How to get your German driving licence

Most big German cities have efficient public transport systems that make travelling from one place to another relatively hassle-free. But using public transport has its own disadvantages like cancelled trains, train strikes and inflexible train timings. If you take into consideration the unfavourable German weather and how getting to and from the train station can sometimes seem gruelling, then it’s best for you to get a car. In this article, we will look at the step by step process to securing a German driving licence.

Can you convert your home country’s licence into a German Licence?

EU country states get the lucky pass in Germany as they don’t have to go through the process of getting their Führerschein (driver’s licence). Having an EU drivers licence is the same as having a German driving licence.

The same applies to people from countries like Andorra, Australia, Canada, Channel Islands & Isle of Man, Croatia, French Polynesia, Israel, Japan, Monaco, Namibia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, San Marino, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, and Switzerland. This rule is also relaxed for a few states in The United States of America.

For expats from other countries who plan to stay in Germany for six months can use their foreign licence, and they do not need to get an international driving licence. However, it is essential for you to provide your car rental company or the German police a translation of your licence document.

For those who plan on staying longer in Germany, you have to, unfortunately, get a new licence. This would require you start the process of getting your German licence from scratch. It could be time-consuming, and a tip here would be to plan ahead and start as early as possible.

Requirements for a German driving licence

Germany has different licences categories for different vehicles. If you are planning on driving a car, then you will be applying for a PKW-Führerschein (car driving licence). If you are planning to drive a truck or a cargo vehicle, then you would have to apply for an LKW-Führerschein, which is a different category.

The process of obtaining your German driving licence is a standard procedure, first, you complete the theory test and follow that up with a practical driving test. You will be assessed on both before you finally acquire your driver’s licence.

Prior to 2013, the German licence had an unlimited validity. Currently, the validity of German driving licence is 15 years and need to be renewed after.

Age limit: You can apply for a car driving licence in Germany if you are 18 years and above and 21 years and above if you want to drive a truck.

Registering yourself in a driving school

Navigating around the German system as a foreigner can be challenging, and that’s why our tip for you would be to start your driving licence process by registering yourself in a good driving school. If the language is a hindrance, don’t worry many big cities like Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Düsseldorf etc. do have options for doing the theory and practical lessons in English.

Here’s a list of a few well-known English Language driving schools in some of the top German cities.

Rewire tip: If you don’t live near or in any of these cities, then try and crowdsource on the nearest English-speaking expat page on Facebook or any other expat networking site that you’re a member of.

Eye Test and First Aid Course

Once you register yourself in your driving school, you will be asked about these two procedures.

Eye test

This is proof that you can see clearly or are using the right prescription glasses or contact lenses. You can get this test done at any certified eye clinic or the nearest optician.

First aid course

This eight-hour course is usually completed in a single day. So check with your driving school if they can recommend any places where these courses are held. These courses are not held every day and therefore need to be booked in Advance.

Theory test

While registering at your driving school, you will be asked to attend a few of the theory classes. These classes will go over the general road rules in Germany and various other topics. Check with your driving school about the timings of the classes and how many mandatory hours you have to attend. For e.g. some German driving schools might have a rule which makes it mandatory for you to attend 12 classes.

The theory test consists of 30 multiple choice questions, and the tricky part is that there is no one correct choice for these questions. One question can have multiple answers, and this makes it a challenging test to pass.

Learning material for the theory test: There are several ways how you can prepare for your theory test. You can learn via apps that are available both for Android and iTunes. Websites like Führerschein-bestehen.de and Lehrboegen.de have language options which make it easier for you to learn. There are books and CD’s that can be purchased online.

To take the theory test, you have to register yourself with the local authorised testing authority. Check with your German driving school on this information. It is necessary to register yourself before taking your theory test. For this process you will need to submit your eye test, first aid course certificate and a document from your driving school along with your passport or ID and biometric photos. The process takes about six weeks, and once you hear back from them, you’re ready to take your test.

The theory test is a computerised test, and you will know your results immediately upon finishing your test.

Practical driving test

Passing your theory test makes you eligible to take driving lessons with a driving instructor before taking the driving test. Again, your driving school will have a minimum number of hours and mandatory lessons that you will have to complete, such as driving on an Autobahn, driving at night and also driving in a rural area. The time taken to complete these lessons depends on how quickly you can learn to drive and drive safely.

For the practical test, you would have an external examiner and your instructor seated in the car you will be driving. Your driving test would involve you to usually do three tasks – parking, taking turns and applying brakes. You would also be required to drive on the autobahn, the 30 zone and in the city. After completing the driving test, you would know immediately if you passed the test or not.

Time, effort and money.

The process of the procuring your German driving licence requires time and does take some effort. This purely depends on how quickly you can learn. It takes roughly about 3-4 months to complete the classes and tests to get your licence and costs roughly between 1400€ – 2000€. Again, this purely depends on the student’s ability and talent.

If you are looking for a way to pay for your driving license, you can check out Rewire’s free MasterCard. There are no transaction costs, and you can keep track of your expenses using the application.

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