Monthly Archives: October 2023

steps to get a german driver's license

Getting a Driver’s License in Germany: Everything You Need To Know

If you are settled in Germany and planning to make a life here, you may want to get a driver’s license, especially if you live in an area without proper access to public transportation. In this article, we are going to guide you through the steps you need to follow in order to obtain your German driver’s license or transfer the one you got from your home country.

First Aid Course

In Germany, taking a first aid course is a requirement for obtaining a driver’s license. Here are some important things to know about taking a first aid course for your driver’s license in Germany.

The first aid course typically covers topics such as assessing and providing assistance to injured individuals, CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), wound management, and how to handle various emergency situations. The course involves some practical exercises to ensure that you are capable of applying your knowledge in real-life situations and may also include information on the legal responsibilities of a first aider in Germany.

After successfully completing the course, you will receive a certificate. This certificate is a mandatory document for your driver’s license application, and you will need to submit it as proof of having completed the required training.

Taking a first aid course driver's license

Get Your Eyes Checked

Getting an eye exam for your driver's license in Germany

Before starting the driving license instruction in Germany, it is required by law to do an eye exam (as specified in driving license regulation 12 paragraph 2). Before the first hour of driving, you must present a vision certificate handed out by an eye doctor. Do not worry if you don’t pass the test: if you need glasses or a different kind of visual aid, it will be noted on your driving license and you will need to wear them compulsorily. The price both for the first aid course and the eyes test is usually 60 euros.

Before starting the driving license instruction in Germany, it is required by law to do an eye exam (as specified in driving license regulation 12 paragraph 2). Before the first hour of driving, you must present a vision certificate handed out by an eye doctor. Do not worry if you don’t pass the test: if you need glasses or a different kind of visual aid, it will be noted on your driving license and you will need to wear them compulsorily. The price both for the first aid course and the eyes test is usually 60 euros.

Getting an eye exam for your driver's license in Germany

Register at a Driving School

After having completed the first aid course, you can register at a driving school (Fahrschule). The driving school offers theory and practical lessons for a fee (the amount depends on each school). You can find English-speaking driving schools right here on Project Expat in our Car & Driving category!

Theoretical Exam

After having completed the required theory classes, you need to pass the theoretical test, which consists of 30 multiple-choice questions. Since 18 is the legal age in Germany to drive a car, you can take this test three months before your 18th birthday. Before registering for the exam, you’ll need to take at least 12 theory classes.

You must obtain no more than 10 minus points in order to pass. If you haven’t mastered the German language yet, don’t worry at all — the test is available in eleven foreign languages, including English, French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic or Russian, among others.

Driving Instructor theoretical lessons

Practical Driving Lessons

Autobahn driving in Germany

The first practical lessons typically begin at the same time as the theory course. However, you can decide when you want to start driving with your instructor. There is fundamental practical training at the outset. The number of hours you will need will be determined by your own abilities. Nevertheless, there is a minimum number of practical lessons everyone must attend in order to take the exam: five 45-minute lessons on federal or country roads, four lessons on the highway and three driving hours at night or at dusk. After these hours, you should consult your instructor to check whether you have enough practice and confidence to face the exam.

Practical Driving Test

The practical test can be taken after you and your instructor have determined that you are competent enough to drive a vehicle. The driving test lasts between 30 and 45 minutes in total, where they asses your driving skills in terms of safety and competence. Once you pass the practical test, you will obtain your driver’s license! Congratulations — you can drive in Germany!

The first practical lessons typically begin at the same time as the theory course. However, you can decide when you want to start driving with your instructor. There is fundamental practical training at the outset. The number of hours you will need will be determined by your own abilities. Nevertheless, there is a minimum number of practical lessons everyone must attend in order to take the exam: five 45-minute lessons on federal or country roads, four lessons on the highway and three driving hours at night or at dusk. After these hours, you should consult your instructor to check whether you have enough practice and confidence to face the exam.

Practical Driving Test

The practical test can be taken after you and your instructor have determined that you are competent enough to drive a vehicle. The driving test lasts between 30 and 45 minutes in total, where they asses your driving skills in terms of safety and competence. Once you pass the practical test, you will obtain your driver’s license! Congratulations — you can drive in Germany!

