Obtaining a Driving Licence in Germany

Getting a driving licence in Germany allows you the freedom and convenience to drive cars and motorcycles on roads across Germany and the EU. The process involves meeting eligibility criteria, passing theoretical and practical driving tests, completing training requirements, and finishing administrative procedures.

This comprehensive guide provides step-by-step information on fulfilling the driving licence requirements in Germany as a resident or foreigner.

Driving Licence in Germany

Eligibility Criteria for a German Driving Licence

To be eligible to obtain a driving licence in Germany, you must fulfill the following criteria:

Minimum Age

The minimum age to apply for a driving licence depends on the vehicle type:

  • Car (Class B) licence: 18 years
  • Motorcycle (Class A) licence: 18 years
  • Trucks (Class C) licence: 21 years
  • Buses (Class D) licence: 21 years

Residency Status

To start the licensing process, you must have:

  • A German national ID and proof of residence if you are a German citizen
  • Valid passport and residency permit if you are a foreign citizen living in Germany

Health and Medical Fitness

You must meet minimum vision and medical requirements to prove driving fitness as per German traffic law.

Valid Documentation

Have proper documentation ready including ID, residence permit, passport photos, and application forms.

Steps to Getting a Driving Licence in Germany

1. Enroll at a Driving School

  • Search for recognized driving schools in your area
  • Book theory classes and schedule driving lessons
  • Get registered and complete paperwork formalities

2. Take the Theory Test (Theoretische Führerscheinprüfung)

  • The theory test has 40 multiple-choice questions from different categories
  • It is computer-based, available in various languages, no time limit
  • You need to correctly answer at least 35 questions to pass

Theory Test Categories

CategoryShare of Questions
Road signs and markings20%
Traffic rules and regulations20%
Accident prevention and first aid10%
Vehicle technology, safety, and environment20%
Driving situational judgement30%

3. Complete Compulsory Practical Training

  • Take minimum mandatory driving lessons with an instructor
  • Lesson quantity depends on the licence type
  • Training covers vehicle controls, rules, hazard perception, maneuvers

4. Pass the Practical Driving Test (Praktische Führerscheinprüfung)

  • The driving exam involves you driving on regular roads with an examiner
  • You are evaluated on technical skills like parking, turning, coordination
  • Failing leads to re-taking the test after minimum wait periods

5. Fulfill First Aid Course Requirement

  • Complete a first aid course and get a certificate
  • Providers include the German Red Cross, Johanniter Unfallhilfe, ASB, etc.
  • Online courses may also be available

6. Get an Eye Test

  • Visit an optician and get an eyesight test
  • Need to verify you meet the vision standard for driving
  • Submit results to driving licence authority

7. Finish Administrative Procedures

  • Apply at the local driving licence registration office
  • Provide passport photos, ID, certificates, application form
  • Pay licence issuance fee
  • Get plastic card style photo driving licence

Driving Licence Types in Germany

Germany has a graduated licence system with categories based on vehicle types:

  • Class B: Cars up to 3.5 tonnes total weight
  • Class BE: Car + trailer combinations
  • Class A: Motorcycles
  • Class A1: Light motorcycles
  • Class AM: Mopeds and light scooters
  • Class L: Quad bikes

Higher classes include C and D for trucks and buses. You need to be 21+ years old to obtain these.

How Long is the Driving Licence Valid?

Once issued, the new credit card style German driving licence is valid for:

  • 15 years if you are aged 18 – 45 years
  • 10 years if you are 45 – 50 years old
  • 5 years if you are aged 50 – 55 years
  • 3 years after the age of 55

You must renew it before expiry at the local driving authority. The validity period may be reduced for medical reasons.

Using a German Licence Abroad

A German driving licence lets you drive in all EU and European Economic Area (EEA) countries due to licence reciprocity agreements.

Outside the EU, you may be able to drive with an International Driving Permit (IDP) along with your German licence. Verify licence reciprocity before your trip.

Cost of Getting a Driving Licence in Germany

The total costs for getting a first-time driving licence in Germany can range from 1500 – 2500 EUR depending on type and location. This includes:

  • Driving school fees: 1000 – 1500 EUR
  • Theory and practical exam fees: Around 35 EUR each
  • First aid course fees: 30 – 50 EUR
  • Optician eye test costs: 25 – 80 EUR
  • Licence fees: Around 40 EUR

Booking the Driving Test Appointments

You can book appointments for the theory and practical driving tests online via the portal run by the German driving authority, Führerscheinstelle (Füst).

Some key steps for booking test slots:

  • Create an account on the Füst portal
  • Select preferred test centre location
  • Choose an available date and time
  • Get email confirmation of booking
  • Take printout of booking receipt

The Füst portal allows booking test slots up to 6 months in advance. You should book well in advance during busy seasons.

Obtaining an International Driving Permit

Some countries outside the EU may require you to carry an International Driving Permit (IDP) along with your German driving licence.

To get an IDP:

  • Apply with the ADAC automobile club with your driving licence
  • Submit passport photos and ID proof
  • Pay the IDP fee
  • You will receive it by post within a few days

IDPs are valid for 1 year initially but can be extended up to 3 years. Carry your German licence together when driving abroad.

Switching a Foreign Driving Licence

If you hold a valid driving licence from another EU/EEA state or designated country like the USA, you can transfer it to a German licence by:

  • Providing proof you live in Germany
  • Showing your foreign driving licence
  • Taking an eyesight test
  • Paying the licence fees

For non-EU licences, you may need to pass the German theory test too. The process avoids retaking driving exams.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the waiting period to re-take the driving test after failing?

The waiting period is 2 weeks after failing the theoretical test. It is 1 month after failing the practical test.

Is driver’s education compulsory to get a licence in Germany?

Yes, you must complete mandatory theory and practical training from a driving school. Self-study is not sufficient.

Can I take driving lessons with my own car?

No, training must be done with the driving school’s dual-control cars with an authorized instructor present.

Is there an option to take the driving test in English?

Yes, the theory and practical driving tests can be taken in various languages including English with prior request.

Can I drive in Germany with my US driving licence?

Yes, US licence holders can drive for 6 months in Germany, then must switch the licence or take the German driving test.

Obtaining a driving licence is a detailed process in Germany but opens the door for you to freely drive cars or motorcycles across the country and the EU. If you meet the eligibility criteria and follow the step-by-step application process, you can get your own German driver’s licence.

Paxton White

Paxton White started edriv.ing to improve how new drivers are taught. He made high-tech software to make driving lessons more real and lifelike. His goal was to help teens become safe drivers.

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