Whether you have to follow the end to end process towards the driving license exam or you just have to attend the practical exam, or even you just need to convert your driving license to a German one without doing any of these steps, it depends on your home country's bilateral agreement with Germany.
If you already own a driver’s license from another country, check out how you can convert your driving license in Germany.
Below we list down the process of applying for a driving license and the process of learning to drive in Germany for the first time.
Register at a Fahrschule (driving school)
The driving schools or Fahrschule conducts the theoretical and practical exams in Germany. Therefore, you must register at a driving school to take these tests even if you have enough driving experience.
If you don't know how to drive, it is mandatory that you enroll in a driving school. You cannot be taught by a friend or family member.
As it is regulated by law, a new driving student must attend a Sonderfahrten (special training) which consists of a minimum of 14 theory classes and 12 practical classes. All of these sessions must be completed before you can apply for a theory or practical exams.
An experienced driver may not have to start from these steps. Even though you may have to attend a couple of practical sessions, a theory lesson in the classroom may not be mandatory for you. Which can save you a good amount of money as well as time! Therefore, please check with the Fahrschule if you need a classroom theory session or not.
Even though you may not have to attend the classroom theoretical sessions, you have to prepare for the theory exam. There are several apps out there in AppStore and PlayStore. Simply search for “fahren lernen” and you’ll get many suggestions.
You need to have an account and an activation / license key to use most of the apps; which the Fahrschule will provide you with a fee. It usually costs around 60€ - 80€ for a three months license. You can always extend it with an additional fee.
Eye test for the driver’s license
You must pass an eye test for most of the categories of driving licenses. The test can be done at an eye specialist or even at an opticals. You need to tell them that the test is for a driving license application.
The test costs around 10€ - 30€. However, this cost is usually covered by your health insurance if you submit the invoice.
Erste Hilfe Kurs / First aid training
All driving license applicants must complete an Erste Hilfe Kurs / First aid training before they can attend the theory exam. While ADAC and the German Red Cross are popular ones, there are many agencies out there conducting this course.
It is usually a full day (7-8 hrs) course at a training center detailing how to handle an emergency when you are out there driving. It costs around 40€ - 50€.
Even though the course is for the driver’s license applicants, anybody interested can join the course and we really recommend taking this course if you are not planning to get a driving license.
Apply for a learner’s driving license
Once you complete all of the above steps, it's time to apply for a learner’s driving license. Make an appointment at your respective driving license authority and submit your request in a prescribed form.
You only need to do this if you don’t have a driving license neither German nor foreign issued.
The learner’s driving license will cover you while you are taking your practical classes or learning to drive in general.
Theorieprüfung or Theoretical exam
As mentioned above, if you are a new driver, you need to complete 14 theoretical classroom sessions before you can apply for the theoretical exam. If you are an experienced driver, you must have completed all goals in the fahren lernen app and you have the green light in the app (you’ll get to know about it as soon as you register and open the app).
When you feel ready, your driving school will book an exam appointment for you at the driving license authority. In Germany, Tüf conducts the tests in many cities.
The theoretical exam can be attended in German, English as well as in French. There would be 30 multi choice questions, a total of 110 points. You need to score 100 points minimum. Or, you can only make 10 minus points. It could be one question of 10 points or two questions with 5 points or three questions with 3 points each.
The test costs around 22,50€. The cost may vary depending on the city you are attending the exam.
Praktische Prüfung or Practical test
You can attend the practical exam or praktische Prüfung only when you pass the theory exam.
The practical test is arranged by your driving school. You must attend the practical test within a year of passing the theory exam. During the test, your driving instructor takes the passenger seat beside you and the examiner gets into the back side of the car id you are applying for the category B driving license. For two wheeler exams, you have to ride the bike and the instructor and the examiner will follow you in a car. The instructions will be handed over to you though a wireless communication device fixed on your helmet.
The exam is only conducted in German. Therefore, consider attending a German language training before the driving exam. Otherwise, make sure you learn the basic words from your instructure. The Fahrschule usually provides you with a list of potential questions which you can learn before the practical exam.
During the exam, The examiner will ask you a couple of questions about the vehicle you are going to drive. Some examiners will not let you drive until you answer these basic questions correctly. Then you’ll be asked to drive in different real life scenarios including city traffic, 30 zone, autobahn, emergency braking, etc.
After the test, the examiner will inform you about the result. If you pass, a document with the result will be handed over to you. Note that, this is not the diving license and you should not drive before you get the original driving license.
You can then collect your driving license from the licensing authority. Nowadays, your driving license should already be printed and ready to collect on the same day. However, it may take upto four weeks before you can collect it depending on the rush.
Important before you start driving with your new driver’s license:
Even if you are an experienced driver who just converted your driving license to a German one, you have to undergo a probation period of 6 months. The person in the driving license authority will inform you about this while collecting your license.
If you are a new driver, you are under probation for the first two years of passing the German driving license exam. Which means, if you commit any violations especially drunk and drive (even in small amounts) during this period you may lose your license.