Autobahn driving in Germany

Transferring Your Foreign Driver’s License

If your driver license was granted by an EU Member State or a state that is a signatory to the EEA Agreement, it will be valid when you move to Germany until the end of its validity period. However, if you come from any other country, you can only use your foreign driver’s license for up to six months. If you want to continue driving after this period of time, you must apply for a German driver’s license. You can make a request for it at the driving license office (Führerscheinstelle) in your town hall or local authorities office. You will have to pay a fee, which varies depending on the city, ranging from 40 to 80 €.

To complete your license exchange, you will need to submit the following documents:

  • Proof of identify (passport or ID)
  • Proof of completion of a first-aid course
  • Your German address
  • Confirmation of your residency from the German Federal Foreign Office
  • Your original license to prove that it’s still valid
  • A certified translation of your foreign driver’s license
nighttime driving

Different Types of Licenses

Driving Steering Wheel

In Germany, as well as in many other European countries, there are 5 different driver’s license classes.

Generally speaking, the different classes are the following ones:

  • A → motorcycles and mopeds
  • B → cars
  • C → trucks
  • D → buses with 8 or more seats
  • L and T → tractors

If you want to drive a car, you will need a B license. With a B license, you are allowed to drive cars with a maximum permitted mass of no more than 3,500 kg and trailers or lorries up to 750 kg. If you want to drive a trailer weighing more than 750 kg, you must obtain a BE driving license, for which you will need additional driving lessons and a special exam.

When it comes to scooters or motorcycles, we refer to class A. Category AM allows you to drive two-wheel scooters with a maximum design speed of up to 45 km/h. Moreover, class A allows you to drive motorcycles with a maximum design speed of more than 45 km/h or a cubic volume of more than 50 cc.

If you want to find out more information about the different driving license categories, check out the official webpage of the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport here.

In Germany, as well as in many other European countries, there are 5 different driver’s license classes.

Generally speaking, the different classes are the following ones:

  • A → motorcycles and mopeds
  • B → cars
  • C → trucks
  • D → buses with 8 or more seats
  • L and T → tractors

If you want to drive a car, you will need a B license. With a B license, you are allowed to drive cars with a maximum permitted mass of no more than 3,500 kg and trailers or lorries up to 750 kg. If you want to drive a trailer weighing more than 750 kg, you must obtain a BE driving license, for which you will need additional driving lessons and a special exam.

When it comes to scooters or motorcycles, we refer to class A. Category AM allows you to drive two-wheel scooters with a maximum design speed of up to 45 km/h. Moreover, class A allows you to drive motorcycles with a maximum design speed of more than 45 km/h or a cubic volume of more than 50 cc.

If you want to find out more information about the different driving license categories, check out the official webpage of the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport here.

Driving Steering Wheel

German Driver’s License

It is commonly thought that German driving licenses do not have an expiration date. However, this is no longer true. In 2013, German driver’s licenses were limited to a 15-year validity period in accordance with EU regulations. Therefore, if you obtain a German driving license now, you must take into account that it will expire in 15 years.

A German driving license follows the EU regulations. It consists of a plastic card that is about the same size as a credit card. It contains information about you, including the vehicles you are permitted to drive. On the front of your card, you will find the following information: your picture, your full name, your date of birth, the issuing and expiration date, the issuing authority, the license number, your license class and your signature. On the back of the card, there is a chart with information on the different driving classes.

Woman with Drivers License

After the Führerscheinstelle checks that all the documents are up to date, you will be able to legally drive in Germany!

We hope that you found this guide useful and you feel ready to obtain your driver’s license. Good luck!

Raising Expat Kids how to make the transition easier

Raising Expat Kids: How to Make your Transition Easier

We understand that moving to a foreign country with children seems like a daunting task, but it should never stop you from embracing a new life abroad. In fact, raising expat kids abroad can be an immensely rewarding experience for them, enriching their lives with valuable lessons and unforgettable memories in a multicultural setting.

We want to guide you throughout this exciting journey, which is why in this article we will present useful information and valuable advice to help your entire family adapt to expat life. Keep reading!

1. The German Education System

First of all, we need to tackle the education system. We know that choosing the right school for your kids can be a significant decision, especially in a new country, but don’t worry – we’ve got your back!

Germany offers a comprehensive and structured education system that places a strong emphasis on academic excellence, personal growth and development. Expats will discover various education pathways, such as public schools, private schools, and international schools, each with its own benefits.

If you’re not sure about your decision, our education and language partners can help you explore the differences, pros, and cons of each option, helping parents make informed decisions based on their children’s needs, language proficiency, and long-term goals.

