Driving License in Germany is known as ”Führerschein”. Anyone who wants to drive a vehicle on the roads of Germany must ensure they have a valid driving license.
German-English glossary (words you should know)
All about car in Germany
After half a year every foreign driver’s license expires in Germany (except EU-licenses)! This is a new regulation valid for foreigners who have to come to Germany since January 1st, 1999. Driving with such an expired license is an offence against the law and may result in serious repercussions under criminal law. Additionally, in the event of an accident you will have no insurance coverage whatsoever. No temporary stay in your home country or new issue of an international driver’s license can alter your obligation to comply with this law. To acquire a German driving license, there are two ways :
Converting your driving license (Umschreibung)
Complete new German driving license
Converting your driving license (Umschreibung) When ? It is allowed to convert your driving license within the first 3 years from the day of your registration in Germany. As your foreign driving license becomes invalid after 6 months, apply for German driving license no later than 3 months after your registration in Germany, to keep margin for the lengthy bureaucratic process,.
To get a new, valid driving license, it will take you at least 4-6 weeks. Where ? You have to apply for a new driving license at Führerscheinstelle in your city.
The opening hours are usually Mo-Fr 0800-1200. How ? You need the following documents to submit your application at Führerscheinstelle :
Your present driving license
2 passport size photographs
Contract with driving school (Fahrschule)
You have to choose a driving school before you submit your application. The choice of driving school should depend upon following three factors :
Price. Check for the rate of a lesson (Fahrstunde), charges for theory (Theorie-) and practical (Praxis-) tests (Prüfungen) and registration (Anmeldung) fee. Some driving schools waive registration fee for converting your license.
Availability of English spoken trainer. Ask for it in case you need.
Location. Should be easily reachable from your place
You will get a paper from driving school which is called Ausbildungsvertrag, basically a letter of contract.
Translation (Übersetzung) of your driving license
For this, you have to go to ADAC Führerscheinübersetzungsstelle. The translation fee is DM 70,- . Please take your Passport and original driving license with you. Make sure that your driving license has no overwriting and everything is clearly visible. Sometimes, they raise objections and refuse to translate if text is not easily readable. If everything is ok, they do the translation immediately.
First aid certificate
To get a first aid certificate, you will be required to attend the first aid course. This course is usually 6-8 hours long and you can also do this on Saturdays or Sundays. You can inquire about this course at any driving school. The course fee is usually DM 40,- . It’s a useful course but unfortunately only in German.
Vision test certificate (Sehtest)
You can do this at any optician, ophthalmologist or TÜV.
Fee is approx. DM 12,-
The fee for application at Führerscheinstelle is DM 85,- . Once you have submitted your application form, all you can do is wait. The Führerscheinstelle will send your driving license and other papers to the crime department (Landeskriminalamt) who will check for genuineness of your driving license. After all this bureaucratic procedure, they will inform the driving school to conduct the required tests. The whole process takes 4-6 weeks. Keep in touch with your driving school. Tests ? Transfer of driving license is based on the qualification requirements for the respective German license class and, thus, requires a written and practical driving test. Theory test You can give written test in one of several European languages including English. Inform your driving school about this in advance. The test is tough and you should give yourself at least 2 weeks time for preparation. You can buy the learning material at driving schools, TÜV (technical surveillance assistance) or ADAC. This will cost you approx. DM 70,- . The test consists of total 30 multiple answer questions out of which 23 are basic (Grundstoff) and 7 are for your driving class (Zusatstoff) and you get 30 mins time. One or many answers can be correct. The questions have a weight of 2,3,4 or 5 points and you are not allowed to have more than 9 error points to clear the exam. This exam is usually conducted every alternate week by the driving school. Although most of the questions are logical, you may find difficulty in understanding some questions due to poor translation. Recall your school days and simply learn these questions by heart. Anyhow, it is possible to clear the exam with self-study and, therefore, it is not recommended to take theory lessons from driving school. Practical testYou are allowed to appear in the driving test only after you have passed the theory exam. Some driving schools conduct both the exams on the same day while the others on separate days. This test is quite tough and failure rate for the first attempt is approx. 