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Classification of driver's licences

lingoking GmbH | 14.09.2021

Under current EU law, foreign driver's licences must be converted after six months at the latest in order to remain valid. Depending on the country in which the foreign driver's license is issued, the conversion of driver's licences involves a number of administrative procedures and tests. Since there is no international standard for driver's licences or vehicle classes, driver's licence offices in Germany require not only a certified translation but in some cases a classification of the licence.

What is a classification?

Classification means defining equivalencies between two differently titled driver's licence classes. There have been standardised classes in the EU since 2013. If you have a passenger car driver's licence, your licence will indicate driver's licence class B. This entitles you to drive a vehicle with a total weight of 3.5 tons.


Outside the European Union, however, driver's licence classes are not designated with A, A1, A2, C, CE, B, BE etc. but with numbers or other number-digit combinations. In addition, driver's licences vary according to the permissible weight of the vehicle or the age of the licence holder. In order to be able to adequately compare and determine EU driver's licence classes with foreign driver's licences, a classification is necessary.


The term classification is also used in connection with the old and new driver's licence classes. For example, classes B, BE, C1 and C1E (with trailer) were class 3.


Do I need a classification of my driver's licence?

Whether the classification is required depends on where and in which language your driver's licence was issued and where you apply for the conversion. In the case of English-language driver's licences, the driver's licence offices often forgo classifications, as these are known due to the large number of conversions. The following rule of thumb can be applied: The more exotic the country of issue, the sooner the authorities demand a classification.


The number of conversions also depends on which immigrants come to a particular region. In southern Germany, for example, more Turkish and Arab driver's licences are being converted than Russian ones. In the end, the driver's licence authority decides whether you need an additional classification for the certified translation of your driver's licence.


Play it safe and ask your local driver's licence office before ordering the translation. Here you will find your authority.


Where can I get a classification of my driver's licence?

Classifications of driver's licences are usually only applied to translated driver's licences from non-EU countries. In most cases, classifications are only ordered along with a certified translation. There are currently only a few places that offer classifications. At lingoking you receive certified translations including classification in all languages. And all this within a few days. A scan or photo of your driver's license is enough. Have your driver's license translated and classified right here.


You can find more detailed information and a How-to English guide on German driving licenses from our friends at Simple Germany.

Driver's licence: FAQs

If you are only staying in Germany for a short time, EU driver’s licences do not need to be translated. However, a translation and, if necessary, classification is required for longer stays, after six months. 

German driver’s licences are usually valid in EU member states even without a translation. 


If you are travelling outside the EU, a translation or an international driver’s licence may be required. Before travelling, find out what requirements your destination country has.

A driver’s licence translation costs an average of 50 euros. With us, you can get your driver’s licence translated for 49.50 euros. The exact price is calculated directly in the first step of the ordering process. All you need to do is upload a scan or photo of your driver’s licence. We do not need the original document. Calculate the price now!


We also work closely with the ADAC. You can also order the translation of your driver’s licence online at ADAC or at an ADAC office.

With a category B driver’s licence, you can drive motor vehicles weighing up to 3,500 kilograms and carrying up to eight people. This driver’s licence category includes categories AM and L. This means you can also drive agricultural or forestry tractors, (small) motorbikes up to 45 km/h and quad bikes. You may also drive trailers weighing up to 750 kilograms.


Please find  more information on driver’s licence category B on the website of ADAC.

Before 1999, the categories of driver’s licence in Germany were classified by numbers, such as driving driver’s category 3, which is not exactly  the same as category B today. Driver’s licence category 3 covers a wider range of permitted vehicles:


  • Vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of up to 7.5 tonnes
  • Combinations of up to twelve tonnes if the towing vehicle has a maximum permissible gross weight of 7.5 tonnes
  • Driver’s licence from before April 1, 1980: mopeds with up to 125 cubic centimetres (today's class A1)

Note: Old paper driver’s licences must be exchanged for an EU cheque card driver’s licence by 2033 at the latest. However, the exchange will not lead to any disadvantages for holders, as all driver’s licence categories will be retained.  


Please find more information on the exchange of old driver’s licences on the website of ADAC.

You can use your German driver’s licence for up to one year during your stay in the USA. After that, it is necessary to have your driver’s licence transferred. However, to avoid language barriers, it is advisable to have your driver’s licence translated or to get an international driver’s licence.  


Your German class B driver’s licence is also equivalent to a car driver’s licence in the USA. However, the limit for the total weight to be driven is around 11.8 tonnes for vehicles and around 4.5 tonnes for trailers. In addition, the maximum length of the vehicle is 11.89 metres.


Please find  more information on driving motorhomes in the USA on the website if ADAC.

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