Driving License

After half a year every foreign driver´s license expires in Germany (except EU-Licenses)!

This is a new regulation valid for foreigners who come to Germany since January 1st, 1999. Driving with such an expired license is an offence against the law and may result in serious repercussions under criminal law. Additionally, in the event of an accident you will have no insurance coverage whatsoever. No temporary stay in your home country or new issue of an international drives license can alter your obligation to comply with this law.

To acpuire a German driving license, there are two ways:

  • Converting your driving license (Umschreibung)
  • Complete new German driving license

Converting your driving license (Umschreibung)

When ?
As your foreign driving license becomes invalid after 6 month, apply for German driving license not later than 3 month after your registration in Germany, to keep margin for the lengthy bureaucratic process.
To get a new, valid driving license, it will take you at least 4-5 weeks.

Where ?
You have to apply for a new driving license at Führerscheinstelle in your city.
The opening hours are usually in Munich Mo, Thu, Thu, Fr 0800-1200, We closed.

How ?
You need the following documents to submit your application at Führerscheinstelle:

  • Your present driving license
  • Your passport
  • Contract with driving school (Fahrschule)
    You have to choose the driving school before you submit your application. the choice of driving school should depend upon the following three factors:
    Price. Check for the rate of a lesson (Fahrstunde), charges for theory (Theorie-) and practical (Praxis-) test (Prüfungen) and registration (Anmeldung/Grundgebühr) fee. Some driving schools waive registration fee vor converting your license.
    Availability of English spoken trainer. Ask for it in case you need.
    Location. Should be easily reachable from your place You will get a paper from driving school whis is called Ausbildungsvertrag, basically a letter of contract.
  • Translation (Übersetzung) of your driving license
    For this, you have to go to ADAC Führerscheinübersetzungsstelle. The translation fee is € 35.- . Please take your Passport and original driving license with you. Make sure that your driving license has no overwriting and everything is clearly visible. Sometimes, the raise objections and refuse to translate if text is not easily readable. If everything is ok, they do the translation immediately
  • First aid certificate
    To get a first aid certificate, you will be required to attend the first aid course. This course is usually 6-8 hours long and you can also do this on Saturdays or Sundays. You can inquire about this course at any driving school. The course fee is about € 35,- . It's a useful course and also in english possible.(For example: “Allgemeine Sanitätshilfe” )
  • Vision test certificate (Sehtest)
    You can do this at any optician, ophthalmologist or TÜV.
    Fee is approx. € 7,-
  • The fee for application at Führerscheinstelle is at about € 45.-

Once you have submitted your application form, all you can do is wait. The Führerscheinstelle will send your driving license and other papers to the crime department (Landeskriminalamt) who will check for genuineness of your driving license. After all this bureaucratic procedure, they will inform the driving school to conduct the required tests. The whole process takes 4-6 weeks. Keep in touch with your driving school.

Tests ?
Transfer of driving license is based on the qualification requirements for the respective German license class and, thus, requires a written and practical driving test.

Theory test
You can give written test in one of several European languages including English. Inform your driving school about this in advance. The test is tough and you should give yourself at least 2 weeks time for preparation. You can buy the learning material at driving school.
The test consists of total 30 multiple answer questions out of which 20 are basic (Grundstoff) and 10 are for your driving class (Zusatstoff) and you get 30 mins time. One or many answers can be correct. The questions have a weight of 2,3,4 or 5 points and you are not allowed to have more than 10 error points to clear the exam. This exam is usually conducted every alternate week by the driving school.
Although most of the questions are logical, you may find difficulty in understanding some questions due to poor translation. Recall your school days and simply learn these questions by heart. Anyhow, it is possible to clear the exam with self-study and, therefore, it is not recommended to take theory lessons from driving school.

Practical test
You are allowed to appear in the driving test only after you have passed the theory exam. Some driving schools conduct both the exams on the same day while the others on separate days.
This test is quite tough and failure rate for the first attempt is approx. 30%. You are required to drive for 45 mins. in presence of TÜV examiner and any big mistake or sometimes several small mistakes would result in an failed attempt. There should be a time gap of 2 weeks beween two consecutive attempts and you will have to wait for 3 months if you fail three times in a row.
Although it is not mandatory to take driving lessons, a few driving lessons to get familiar with German peculiarities are recommended.

Then ?

Congratulations !

Once you have passed the tests, you will be given your German driving license either by your TÜV examiner or you will be given a certificate and will be asked to go to Führerscheinstelle to pick it up there.
As you are converting your license, the authorities will keep your original driving license. You may try to convince them to give your original license back but in most cases it goes in vain.
By the way, German driving license is valid for life. In case of loss, inform the issuing authority. You will be issued a new license for a nominal fee (new photos required).

Making a new driving license

The procedure for making a new driving license is more or less the same as converting the license with the following exceptions :

  • 12 + 2 theory lessons are mandatory
  • 12 practical lessons are madatory
    5 for motorway (Autobahn)
    4 for country road (Landstrasse)
    3 for night driving
  • you don't need to submit your original driving license and translation

Die Angaben erfolgen ohne Gewähr.