Germany is known for its highways. On many routes, there is no speed limit. The highway network stretches all over Germany and you can quickly get from one city to the next (if there are no traffic jams). Whether you have your own car, rent a car, or use car-sharing, having a valid driver’s license as an expat in Germany is definitely a big advantage.
Driving in Germany with a foreign license
If you come from an EU or EEA country (European economic area) country, your driver’s license is valid until the expiry of its term of validity.
If you come from a third country, your foreign driver’s license is valid for 6 months. The start of the period is the registration of a residence in Germany. A translation must be included if the license is not in English.
To continue driving in Germany after 6 months, the foreign driver’s license must be exchanged for a German one. The process depends on the country in which the license was issued. In some cases, there is no need for a theoretical or practical exam. For example, when the minimum EU standards for driving tests are given.
If you are from a country where an exam is required, you need to pass the driving theory and practical test. The good thing is, you don’t have to take theory and driving lessons. You can decide on your own if and when you want to absolve the test.
Steps to get a German driver’s license
1. Choose the driver’s license class
In Germany, we have different driver’s license classes depending on what kind of license you want to achieve. Here is a rough overview of the different classes:
- A / A1 / A2 / AM / Mofa / B197: Motorcycle driver’s license
- B / B96 / BE / B197: passenger car driver’s license
- C / C1 / C1E / CE: Truck driver’s license
2. Prerequisite for the driving test in Germany
When registering for a driver’s license you have to fulfill some requirements.
- ID or passport
- Biometrical passport photo
- Eye examination
- First-aid course
3. Choose the right driving school in Germany
In Germany, there exists a variety of driving schools. It might be difficult to choose one if you don’t have any references. Project Expat can help you to find the right driving school for you. Check out our driving school service partners here.
Once you have chosen a driving school, you will receive a training plan and training materials. You may need to attend a certain number of theory lessons before you can take the exam.
The practical training consists of several driving lessons with a driving instructor. Night and highway driving are also included. Depending on your driving behavior and experience, you may have more or fewer driving hours.
4. Getting your driver’s license
The practical driving test takes place with your driving instructor and an examiner. If you pass the test, the examiner will issue you with a temporary driver’s license. Then you can get your permanent license at the traffic authority.
Tips for driving in Germany
When renting a car, most of the time you still get manual models. So, remember when booking to choose an automatic one if you feel more comfortable with it.
Germany is famous for its Autobahnen or motorways. There is generally no speed limit on highways. However, restrictions often apply when the roads pass cities. Therefore, always keep your eyes open and observe the speed limits. Furthermore, always drive in the right lane. You can pass other cars by using the left lane.
No drinking and driving
For novice drivers in the probationary period and drivers under 21, the limit of 0.0 per mille (0 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood) applies.
The general blood-alcohol limit for driving is 0.5 per mille (= 50 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, or 0,05%). Drivers who endanger traffic must expect to be punished from a blood-alcohol level of 0.3 per mille.
Watch out for pedestrians
In German cities, the speed limit is reduced to 50km/h. Often only 30 km/h is allowed to take pedestrians into account. If there is a pedestrian zone you are often not allowed to drive at all or only at walking speed. Here pedestrians have the right of way.
Driving a car in Germany has many advantages. On the one hand, you can explore the country very well by car and can reach even smaller villages and remote sights.
If you live in Germany for a longer period of time, a German driver’s license is indispensable. With a car, you can make your everyday life easier in many ways.
At Project Expat, we are happy to assist you in finding suitable English-speaking driving schools.
Do you want to buy a car and need a car insurance? Check out our service.
We from Project Expat are happy to support you with our network of excellent English-speaking partners until you feel more comfortable in the German language.
Explore our service categories here.