently suspended in the US, I am moving to Germany before the suspension is up, will I have a problem obtaining a German license if I go thru all there requirements, will the US license get in the way
Thank you

Hi Chris,

It all depends on where your drivers licence in the States was issued. The article listed a couple of websites where you can research if your home state in the US has a reciprocal agreement with Germany.

Hi,
I hold an Indian driving licence which is in English. I have been living in Munich for more than 4 years now. Am I eligible for the transfer or should I apply for a fresh licence? Please advice.

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