Moreover, education goes beyond textbooks and classrooms in Germany. Your kids will have the chance to embrace a new culture, make friends from around the world, and gain a broader perspective on life.

2. Learning the Language as Expat Kids

Learning German is incredibly important for expat kids as it plays a big role in helping them fit into their new surroundings. Even if they attend international schools where English is spoken, knowing German can make a big difference.

Firstly, being bilingual means they can make friends with local children more easily. Imagine how exciting it would be to talk and play with kids from Germany, and how much they can learn about the country and its culture by speaking their language!

2. Learning the Language

Learning German is incredibly important for expat kids as it plays a big role in helping them fit into their new surroundings. Even if they attend international schools where English is spoken, knowing German can make a big difference.

Firstly, being bilingual means they can make friends with local children more easily. Imagine how exciting it would be to talk and play with kids from Germany, and how much they can learn about the country and its culture by speaking their language!

Moreover, understanding German  helps kids connect with the community and feel like they belong. They can join in local events, festivals, and activities without feeling left out. It’s like being part of a big family, where they can share experiences and create wonderful memories.

Additionally, being able to speak German opens up a whole new world of cultural understanding. They can read books, watch TV shows, and understand jokes in German, which makes them feel more integrated and accepted.

As parents, you can play a significant role in supporting your kids’ language journey. Encourage them to practice speaking German at home, whether it’s through simple conversations, games, or fun language learning apps. It’s essential to create a positive and exciting environment for them to learn.

At Project Expat, we have different partners who offer language courses that cater to your needs. They are tailored to make language learning fun, engaging, and effective. Their teams of experienced language instructors understands the unique needs of expat kids and create a positive and nurturing learning environment. Find them in our Language & Education category!

3. Adjusting to a New Culture

Adjusting to a new culture can be both an exciting and challenging experience for expat kids. As they step into German schools and society, they may encounter cultural differences that might affect them, but don’t worry – we will offer some practical strategies to help them adapt smoothly.

Cultural differences can be seen in everyday things, like greetings, mealtime customs, and even how people express emotions. Understanding these differences is the secret to making new friends and feeling comfortable in their new environment. Encourage your kids to observe and learn from their peers and teachers. This will not only help them adapt to new customs but also foster a sense of curiosity and open-mindedness towards diverse cultures.

Educating your children about the history, traditions, and customs of their new country can also foster a sense of curiosity and appreciation for the culture. Visit museums, attend local festivals, and explore famous landmarks together. Learning about the rich heritage of Germany can help them feel more connected to their new home.

Furthermore, you should be patient with your children as they navigate these differences: effective communication is key. Sometimes, they might feel a bit overwhelmed or unsure, but with your love and support, they’ll feel more at ease in no time.

4. Maintaining Cultural Identity

It’s also essential to maintain their cultural identity. While adapting to a new culture is exciting, it’s equally important for your kids to hold onto their traditions and values. Encourage them to share their customs with others, whether it’s through storytelling, cooking traditional dishes, or celebrating special holidays from home.

Building a bridge between two worlds can be a beautiful experience. Help your children find a balance between embracing German culture and maintaining their cultural roots. This way, they can form strong connections with both their new friends and their family back home!

4. Maintaining Cultural Identity

It’s also essential to maintain their cultural identity. While adapting to a new culture is exciting, it’s equally important for your kids to hold onto their traditions and values. Encourage them to share their customs with others, whether it’s through storytelling, cooking traditional dishes, or celebrating special holidays from home.

Building a bridge between two worlds can be a beautiful experience. Help your children find a balance between embracing German culture and maintaining their cultural roots. This way, they can form strong connections with both their new friends and their family back home!

5. Family-friendly German Culture

Germany is well known for having a strong family culture, boasting a wide array of activities and events that adjust to the needs and interests of children. From the moment you arrive, you’ll notice the emphasis on providing a safe and nurturing environment for your little ones.

When you arrive in Germany, you’ll find lots of playgrounds and parks in every city and town. These places are not like regular playgrounds with swings and slides; they are full of fun and excitement! Kids can climb, slide, and play with other children from the area, making new friends and connecting with their new culture!

Beyond the playgrounds, Germany hosts many family-oriented events and attractions that will fill your weekends and vacations with excitement. From cheerful Christmas markets to fairy tale festivals, there’s always something captivating happening that brings families together.

