How to get a German driver's license

A driving licence is a very small and inconspicuous document – however, in Germany it is obligatory to have it with you every time you’re behind the wheel. This article helps you if you need information on whether you require a German driver's licence and how to get one.

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Driving in Germany

For work or for leisure – not only for Germans a driver’s license is indispensable. Driving in Germany can be both an exhilarating and frustrating experience. In a country renowned for its high performance cars and high speed Autobahns without speed limits, Germany suffers from long jams due to Europe‘s highest traffic volume. 

German Autobahns can be compared to freeways and need to be used with extra care. Before pulling to the left lane to pass, check the rear view mirror carefully as cars driving at very high speeds approach suddenly. In cities and towns speed limits are 50 km per hour and 100 km/h on the Landstraße (highway) unless otherwise marked.

Drivers must be at least 18 years of age (17 with co-driver) and have to pass both a theoretical and practical exam. 

German driver's license

When you are planning to drive in Germany you must carry a valid national driver’s license alongside a German translation or an international driver’s license.  If you wish to continue driving after six months after entering Germany, you must be in possession of a German driver’s license.

Note: If your driver’s license is issued by an EU country, it is recognised throughout the EU.

Exchanging a foreign licence for a German driver's licence

Getting a German driver’s license involves battling with German red tape and theoretical or practical exams depending where you come from. In order to exchange your licence for a German driver's licence you have to allow two months for the whole process, provided you have to take the tests. First call the office that will issue your license (Führerscheinstelle) to find out what exactly you need to bring to avoid difficulties. Authorities in Germany often have a different set of requirements. 

Documents required when applying for a German driver’s license:

Getting a German driver's license: Step by step

Typically the process goes like this: 

  • You complete your first aid test (available at the Red Cross for EUR 25) and an eyesight test (authorized doctor or optician). 
  • Get a certified translation of your national driver’s license. Most German translation agencies can provide you with a suitable translation. Certified translations by lingoking are valid in every German office.
  • Take your national driver’s license, the translated license, a biometric photo, a recent residence registration form (Meldebescheinigung) and the proof of registration of your chosen driving school to the Führerscheinstelle and apply for a German license. The office charges around EUR  45 for the application. 
  • It usually lasts six weeks to process your application, giving you time to take both the written and practical exams. Your driving school will provide you with all necessary information. When you pass the driving test you get your German driver’s license on the spot.

Cost of getting a German driver’s license

Depending on your Fahrschule and whether you have to take every exam, expect to pay EUR 500 for the exchange. 

  • Registration fee Führerscheinstelle: EUR 45
  • Certified Translation: from EUR 45,90
  • Eye examination EUR 15
  • First aid test EUR 25
  • Registration at driving school (regional differences) EUR 100 - 200
  • Theoretical exam EUR 80
  • Practical exam EUR 150
  • Driving lesson if needed EUR 30 - 50

Calculate the price of translating your driving licence now!


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