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Verkehr und Mobilität

Validity of foreign driving licences in the Federal Republic of Germany

These pages provide information on the most important German provisions for holders of foreign driving licences. If you have any further questions, for instance about the procedure for registration and issuing of German driving licences, you should contact your local driver licensing authority at your city or district council. We hope you will appreciate that the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is unable to comment on individual cases.

Your driving licence is valid if your stay in the Federal Republic of Germany is temporary.

If you hold a valid domestic driving licence or International Driving Permit, you may drive all categories of vehicle indicated on your licence in the Federal Republic of Germany. If there are any conditions or restrictions on your driving licence, you must also comply with them when driving here. However, your driving licence is not valid if you have not yet reached the minimum age required for the appropriate category in the Federal Republic of Germany and your driving licence was not issued by another Member State of the European Union or another state party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area. You must carry your driving licence with you when driving or riding a motor vehicle.

If you hold an International Driving Permit, you do not have to have it translated.

You must carry a translation of your domestic driving licence if

  • it was not issued in a Member State of the European Union (EU) or a state party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA) (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway), or

  • it is not in the German language, or

  • it does not comply with the provisions of the Convention on Road Traffic of 8 November 1968 (Annex 6). You can find out whether your driving licence complies with the provisions of Annex 6 by enquiring at the appropriate authorities of the issuing state.

German translations may be prepared by, inter alia, German motoring organizations or internationally recognized motoring organizations in the state that issued the driving licence, official agencies of the state that issued the driving licence and court-appointed and certified interpreters and translators.

The Federal Republic of Germany does not require a translation of licences issued by the following states:

  • Andorra

  • Hong Kong

  • Monaco

  • New Zealand

  • San Marino

  • Switzerland and

  • Senegal

If you hold a driving licence issued by a Member State of the European Union (EU) or a state party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA), it will normally remain valid after you have taken up residence in the Federal Republic of Germany until the end of its period of validity. You must have a domestic driving licence – an International Driving Permit is not sufficient.

  1. General restrictions
  2. Combating driving licence tourism
  3. Special rules for schoolchildren and students

1. The following general restrictions should be noted:

Category A1

The holder of a Category A1 driving licence may, until their 18th birthday, only ride light motorcycles (engine size up to 125 cc and power output up to 11 kW) with a maximum design speed of 80 kilometres per hour.

Categories C1 and C1E

In the Federal Republic of Germany, a driving licence issued for these categories is only valid until the holder’s 50th birthday.

Categories C, CE, D, DE, D1 and D1E

A driving licence issued for these categories is only valid for a period of five years after the date of issue, even if it is valid for a longer period in the holder's home country.

Categories C, C1, CE, C1E, D, D1, DE, and D1E

The period of validity of a driving licence issued for these categories will, upon request, be extended by five years if the holder meets appropriate health and eyesight requirements. For more information, you should contact your local driver licensing authority.

If, in accordance with the aforementioned restrictions, your driving licence is no longer valid when you transfer your normal residence to Germany, you may continue to drive for six months in the Federal Republic of Germany. During this time, you must apply for an extension.

Any infringement of the age provision governing the riding of light motorcycles, or driving or riding a motor vehicle with a driving licence that has expired under the law of the issuing state or under the German provisions, will be treated as driving without a driving licence and penalized accordingly.

If your foreign driving licence is about to expire or is no longer valid, you will receive a German licence of the same category upon request.

2. Special rules for students and schoolchildren

The fact that a person is attending a university or school does not automatically mean that they have transferred their normal residence. Thus, driving licences obtained by students and schoolchildren in their home country while studying in the Federal Republic of Germany are valid here. In addition, students and schoolchildren from other Member States can obtain a driving licence in the Federal Republic of Germany if they are resident here for at least six months.

The same applies to persons who have their normal residence in the Federal Republic of Germany if they attend a university or school in another Member State for at least six months.

3. Combating driving licence tourism

The requirements that have to be met before a driving licence can be issued are becoming increasingly similar throughout the European Union. Nevertheless, there are still differences regarding the conditions that have to be met before a driving licence is issued for the first time or before a driving licence is renewed after a period of disqualification. For instance, the current EU Driving Licence Directive only requires Member States to implement “minimum standards” of physical and mental fitness. In addition, the fact that there are variations in driver training and testing means that there are different conditions in the individual Member States that do not always meet the requirements in all Member States.

Ensuring a safe and smooth flow of traffic is one of the main objectives of the Federal Government’s transport policy. “Driving licence tourism”, which undermines the aforementioned objective by circumventing rules and regulations, is still a serious problem in Germany. Time and again, persons whom the German authorities deem to be unfit to operate a motor vehicle attempt to circumvent the driver fitness requirements applicable in Germany by acquiring a driving licence in another Member State.

It is true that Article 7(1)(b) of Council Directive 91/439/EEC of 29 July 1991 on driving licences states that the authorities may issue a driving licence only to persons who have their normal residence in the territory of the Member State. This licence is then to be recognized by the German authorities. However, some applicants are obviously managing to get round this requirement by means of fraudulent practices.

The competent authorities are proactively seeking solutions for effectively combating violations of driver licensing rules, taking continuous account of recent case law of the European Court of Justice.

It remains to be seen how things develop in the future.

You hold a foreign driving licence that was not issued in a Member State of the European Union (EU) or in a state party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA) and you take up residence in the Federal Republic of Germany.

If you hold a driving licence from a state that is not a member of the EU or the EEA, this licence will be valid for six months after you have established your normal residence in the Federal Republic of Germany. After this period, your driving licence will no longer be recognized.

If you wish to continue driving or riding a vehicle on domestic roads, you will then require a driving licence issued in the Federal Republic of Germany. The conditions governing the issuing of a German driving licence vary depending on which country you obtained your licence in. For more information on how to obtain a German driving licence, and the conditions that have to be met, you should contact your local driver licensing authority in good time. In exceptional cases, the driver licensing authority may, upon request, extend the deadline by up to six months if you can prove to their satisfaction that you will not have your normal residence in the Federal Republic of Germany for longer than 12 months.

Driving or riding a motor vehicle with a foreign driving licence that is not or no longer recognized here will be treated as driving without a driving licence and penalized accordingly.

A foreign driving licence does not entitle you to drive or ride a motor vehicle in the Federal Republic of Germany

  • if it is no longer valid;

  • if it is a learner licence or any other provisional licence;

  • if you have not yet reached the minimum age required for the issuing of a driving licence in the Federal Republic of Germany and your driving licence was not issued by another Member State of the European Union or another state party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area;

  • if your normal residence was in the Federal Republic of Germany at the time you obtained the foreign licence;

  • if your driving licence has been withdrawn in the Federal Republic of Germany, or you have been refused a driving licence here, or if the only reason your driving licence has not been revoked is that you have relinquished it in the meantime (in the case of driving licences issued by another Member State of the EU, there may be special features that have to be considered. In this case, you should contact your local driver licensing authority. They can clarify whether any doubts regarding your suitability to drive still exist);

  • for as long as you have been disqualified or your driving licence has been confiscated, seized or impounded in the Federal Republic of Germany, in the state that issued your licence or in the state in which you have your normal residence.

The right to use a foreign driving licence again after it has been withdrawn in the Federal Republic of Germany will, upon request, be granted by the driver licensing authority if the reasons that led to the withdrawal no longer exist.

Normal Residence

Applicants for driving licences must have their normal residence in the Federal Republic of Germany. In other words - put simply - they must live here for at least 185 days each year.

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