Driving License in Germany/License Conversion – Guide

You’re in Germany, you’ve heard people talk about its great roads and highways and you’re thinking of giving it a try, but you’re confused about Germany’s license regulations when it comes to your foreign license. Worry not, this blog will go over the various scenarios involving your license and how you can use it without any problems. 

Contents

Visiting as a tourist 

If you’re visiting Germany as a tourist then worry not as you can use your foreign license to travel around freely, in case your license is not in the Latin or Roman alphabet you can use your international driver’s license, if neither is in the Latin or Roman alphabet then you need to get it officially translated into German or English. 

Living in Germany as an Expat 

Once you get settled in Germany and get your residence registered i.e. your Anmeldung, you can use your foreign license for 6 months or 185 days after which you are required to get your license converted to a  German Driver’s License (der Führerschein). The downside of using your foreign license is that you can’t use car-sharing options as most agencies accept only EU-based licenses to rent out cars. So it is advantageous to get your license converted soon. 

To get your license converted there are 2 different scenarios based on where you are from. You can check your country’s status of conversion here. If your country allows for direct conversion then you do not need to redo the practical and theoretical driving tests. If your country does not allow for conversion then you will have to go through a slightly longer process and redo the tests. 

👉Validity of Foreign Driving License

For countries that allow Conversion 

Step-1: Apply for the license 

The process is fairly easy and quick to start off you need to personally apply for a German driving license at the driving license office (Führerscheinstelle) or the Road traffic licensing department (Straßenverkehrsamt) in whatever city you are registered in. You can make an appointment online or via phone. 

 If your license is a non-EU/EAA one then need to make an appointment for Umschreiben eines ausländischen Führerscheins.  

This process might sometimes differ based on where you’re registered, in case you have any doubts just search for Umschreiben eines ausländischen Führerscheins followed by the city. 

Step-2: Prepare your documents  

  • A biometric photograph, 35 x 45mm 
  • Your valid foreign driving license  
  • A German translation of that license 
  • Your passport or German ID card if you are already a German citizen (Personalausweis) 
  • Proof of how long you have had your current license (if this isn’t displayed on the license) 
  • Eye-test certificate (not older than two years, only needed when you wear spectacles or contacts)

Step-3: Attend the appointment 

All you need to do is attend the appointment and go through a personal interview. 

Step-4: Pick up your German License 

Now all you need to do is submit your foreign license in most cases and receive your German license. 

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For countries that don’t allow Conversion

Step by Step Conversion Guide

Step-1: Apply for the license 

With your foreign driver’s license and German residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel), keep in mind you need to have stayed in Germany for more than 185 days to be eligible for a license, go to the Führerscheinstelle in your city. They will then send you an application form with all of the required fields checked. 

Step-2: Join a Fahrschule 

Since you need to do a practical and theoretical test, you need to sign up with a driving school (Fahrschule), some even offer lessons in English. Without the proper education, it would be really tough to pass the tests. The driving schools also help you with the whole process right up to to the end. 

Step-3: First Aid Course and Eye Test 

The first-aid course (Erste-Hilfe Kurs) takes nine 45-minute sessions, and most cities have many providers that offer Saturday classes. You only need to get an eye test if you wear either spectacles or contacts. Many companies additionally provide the option of having the eye exam and image taken on the same day. If they don’t, any optician in your city can do an eye examination for you. A local first aid course is usually recommended by your driving school. 

Step-4: Prepare your documents  

  • A biometric photograph, 35 x 45mm 
  • Your valid Original foreign driving license  
  • A German translation of that license 
  • Your passport or German ID card if you are already a German citizen (Personalausweis) 
  • Proof of how long you have had your current license (if this isn’t displayed on the license) 
  • Proof of completion of a first aid course 
  • Eye-test certificate (not older than two years). 

Step-5: Make an appointment: 

Take the application and proof of completion of the first-aid course to the appropriate Rathaus. Please note that you are registered at the Rathaus, not the Führerscheinstelle. 

Step-6: Go to the Führerscheinstelle 

Once you get to the driving license office, your documents will be evaluated by the German Road Traffic Licensing Department, which will either approve or refuse your request. If your request is approved, they will notify the TÜV that you are qualified to proceed with the procedure. 

Step-7: Study and take the Theory tests 

To get to the practical test, the Theoretical theoretical test needs to be Passed first. 

Even though you may take the exam in English, don’t take it lightly because German traffic laws are quite precise and extensive and you can only lose up to 10 points before failing the test. A web app or a mobile app can help you prepare for the German driving license theory exam in English. 

Step-8: Driving Lessons 

A lot of driving schools require you to take a minimum amount of lessons even if you do know how to drive, they do this to check whether you can adapt to German rules and to also prevent you from failing the practical test which lowers their overall passing rates. Your driving school will schedule an appointment with the local TÜV if your driving instructor is certain that you will pass the practical exam. 

Step-9: Complete the Practical Driving Test 

Arrive early at the venue, be confident and calm, and apply what you’ve learned in class. The examiner will ask you a couple of questions before you get in the car and start the test which lasts for usually about 45 minutes. Upon passing the test the examiner will hand over a slip that certifies that you are allowed to drive in Germany 

Step-10: Pick up your German License 

After receiving authorization from the TÜV, the driving license office issues your license a few weeks after you’ve passed your exam. Before receiving your German license at the Führerscheinstelle, you have to hand in your foreign license without any compromise and pay a nominal fee. Your experience, unfortunately, drops down to 0 and you need to wait for a year before you can rent a car. In case you have a good driving record, get a summary from your previous car insurance company, that will allow you to lower the insurance cost if you are going to buy or own a car in Germany. 

Step-11: Nothing 🙂

Congratulations, hopefully, you are done with all the procedures and have received your driver’s license. Although many people think licenses are for a lifetime in Germany, it is only valid for 15 years. 

For more tips about the driving license in Germany and its conversion, check out the Video

👉Mandatory Theory & Practical class

Here you will find an overview of the mandatory hours for the respective driving license classes.

Cost For Conversion 

Steps 

Cost 

Registration at the Rathaus 

35 euros 

First Aid + Eye Exam 

40 euros 

Registering at a driving school 

250-400 euros 

Translation of Driving License 

50-60 Euros 

Theory app charges 

60 euros 

TÜV test charges (Theory + Practical) 

115 euros 

Comprehensive exam fees at the Driving school 

230 euros 

Driving Classes (14 total, each lasting 60 minutes) 

840 euros 


The total of which comes up to 1700 euros, keep in mind depending on the driving schools you choose and the city you live in, the charges can either reduce or increase. Above price are just a rough estimate. 

Hopefully, this blog helps you in your long and expensive journey to get a driver’s license. If you found this helpful consider subscribing to our newsletter for other helpful tips and blogs. 

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