General Information: Driver's License
The office responsible for the issuance of driver‘s licenses is called the Führerscheinstelle (DE), which is classified as a public service department.
Please find below a list of commonly asked questions:
- Do I need a German driver's license?
- What if I am only staying in Germany for a maximum of 12 months?
- Who is responsible for transferring my foreign driver’s license into a German one?
License holders from an EU or EEA country can use their home license in Germany permanently. Only drivers with less than two years’ experience or licenses for trucks and buses must register with the driver’s license office (Führerscheinstelle). Refer the following website for a detailed list of countries: Staatenliste (DE) under "Formulare und Downloads" at the bottom of the linked page.
For the first six months, you are allowed to drive in Germany using your foreign license. A person may prolong this 6 month period up to a year at the Führerscheinstelle; however, this must be done prior to expiration of the first six months. You must be able to prove that you will leave the country permanently to qualify for this extension (e.g. confirmation from employer or return flight ticket).
The Führerscheinstelle will ask for a notarized translation of your foreign license.
Long term expatriates are legally allowed to drive with their license from their home country for up to six months after registering with local authorities. Once this time has been exceeded, a German license is required. The process should be started early, since the paperwork itself can take up to two months. If a German license has not been acquired within three years after establishing residency in Germany, the foreign license holder must go through the entire procedure of lessons and testing as a first-time applicant.
For license holders from countries or certain US states with full reciprocity (see Staatenliste above), the process of exchange is rather straightforward. The applicant will need the following documentation:
- a signed application form (available at the Führerscheinstelle or the registry office, you must appear in person)
- official identification (passport)
- one biometric photo
- confirmation of first registration (Anmeldebestätigung)
- original driver’s license and notarized German translation
The foreign license must be verified by the state police for authenticity. This review will take two to three weeks. During this time you have to turn in your foreign driver’s license.
If you have held your driver’s license from home for less than 2 years prior to living in Germany, you will be considered a probationary driver. Therefore, you need to be sure to have sufficient documentation to prove how long you have been in possession of a driver’s license.