30%. You are required to drive for 45 mins. in presence of TÜV examiner and any big mistake or sometimes several small mistakes would result in an failed attempt. There should be a time gap of 1 week beween two consecutive attempts and you will have to wait for 3 months if you fail three times in a row. Although it is not mandatory to take driving lessons, a few driving lessons to get familiar with German peculiarities are recommended.Test fee Tests are quite expensive. Driving school will charge approx. DM 100,- and DM 200,- for theory and practical test respectively. Additionally, you have to pay for examiner from TÜV. This will cost you approx. DM 185,- for both theory and practical tests and approx. DM 155,- for a seocnd driving test (in case you need a second attempt). Then ?Congratulations ! Once you have passed the tests, you will be given your German driving license either by your TÜV examiner or you will be given a certificate and will be asked to go to Führerscheinstelle to pick it up there. As you are converting your license, the authorities will keep your original driving license. You may try to convince them to give your original license back but in most cases it goes in vain. By the way, German driving license is valid for life. In case of loss, inform the issuing authority. You will be issued a new license for a nominal fee (new photos required). Making a new driving license The procedure for making a new driving license is more or less the same as converting the license with the following exceptions :
12 theory lessons are mandatory
12 practical lessons are mandatory
5 for motorway (Autobahn)
4 for country road (Landstrasse)
3 for night driving
you don’t need to submit your original driving license and translation
In Germany, there are too many driving rules and people follow most of them. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the driving rules before starting to drive in Germany. Some of the important driving rules are listed below :
Speed limits :
Germany remains the only country in Europe without speed limits on major highways (e.g. A2), unless specified otherwise. The recommended speed, however, is 130 km/h. The speed limit for express ways (e.g. B14) is 120 km/h, 100 km/h on any other roads outside city, 50 km/h within city boundaries and 30 km/h in residential areas.
Right before left: Right of way to cars on the right at all uncontrolled crossroads and junctions.
Pedestrians have the right of way at designated cross walks or when crossing with green light.
All passengers are required to wear seat belts while driving.
Children untill the age of 12 and less than 150 cm may only be carried in suitable child restraints.
U-turns are generally permitted unless otherwise indicated.
Overtaking on the right and hogging the left lane are serious violation.
Keep your distance. Tailgating is also a serious violation.
Buses and taxis have the right of way when merging into traffic.
Misuse of headlight flasher (other than as for warning), is a violation.
Making rude gestures to other motorists is traffic violation. You could even get fined for it.
Blood alcohol limit is 0.5%.
Make sure that there is a warning triangle (Warndreieck) and a first aid kit (Verbandskasten) in your car. They are required by law!
When turning left, give way to oncoming traffic.
When making right turns check front and rear for pedestrians or bicycles using the sidewalks/bicycle paths.
Do not pass buses at bus stops if it might endanger boarding or alighting passengers.
When involved in minor accidents, exchange personal details as well as insurance numbers.
If you are involved in an accident, call for police assistance.
Do not leave the scene of accident for any reason!
Desertion may result in criminal prosecution and serious penalizations!
German-English Glossary for Driving
Until recently, it was required to know some German words as part of the licence test. Here is a German-English index of some important words :
An geraden Tagen
On even days
An Sonn- und Feiertagen
On Sundays and holidays
An ungeraden Tagen
On odd days
Auf dem Seitenstreiten
On the hard shoulder
Building site vehicles only
In wet conditions
Allow to join traffic
Keep entry clear
Get into lane
Operating vehicles only
Direction of travel
Grüne Welle bei 60 km/h
Drive through on Green at 60 km/h
Harbour area, rail vehicles
Motor vehicle repair shop
Land- und forstwirtschafflicher
Agricultural and forestry
Switch on lights
Scheduled services only
Traces of oil
Multi-storey car park
Cycle track crosses
Bad section of road
School crossing patrol
Soiled road surface
All about car in Germany
Purchase If you decide to have your own car and are new to German system, then it is time to inform yourself. You have too many choices and selecting a car is not an easy task. On the top of it, the used car market is very attractive which simply makes it more difficult to decide. Informing yourself To get yourself informed about different models, buy a car catalog (Auto Katalog). Such catalogs are published annually or half yearly and provide technical information, price comparison and other details about all the new models available. Although the catalogs are in German, it is worth buying one. The price is DM 15,- and you can find them in any book store. Finding car
You can find hundreds and thousands ads for new and used cars in local news papers, generally Wednesdays andand Saturdays.
