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How to get a driving license in Germany

Updated: Apr 1, 2023

The process for issuing or converting a driving license has different processes depending on where you live in Germany. However, expats moved to Germany can still use their existing driving license for a limited period of time, depending on where it was issued.

how to get a driving license in Germany? Driving exam in Germany

If you are planning to move to Germany for a longer period, you can use the driving license issued in your country for the first 6 months provided you have an IDP (International Driving Permit).

During this period, you may consider converting your driving license for a German driving license (Führerschein) if you'd like to keep driving after 6 months.

Can you use a foreign issued driving license in Germany

The validity of your foreign issued driving license in Germany depends on the country it was issued; whether it is an EU / EEA member state or a third country.

Validity of driving license issued by an EU / EEA member country

The driving license issued by an EU/EEA country is generally valid in Germany until it expires. This means that drivers who hold a valid driving license issued by a country within the European Union or European Economic Area can drive in Germany without any additional requirements. However, there are some exceptions to this rule that apply to certain categories of driving licenses.

The Federal Ministry of Transport in Germany has published an article that provides detailed information on the exempted categories. These include driving licenses issued for categories C1E, CE, D1E, and DE, which are used for driving commercial vehicles and buses. Drivers who hold driving licenses for these categories must meet additional requirements in order to drive in Germany.

For example, drivers with a category C1E license must have a valid medical certificate, while those with a category CE license must also complete a practical driving test in Germany. Similarly, drivers with a category D1E or DE license must have a valid medical certificate and complete a practical driving test in Germany in order to drive in the country.

It is important for drivers to be aware of these exemptions and requirements in order to ensure that they are legally allowed to drive in Germany. The article published by the Federal Ministry of Transport provides valuable information for drivers who hold driving licenses from EU/EEA countries and are planning to drive in Germany.

Driving license issued by non-EU / EEA country

If you have a driving license that was issued by a non-EU/EEA country, you can still use it in Germany for a period of up to six months from the date of your registration in the country. This means that you can legally drive in Germany using your foreign driving license during this initial six-month period without the need for any additional permits or requirements.

However, if your stay in Germany is expected to last between six months and one year, you may be eligible for special consideration that will allow you to continue using your foreign driving license for a period of up to 12 months. To be eligible for this special consideration, you must be able to provide proof that your stay in Germany will be longer than six months but less than 12 months.

If you are eligible for this special consideration, it is important to note that you will still need to meet the other requirements for driving in Germany, such as having a valid insurance policy and registering your vehicle with the appropriate authorities.

If you have questions or need more information about driving in Germany with a non-EU/EEA driving license, you can contact the local driving licensing authority for guidance. They can provide you with more detailed information about the specific requirements and restrictions that apply to your situation, as well as help you understand the steps you need to take to ensure that you can legally drive in Germany during your stay.

You may still have to carry a translation of your driving license even if it is in English. ADAC, Europe’s largest driving club can help you with the translation process.

Converting a driving license in Germany

There are certain conditions you must meet in order to be eligible to convert a foerign issued driving license. Few common ones are :

  • You must hold a valid residence permit.

  • Your current driving license must be issued by an EU / EEA country, or a country with an agreement with Germany on driving license conversion (Andorra, Australia, Canada, Croatia, French Polynesia, Israel, Japan, Namibia, New Zealand, San Marino, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea and Switzerland, Japan, Monaco, U.S.A.).

  • Your driver's license is valid at the time of application.

  • You were not a resident of Germany (defined as spending 185 out of 365 days in Germany) at the time you obtained the license.

The US driving license requirements could vary depending on the state. You might have to take a test depending on the state the driving license is issued. Read more

If your country is not listed above, you will have to take either a theoretical exam or a practical exam or both to get a German license. Check this list of countries and requirements listed by to see if you need to take the theory or a practical exam.

To convert your foreign driving license to a German driving license, you need to reach out to the local driving licensing authority. Since the offices are quite busy and not easy to walk in, get an appointment either online or by calling them and check the exact requirements for converting.

The driving institute near your area could also help you with this on a small fee.

Documents required for converting a driving license in Germany

  • Passport or Aufenthaltstitel

  • Biometric passport photo (not older than 6 months)

  • Your original foreign driving license (The license must be valid at the time of applying)

  • Driving license translation (if required)

  • Proof of completion of a first aid training course (optional)

  • Eye test certificate (optional)

  • Fitness certificate (applicable to category C / D)

In general, you cannot hold two driving licenses issued by different member states in the EU / EEA. Therefore, you might have to surrender your existing foriegin driving license when you get the German one.

Important in formation on driving in Germany

If you drive or ride a motor vehicle in Germany with a foreign driving license that is not recognized or no longer valid, it will be considered as driving without a license. This could result in penalties or legal consequences, depending on the severity of the offense. It is important to ensure that your foreign driving license is valid and recognized in Germany before driving in the country to avoid any potential issues or penalties.

In conclusion, obtaining a driving license in Germany requires patience, effort, and a significant amount of financial investment. It is important to carefully research the requirements and regulations, enroll in a reputable driving school, and dedicate time and practice to ensure success in passing the theory and practical exams. While the process may seem daunting, having a valid driver's license opens up a world of freedom and mobility in Germany and beyond. It is important to always prioritize safety and follow traffic rules and regulations while driving.

Some FAQ about driving license exam in Germany

What are the minimum age requirements to apply for a driving license in Germany?

The minimum age requirement to apply for a car driving license is 18 years old. For motorcycle licenses, it varies depending on the type and power of the motorcycle.

What are the steps involved in getting a driving license in Germany?

How many driving lessons do I need to complete to get a driving license in Germany?

What are the fees involved in getting a driving license in Germany?

How long does it take to get a driving license in Germany?

What is the passing rate for the driving test in Germany?

Can I retake the driving test if I fail?

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