Last but not least, exploring Germany’s natural beauty with your family is an adventure like no other. The country is dotted with breathtaking landscapes, including majestic mountains and wonderful lakes. Whether you’re hiking through the Black Forest, sailing on the Baltic Sea, or cycling along the Rhine River, each excursion is an opportunity to bond as a family and create cherished memories!

6. Family-friendly Policies

Germany is famous for its family-friendly policies, which aim to support and empower families in various aspects of their lives. These policies are designed to create a nurturing and positive environment for families, ensuring the well-being and development of children while also enabling parents to balance work and family responsibilities. Here are some key aspects of German family policies:

  • Parental leave: Germany offers generous parental leave to both mothers and fathers. After the birth of a child, mothers can take up to 14 weeks of mandatory maternity leave, and they can choose to take additional parental leave for up to three years. Fathers can also take paternity leave, and both parents have the option of sharing parental leave to support work-life balance.
  • Childcare support: Germany provides a well-developed childcare system to help parents with young children. Families have access to various childcare options, including daycare centers (Kitas), nursery schools (Kindergärten), and childminders. The government subsidizes childcare costs to make it affordable for parents.
  • Child benefits: To help families financially, Germany offers child benefits known as “Kindergeld.” This monthly allowance is provided for each child, and it’s available to all families, regardless of their income. The amount of Kindergeld depends on the number of children in the family.
  • Family allowance: Families with low incomes can receive additional financial support through “Elterngeld,” which is a parental allowance to help cover living expenses during parental leave.

7. Building a Support Network

Socializing and building a support network is crucial for expat families. It’s like creating a warm and welcoming safety net, offering a sense of belonging and comfort away from home. As expat parents, you’ll find that connecting with other families becomes a lifeline in this new adventure.

One of the best ways to build your support network is through school events and activities. Schools often organize gatherings, parent-teacher meetings, and cultural celebrations, providing the perfect opportunity to meet other parents and bond over shared experiences. You’ll find that many families are also expats, so you can exchange stories, advice, and even some laughs about the joys and challenges of raising children in a foreign place!

7. Building a Support Network

Socializing and building a support network is crucial for expat families. It’s like creating a warm and welcoming safety net, offering a sense of belonging and comfort away from home. As expat parents, you’ll find that connecting with other families becomes a lifeline in this new adventure.

One of the best ways to build your support network is through school events and activities. Schools often organize gatherings, parent-teacher meetings, and cultural celebrations, providing the perfect opportunity to meet other parents and bond over shared experiences. You’ll find that many families are also expats, so you can exchange stories, advice, and even some laughs about the joys and challenges of raising children in a foreign place!

Beyond school, community gatherings play a significant role in fostering connections. Participate in local events, festivals, and neighborhood gatherings to meet families from diverse backgrounds.

Joining social clubs or organizations can be another fantastic way to expand your support network. There are various clubs dedicated to specific interests or hobbies, such as sports, arts, or language exchange. These clubs provide a common ground to meet like-minded families and create lasting friendships based on shared passions!

In conclusion, raising expat kids in Germany might be difficult at first, but it offers a world of possibilities. With family-friendly policies, excellent education, and a welcoming environment, your children will thrive and build lasting memories.

We hope this article helped you gain insights into family life in Germany and the exciting journey that awaits you.

Embrace the adventure, connect with the community, and create cherished memories as you raise your expat kids in this enriching and welcoming country!

Studying at a German university

How to Study at a German University in 8 Steps

If you’re thinking about studying at a German university, you’ve come to the right place. Due to its wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs, Germany is one of the most popular destinations for foreign students. However, it can be complicated to find the right university and follow the necessary steps that you need to study in the country. If you are a bit overwhelmed about the whole process: don’t worry, you have come to the right site. In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about higher education in Germany for international students step by step. Keep reading!

1. Application process for a German university

First of all, you need to find a university and study program that are both in line with your interests. Considering there are many different fields of study in Germany, this should be quite simple.

Then, you will have to contact the international office of the German university you have chosen to see if you match the requirements for admission. In order to be admitted by a German university, you must have a higher education entry qualification (called Hochschulzugangsberechtigung) or an equivalent.

Normally, after taking an initial preparation course, international students with degrees from outside the European Union may need to take a university entrance examination. This will depend on each university and study program. However, meeting the standards for admission is not enough. As you can imagine, the process of selecting students can be competitive. In Germany, the high school grade point average is used to determine admission to universities. Therefore, the higher your grade is, the better your chances are of getting into the university of your choice. For this reason, we highly recommend you apply for different universities at once.

