As I originally come from an EU country, the process of getting a driving license in Germany was relatively easy for me.

In addition to that, it allowed me to use my existing driving license for quite a long time. But more on that later.

This article gives you a comprehensive overview of all scenarios. The reason is that Germany has different rules in place for some other countries as well.

A few countries do have a special agreement with Germany in place. Thanks to it, you can convert your existing license into a German driving license without having to take a test.

Citizens of all other countries have to take more effort to obtain a driving license in Germany. Continue reading to learn more about the details of the different rules and regulations in Germany.

Topics in this article

Driving in Germany with foreign driving license >>
Exchange driving license in Germany >>
Obtaining a driver’s license in Germany >>
Cost of driving license in Germany >>
How long it takes to get a driving license >>

Key takeaways

  1. You can drive in Germany with a foreign driving license. Conditions apply.
  2. There are 19 countries having a special agreement with Germany when it comes to driving license.
  3. If you want to convert your foreign driving license you have to be registered in Germany.
  4. The theoretical exam for the conversion of your driving license is called Theorieprüfung.
  5. The costs for obtaining a driving license in Germany may vary a lot.
  6. A driving license class B in Germany could cost around 2.000 euros or more.
  7. It takes several months to prepare for the driving license exam in Germany.
Driving in Germany with a foreign driving licence

Can I drive in Germany with a foreign driving license?

I’ll answer that question right from the start.

Yes, you can drive in Germany with a foreign driving license. As a rule of thumb, you can use any international drivers license in Germany.

A well-known website states that you may use any driving license in Germany for up to six months if you are settling in Germany.

For some driving licenses, you may need to carry an official translation with you. By doing so, German authorities will accept your license during this short period of time.

As you might have already guessed, there are different rules and regulations for different countries. And this is what I am about to explain in the following chapters.

How long is a driver’s license from another EU country valid in Germany

Driving licenses from EU citizens and citizens of countries that are in the EEA – the European Economic Area – can initially be used for five years. This states BMVI, the Federal Ministry of Digital and Transport.

If you meet the appropriate health and eyesight requirements, you may extend the validity of your driver’s license even by another five years.

This applies to driving licenses within the following categories: C1, C1E, C, CE, D, DE, D1, and D1E.

Non-EU driving licence in Germany

Non-EU driving license in Germany

For Non-EU countries, different rules may apply, which I will explain in the next rows:

Driving license from UK in Germany

The UK, as a former EU member state, still has a special agreement in place. This states that if you settle down in Germany, you have to apply for an EU license after six months at the latest. Your residency in Germany is considered established under driving license law if you live here for at least 185 days a year.

Currently, owners of a UK driving license are free to convert theirs to a German one, without taking a theoretical or practical test.

International drivers license Germany: Countries with special exchange agreements

There are 19 countries in total that have a special exchange agreement with Germany.

This means that if you stay less than six months, you don’t have to convert your existing license to a German driving license.

You can even extend the validity up to 364 days at “Führerscheinstelle” in Germany.

The countries with special agreements are:

  • Andorra
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • the Channel Islands
  • Croatia
  • French Polynesia
  • Isle of Man
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Monaco
  • Namibia
  • New Caledonia
  • New Zealand
  • San Marino
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland
  • and the USA

On the website of the “Bundesministerium der Justiz”, you can find a comprehensive overview of all countries and the regulations that apply for:

  • the different US states
  • Canadian provinces
  • and Australian territories

Not all of those follow the same rules, so please make sure to take a second look.

Driving licence from India in Germany

Driving license from India in Germany

As a citizen of India, you don’t need to convert your drivers license for a period of up to six months. Please make sure that you can provide a German translation alongside your existing drivers license from India.

In case you want to stay longer than six months, the website of the German missions in India states that you have to pass a full theoretical and practical driving test.

After passing both tests, you may exchange your license for a German license.

International drivers license Germany: Citizens of other countries

The website of the city of Munich published a full overview of all countries worldwide that helps you understand which rules apply to your country in specific. 

How long is a non-EU driver’s license valid in Germany? 