Most of the news papers list all the ads on their web-sites and provide a good search mechanism. You can also check the web sites of several companies and dealers .
Many dealers have a wide selection of used cars. They may be priced slightly above the private market level but they often come with a limited guarantee and typically are in good condition. The dealer will also be able to help you with the formalities of insurance and registration.
Buying a used car on the private market is the cheapest option, but is somewhat riskier and may require more time and effort to find out what you want. It is always wise to have a used car checked by a private mechanic before buying it.ADAC also provides this service at a typical price. Terms and abbreviations used in car ads
equipped with a trailer hitch
annual emission test passed
built in 1995
electric sliding roof
car being sold by an
employee of a car
manufacturer after about
price when new
radio with cassette player
glass sliding roof
steel sliding roof
Inspection was done recently
TÜV 9/01 or
TÜV 9/01 or
TÜV inspection is valid
until September 2001
no previous accident
central door locking
Registration Resistration of the car is required by the law. You are required to do this at Kraftfahrzeugzulassungsstelle. Please note the following :
When buying car from a dealer, formalities of registration are to be handled by you.
When purchasing a private car, you will have to take care of registration yourself.
You will need :
Fahrzeugbrief (proof of ownership)
Insurance papers (Doppelkarte) from your car insurance company. For details, refer to car insurance
When bringing over your own car (from other country), you will need to get car registered within one year in Germany.
You will need :
TÜV statement – a certificate that the car meets German standards
Fahrzeugbrief (proof of ownership)
Old number plates
Insurance papers (Doppelkarte) from your car insurance company.
form Antrag KBA – Auskunft
You will have to fill out this form.
Once you have your car registered, you will be issued a “Fahrzeugschein” which you should always have with you as a proof of insurance (required by law). Insurance Once you have found a suitable car, you are required by law to carry liability insurance. To choose an insurance company, check yellow pages (index Versicherungen) or ask your colleagues How much will it cost ? The company will give you a quote for insurance which is considered the “100% quote” This is not necessarily the price you will pay. Your bill will range from 40% to 175% of the quote, depending upon your driving record from your previous insurance company. If your record prove you to be a safe driver, you will have to pay much less. Ask the insurance agent about an International green card which guarantees insurance liability when driving abroad. What kind of insurance ? “Vollkasko Versichrung” is the most comprehensive but also the most expensive insurance. By accepting a deductible (Selbstbeteiligung) costs can be reduced drastically. These policies include car damage by mechanic, force, violence, your own fault (some exceptions e.g. drunken driving) etc.“Teilkasko Versichrung” is a policy which typically covers fire, storm damage, theft, unauthorized use of a car by third parties, collision with wild animals etc. “Haftpflicht Versichrung” (liability) is the legal minimum and covers costs incurred due to damages/injuries to third parties but not to you or your car. “Insassen-Unfallversichrung” (passenger accident insurance) covers injuries caused by you to passengers in your car other than the driver or owner. You will be issued so-called “Doppelkarte” which is your proof of insurance. You will need this to register your car. Ask insurance company to help with registration. They might charge you for it. You need :
Fahrzeugbrief (proof of ownership)
Documents from your previous insurance company (not necessary)
Inspection Hauptuntersuchung Every two years you will need to get your car checked for roadworthiness. The test is called Hauptuntersuchung and is done by TÜV. The fee is about DM 80,-. If your car does not pass this inspection, you will be asked to go to a garage, get all the repairs done, and return for inspection (extra charge: about DM 40,-) Some people may prefer to take their car to a reputable garage to get repairs and TÜV inspection done by the garage. However, in most cases it is more expensive. After a successful inspection, they will put a stamp indicating the validity of the inspection which is two years. Abgasuntersuchung You will also have to have an annual emission control inspection on your car. This can be done by your local garage or TÜV. Repair For car repair, you should go to a garage. You can find out one from yellow pages (section Automobile, Autoreparaturen). In case of emergency breakdown, callADAC for assistance. Rental If you need car only occasionally, a good choice might be to rent-a-car rather than buying one. Check the following web links for further details. www.e-sixt.com