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The rules for getting a driving license in Germany vary depending on where you come from. Find out what to do before you hit the road.
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There are strict rules for driving in Germany, and you are not allowed to drive without supervision unless you are over 18 - even if you have a driving license in your home country. Keep reading to find out what you need to do to change your driver's license or get a new German driver's license. Sections include:
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If you want to drive in Germany by car, you need a driving license B. In Germany you are only allowed to drive if you are older than 18. You must always have a driving license (
There are complex rules for foreign driving licenses – some expats need to change their driving license in Germany, and some need a new driving license to hit the road. In many cases, however, those staying temporarily in Germany do not need a new permit.
If you are registered as a driver in Germany and are over 18 years old, you can apply for a new driving license through your local driving license authority (
In cases where the driving license issued by your home country is not recognized in Germany, you may need to take driving lessons and pass both the written and practical German driving test.
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Passing a driving test in Germany is not as difficult as in some other countries, but the tests are among the most expensive in the world. There are two testing organizations in Germany: DEKRA and TÜV.
Drivers in Germany who have never held a driving license before must register for lessons at a driving school (
). Before you take the exam, you must apply for a driver's license. Once your application has been approved, your driving school will register you for the exam.
In Germany you have to pass two tests: first you have to pass the theory exam, followed by the practical exam. In addition to the examinations, you must have had an eye examination and a first aid course in the last two years (
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The age at which you can take your theory test depends on the type of vehicle you want to drive. To drive a car, you are allowed to use it three months before you turn 18. to take
Birthday. You must also take 12 hours of theory lessons (6 if you already have a licence).
You take the exam on a computer, consisting of picture, text and video questions related to traffic signs and driving situations. Fortunately for internationals, the theory test is available in eleven different languages. If you are taking the exam for a B driving licence, the exam consists of 30 questions, weighted with two to five error points for wrong answers. You cannot score more than ten fouls and can only foul one five-point foul.
Theory exams in Germany require a registration fee of €60-70 plus an exam fee of €22.49 (from January 2021) - check with your driving school how to pay this fee. When taking the exam, you must bring your identity card or passport, training certificate from a driving instructor and proof of payment. The result of the theory test is valid for one year - if you do not pass the practical exam during this time, you must take it again.
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If you have passed the theory test, you can take the practical driving test. It can cost between €160-250 for the registration of the practical test and €117 for the test itself. You can take the test one month before you turn 18
A practical exam takes an average of 45 minutes. At the start, the inspector will usually confirm your identity and have you carry out a safety check on the vehicle, such as checking the oil level in the engine. Then you have to drive - the examiner assesses your driving skills carefully and calmly. They also assess your basic skills in driving, parking, steering, appropriate speed, awareness of traffic and other road users, motorway driving and other skills. It can be a nerve-wracking experience, but there are many ways you can try to stay calm.
Not every mistake you make will result in a fault, because the sensor takes into account the general impression of your driving style. However, there are certain errors that your examiner will automatically reject you for. Among other things:
You will see the test results immediately and if you pass, the examiner will give you your driver's license.
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If you fail the test, you can take it two more times and only need to go two weeks between each attempt. But if you fail the third test, the intervals between them will be longer. There is no limit to how many times you can take the practical driving test.
After passing the driving test, you will receive your German driving license and you can drive in Germany. However, if you are licensed for the first time, you will be on probation for the first two years.
During the probationary period, you are not allowed to drive after consuming alcohol. You can also get extra points on your driving license if you break a traffic violation. You can be fined, have an extended probationary period or have your driving license revoked for repeated "bad behaviour".
To get a German driving license you must take driving lessons at a registered driving school. With Farschule-123, you can search for the nearest driving school and filter by the type of vehicle you want to learn to drive, and it is also possible to find theory lessons in a number of foreign languages. Each driving school can set its own prices, so they vary from country to country. Driving schools must be transparent about prices; costs must be announced and observed at the company's premises.
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There is no official minimum number of hours you must take before applying for a driving test, but your driving instructor must assess that you can drive safely. In addition, practical lessons should cover a variety of situations, including driving in the field, at night and on the highway.
If you are short on time, many driving schools offer intensive courses where you can quickly get your driving license within a few weeks. These courses usually last for two weeks, with full-day courses - they can even include accommodation and meals, but this will increase the cost.
If you have an EU, EEA or international driving licence, it is valid in Germany and you do not need to have it exchanged or translated. But when it expires, you need a new German driver's license. If your driving license comes from a country outside the EU or EEA, it is usually valid in Germany for the first six months. After that you have to get a German driver's license. This also applies to permits issued in the following countries:
If the driver's license is issued outside the EU/EEA, you can drive it in Germany for the first six months. This starts when you register your home address with the German authorities. In some cases, you need to translate the driver's license into German. In that case, it must be translated by a German, an internationally recognized car association or a sworn translator.
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This works slightly differently if you have a UK driving licence. In that case, you convert it to an EU/EEA license within six months. It is currently possible to convert a British driving license into a German driving license without a theory or practical test.
If you need to change your driver's license, it's better to do it sooner rather than later. If you wait until you have lived in Germany for more than three years, you will have to complete the training and tests for a new driver's license from scratch. However, if you redeem it before this deadline, you must apply to your local driving license office (
There is usually a fee to be paid, which varies between authorities. In Hamburg, for example, it can cost €43-73.
If you have a German driving licence, it is valid for 15 years. After this time you must renew it. To renew your driving license you must be registered in a German municipality. Simply make an appointment with your local driving license authority four weeks before the expiry date - you don't need to retake any part of the driving test to renew your licence. Be sure to bring your current driver's license and a recent passport photo.
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The extension usually costs around €24 and takes about four weeks to arrive. It is not possible to renew foreign driving licences. Instead, you have to change it to a German one.
If your driving license is lost or stolen, you must apply for a new driving licence. For stolen driving licences, you must contact the police to report it. You will need a theft report, which you will need to take to your local licensing authority, plus proof of identity and a biometric passport photo. It should take about four weeks
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