2. Language requirements

Given that there are very few undergraduate courses offered in Germany that are totally taught in English, we recommend you start learning German if your goal is to study at a German university. Even though there are some higher education courses taught in other foreign languages, the most common scenario is that universities require a certain level of proficiency in German.

We know that learning German is a challenging task, but if you work hard for it, you’ll be fluent sooner than you think. Don’t lose hope!

2. Language requirements

Given that there are very few undergraduate courses offered in Germany that are totally taught in English, we recommend you start learning German if your goal is to study at a German university. Even though there are some higher education courses taught in other foreign languages, the most common scenario is that universities require a certain level of proficiency in German.

We know that learning German is a challenging task, but if you work hard for it, you’ll be fluent sooner than you think. Don’t lose hope!

3. Consider your financial resources

Making sure you have the necessary financial means to live and study in Germany is the next stage. According to the current law, every foreign student who is not an EU or EEA citizen is required to have adequate financial resources to support their stay in Germany while they are studying. In order to enroll as an international student in Germany, you must have a minimum of 11,000 euros that must be deposited into a German bank account.

4. German university deadlines

As always, you should keep in mind all the bureaucratic procedures to enroll at a university. German university applicants have the option of beginning their studies in the winter or the summer. Deadlines can change depending on the higher education institution or study program. Always double-check the dates and get started on your application as soon as you can.

4. German university deadlines

As always, you should keep in mind all the bureaucratic procedures to enroll at a university. German university applicants have the option of beginning their studies in the winter or the summer. Deadlines can change depending on the higher education institution or study program. Always double-check the dates and get started on your application as soon as you can.

5. Student visa

After receiving the admission letter from your new university, you should apply for your student visa. You only need a German student visa if you’re an international student from a non-EU or non-EEA country. Here’s a simplified breakdown of the steps you need to follow if you want to apply for a visa:

  • Collect all the required documents, including your admission letter and proof of financial resources.
  • Visit your local German embassy or consulate, schedule an appointment, and submit your application along with required documents.
  • Be prepared for an interview and provide biometric data if needed.
  • Pay the visa fee.
  • Wait for processing, which can vary in duration.
  • Upon approval, you’ll receive a visa sticker in your passport, granting you entry and stay in Germany for your studies.

6. Accommodation

Congratulations! You have been admitted as a student in Germany and have your student visa now. It’s time to find a place to live. Although the cost of housing for international students in Germany is not high, it is usual for international students to look for more convenient and affordable options. Some students prefer university accommodation (such as residences or dorms) while others might want to share a flat. This is completely up to you, both options sound like so much fun!

6. Accommodation

Congratulations! You have been admitted as a student in Germany and have your student visa now. It’s time to find a place to live. Although the cost of housing for international students in Germany is not high, it is usual for international students to look for more convenient and affordable options. Some students prefer university accommodation (such as residences or dorms) while others might want to share a flat. This is completely up to you, both options sound like so much fun!

7. Cost of studying

If you’re planning to study in Germany, we are sure that you are wondering how much it will cost. We have good news: since the majority of German universities are public, you simply need to pay an administration fee, which typically ranges from 100 to 350 euros per semester. This charge pays for both your enrollment and the services of the student organization. All international students, regardless of their country of origin, are eligible for the free tuition scheme in Germany.

8. Orientation and Integration

Once you’ve secured admission, a student visa, and accommodation, it’s time to focus on integrating into your new environment. Germany offers orientation programs and support services for international students. These programs can be incredibly helpful in acclimating to a new culture, understanding academic expectations, and making friends!

Consider participating in language courses and cultural exchange activities. Join student clubs and organizations to meet fellow students who share your interests. Embrace the local culture, try traditional German cuisine, and explore the vibrant cities and picturesque landscapes of this diverse country!

8. Orientation and Integration

Once you’ve secured admission, a student visa, and accommodation, it’s time to focus on integrating into your new environment. Germany offers orientation programs and support services for international students. These programs can be incredibly helpful in acclimating to a new culture, understanding academic expectations, and making friends!

Consider participating in language courses and cultural exchange activities. Join student clubs and organizations to meet fellow students who share your interests. Embrace the local culture, try traditional German cuisine, and explore the vibrant cities and picturesque landscapes of this diverse country!

And this is it! If you follow all the steps above, you will be able to enter a German university without great difficulty. We hope that you found this article useful and that we’ll see you around Germany studying!