With some exceptions, a non-EU driving license is usually valid for six months after entry to Germany. If you want to convert your existing license when you are settling down in Germany, you often will have to take either both or one of the theoretical and practical driving tests in Germany.

Driving licence conversion in Germany

How to exchange a driving license in Germany?

In this chapter, I’d like to explain how you can exchange an existing driver’s license in Germany, alongside the specific requirements.

Depending on where you come from and which German federal state you are living in, the procedures and rules may vary a bit.

Please make sure to double-check with your local driving licensing authority called “Führerscheinstelle” first.

In order to learn more about how they operate in your federal state.

Requirements

Here are the initial requirements that you always will have to fulfill to be able to convert your driving license in Germany:

  • Registration in Germany: You need to be fully registered in Germany and own a valid residence permit
  • Driver’s license: If you are from the EU, EEA, UK, or any other country that has special agreements in place with Germany, you may exchange most of your licenses without having to take a test. Please bear in mind that there may be different regulations in place for Australian territories, Canadian provinces, or US states. If you are from any other country, you may need to pass either one or both of the practical or theoretical exams first
  • Validity of your driving license: Your existing license needs to be valid at the time of application. You also can’t be a resident in Germany (for 185 or 365 days) at the time you obtained the license

Countries with special agreements for exchange of driving license in Germany

As already mentioned, there are some countries with special agreements regarding the driving license conversion in Germany.

  • UK licenses can be converted into an EU driving license after six months of residence in Germany without having to take a test
  • 19 countries (see above) do have special agreements in place. This allows their citizens to convert their valid driving licenses into a German one after six months or an extended period of 364 days.
Documents required for the conversion of the driving licence

How to apply for the exchange of your drivers’ license in Germany?

You will always need the following required documents to convert your driving license to a German driving license:

Passport or other ID

You need to provide a valid identity card or passport

Recent biometric photo

You will have to bring a recent biometric photo with you which will be used for your new German driving license.

If you need to know more about the requirements of biometric pictures, I recommend you take a look at this guide.

Valid existing driver’s license

Bring your existing driver’s license with you. If you are from outside the EU or EEA, please make sure that your license is still valid at the time of exchange. In some cases, for example, if you own an Indian driving license, you also need to provide a translated version of it.

Anmeldebescheinigung or certification of registration

You need to show a valid registration certificate for Germany. This confrims that you are officially registered in Germany.

If you’d like to learn more about obtaining this certification, please read my article:

Registration in Germany [Anmeldung] Seen by a Foreigner

Applying for A, A1, A2, AM, B, BE, L, or T driving licenses

For those specific types of licenses, you will need to show proof of completing a first aid training course alongside an eye test certificate, which can be obtained at any optician or ophthalmologist (eye doctor).

Driving licenses from categories C and D in Germany D

Please also provide the additionally required physical health or fitness test certificate. This “Gesundheitsuntersuchung” can be made at any GP (general practitioner).

Theory & Practical exam for the drivers license conversion in Germany

Let’s say you are in a situation where it’s required by law that you take either one or both of the theoretical or practical exams.

In this case please make sure to check in with a local driving school, called “Fahrschule”.

They can tell you more about the specific requirements to take an exam in Germany.

The theoretical exam, very often called “Theorieprüfung” in Germany, is done at the driving school. Depending on the type of driving license that you apply for, the questions will vary.

There is some training material available that you can order, to get some help for the practical exam:

The TÜV Süd even allows you to take the exam in one of 12 foreign languages according to their website. 

To be able to take the practical test in Germany for your driving license, you will have to take at least a required minimum amount of driving lessons at your “Fahrschule”.

The amount of hours highly depends on the type of “Führerschein” (drivers license in Germany) you are planning to get.

What does a driving licence cost in Germany

Cost of driving license exchange in Germany

If you plan to convert your driving license into a German driver’s license, there are some costs involved.

You will have to pay 35 Euros to convert your existing license from en EU or EWR country into a German one without having to take a test.

If you had to take a test, and you come from a different foreign country, the costs are at 42.60 Euros. FOr more details you can check out here.

Additional costs for drivers license in Germany

Additional costs only apply if you have to take the practical and/or theoretical exam alongside driving lessons first.

The costs may vary from town to town and even from driving school to driving school.

I can only recommend comparing prices first and maybe taking the chance to talk to someone who already went to a driving school of your choice.

Some schools may seem to be cheaper than others but may ask you to take more practical hours.

Obtaining a driver’s license in Germany

If you want to obtain a driver’s license in Germany, please make sure to follow the required steps.

Step 1

Make sure you have all your documents ready before going to your appointment at “Führerscheinstelle”.

Step 2

Especially in times of COVID-19, please make sure that you register for an appointment ahead. It may take a couple of weeks to be able to go to “Führerscheinstelle” (local driving license office).

Step 3

Bring all required documents with you and make sure that you are able to pay for the driving license exchange in Germany either in cash or by card.

Cost of driving license in Germany

If you are in the situation where you have to take both, the theoretical and practical exams to get a valid driving license in Germany, the costs vary depending on the “Führerscheinklasse”, the class of your driving license.

There is one caveat actually: the costs can vary a lot from driving school to driving school.

But I was able to find a good source where everything was explained in detail, where you can take a look in case the basic information provided here is not enough.

Class AM

AM is the driving license for small motorbikes. You have to be at least 16 years old. The costs vary between 500 – 700 euros in total for lessons as well as the theoretical and practical exams.

Class A1

This driver’s license is for all motorbikes up to a cubic capacity of 125. The total costs may vary between 1,000 and 2,000 euros. You have to be at least 16 years old.

Class A2

The cost for an A2 license which allows you to drive motorbikes up to an engine power of 35 KW (roughly 47,6 horsepower) is between 1,000 – 2,000 euros. The minimum required age is 18.

Class A

This is a license for motorbikes with a top speed of more than 45 km per hour. The costs sit approximately between 1,000 and 2,000 euro. The entry age for motorbike beginners is at 24 years and for those who already own class A2 for at least two years at the age of 20.

Driving license class B Germany

The driving license class B in Germany is most likely the standard license in Germany. It allows you to drive a car.

Regarding the costs, they will most likely be close to 2,000 Euros, if not above that price depending on how many hours you will need.

There are two subclasses that I will explain to you briefly here.

Driving license Class B96 Germany and Class BE

For both classes, you will need to have the “Führerscheinklasse B” first.

Class B96 allows you to drive small trailers with a total load of 4,250 kilograms including your car. The costs for class B96 are between 300 – 500 euros.

Class BE allows you to drive trailers or cars with a total load of 3,500 kilograms.

The costs for the driving license BE are between 800 – 1,000 Euros.

C classes (Class C1)

All C classes are for driving bigger trucks, beginning with the “Führerscheinklasse C1”, which allows you to drive trucks up to a total load of 7,500 kg.

As a prerequisite, you do need to own a class B driver’s license. The costs for that license are most likely between 1,500 and 2,000 euros.

Driving license Class C1E Germany

This class is specifically for those who want to drive trucks or “LKW” in Germany with 12,000 kg max. Again, you have to own a valid driver’s license C1. The costs are again around 2,000 euros.

Driving busses in Germany with „Führerscheinklasse“ D1 and D1E

The prices for both driving licenses are relatively high and lie between 4,000 and 5,000 euros.

As soon as you obtained this license, you are allowed to transport people without an additional trailer (D1) or with an additional trailer (D1E) attached to the bus.

How long does it take to get a driving license in Germany?

Usually, it will take you several months to finish your driver’s license in Germany.

Typically, you have 14 theoretical lessons, even if you can attend one lesson a week, it will already take you 14 weeks to accomplish that.

In addition to that, you will have to take many practical lessons.

For example, for the class B driving license, you will at least need 30 practical lessons according to the “Verkehrswacht” website.

Conclusion

As you can see, getting a driver’s license in Germany is sometimes not very easy and may take some time. Maybe you are lucky, and you can exchange or convert your existing license without taking a theoretical or practical exam.


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About the Author

Alex

Alex works in product management and has been living in Germany for more than 12 years. He has been speaking German for more than 22 years. His passion is to help people, who want to live a good life in a German speaking country, to learn German super fast. Want to connect with him? Send him an email and he'll get in touch with you.

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